Ho Chi Minh City

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Although HCMC is a sprawling metropo lis - and growing by the day - there is still some splendid exploring you can do on foot. This walking tour covers the city centre, Dis trict 1 (or 'Saigon'), and can be done in one, stimulus-filled day. Begin your excursion bright and early in Pham Ngu Lao, a teeming area of colourful shops and backpacker cafes. Skip the greasy eggs and bacon, however, and instead grab a bowl of steaming pho, which you can enjoy from a sidewalk vendor (prevalent along 1) Bui Vien) or a few blocks away from Pho 2000 serving tasty noodles to locals, for eigners and the odd dignitary from time to time - including former US president Bill Clinton. Cross the road and enter the vast indoor Ben Thanh Market, which is at its bust- ling best in the morning. After exploring the' market cross the massive roundabout (care fully!), where you'll see a statue of Tran Nguyen Hai(4) on horseback. One short block south. on Đ Pho Duc Chinh, is the quaint Fine Arts Museum where you can tour some exhibits, and peek in some excellent gallery behind the museum. Zigzag east to ĐL Ham Nghi and turn north again on Đ Ton That Dam to stroll through the colorful outdoor street market. Nearby, on Đ Ton That Dam, you can stop for a snack at Fanny which serves Saigon's best ice cream, From there, take a left to D Pasteur and continue up to ĐL Le Loi, the large boulevard leading; towards tile grand and thoughtfully restored Municipal Theatre. One short block before the theatre, turn left at the Rex Hotel and head up Dl- Nguyen Hue. Just ahead, at the northern end of the boulevard, is the stately French colonial era Hotel de Ville. You’ll have to admire it frrom the outside because is now home' to the local People’s Commit-
tee - requests to visit the interior are denied However, a one-block walk south on Đ Le Thanh Ton will bring you to the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, where visitors an warmly received. The popular War Remnants Museum is just a few blocks along Đ Nam Ky Khoi Nghia then left on D Vo Van Tan. Nearby is the Reunification Palace. Break up your sightseeing with lunch at one of man) excellent restaurants nearby, including Quan An Ngon.
After refueling, stroll north along DL Le Duan, stopping to look at Notre Dame Cathedral and the impressive French-style post office. There you can buy lovely stamps and post letters to your soon-to-be jealous friends back home. If your energy is waning, call it a day and skip to No 19, otherwise continue along Đ Le Duan to the end of the boulevard where you'll find one of HCMC's best museums, the excellent History Museum which is on the grounds of the zoo and botanic gardens. A few blocks northwest along D Nguyen Bin Chime will bring you to Jade Emperor Pagoda a remarkably peaceful (and photogenic) refuge just steps from a busy avenue. As the afternoon wanes, end your walking lour at the rooftop bar of the Sheraton Saigon if coming from the Jade Emperor Pagoda, consider hopping on a xe Om and zipping there for 10,000d. With a refreshing cocktail in hand, you can enjoy fine view, over the city - a fair bit of which you've just traversed.

Start Pham Ngu Lao
End Sheraton Saigon
Distance 5km
Duration approximately 6 hours