Time: The 23rd day of the third lunar month. Place: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.
Objects of worship: Lady Thien Hau.
Characteristics: The via Ba (her birthday anniversary) ceremony is hold at Thien Hau Pagoda, which is one of the oldest pagodas of the Chinese in Cho Lon. Many Chinese people come to the festival, they make two effigies of Ong Thien (Good God) and Ong Ac (Evil God) with 3m long. At the end of the festival, the effigies are burned for worshipping.
Ben Thanh market
Location: Ben Thanh Market is situated at the intersection of Le Loi Avenue, Ham Nghi Avenue, Tran Hung Dao Avenue and Le Lai Street, 700m south-west of the Rex Hotel.
Characteristics: At first, the market was situated near the Ben Nghe River Dike. After being moved many times, it is now standing in the centre of the city where consumers can conveniently find all sorts of products.
According to Vuong Hong Sen, author of "the book Saigon of the Past", in 1912, the French filled a pond, the Boresse, into a solid foundation of 12,000m² and built a market on it. The market was close to a landing stage (Ben) of the old city (Thanh), hence its name of Ben Thanh. The opening ceremony for the market in March 1914 was a big festive event.
At present, the front of Ben Thanh Market faces Quach Thi Trang Square; its rear faces Le Thanh Ton Street; its right, Phan Chu Trinh Street and its left, Phan Boi Chau Street. At all of its four sides, there are bustling trading shops. Located at the centre of the city, Ben Thanh Market is always loaded with varieties of goods, such as consumer goods, cakes and candies, food and foodstuff, and particularly high-quality fruit and vegetables. Goods are displayed in a very attractive way that always catches the eyes of the buyers. They meet all requirements for the customers' daily life or for their families. The market has four gates that are very convenient for the market-goers. For all of its advantages, Ben Thanh Market is one of the most attractive tourist sites in the city for both domestic and foreign visitors.
Cho Lon market
Location: Cho Lon is located at Tran Hung Dao Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.In 1788, a group of Chinese from Pho and My Tho Islands came to Ben Nghe River Dike and founded a market which developed into the existent Cholon Market, offering a wide array of products. This is Vietnam's Chinatown market. It is an attractive site for visitors to observe that lively atmosphere.
Giac Lam pagoda
Location: Giac Lam Pagoda is located at 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: It is one of the city's oldest pagodas with many Buddha statues made of brass and precious timber.
Giac Lam Pagoda (also known as the Cam Son or Cam Dien Pagoda) was built in 1744, under the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Unlike many other local religious structures, it has not been renovated since 1900; the architecture, layout, and ornamentation remain almost unaltered. The scenery around the pagoda is picturesque and many people come here to write or recite poetry.
Standing in the front garden is a shining white statue of the Goddess of Mercy, perched upon a lotus blossom, a symbol of purity. Inside, on either side of the main altar, are statues of Ameda Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha, along with more representations of the Goddess of Mercy. Giac Lam Pagoda is open from 6 am to 9 pm.
Duc Ba Cathedral
Location: Duc Ba Cathedral is located on Han Thuyen Street, facing down Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: The resplendent Governor's Palace, completed in 1875, symbolized the regime's political power in Asia. And five years later, the Duc Ba (Our Lady's) Cathedral was inaugurated, and became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient.
After the first French colonizing force arrived in Vietnam in the mid - 19thcentury, it took only 21 years before the country had a cathedral to match the hulking Gothic edifices of France itself. The cathedral is supposed to represent the glory of the French Empire. Yet, as is always the case with colonization, this attempt to import French traditions into Vietnam transformed the colonizers' culture in the process. Even though the cathedral is built in a Western architectural style, it has a uniquely Eastern aspect.
Several architects put forward design proposals for the cathedral, but in 1877 the authorities selected Mr Bourard, who was famed for his religious architecture. He envisaged, and executed, a basilica-like structure with a square plan. The cathedral is composed of two main central bays with two sidereal corridors, with tall pillars and light coming in through sets of high windows, and a semi-circular shrine. The style follows a Roman pattern, although the outside contains some modifications: the cathedral's vaults are Gothic, and a modern steel skeleton supports the whole building.
