A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity, and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the convergence of traditional and modern life. Begin with a tour of the historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare, and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Afterward, dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes, and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Then visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas.
In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown). Explore the highlights of this fascinating area, beginning with a walking tour from Tran Hung Dao Street through Nguyen Trai and Soai Kinh Lam market (cloth wholesale market), visit Cha Tam Church. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, built by the Cantonese congregation and dedicated to the heavenly goddess. End the tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.