Vietnam's vibrant hotspot

Ho Chi Minh City is Asian hustle and bustle at its most enthralling.

Ho Chi Minh City highlights

Its streets are a beeping, buzzing whirl of people, vehicles and extraordinary cargo. The energy is contagious and it drives your daily quest to find history, architecture, markets and uncommonly delicious food. East meets west, old meets new, chaos meets precision - it's all here to discover.

A haunting history

Behind the city's lights, vehicles and crowds is an emotive and always fascinating heritage. Urban life co-exists with the city's beliefs and cultural roots; just watch taxis and scooters manoeuvre their way around Buddha statues en route to restaurants and bars.

The claustrophobic tunnels give you a deeper understanding of the country's most desperate, devastating and defining era.

If you want to dig deep into Vietnam's fractured history, a day-trip to the Cu Chi tunnels will be revealing. The explorable underground network hauntingly demonstrates the resilience of the Vietnamese during the event they call 'The American War'. The claustrophobic tunnels give you a deeper understanding of the country's most desperate, devastating and defining era. Even more eerily, nearby you'll still see bomb craters - scars from the country's brutal encounters with the west.

For a less sombre and more spiritual experience, follow the scent of incense to the nearest temple. The Jade Pagoda is perhaps the most intriguing of Ho Chi Minh City's many places of worship. It's full of cultural obscurities, from papier mâché statues and enchanting ceramic displays to turtles with engraved shells.

 

Multicultural magic

Ho Chi Minh City is the richest of cultural mixing pots, and this is seen best in its brilliant architecture. Even the most fanciful of city planners wouldn't dream of pulling inspiration from so many different places, but somehow it works wonderfully in Vietnam.

For another eye opening insight into Vietnamese history, be sure to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral - a stunning product of French colonialism. Built in 1863 by the French, the golden brick masterpiece feels a little out of place in Asia, but many locals consider it the heart and soul of the city.

A short bike or walk away is a slice of southern Indian beauty. The Mariamman Hindu Temple stands proud and colourful, despite the relatively low number of Hindus living in the city. Also built toward the end of the 19th century, it proves cultural diversity is an ongoing part of Ho Chi Minh City's history.

New World brilliance

Ho Chi Minh City has incredible history, but towering above temples and invigorating its economy are the city's new world attractions.

The Bitexco Financial Tower is unapologetically modern man-made marvel. Proudly extending above the Ho Chi Minh City skyline, its slight flex gives it a touch of character. Head up the tower just before sunset and be rewarded with an unforgettable view of the city. The rooftop bar scene is usually humming here too. After a day sampling the markets, Chill Skybar is an indulgent upmarket hang-out where you can party in style 25 floors high.

For an entertaining twist on heritage, hit Suoi Tien Theme Park, where Buddhism meets thrills. Though it might be hard to absorb Vietnamese culture while screaming around a rollercoaster, the park's spectacular oriental architecture and legend-based installations are captivating.

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