Everyday Life Walking Tour (Self Guided), Saigon/HoChiMinh City

Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in all of Vietnam. The city is bustling with activity from morning to night. Motorbikes, somewhat of a symbol of Ho Chi Minh, fill the streets everyday as locals hurry off to work or school. Shops are crowded with women buying local goods for the home and family. This next tour will give you a taste of daily living in the wonderful Ho Chi Minh City.
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Everyday Life Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Everyday Life Walking Tour
Guide Location: Vietnam » Saigon/HoChiMinh City (See other walking tours in Saigon/HoChiMinh City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Dong Khoi Street
  • Thu Thiem Ferry
  • Dan Sinh Market
  • Backpacker's Area (Phạm Ngũ Lão Street)
  • Huyen Sy Church
  • Xa Loi Pagoda
  • Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai High school
1
Dong Khoi Street

1) Dong Khoi Street (must see)

Dong Khoi Street is one of the busiest roads in Ho Chi Minh City. It was immortalized in the novel 'The Quiet American' by the British author, Graham Greene, which later became a popular Hollywood movie.

The Dong Khoi Street extends between the Nguen Du Street and Ton Duc Thang Street. It was called the Rue Catinat under the French Rule and is flanked by many elegant French colonial style buildings. The name was changed to Freedom Street or Tu Do Street during the short-lived rule of the South Vietnam government. After the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, the street got its present name Dong Khoi, which means Total Revolution Street.

The most important landmark buildings of Ho Chi Minh City are found in Dong Khoi Street. Famous restaurants, like the Nam Kha Restaurant, and the biggest hotels, like the colonial Caravelle Hotel, the Continental Hotel, and the Majestic Hotel are located here. High-end shopping plazas and small local shops coexist side by side along the street and one can purchase some of the finest silk and silk garments and embroidered textiles from one of the many quaint local stores. Among the other landmark buildings in the street are the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, the Saigon Opera House, and the Central Post Office.

Why You Should Visit:
Very clean – a great street to walk down and stretch your legs.
You'll find a lot going on here and there are several places to enjoy a local meal.

Tip:
It would be a good idea to bring an umbrella with you as the weather in the city is quite unpredictable at times.
Also, try a small souvenir shop called 'Vietnamese Handmade' near the Cathedral that sells some unique gifts not found elsewhere.
2
Thu Thiem Ferry

2) Thu Thiem Ferry

As Ho Chi Minh is a waterfront city, locals and visitors use the ferry to cross from one side to the other several times a day. You will notice just how busy this area is and how much traffic builds up in the afternoon hours. Thu Thiem Ferry is a great place to meet people as they commute from one place to another, all part of their daily routine.
3
Dan Sinh Market

3) Dan Sinh Market

The Dan Sinh Market in Ho Chi Minh City was once entirely dedicated to selling war relics and army related objects, from uniforms and objects carried by soldiers in their backpacks to shell casings and defused land mines. However, today it is mostly a hardware and souvenirs market, most of the things sold are modern-day reproductions, notably the Zippo lighters, don't even expect to find an authentic one. You can still find an authentic item or two, but you would have to dig very deep and really know how to spot the real deal.

The main stalls in Dan Sinh Market sell genuine and/or fake objects relating to the Vietnam War. One can find Zippo lighters, dog tags, shell casings, duffel bags, genuine and fake US army helmets, field stretchers and gas masks. One can also find Soviet army relics including Soviet flight suits and helmets which have become popular after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.
Besides military objects, the market also features a series of hardware shops that sell industrial and motor vehicles tools, nuts and bolts of all sizes, welding equipment, lights and forklifts. A few shops sell ladies clothing and kitchen utensils.

Open every day from 7:00 to 18:00
4
Backpacker's Area (Phạm Ngũ Lão Street)

4) Backpacker's Area (Phạm Ngũ Lão Street)

Phạm Ngũ Lão street is located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. The intersection of Phạm Ngũ Lão and Đề Thám streets are referred to as the backpacker district of Saigon. This area is frequented by Ho Chi Minh city locals and tourist who flock to the area markets (both open air and indoors) to buy cheap clothes (some of which are counterfeit), DVDs, souvenirs, and war memorabilia. The many bars and cafes in this district are conveniently located near Saigon's city centre. In the Vietnamese language, this area is called "khu Tay ba lo" (Backpacker's area).
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Huyen Sy Church

5) Huyen Sy Church

The Huyen Sy Church is an active parish church with a vibrant congregation in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built using funds donated by Huyen Sy a scion of the wealthy Phat Dat family and the grandfather in law of the last king of Vietnam, Bao Dai.

The Huen Sy Church was built in 1902. It was designed by the catholic priest and architect, Father Boutier. It was consecrated as the Dui Market Church and later called the Philippe Church. It is popularly known from its foundation till today as the Huen Sy Church. There is a statue of Saint Mathew le Van Gam in front of the church. He was a catholic priest who was imprisoned and beheaded for converting people to Christianity in 1847.

The Huen Sy Church has a neo gothic design. The walls are made of granite from Bien Hoa near Saigon. The structure has the design typical of European churches except for the windows. The small size of the windows is to keep out the glare of the hot tropical sun. The marble tombs of Monsieur and Madame Huen Sy are located near the nave. The ceiling of the dome is covered with Italian glass. The 57 meter high bell tower houses four bells that were made in France in 1405.
6
Xa Loi Pagoda

6) Xa Loi Pagoda (must see)

The Xa Loi Pagoda is the largest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. The headquarters of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association was located here until 1983 and it later served as its second main office until 1993.

The Xa Loi Pagoda was designed by architects Tran Van Duong and Do Bá Vinh to enshrine the relics of Gautama Buddha. Construction began in the year 1954 and it was consecrated in 1958. It became the scene of raids and vandalism by armed forces loyal to the Roman Catholic president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, in 1973. In the face of protests by the Buddhist majority community, seeking civil rights, the pagoda became the center of Buddhist resistance. It was damaged; several monks and nuns were either killed or imprisoned, and the 80-year-old Buddhist patriarch arrested and placed in a military hospital.

Visitors are greeted by a Chinese style statue of Quan Am, the Goddess of Mercy. The main hall inside is dominated by a bronze sculpture of Gautama Buddha crafted by artists from Bien Hoa, located north of Saigon. The walls are decorated with a series of panels made by Dr. Nguyen Van Long of the Gia Dinh Art School. The complex boasts the highest bell tower in Vietnam. It stands 32 meters high and weighs two tons. The pagoda is located amidst beautifully landscaped gardens complete with a koi pond and bonsai trees.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7–11am / 2-5pm
7
Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai High school

7) Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai High school

Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai High school is also known among the locals as Gia Long, an all-girls school. It is a typical Vietnamese high school and is listed among the oldest education facilities. It was opened in Ho Chi Minh in 1915.

Walking Tours in Saigon/HoChiMinh City, Vietnam

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