Although the merest sliver of Vietnam’s population practices the faith, a number of prominent Hindu temples are located right in the middle of Saigon. We visited three in a single morning, all of them a short distance from each other in District 1.
Occupying a set of three colonial-era buildings in the heart of Saigon, the Museum of Fine Arts is packed with ancient sculptures, classical paintings, and contemporary canvases. It’s all worth full attention, but we found ourselves moving too rapidly through the rooms, because there was simply so much to see.
We were already feeling overwhelmed; just within the bubble of our Saigon neighborhood, there were so many dishes to try. And once we started travelling around the country, we realized that every region has its own specialties. Forced to accept that a comprehensive exploration of Vietnamese cuisine would be impossible, we decided to just relax, and consume as much as we could. We might not be able to sample every dish, but it would be a most delicious failure.
Having one of those pesky “Good Mood” days? Good moods are the worst, right? So pointless! Let’s face it, your fellow humans are awful and the world is screwed. To be reminded of that, head over to the War Remnants Museum. If you’re still in a good mood after visiting this place, you have some serious issues.
Vietnam’s politicians and CEOs might be predominantly male, but take a walk down any street in Saigon, and you’ll learn who really runs the show. Women are in charge of every stall in the market. They’re the ones dishing out your delicious meals. They’re mending your clothes, chopping your fruit, brewing your coffee, and taking your money. Oh, how they love to take your money.
The art form most commonly associated with Vietnam is lacquer painting. While exploring District 3, we walked past the factory of a company called Tay Son, and were drawn like moths to its striking mosaic facade. When the security guy encouraged us to enter, we immediately accepted the invitation.
You’d never know it, looking at this completely normal house on Võ Văn Tần street in District 3… but I suppose that was the point. A trap door in the floor hides a secret basement, in which the Viet Cong stored guns, ammunition, and grenades.
You might think that, somewhere in the metropolis named Ho Chi Minh City, there might be a good museum about Ho Chi Minh. But you’d be wrong. There’s a museum, alright, but in no way could it be described as “good”. A visit to the neighborhood is worthwhile, however, thanks to the delirious street of Đoàn Văn Bơ.
Our apartment is found right across the Thị Nghè Canal from Saigon’s zoo, allowing us to watch giraffes and elephants from the balcony. So despite the fact that the zoo doesn’t have a sterling reputation, it was just a matter of time before we would be paying a visit to our new friends.
Located in the center of downtown, the Ben Thanh Market was built in 1912, though its origins date to the 17th century. Just to the west lays the “Backpackers District”, offering up all manner of drinks and delights. Ben Thanh and the Backpacker’s District are two of Saigon’s most famous sights. We hated them both.