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» Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City (Otherwise Known as Saigon)
» Things to See in Ho Chi Minh City: Ben Thanh Market
» Cao Dai Temple
» Cholon
» Chu Chi Tunnels
» Churches
» Cinemas
» Mosques
» Park Life
» Reunification Hall
» Saigon Zoo
» Street Markets
» War Relics

» Things to Buy: Vietnamese Modern Art
» Things to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City: Restaurant Guide
» Places to Party in Ho Chi Minh City: Bars and Clubs
» Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Hotels
» Getting There: Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport
» Further Afield: Phu Quoc Island
» Buying Real Estate in Vietnam?
» Learning Basic Travel Vietnamese
» Media in Vietnam
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Paddy's Market, in Chinatown, Sydney, Australia
Paddy's Market, in Chinatown, Sydney, Australia

Sacked and Sorted /// BEN THANH MARKET
BENH THANH MARKET IS PERHAPS AS CLOSE TO THE CENTER OF HO CHI MINH CITY AS YOU CAN GET. As well as being a landmark and a popular tourist attraction, Ben Thanh (called Chợ Bến Thành in Vietnamese) is the hob of the city's transport system. There is a bus station across the road from the markets which covers the entire metropolis. When the subway is finally built, it will surely stop beneath the market.

The transport hub of HCMC!

Bến Thành Market is probably one of the best places in the world to buy counterfeit goods. North Face bags and jackets hang outside stalls deep in the labyrinth. Believe it or not Vietnamese actually like buying fake shit, it gives them a chance to wear luxury brands. Chinese medicinal products such as herbs and dried seahorses are on sale all over the place. Dried scorpions can be found and bought too although I have never actually seen them. There are many temples. Ch・スa B・ス Thi・スn Hậu is one of the more colorful, but they are all good.

Streets slick after summer rain

The whole place reminds me of the old kung fu movies from the 1970s which I used to watch with Matt Tumbers in Australia. Right across the street from Ch・スa B・ス Thi・スn Hậu is a community youth center, built like a concrete shell. As I walked past in the hot sun I could hear what sounded like kung fu grunts emanating from those typically Indochinese concrete ventilation slats... obviously the new generation were recieving their education. It was just another day in backstreet Chợ Lớn.
Chinese church on the road to Cholon

BEN THANH SET TO BECOME TRANSPORT HOB OF HO CHI MINH CITY: Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai attended a ceremony on August 24 at which the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee formally marked the start of work on metro Line 2. Opening is scheduled for 2016. The first phase of Line 2 will be 11·2 km long, linking Tham Luong in the northwestern District 12 to Ben Thanh in the central District 1, following the Duong Truong Chinh, Duong Cash Mang Thang Tam, Pham Hong Thai and Dai Lo Ham Nghi roads. There will be a 1 km spur to the depot at Tham Luong, and the line will have one elevated station at Tham Luong and 10 underground stations. It will initially require 12 three-car trains, a study by MVA recommending 750 V DC third rail electrification. As Rusty Compass illustrates, Chợ Lớn used to be notorious for its brothels, opium dens and casinos. The vice is gone presumebaly, but Chợ Lớn maintains its economic vitality.

Motorcycle dealerships on An Duong Vuong Street, District 5, on the way to Cholon

Address: 111 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Named after one of the early kings of Vietnam, An Duong Vuong Street is a good introduction to the modern bustle and hustle of Chợ Lớn. One the street you can find the huge Windsor Plaza Hotel, and the famous Ngan Dinh Chinese restaurant which is housed inside. It is all the right ambience. Just as my ten years in Japan (2000s) have given me the chance to live out my Bladerunner fantasies on a daily basis, so my coming 10 years (2010s) in Vietnam will give me the chance to live out my Apocalypse Now! fantasies. And my Hemingway and Graham Greene fantasies as well, to various degrees of appropriateness. The Reunification Hall was one of the first landmarks I noticed on my first trip into Ho Chi Minh City in mid 1995, wondering what the hell I was doing in this feral and forsaken place. Ho Chi Minh City has changed a lot since then, and so have I.

