Vietnam is home to many UNESCO heritage sites, both tangible and intangible, and Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city of the country, forms a major part of its tourism. Culturally rich with biodiversity of ethnic traditions, beaches, valleys, mountains and much more, the tourism authorities of Vietnam hosted a Ho Chi Minh City roadshow in New Delhi to promote their offerings.
With an aim to promote Vietnam as a tourist destination for outbound Indian travellers, Vietnam organised the ‘Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh Tourism Roadshow’ in New Delhi on February 24, under the chairmanship of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism and top Vietnamese travel agents.
The leader of Ho Chi Minh Tourism delegation and vice ambassador of Vietnam embassy familiarised the guests with destinations in and around the city. The event focused on creating better accommodations and encourage economic liaison between New Delhi, in particular, and Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon), aiming to build better relationships between Vietnam and India.
“In 2017, Vietnam is expected to receive more than 10 million foreign tourists, which is an increase of almost 36 pc in comparison with 2015. Our tourist services have improved over the years, whether it is the infrastructure, good roads, air transport, hotels, restaurants, holidaying, shopping, leisure, food exploration, honeymoon or MICE,” said the vice ambassador of Vietnam.
With historic Hindu temples, Indian restaurants, and the rising footfall of Indian tourists from 17,000 in 2010 to 66,000 in 2015, Vietnam has a lot to offer to the Indian tourists and here is a rundown of some of the must-visit destinations in Ho Chi Minh City to reveal the city’s culture, architecture, religious practices and fascinating history.
Popularly known as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, Mekong Delta, in the southwest region of the country, is famous for its far-reaching paddy fields, plentiful waterways and nonchalant landscapes. It is the biggest rice growing region in Vietnam and produces three harvests annually, thus providing 60 pc of the nation’s rice. However, not only rice, the place is also home to various tropical fruits like durian, coconut, banana, pineapple and dragon fruit. Air and road connectivity to this delta is available, but, traversing the place through its elaborate waterways is the ideal way to explore its beauty.
Phạm Ngũ Lão Street
For the shopaholics, a trip to Phạm Ngũ Lão Street, in the city, is essential. The huge market stands in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, in district 1 and is one of the oldest surviving structures and an important symbol of the city, and is popular among tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, as well as local cuisine. Set along these streets are westernised restaurants, coffee shops, bars, kiosks, motels, hostels, guesthouses, internet cafes and pharmacies. The unique vibe of the place draws people from everywhere, with its proximity to prominent landmarks of the city making it easily accessible.
Tao Dan Park
Spread over an area of 10-hectares, the Tao Dan Park is one of the most bewitching places in the city with its bench-lined walks shaded by towering tropical trees. Thousands of people visit the park, especially during the sunrise, to start the day with morning rays balming their minds and bodies as they jog and stretch. However, if you visit the park at sundown, it is likely that you can spend some quality time with the city’s bird lovers, with cages in their hands, at the famous ‘bird cafe’. The park is split through the middle and towards the northeast is a contemporary sculpture garden and an elite sporting club that is standing there since the the French colonial period, which now has tennis courts, swimming pools and a clubhouse.
Mariamman Hindu Temple
The Mariamman Hindu Temple is a hotspot for not only the little Hindu population in Ho Chi Minh City, but this kaleidoscopic wedge of south India is also considered sacred by many native Vietnamese and Chinese. The temple, which was built at the end of the 19th century, is believed to have miraculous powers and is dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Mariamman.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
Located on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Zoo is the eighth oldest zoo in the world and one of the first projects undertaken by the French after establishing Cochinchina as a colony. It is home to more than a hundred species of mammals, reptiles, birds, rare orchids and ornamental plants, and also houses the famous Museum of Vietnamese History, which conserves and exhibits around 25,000 documents of history, culture and ethnography from the country’s history and a monument dedicated to Vietnamese people, who were killed in World War I. For the ones who wish to experience the Vietnamese wildlife and its blossoms, the garden is divided into animal and plant conservation areas, an orchid garden and an amusement park.