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What to do in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

When possible, exploring on foot is our favorite way to see a new destination! Of course, traffic in the major cities of Vietnam is a sight unto itself, so even crossing the street can be an adventure. For-hire transport options include taxis, motorbikes, and cyclos, and require a bit of bargaining ahead of time to decide on a rate. Keeping all of that in mind, it is always best to check with your hotel concierge for the best way to get to any particular site of interest. 

Ho Chi Minh City

An extra day or two before your Vietnam tour is highly recommended to recover from jetlag and to see some of the places not included in our itinerary. Our tour includes a visit to the Fine Art Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, as well as time exploring and viewing different styles of architecture.

Reunification (Independence) Palace

Explore the lush gardens, secret rooms, and antique furniture on display at the former palace, perhaps best known for the famed photograph from 1975, which features a North Vietnamese tank crashing through its gates to end the Vietnam War.

War Remnants Museum

This museum houses a collection of weapons, machinery, artifacts, films, and photographs illustrating the devastating effects of weapons of mass destruction used during the Vietnam War. Exhibits highlight the impact of the war both at home and abroad.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Explore one of the most picturesque and atmospheric temples in the city, known for its statues of figures from Buddhist and Taoist lore, elaborately tiled roof, and active offerings made by locals. Prayers, candles, and joss sticks abound.

Ben Thanh Market

Centrally located and always lively, the Ben Thanh Market features vendors selling everything from local produce and meat to electronics and souvenirs. In the evening, a night market takes over outside.

Giac Lam Pagoda

Built in 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. The beautiful architecture is complemented by peaceful gardens surrounding the grounds.

 

Hanoi

Our tour includes a Hanoi city tour and visits to many historic and cultural sites of Hanoi. If you decide to extend your time in Hanoi after the trip, the following sites come recommended by our local guides. 

Temple of Literature (Van Mieu Mon)

This 11th century relic was built as an homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. Home to Vietnam’s first university, the Imperial Academy, the Temple of Literature is a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture.

Hao Lo Prison Museum

Built in the late 19th century, the Hoa Lo prison is a potent reminder of Vietnam’s history and occupation. Known ironically as the “Hanoi Hilton” by American POWs during the Vietnam War, the site now displays exhibits relating to the prison’s use leading up to the 1950’s, with a focus on Vietnam’s struggle for independence from France.

Imperial Citidel of Thang Long

Also known as Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel, this was the hub of Vietnamese military power for more than 1000 years. Ongoing archaeological digs showcase ancient palaces, pavilions, and monuments.

Vietnam Fine Arts Museum

Showcasing Vietnam’s fine arts from a range of historical periods, the Fine Arts Museum offers Englush explanations for most artifacts as well as guided tours.

Vietnam Museum of ETHNOLOGY

This museum is often stated to be the best in the country, and showcases extensive displays that highlight Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups, traditional crafts, and well-crafted examples of houses in the back garden.

 

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