Sign for a Chinese medical clinic

THERE WERE PLENTY OF FAMOUS IMAGES FROM THE VIETNAM WAR, BUT ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS, WAS THAT OF TANKS SMASHING THEIR WAY THROUGH THE GATES OF THE BUILDING NOW KNOWN AS REUNIFICATION HALL. Of course Vietnam was not reunified at the time, and it was then called Dinh Độc Lập, or .... fly from/to Ho Chi Minh City daily (3-5 flights a day) and from/to Rach Gia (1 flight a day). Air ticket rate:
- Ho Chi Minh -Phu Quoc Island : 1.040.000 VND (2 ways) ($63.63.)
You can book flights to Phu Quoc Island online -- check this Or even better, book flights and check the flight schedule using the official Eating Asia's Guide to Cholon.

Sign for a Chinese medical clinic

Binh Tay Market: Phan Van Khoe Street, District 6, Cholon.
Open from 6am to 6pm.
Being a wholesale market, this lacks the aggressive vendors of Ben Thanh Market in the center of town. There is a food court in the market. On the nearby Yersin St rises the Dan Sinh Market, which specialises in hardware.

Ciaran and Ruth (from Ireland) write: "A spectacular palace from the outside (see Ruth from it's balcony above), the inside is decked out according to the opulence enjoyed by South Vietnamese President Van Thieu and his predecessors before they made their sudden exit when the North Vietnamese made their entrace. They - unlike us - used tanks to remove the gate. We found an easier entrance, just to the left, where you can be admitted for about 50 cent - it mustn't have been open that day. Maybe the current decorators are exaggerating a bit to demonstrate the counter-socialist ideals of the south before its liberation, or maybe its accurate, but this place is like a cross between the Playboy Mansion and a Bond villain's secret lair. The cinema, game room, snooker tables and piano co-exist with the Map Rooms and underground bunkers decked out with those old Telecom Eireann phones (though I don't think they were the actual suppliers) and enormous radios. It really has the feel of a place Dr. Evil would occupy while plotting his takeover of the world. Probably for more than 1 million dong. That wouldn't even cover the bill in a decent hotel. Or gifts for an engaged couple - though we don't know the price of a good pair of ducks in those days..."

Mother and daughter resting in the humid night.

The projects, Vietnamese style. These apartment blocks are in District 5. Note that many of the apartments seem to have air conditioning. That said, the blue building in the mid-right can't even be assed having windows for half of its surface area. It's like they gave up allocating windows halfway down. Or maybe those were copies and the original gates were stolen by some enterprising entrepreneurs one night and sold as scrap metal. Probably that's the case:..

There are very basic medical facilities at both Ham Ninh and An Thoi, with the latter being the better, but for anything more serious than a hangover or a paper cut -- head to Saigon.

As this Dinh Doc Lap site reports: "In 1858, French Colonialists opened fire to attack Da Nang starting a war to invade Vietnam. In 1867, the French completely occupied six provinces of the South (Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang, Ha Tien). In 1868, the French Government started to have designed and built at the center of Saigon a palace used as the Governor General・スfs Palace and named it NORODOM's Palace. The construction was started on Feb. 23, 1868 and completed in 1871 by the French Governor General in the South of Vietnam named Lagradieøre who placed the first stone. From 1871 to 1887 it was called the Governor General・スfs Palace of the South Part.
"From 1887-1945 many periods of the French Governors General used this building as a residing and working place throughout the Indochina aggressive period.
"On March 9, 1945, Japanese fascists・スf revolution overthrew the French, soly occupied Indochina, Norodom's Palace was the working place of the Japanese Government in Vietnam. From Sept. 1945, the Japanese failed in the II World War, the French returned to occupy the South part, Norodom・スfs Palace was the working office of the aggressive war machinery of the French in Vietnam.
"On May 7, 1954, the French Colonialists lost heavily in Dien Bien Phu campaign, after that they were obliged to sign Geneva Agreement and withdrew from Vietnam. The American tried to jump in to carry out their attempt to invade the South , Vietnam was temporarily divided into 2 regions, the North was under the regime of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, while the South was the Republic of Vietnam.
"On Sept. 07, 1954 Norodom Palace was handed over between the French Government representative-General PAUL ELY and Saigon ruling representative-Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. Ngo Dinh Diem decided to change the name of the Palace to the Palace of Independence. Since then the Palace of Independence became the residence of Ngo Dinh Diem・スfs family and a place witnessing many political events. Ngo Dinh Diem maintained a family ruling dictatorial regime, he pushed the people into strategic hamlets, carried out the 10/59 law bringing guillotines to all over the South, he did not only cause indignation among the people but also caused disagreement within the Government cabinet of Saigon.

