Today you’ll be treated to a unique city tour via vintage Vespa! After breakfast, hop on the back of a stylish Vespa and jet off to both famous and little-known landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City. Your first stop? Scenic Tao Dan Park to watch the local bird lovers’ club in action (only from 06:00–09:00AM). Sip a delicious local coffee while your guide explains the historical practice of keeping birds in Saigon.
Next, visit the monument of Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk who died by self-immolation on 11 June 1963. His act of protest is one of the enduring images of the Vietnam War and was a statement against the persecution of Buddhists by the Ngo Dinh Diem administration. Continue on to the vibrant Ho Thi Ky Flower Market before riding on to the Funeral Home to learn about Vietnamese funeral customs and ceremonies.
Next, zip through Chinatown to a temple built at the end of 17th century by Chinese immigrants. Built in the Khẩu (“gate”) style with a central courtyard, Nhi Phu’s roof is covered with tube-like tiles lined with mosaics made from broken ceramics. These delightful images depict the eight Taoist immortals, as well as orchids, dragons, and phoenixes.
Take a short stroll through a little alley packed with shops selling tailor’s supplies, then return to District 1 by Vespa. En route, we’ll stop at a Chinese medicine shop to learn about Thuốc Bắc—traditional medicine from China. Next we’ll drive through a tunnel to District 2. Here, you’ll be offered a different perspective—one that lets you see the developing side of Ho Chi Minh City.
Visit a local market before riding back to District 1, where you’ll pass the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Move on to Reunification Palace and the former CIA Office, then drive down Dong Khoi Street. Stop at the historic Opera House (now the Municipal Theatre) for a quick chat about the history and major events of the square.
Our final stop will be one of the most photographed buildings in Vietnam: the meeting place of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee (formerly the Hôtel de Ville). This ornate building is noted for its gardens and luxe interior illuminated by crystal chandeliers.
Today, enjoy some traditional Saigon dishes for lunch at Com Nieu Sai Gon, described as “my favorite place in town” by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.
In the afternoon, take a stroll off the beaten track and into the oldest part of the city. (A car will also be at your disposal.) Explore the atmospheric shops of Antiques Street (Le Cong Kieu), one of Saigon’s best-kept secrets. Here, genuine antiques are mixed with genuine fakes in a jumble of oil lamps, carved wooden chests, abacuses, opium pipes, and more. Continue to the Beaux-Arts Museum, a neo-colonial building with an impressive collection of modern art. You can also pop into the art galleries near the museum exhibiting local works. Then, before continuing to the trendy boutiques of Thon That Thiep Street, take some refreshment at Fanny’s, a quaint, French-style ice cream parlor that’s a true Saigon establishment.
Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese dinner at a private home. Your host family in suburban Ho Chi Minh City will cook a great meal as you learn about how locals really live and eat.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner