We arrived in Vietnam and were settled into our guest house late last night around 1:00 am. We woke up around 6:00 am ready for some breakfast. We left around 7:00 am for the Ben Thanh Market. This market has just about everything you would want from fresh meat and seafood to souvenirs. The market is divided into themes including trinkets, scarves and women’s clothing, dried food and raw veggies, and prepared food. Upon arrival we found a small stall and ordered a Vietnamese coffee, passion fruit juice, and a bowl of rice noodles and shrimp which was about $5.50. We found this a little overpriced by Vietnamese standards, but still tasted good. Our favorite part of the market was the area with the raw seafood and fresh meat. Many of the crabs, fish, and other things were still alive! This is a good place to go in the early morning when the market is still opening and not yet busy. I could imagine this being an unpleasant place in the afternoon when it is hot.
From there we headed to the War Remnants Museum. On the way we got a coconut for about $1. The museum entrance was about $1.50 for two people. This is a shocking and overwhelming place full of history. Be prepared to see graphic images of the war and it’s after effects. There are American planes and tanks on display outside. Inside the three story building are pictures, videos, and displays dedicated to educating people about what happened during and after the war. All of the rooms have really good AC and there are sporadic seats. This might be a good place to visit during the day when it is hot. On the top floor is a children’s play area which looked like it would be fun for small children. Each floor has a restroom, which when we went was clean. This is a great place to visit when you first arrive to Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh City if you have only heard of the war from the American side or don’t know that much about the war at all. It will help give you a since of what these people living here have gone through and had to overcome to get where they are today.
Next was the Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office. The cathedral is beautiful with its red brick, high ceilings, and bell towers. You can read about the history but basically it was built in the 1880s by the French and is still used today for catholic services. There are people at the entrance to make sure people entering have clothing that covers mid sections and is conservative. They do not want people taking pictures inside the gate or inside the church, but you can take all the pictures you want from the outside. The Central Post Office is across the street and is it’s own destination even if you don’t have to mail anything. It was designed by Mr. Eiffel who also did the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower. It is a beautifully preserved building and is worth taking a look.
On our way back to our guest house we got a Banh Mi sandwich and Chinese bao which were $1 and $0.50 respectively. Both were very delicious. We got back to our guest house around 11:00 am which means we walked around for about 4 hours. We walked the whole way which was a total of 3.7 miles or 6 km and spent $10 total. The sidewalks were nice, generally shaded and flat which is more then I can say about the sidewalks at home! We walked by a number of parks with people exercising. There were not that many people walking around which made the walk even that much more pleasant.