Sign for a Chinese medical clinic

Bien Xanh Hotel US$15 Check rates online

Bo Resort: Ong Lang Beach.
Skinned frogs and snakes for sale. Tam Xuan (Wild Rose) hotel US$10 Check rates online Thang Long - Phu Quoc Hotel US$17 Check rates online Thanh Quoc Hotel US$18 Check rates online RESORTS
Gecko Jacks: On Bai Sao Beach.
Most Vietnamese websites are crap, but the homepage of this resort (click here in case you missed the link above) is cool. With its slick design and innovative code, the site serves a good introduction to Phu Quoc Island in particular. One of the designers (Captain Jacks) who flew from Noose on Australia's beautiful Sunshine Coast, to the even more beautiful Bai Sao Beach, wrote of his assignment: "As I promised, a little about my trip to Vietnam, I went there to help in the set up of Geko Jacks, this will be a small resort on the island on Phu Quoc which is off the coast of Cambodia, although the island belongs to Vietnam. The beach in the picture is called Bai-sao and is with out doubt one of the most amazing beaches i have ever seen. We spent the time clearing the jungle and putting up a wall around the block to keep it from being moved in on by the fisherman, the rest of the time was enjoyed by drinking the local rum which at $1.50 a bottle was not to bad at all... Well from what i can remember it was not. Over time i will post more pics from the island.. and keep you posted as to when you can come over and enjoy the white sand crystal clear water and very cheap local rum for yourself."

Sign for a Chinese medical clinic

Phu Quoc Island is only 50 minutes by plane from Ho Chi Minh City, where the average temperature is 27 C degree. Phu Quoc is very rich in natural resources and there are many white sandy beaches are unspoiled. Moreover, rivers, streams, channels are found nearly everywhere in the islands. 150 Three-Star rooms with modern equipments. Services : Swimming pool, tennis, beach games, beach volley ball, massage, 200 place meeting room, restaurant with special sea-food. Taking and meeting tourist services at Thien Hai Son Resort. Receptionists are ready to serve visitors with pleasure. Saigon Phu Quoc Resort: 1 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong Town, Kien Giang,Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province.
Phone: 84 77 846 999. Fax: 84 77 847 163.
Saigon Phu Quoc Resort. Saigon Phu Quoc resort is the first Vietnam's three-star island resort with 90 well-equipped bungalows and apartments of international standard. The Phu Quoc Island and resort offers pristine beaches and forests to all nature lovers and travellers, making the your stay there a memorable time.
Saigon Phu Quoc Resort is only 50 minutes by plane from Ho Chi Minh City, where the average temperature is 27 C degree. Phu quoc island is very rich in natural resources and there are many white sandy beaches are unspoiled. Moreover, rivers, streams, channels are found nearly everywhere in the islands. Located on the hill of coconut palm trees occupied around 3.5 hectares, Saigon Phu quoc is a beautiful seaside resort in a quiet place and plenty of sunshine. Just 10 minutes from the airport, the resort is an ideal haven for relaxing, fishing, trekking snorkeling and scuba diving. The resort provides a perfect balance between relaxation and excitement. Visitors can enjoy special seafood, cocktails by the pool bar or on private balconies while watching sunset over the ocean.
90 rooms and bungalows of the resort equipped with AC air-con, safety box, private bathroom, in-house Internet, IDD telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, decorative plant and Balcony.
Restaurants: Saigon restaurant with 150-seat offer international and local dishes, specializes in sea food. Pool bar and Beach bar offer barbecue dinner. Facilities: Swimming pool; Beauty salon and Health club: body, foot & hand massage & sauna parlor; Jacuzzi; Badminton and Foot ball field; Karaoke club. Water sports: water-skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Services: tour desk for fishing, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, camping, eco-tour, sightseeing tour, car and motor-bike rental.

Thousand Star Resort US$18 Check rates online Thuan Thien Hotel US$12 Check rates online Tropicana Resort US$25 Check rates online Yen Phuong Minihotel US$8 "In another story, Tran Minh Phuong, 23, an accountant at a toy-making company in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) says she earns VND1.8 million ($113) a month and has to pay a third of that in rent for her little one-room apartment.

"They all dream of owning their own apartments but with property price sky-rocketing that is simply impossible.

"Not only locals but about 81,000 expats in Vietnam have also suffered from soaring rents and greedy landlords, even though their income is much higher..."

(For full story click here.)

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Binh Tay Market. Address: Hau Giang Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City Cholon temples and shopping hotspots.