During our visit to District 2's undeveloped Thú Thiêm neighborhood, we noticed a pier to which a few fishing boats were anchored. Interesting. A week later, we returned to try our luck. A fisherman met us on the pier, evidently clued in to what we might be proposing. And he was game.
Built in 1897 by French architect Eugène Ferret, the Saigon Opera House is one of the most spectacular pieces of colonial architecture in the city. It’s worth visiting even if you’re not going to catch a performance, but we can recommend the AO Show, put on by the Luna Production Company.
Waking up at 5am is usually a surefire sign that you're still suffering from jetlag... except in Vietnam, where it means that your body has properly adjusted. This country gets going earlier than any other place we've visited. It took some time, but once we accepted and embraced the early lifestyle, our experience in Saigon improved immeasurably.
Saigon is a city in constant flux, and there's no better place to appreciate this than from above. Seemingly every building has a rooftop bar, allowing you to check out how the skyline has changed since... well, probably since yesterday. (Is that a new skyscraper over there? I'll bet it has a rooftop bar!)
Here's our final compilation of our favorite Saigon street food. This is the kind of chow which makes us smack our lips, smack smack smack. The kind that makes us chew with our mouths wide open, so that we can smack as loud as possible! The kind which sticks in our tooth gaps, so that after our meal, we sit around with a toothpick for 30 minutes, picking and sucking our teeth... wait a second... have we gone native?
One look at the pictures of Saigon's bizarre theme parks, and we knew we'd be visiting at least one. After careful deliberation, we selected Suối Tiên. Not only did this quasi-religious park look genuinely entertaining, but it seemed delightfully unaware of its own kitschiness. A day of ironic fun awaits... let's go!
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.
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.