Written by Leah Phan (University of Florida), Student Correspondent CET Vietnam, Summer 2016
02-04 đường số 9, khu đô thị mới Him Lam D7, Tân Hưng, 7, Hồ Chí Minh
Artinus is a 3D interactive art museum. Tickets range from 180,000 – 200,000 VND, approximately $9-$10. As suggested by our roommates you may want to dress slightly nicer as this museum is a place where you are meant to take pictures at. The best part of this museum is that all works are interactive art and beautifully done, from the actual aesthetic value to the technique of each piece of work. Eventually, I stopped trying to take pictures of myself in the piece of art, but rather just the art works because they were so beautiful.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels were an extensive network of tunnels used by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. These tunnels are open to visitors and you are even allowed to crawl through the tunnels. Some individuals enjoy being able to experience this piece of history, but some of my friends have stated that they personal did not enjoy crawling through the tunnels because they felt a bit claustrophobic. I would still recommend going to the tunnels for the experience of it.
There are many pagodas in Vietnam, since this country is predominately Buddhist. My favorite pagoda that I visited thus far was Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda. It was the largest pagoda that I have visited yet, but I believe it is one of the top 5 largest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City, which surprised me. I went and visited with a few family members. I was able to sit down and have tea with one of the monks. He shared with us some of his experiences in Vietnam, brewed tea for us, and gave us some interesting fruit. One thing I would suggest is to sip your tea very slowly when drinking tea with a monk.
Also, known as Ho Con Rua, is a beautiful lake that was once the center of the city, located in the center of a roundabout surrounded by coffee shops and restaurants. Although it is located in the center of the city, I find that there is still a bit of peacefulness to this atmosphere that helps one get away from the city life, in spite of being in the middle of a roundabout.
New District is a shopping center located in district 4 in Ho Chi Minh City, namely for adolescents and young adults. This area tends to be a bit pricier as far as Vietnamese prices go, but I would say that they are the equivalent to prices in the United States. This shopping center is located indoors and is set up similarly to a flea market where you have vendors who set out clothing in a restricted area. Here, you are not allowed to bargain for prices and normally pay what the price tag or vendors say prices are. There are food stands located right on the outside of this market, right next to a small boxing ring (for taking pictures, not to fight). The food here was absolutely delicious. One fascinating thing about new district is the Elisa, which is a floating boat restaurant, which was too expensive for us to eat at, but it was something that was visually nice to see and took us by surprise.
Hello Weekend Market
This market is a 3-minute walk away from the guesthouse. This market normally opens up during the mornings on the weekends, hence “Hello Weekend”. The prices here are reasonable compared to standard US prices, but I would have to say these prices are not as cheap as the prices I heard from my roommates, often times they tell me they get things for 50,000 VND, which is approximately $2.50, but I believe this depends on what you buy and who you buy from. Here there are a lot of miscellaneous items: clothes, shoes, handmade items, hennas, food, and gadgets. You can also buy personalized items such as bracelets and necklaces here.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thank Market is one well-known market and addresses people of all age groups; the only caveat is that it is a tourist trap, according to our roommates. They stated that often times, vendors will sell things to foreigners at an expensive prices and make about 200% profit from them. I believe that at the Ben Thanh Market is more symbolic of markets that I generally see in other parts of Vietnam, such as Da Nang and Hue, where my family are from. You can see live animals, food, candies, meat, flowers, clothes, shoes, jewelries, and other basic goods that
Cho Lon is Vietnam’s China Town, located in district 5 of Ho Chi Minh City. Although the architecture is not as luxurious and “modern” as you will see in District 1, I believe the architect in this area seems more similar to the Vietnam I saw when I was a little girl. There are clearly more illustrations of poverty and what Vietnam used to look like before it became more developed. In Cho Lon stores for almost everything: decorations, arts and crafts, food, clothing, and ceremonies. Here you will also see a lot of street vendors on the side of the roads and houses, although this is very common in Vietnam, here it is almost apparent. Additionally in China Town, there is a street called Hao Si Phuong, which is a street of a small Chinese neighborhood that you are allowed to visit and tour through. Outside of these houses were small shrines, some with precook feathers, as another form of offering in place of using food or other goods, according to my roommate.