The first thing many travelers want when they come to a new country is visiting the most popular places in that country. In the northern of Viet Nam, Ha Noi is the most popular place- the capital of Viet Nam. In the southern of Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh City is the most popular place- the biggest and the most dynamic city. The centre of Ho Chi Minh City is District 1 where many foreign travelers gather.
District 1 is the place where converges many different cultures, styles of western and eastern architecture, tradition and modernity. Below are some places you can’t miss when you visit District 1.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh market is the icon of traditional Ho Chi Minh City. It was built before the French invaded Viet Nam in 1858. This place was rebuilt and reconstructed many times. I got in the market once, I usually go around outside the market but not inside, because it is large and it takes much time to go around inside. There are many foreigners visit the market every day. I met many first-time Ho Chi Minh City-visit foreigners, when they were asked where they wanted to come to see first, they always said they wanted to come to Ben Thanh market.
Ben Thanh market- the traditional icon of the city
Inside the market, they sell many things such as clothes, jewelry, food, fruit, ingredient and cosmetics. Fruit in Ben Thanh market always looks fresh but it is also expensive.
Fruit in Ben Thanh market
There are many kinds of fruit such as rambutan, durian fruit, dragon fruit, mango, mangosteen, grapefruit and tangerine. There is a kind of fruit that is loved by many native Southeast Asia country residents sold in Ben Thanh market, it is durian fruit. However, many western travelers don’t like it because of its strong smell. If you want to taste a new flavor when you visit a country of Southeast Asia like Viet Nam, you should try durian fruit. For the first time, I need to advise you that you should try just a small piece of it.
Bitexco Tower is also an icon of Ho Chi Minh City. In contrast with Ben Thanh market, Bitexco Tower is a symbol of modern Ho Chi Minh City.
Bitexco Tower is a place symbolizing a luxury life. It may be cheap for travelers from western countries to have a cup of coffee and see the beautiful view of Ho Chi Minh City with an ideal altitude from Bitexco Tower, this costs about 10 US dollars. It is a good idea to go up to Bitexco Tower and look at the view of the city at night, because at that time the light is on, you can see a sparkling Ho Chi Minh City.
Nha Rong Harbor
Nha Rong Harbor is a place that Uncle Ho ( a former president of Viet Nam) went abroad to find a solution for the revolution to struggle against the French invaders. The harbor is on Sai Gon river where you can feel the fresh air in this crowded city. It now becomes a museum named Ho Chi Minh museum where you can learn about the life of Uncle Ho. It will be nice for you to walk around here in the late afternoon, you can see the great view of the river and take in the fresh air with light wind.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Nguyen Hue Walking Street or Nguyen Hue Flower Street is a place many young people gather every day and a good place for many couples. People walk, chat together or play some kinds of sport.
Not so long after Hoverboard competition of a TV show named ” The Amazing Race” taken place on this walking street in 2016, there are many youngsters ride hoverboard on this place, it looks like the TV show affects much on this movement.
Besides, whenever there are special events like New Year’s Eve, Reunification Day or Ao Dai Festival, they celebrate them on this street.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street is also called Flower Street because before every Lunar New Year, this street is decorated by flowers follow every different topic.
Book Street is on Nguyen Van Binh street. It just takes a few minutes to come here from Ben Thanh market by bus. To encourage the reading habit, the government decided to open the Book Street on January 9th, 2016. There are books in different languages, most of them are in Vietnamese and English.
There are many coffee shops on the Book Street. Those are good places for you to have a cup of coffee and read books or chat with your friends.
Every time there are competitions about photographing or about something else, they always make exhibitions for those events.
What I like most while walking on this street is that I can walk under the shade of big trees along the sides of the road and see the beautiful, friendly smiles of people.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica
Near the Book Street is Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica. This architecture was built by the French when they came and invaded Viet Nam. This basilica is one of the typical example of Western culture in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a favorite place of young people and the place for many couples come to fulfill their wedding album.
The basilica doesn’t usually open, they just open whenever there are special events involved in Christianity. I come here many times but i haven’t had any chance to get inside. In front of the basilica there is a place like a small park.
Saigon Central Post Office
Next to the basilica is Saigon Central Post Office. This office was built by the French in about between 1886 and 1891.
This is a beautiful construction which has the combination of western architecture and eastern decoration. Saigon Central Post Office still exist even though, these days, there aren’t many people need to come to post office. The reason is because we have e-mail or social media sites like Facebook, Skype or Viber but when we need to deliver something that the internet can’t, we still need to come to post office. One more reason for the existence of Saigon Central Post Office is that it is a mark of history- prosperity and fierce war. Nowadays, the office is one of the places attract many foreign travelers in Ho Chi Minh City. It now is not only a post office, but it is also a souvenir shop. I saw them sell souvenir at the two wings and in the middle of the post office when i came there a few times.
Independent place is seal of french-american stage of Viet Nam. Before, it was built by the French and named Norodom Palace. After that, when the US government invaded Viet Nam, Ngo Dinh Diem ( the former government of southern Viet Nam president) rebuilt it and called Independent Palace.
The palace is not only the place to hold political events, but it is also home of many presidents of the Republic of Viet Nam and their families. The meeting room and many other rooms is constructed following western style.
the meeting room
There is not only the western style, the eastern style also appears in the palace. One of example is Conference Hall.
Moreover, there are bedrooms, dining room, living room, kitchen etc. Besides, The palace has basement in case of a communist soldiers attack on Southern Viet Nam Government. The basement also have rooms for presidents and rooms for military to work in. Independent Palace is similar to White House in the US.
There are many more places you can visit beside the places above when you come to District 1. Those are museums such as Ton Duc Thang Museum located at 5, Ton Duc Thang, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1; Geological Museum at 2, Nguyen Binh Khiem, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1; Ho Chi Minh City Museum at 65, Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. However, the places above are the places you can’t miss when you come to District 1.