I wrote about what you can do on your first day of arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and here some suggestions you can do to on the second day. And a great way to do this is to explore Ho Chi Minh City on foot…
Tai Binh Market
This is not a market which sells souvenirs and handicrafts to tourists but a market where locals go to buy fresh produce. Tai Binh Market is located at the end of the backpackers’ area in District 1 and is best to go there before 10am. The market also sells street food but even if you do not wish to buy any food, you could still visit to experience and see the vibrant colours of their local meat, fruits and vegetables.
The Vietnamese are pretty shy when it comes to taking photos. Each time they saw me holding up my camera, they would immediately turn away to avoid looking at my direction 🙂
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
The next place of interest – about 15-20 minutes’ walk from the backpackers’ area – is the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. The cathedral was established by the French colonists between 1863 and 1880, and its official name is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Known for its two bell towers and neo-Romanesque architecture, the cathedral stands out in downtown HCMC, right in the heart of the city.
Saigon Central Post Office
Across the street from Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral is the Saigon Central Post Office. It was designed and constructed by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel in neoclassical architectural style.
Although this building is still a working post office, many tourists come here to see the beautiful interiors of vaulted roof and arched windows which are reminiscent of early European railway stations. There is a huge picture of Ho Chi Minh hung up high as if he overlooks activities of this Central Post Office.
You would have realized from the first day in HCMC that there are mopeds and scooters everywhere! If you ever wonder how in the world pedestrians cross the street in HCMC, well, here’s the tip. Walk with your head held up high, stare at the motorists coming at you and walk at a steady pace…I repeat…steady pace…
Although you could be freaking out inside you “Oh my God, oh my God, he’s going to hit me!”, the motorists won’t do that unless you make sudden moves. If you stop suddenly in the middle of the road, the motorists would not be able to stop because he is speeding. By walking at a steady pace, the motorists would skilfully manoeuvre around you and at the same time give you a little space to cross the street.
Street Vendors & Parks
Street vendors are everywhere in HCMC selling ice-creams, noodles or local snacks. The women wear the traditional Vietnamese conical hat.
I enjoyed walking around in downtown HCMC – avenues lined with trees which provided some respite from the heat and many parks with more trees – undoubtedly, provided more greenery to the city. The locals especially the youngsters would hang out at the parks, eating street food and ice cream.