As we knew it would, eating has become a major highlight of our time in Saigon. We’ve been sticking almost entirely to street food, and have loved just about every dish we’ve had. Here’s another selection of some of our favorites.
On a whim, we decided to check out District 3’s seventh ward, and uncover its secrets. Because, it must have secrets… I doubt there’s a neighborhood in this city which isn’t hiding something of interest. And Phường 7, Quận 3 did not disappoint.
Every city worth its salt has a Chinatown, but the award for World’s Largest Chinatown (at least in terms of area) goes to Cholon in Ho Chi Minh City. This district was actually its own city for a long time, until eventually being swallowed up by its bigger neighbor to the east. We spent a day navigating its busy streets and visiting its markets.
During the Vietnam War (fine: the “War of American Aggression”), the Viet Cong were hopelessly outmatched from a military standpoint. So, they had to level the playing field… or even better, dig tunnels and hide underneath the playing field. We went to Cu Chi to visit one of the most famous underground systems.
The city of Tay Ninh is probably known best as the birthplace of Caodaism, a modern religion which has millions of adherents in Vietnam and around the world. We were able to attend a bizarre and beautiful worship ceremony in Cao Dai’s Holy See, at the Great Divine Temple.
Our first excursion outside of Saigon was to the nearby city of Tây Ninh. We would be testing the waters of “travel in Vietnam” with this simple two-day, one-night trip, during which we’d visit the Holy See of Cao Đài and the tunnels of Củ Chi. Our first order of business, though, was a trip to Núi Bà Đen, or Black Virgin Mountain.
The most significant event in the history of Saigon’s Presidential Palace was also the moment that it permanently lost its political relevance. On April 30th, 1975, a Viet Cong tank plowed through the gates, putting an end to the two-decade war which had torn Vietnam apart. The south had fallen, and the Presidential Palace was suddenly a relic.
Saigon is a city of crazy traffic, constant noise and unbroken swaths of concrete. But there exists a section of the city which is totally different. We spent the day walking around Phường 28: an island that has been almost completely overlooked by Saigon’s insatiable appetite for urbanization.