Ho Chi Minh City

Hotel de Ville
Notre Dame Cathedral
Jade Emperor Pagoda

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Ho Chi Minh City/Phu My

An effervescent city

Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant port of call for MSC cruise liners on Grand Voyages cruise itineraries.

It’s a fury of sights and sounds, and the crucible in which Vietnam’s rallying fortunes are boiling. Few corners of the city afford respite from the cacophony of construction work casting up new office blocks and hotels with logic-defying speed. An increasing number of cars and minibuses jostle with an organic mass of state-of-the-art Honda SUVs, choking the tree-lined streets and boulevards. 

Amid this melee, the local people go about their daily life: smartly dressed schoolkids wander past streetside baguette-sellers; women shoppers ride motorbikes clad in gangster-style bandanas to protect their skin from the sun and dust; while teenagers in designer jeans chirrup into mobile phones. MSC Cruises shore excursions can be a clever option to see much of Ho Chi Minh City’s fun that derives from the simple pleasure of absorbing its flurry of activity – something best done from the seat of a cyclo or a roadside café. 

To blink is to miss some new and singular sight, be it a motorbike stacked high with piglets bound for the market, or a boy on a bicycle rapping out a staccato tattoo on pieces of bamboo to advertise noodles for sale. 

For some visitors, the American war is their primary frame of reference and such historical hot spots as the Reunification Palace rank highly on their itineraries. In addition, ostentatious reminders of French rule abound, among them such memorable buildings as Notre Dame Cathedral and the grandiose Hotel de Ville – but even these look spanking-new when compared to gloriously musty edifices like Quan Am Pagoda and the Jade Emperor Pagoda, just a couple of the many captivating places of worship across the city. And don’t miss Ben Thanh Market, the teeming Vietnamese market par excellence, check the city’s pulse here on an early morning stroll.

Must see places in Ho Chi Minh City

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    Paddy fields and a lot of bustle
    Paddy fields and a lot of bustle

    Vietnam occupies a narrow strip of land that hugs the eastern borders of Cambodia and Laos, hemmed in by rugged mountains to the west, and by the South China Sea – or the East Sea, as the Vietnamese call it.

    To the north and south of its narrow waist, it fantails out into the splendid deltas of the Red River and the Mekong, and it’s in these regions that you’ll encounter the paddy fields, dragonflies, buffaloes and conical-hatted farmers that constitute the classic image of Vietnam. During an MSC Grand Voyages cruise to Vietnam you will discover Ho Chi Minh City, which for the majority of visitors, provides a head-spinning introduction to this country. Set beside the broad swell of the Saigon River, the southern capital is rapidly being transformed into a Southeast Asian mover and shaker to compete with the best of them. 

    The city’s breakneck pace of life translates into a stew of bizarre characters and unlikely sights and sounds, and ensures that almost all who come here quickly fall for its singular charm. Furious commerce carries on cheek by jowl with age-old traditions; grandly indulgent colonial edifices peek out from under the shadows of looming office blocks and hotels; and cyclo drivers battle it out with late-model Japanese taxis in the chaotic boulevards.