Ho Chi Minh City Journals

Hectic Ho Chi Minh City

A September 2005 trip to Ho Chi Minh City by jl32

Quote: With more people than Chicago, Ho Chi Minh City, the city named for Vietnam's famous Communist, buzzes and sparks with Capitalist delights. With wide French-designed streets, HCMC's busy and frenetic development offers travelers a dizzying array of luxury hotels, restaurants, and nightspots.

Rex Hotel

Hotel

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The Rex gets a lot of attention because it's one of a few Vietnamese-owned four-star hotels. HCMC has plenty of four- and even five-star hotels, but most, like the Sheraton and the new Park Hyatt, are owned by big Western companies. It's a Saigon staple for its great location near the old French-style City Hall, and of course, its campy-kitsch bar, with neon lights, bonsai trees, and no shortage of gold and elephants. Yes, elephants. Indeed, the Rex's bar is the hight of bad taste done so well it's comfortable. The rest of the hotel is pleasantly tacky and seems to never take itself too seriously.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

Rex Hotel
141 Nguyen Hue Street
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 70000
+84-8-8293115

Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden Bar

Restaurant | "Rex Hotel Rooftop Bar"

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This place is ridiculous--large gold crowns, gilded elephants, bonsai trees, neon lights, christmas lights, pagodas--the Rex rooftop has a stellar view of the glitzy and picturesque District 1. The setting is hysterically done in bad taste to the extreme it becomes comfy. The bar menu is extensive, but overpriced. Drinks, like a 7-UP, run $2 and then up, up, up. While $2 might not seem like a lot for a soft drink, remember, this is Vietnam, where out on the street a soda or beer runs anywhere from 30 cents to a dollar. A little pricey, but with its crazy decor and quality service, it's worth a drink, or two, or three. As for drinks, try the Saigon--we did and loved it. As always, a Tiger Beer is good ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden Bar
141 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(84-8) 38292185

War Remnants Museum

Attraction | "The War Remnants Museum"

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I'm going to make a serious warning: This is one of the most intense museums you'll ever see. Ever. I'm sure of that. Pictures of dead soldiers, Americans laughing over hacked up Vietnamese civilians, photographers and war correspondents laying in puddles of blood. On display you'll see American guns and bombs and planes, deformed Agent Orange fetuses in flasks, slippers and clothes from people former Senator Bob Kerrey allegedly killed--by slitting their throats. It's not for everyone, not for the faint of heart. There's a general anti-American feeling here, which is not at all indicative of the country as a whole at all. If you can stand it, check out the Tiger Cages, where Vietnamese civilians were...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

War Remnants Museum
28 Vo Van Tan St, District 3
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(08) 829 5587

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So, what is it? It was the old South Vietnam capitol building and now seems like a bunch of kitschy conference rooms. The tour is lengthly and worth passing up. The view from the balcony is worth checking out so bring a camera for that. The rest of this place is pretty dilipidated and tacky. I do recognize, however, the lack of touristy things to see in HCMC, so you'll probably want to check this out if for no other reason that because it's there.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

Reunification Palace
106 Duong Nguyen Du, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Looking at Notre Dame, now with large skyscrapers behind it, you forget you are in Vietnam. The French charm of the building and the Euro-chic of the nearby towering glass skycrapers make HCMC a destination for ever Vietnamese looking to strike it rich. The church is well maintained, which is saying a lot in Indochina, where high humidity, war, and lack of money has ruined many rare sights and made preserving history a distant issue. Notre Dame lives up to its namesake and is a piece of Vietnam's French colonial history worth seeing.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

The Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office
Dong Khoi, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Vinh Silk

Attraction

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This is a gorgeous East-meets-West high end fashion outpost in the very hip and fashionable District 1. A little digging outside District 1 will reveal a lot of Vinh Silk copies at much more competive prices. If you want more value, check out the city of Hoi An, where tailoring is all done to order, to your measurements. Needless to say, Vinh Silk is capitalising on the growing Vietnamese economy and the burgeoning wealth in the city, but I suggest being a savvy consumer and taking only inspiration from this high-end boutique.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 16, 2005

Vinh Silk
District One
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam