Phu My Port is the gateway to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon. During the French regime, the city was called “Pearl of the Orient” and has been once named as the “Paris of Asia” due to its stunning French villas, coffee smells and French bread on every street corner.
Once docked at the Phu My cruise terminal, it is best explore the city by foot. Cabs, however, are cheap in Vietnam and if you want to be more adventurous, you can ride the “cyclos” for a tour around the city. However, most of the one-passenger cyclos have been banned due to traffic.
Your shopping money in Ho Chi Minh will get you a long way even if you lack expert bargaining skills. The best and expensive items are sold at Dong Khai Street. Most of the shops here sell furniture, silk, jewelry, antiques and ceramics. Hardware items and war surplus are sold in stalls along Le Loi Street.
Lacquerware souvenirs are best displayed throughout District 1. You can bargain for desk accessories, vases and trays made of lacquer. Since Vietnam coffee beans are considered to be the best in the world next to Brazil; you can also shop for whole beans sealed in plastic bags at the coffee shop vendors in District 1.
Things to See
You can start your tour at the city’s History Museum and learn Vietnam’s 2,000 years of recorded history through the artifacts displayed. A water puppet theater is also situated inside the museum and a well-stocked gift shop.
The Unification Palace in Le Duan Boulevard was the former Presidential Palace. Most tourists take a picture of the palace from the outside but you may also want to venture inside the building. You will find numerous vintage items such as a 1960s phone, a photo gallery and a propaganda film. A tour inside the palace is free of charge.
Have a taste of Ho Chi Minh’s local delicacies at the Ben Thanh Market. The stalls inside the market also sell flowers, handcrafted items and local meat. Cho Lon is the city’s Chinatown and it will take you the entire day to tour the market.
One of the most lavishly decorated pagodas in the city is Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda at Nguyen Trail. Most visitors drop by to say a quick prayer. Huge coils of incense hang in the pagoda’s ceiling that look similar to Christmas tree skeletons.
A visit to the old U.S Embassy will also remind visitors how it was during the war.
Restaurants and Bars
Most of the restaurants in Ho Chi Ming are westernized and have very expensive menu. Blue Ginger and Lemon Grass are two restaurants that serve excellent food with good value for your money. These restaurants specialize in seafood dishes. You should not also miss the Binh Soup Shop at District 3 that used to be the secret headquarters of Viet Kong infiltrators.
You should also try the pancake restaurants in Dinh Cong Trang Street. A few meters away from the street is a little alley with an open-air kitchen that sells local specialties such as banh xeo.