The whole building is well-ventilated thanks to a system of air-holes placed above and under the windows. The belfry is 57m high. For a long time it was the highest structure in the city centre, and was the first thing an arriving traveller would see when approaching the city by boat. Six bells weigh a combined 25,850kg. In 1885, the floor was taken apart and new pillars were added, because the original foundation could not bear the cathedral's weight. Stepping inside the cathedral, tourists see a line of Chinese characters eulogizing the Jesus' mother, "the innocent and unblemished Virgin Mother", and stained-glass portraits of Vietnamese believers amid Asiatic plants. On the square in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of the Virgin Mother made of white marble, symbolizing peace. All told, it's an unusual building: a Western architectural and religious style that has been transplanted into, and adapted to, the East. The colonizers were trying to impose French beliefs and customs onto Vietnam but once that culture arrived on Asia's shores, it took on a life of its own. The cathedral is seen as a unique synthesis, adding an unmistakable Oriental flavour to an ancient Occidental recipe
Cu Chi tunnel
Location: Cu Chi Tunnels are located approximately 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City centre in Cu Chi Rural District.
Characteristic: Cu Chi Tunnels consist of more than 200km of underground tunnels. This main axis system has many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters, and entrances to other tunnels.
Cu Chi District is known nationwide as the base where the Vietnamese mounted their operations of the Tet Offensive in 1968.The tunnels are between 0.5 to 1m wide, just enough space for a person to walk along by bending or dragging. However, parts of the tunnels have been modified to accommodate visitors. The upper soil layer is between 3 to 4m thick and can support the weight of a 50-ton tank and the damage of light cannons and bombs. The underground network provided sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, hospitals, and other social rooms. Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels provides a better understanding of the prolonged resistance war of the Vietnamese people and also of the persistent and clever character of the Vietnamese nation.
Today the halls that showed propagandas films, housed educational meetings and schooled Vietnamese in warfare are largely intact. So too are the kitchens where visitors can dine on steamed manioc, pressed rice with sesame and salt, a popular meal during the war, as they are assailed with true stories of how life went on as near-normal, much of the time. Ancestors were worshipped there, teaching was well-timetabled, poultry was raised - and7 even couples trusted, fell in love, were wed, and honeymooned there.
But visitors have it easier: those re-constructed tunnels give the flavour of the tunnels but not the claustrophobia and the sacrifice of the estimated 18,000 who served their silent and unseen war there with only around one-third surviving, the rest casualties of American assaults, snakes, rats and insects.
Now the unseen and undeclared No Man's Land is undergoing a revival, saluted as a Relic of National History and Culture with its Halls of Tradition displaying pictures and exhibits. The nearby Ben Duoc-Cu Chi War Memorial, where the reproduced tunnels have been built, stands as an-above ground salute to a hidden war.
Ben Duoc Monument
Location: Ben Duoc Monument was built in Cu Chi District, about 70km from Ho Chi Minh City centre.
Characteristic: The Ben Duoc Monument to the War Martyrs is a harmonious architectural complex. The monument was built according to the design of a traditional Vietnamese temple.
The monument is dedicated to the war martyrs from 40 cities and provinces, who laid down their lives on the battle fields in Saigon - Cho Lon - Gia Dinh during the anti-French and US resistance wars for national independence and freedom.
It has a three-entrance gate. In the main shrine are worshipped 44,357 martyrs and heroic mothers whose name are carved on marble plates and gilded with gold. On the ground floor, a mini-mock up, pictures, and many other show pieces about the hard life and battles of the army men and local people during the wars are displayed. There is also a nine-storey tower, 39m high, surrounded with gardens with flowers that blossom all the year round and with diverse kinds of ornamental plants.
Since its establishment in 1995 the monument has welcomed thousands of visitors, both domestic and foreign, especially on Martyrs' Day - July 27th - who come to enjoy the local scenery and show their respect to the national heroes.
Binh Quoi Tourist Village
Location: Binh Quoi Tourist Village is located on the Thanh Da peninsula by the Saigon River, 8km from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: This is the city's biggest resort with its unique scenery.
There are 55 modern-equipped bedrooms in the village, which nestle under big trees by the river. The village's restaurant is where big parties can be held and famous grilled dishes and Vietnamese traditional specialties can be found. There are marvellous shows of traditional music in the evening, including "Ky Yen Festival," "Southern amateur singing on Ghe Hau," "Traditional Vietnamese Wedding." Such shows attract a great deal of domestic and overseas tourists. You can also go water-surfing, fishing, swimming, play tennis, and many other kinds of sport. From Binh Quoi, you can boat along the Saigon River to visit the Ben Duoc Underground Tunnel, Lai Thieu Fruit Gardens, and back to the Nha Rong Harbour.
Location: The Betel Hamlets are situated in Hoc Mon District, about 10km centre of Ho Chi Minh City.The betel gardens have such lush and green foliage that one can stand under these frames when it is raining without getting wet.