Trip to Vietnam: Part 4 (Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh)

We’re in our final part of my Vietnam vacation series, this time I’m going to let you peek into Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh! I did more of sightseeing for this, unlike in the other places where we stayed long listening or learning about the structures. As usual, lots of photos coming your way!

After tomb-hopping in Hue, we went for a 5 hour-drive to Hoi An and arrived at our hotel in the evening. I loved our hotel since it’s very near to some of the best restaurants (when I say near, I mean just across the street!). Hoi An is a foodie’s paradise, there is just so much to try and everything is really good. Want proof? Well, besides all the yummy food, tourists often flock to the restaurants to take cooking classes. Every restaurant I’ve been to has them!

Cao lau. My favorite Vietnamese food!
Cao lau. My favorite Vietnamese food!

The next morning, we we went to My Son Holy Land, the Hindu temple and sanctuary of the ancient Cham people in Vietnam. Most of the structures were destroyed during the war due to bombing. But since it has been proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, restoration and conservation efforts are in place. Our guide showed us the bricks that the ancient Cham people used in building the monuments and until now, they look newer and better compared to the bricks that were used in the reconstruction, which look worn out. He told us that until now, no one knows the secret to the Cham people’s construction techniques.

(Please pardon my handwriting :D)
(Please pardon my handwriting :D)

 

The ruins make a nice background!
The ruins make a nice background!
One of the Hindu structures destroyed in the bombing.
One of the Hindu structures destroyed in the bombing.

After exploring the ruins, we went on a walking tour of Hoi An Old Town. Our guide said that Chinese and Japanese traders used to frequent this place since they considered it to be the best trading destination in the region. It has since been replaced as a center of trade but it is a lively tourist destination because of the city’s traditional architecture and historical significance.

The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An. It may look small but inside, there is a temple where travelers used to pray.
The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An. It may look small but inside, there is a temple where travelers used to pray.
Hoi An is known for
Hoi An is also known for its textiles and silk industry, so it’s natural to find silkworm farms in some stores!
The Fujian Assembly Hall
The Fujian Assembly Hall
A koi pond in Hoi An. Our guide said that they have a belief that koi can become dragons someday, which reflects their own values: an ordinary person can become extraordinary if they work hard for it.
A koi pond in Hoi An. Our guide said that they have a belief that koi can become mighty dragons someday, which reflects their own values: an ordinary person can become extraordinary if they work hard for it.
Hanging incense. Each one lasts for 20 days, and then they're replaced by new ones.
Hanging incense. Each one lasts for 20 days, and then they’re replaced by new ones.

The next morning, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City. There was a problem with our flight that caused us to arrive in the evening, thus missing out on the city tour. I wasn’t able to spend much time in Ho Chi Minh, which I really regret because it’s such a large city with so many things to see. We were only able to explore Mekong Delta, which is a great place to explore village life in Vietnam. After that, we visited the Vinh Trang Pagoda, where you can see giant Buddha statues besides the usual pagoda architecture, so at least I still got to enjoy some of what the South has to offer!

We rode on one of these while exploring the Mekong Delta!
We rode on one of these while exploring the Mekong Delta!
An Instax photo of me holding a snake in Mekong Delta! It wasn't as scary as I thought! :)
An Instax photo of me holding a snake in Mekong Delta! It wasn’t as scary as I thought! 🙂
This is what will greet you as soon as you arrive at Vinh Trang Pagoda!
This is what will greet you as soon as you arrive at Vinh Trang Pagoda!

Vinh Trang Pagoda

Before our flight back home, we headed to Cu Chi Tunnel for a day tour. This place is a network of tunnels built by the Vietnamese in order to hide from the Americans during the war. Before I went there, I thought it was just a tunnel to connect different places, which would make it easy for the Vietnamese to travel undetected. But during the tour, I found out that some of the underground tunnels also led to several living quarters for the civilians! I was very amazed and I couldn’t imagine how they built a structure like this.

The guide gave us a chance to go inside the tunnels and I wasn’t able to take photos because it was a very small, cramped, and dark space. The air was so thin too. When I went into one of the tunnels and half-walked-half-crawled my way through, I had nothing but praise for the Vietnamese people who managed to survive every single day going through these paths.

One of the booby traps used during the war. If an enemy steps on it, he will fall and get stabbed by sharp bamboo below. But since bamboo is not very deadly, they put poison on the bamboo sticks so they would be fatal.
One of the booby traps used during the war. If an enemy steps on it, he will fall and get stabbed by sharp bamboo below. But since bamboo is not very deadly, they put poison on the bamboo sticks so they would be fatal.
The Vietnamese are really good at outsmarting their enemies! They managed to conceal the entrances to their tunnels by using the terrain around them. Here I am trying to fit into one of them :D
The Vietnamese are really good at outsmarting their enemies! They managed to conceal the entrances to their tunnels by using the terrain around them. Here I am trying to fit into one of them 😀
One of the enemy tanks that the Vietnamese managed to destroy.
One of the enemy tanks that the Vietnamese managed to destroy.
Cassava and sugar, a typical meal during the war. With all the fighting, they need all the carbs they could get.
Cassava and sugar, a typical meal during the war. With all the fighting, they need all the carbs they could get. It’s easy to prepare too.

How I wish I could have stayed longer in my latter destinations so I could visit more places but hey, that means I have a reason to come back to Vietnam!

That wraps up my Vietnam trip! Writing this series of posts really brought back lots of memories from my vacation. I hope you guys enjoyed the photos and the occasional history lessons as much as I did!

8 Comments

  1. Looks awesome! I know a lot of people wanna visit Japan or South Korea, but I’ve always wanted to visit Vietnam and maybe Thailand. I want to be different and seek out wonders of the world, plus it’s history. I love history of any sort. Great pictures!

    1. Thank you Michelle! Yes, visiting different countries other than the most visited ones is a great experience too. That’s what I did and I had one of my most unforgettable trips ever 😀

  2. I love the look of the ruins. It’s sad that they were destroyed in the bombing, but I’m glad that they’re working on restoring them!

    I didn’t know that they believed koi would be come dragons. I like that though 🙂 Those Buddha statues are also very big!

    Wow, I’m amazed at those tunnels and traps. That must have been so much work, and it’s clever that they also lead to living quarters. I would have liked to see these!

    1. I agree Cat, I like how the Vietnamese value their historical structures because they’re really working hard to restore and preserve these things. They may not have had much in the past, especially during the war, but their love for their history and for their country enables them to create different structures and ideas! The tunnels and traps are great and it feels really awesome crawling through them 🙂

  3. History is so cool. 🙂 You would think it would be hard to know where you put all of the traps – I’m always amazed by the things people can endure and do during wartime. That hole you are in is so small! How did everyone fit in those?

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful vacation!

    1. Thanks Becca! 🙂 The hole I was in was just one of the entrances but it’s not the one we crawled in (it’s just open now for picture taking); it’s in another area but it was still very small and narrow. Everyone has to walk in a straight line to fit in the tunnel! And if you get scared, there’s literally no turning back! 😛

    1. You definitely should, Jhanz. It’s a great place and their history is very interesting, you’ll find yourself reading about it long after you leave the places you visited 😀

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