I’m now on Day 6 of my Cambodia and Vietnam trip and this time we booked a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels and a half day city tour from Sinh Tourist (Sinh Cafe). We didn’t try other travel agencies because so far, we are satisfied by their service. We paid 8 USD (P360) per person for the 1/2 day Cu Chi Tunnels tour and 1/2 day city tour. The tour was exclusive of entrance fees so we paid the entrance fees: 3.75 USD (P168) per person for the Cu Chi Tunnels, 0.75 USD (P33) the War Remnants Museum, and 0.75 USD (P33) for the Reunification Hall.
We left the Sinh Tourist office by 8:15am and it took us more than an hour to reach the Cu Chi Tunnels in Cu Chi district. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of connecting underground tunnels that were used by the Vietnamese during the US-Vietnam war. The tunnels served as hiding spots for the Viet Cong guerrillas. These tunnels also played an important role for the withdrawal of the American soldiers. The traps and entrance doors to the tunnels were almost undetectable which made it difficult for the American soldiers to find them.
After visiting the Cu Chi tunnels, we dropped by at a souvenir shop. It is a big factory that sells a wide range of locally made souvenirs. After that, we went back to the Sinh Tourist office. We had our lunch and the city tour started by 2:30pm. Our first destination was the War Remnants Museum. The museum contains exhibits about the Vietnam war. It was really saddening to see the photos of the Vietnamese people especially the children who were affected by the war.
Next, we visited the Reunification Palace. It is one of the popular landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City. The palace served as the seat of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was also the place where the communist North and the anti-communist South Vietnam became united during the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
We also visited the General Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral that are located just across one other. Although Ho Chi Minh City (formerly called Saigon) is now a modernized city, the General Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral are one of the remaining buildings that reflect that city’s French colonization during the mid-1800s. Due to French domination, you could still see some French architectures around the city. I think what makes Saigon more interesting is its unique combination of being modernized and vintage at the same time.
The city tour ended by 5pm but if you would ask me what was the highlight of my day, it was when my Vietnamese friend gave me a tour around the city. Actually, I only met her in our travel agency’s tour group in Cambodia so I never knew her before joining this trip but she has been very kind to me. She offered me a city tour riding her motorbike and it was really fun! We first visited her sister’s family. It was my first time to visit a Vietnamese home. They were also very nice to me. Then, we ate dinner, drank coffee and yeah.. libre nya lahat! 🙂 It was one of the unforgettable acts of kindness I experienced in my trip.
It was really great to have a tour around the city at night. The ambiance of the city at night is much different than day time. The roads were really busy and the city was full of lights. I hope I could capture the moment but it would be dangerous to use my camera while riding the motorbike. The streets were really crazy. Motorbikes were coming from everywhere and they were driving really fast. Anyway, it was really fun and truly an experience I would never forget. So I guess, one of the things that I would suggest you try is to ride a motorbike around the city. It’s one of the great ways to experience the crazy streets of the city. Hehe. Surely, this made my last night in Saigon. :-)