Places With Traces of The Mahatma
July 29, 2013 – 12:55 am | No Comment
  Mahatma Gandhi, the man who has been hailed as the greatest leader of all times and the man who taught the mankind how peace can prevail in this world by using non violent methods. To follow a few years of Gandhi’s life one has visit a few places in Gujarat where we can follow and identify the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. A visit to Porbander and you will be in the historical city which  [...]

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Hochiminh City attractions

Posted on December 23, 2010 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment

Also known as Saigon, Hochiminh City is the largest by area in Vietnam. This financial as well as economical capital is today among the most wonderful towns of Vietnam. Climatically, it is a comfortable destination between December and April because of the dry climate. Most travelers start to arrive in November only. This time is actually the hottest, but nights go cooler facilitating great party spirits. Just avoid the time from May to October as the Hochiminh city witnesses wet as well as the typhoon season.

I landed at the largest international airport Tan Son Nhat in Vietnam, which is at 8 km from the downtown. I had booked my stay at the Blue River Hotel on the Pham Ngu Lao street at USD 30 for the room with the views. If you decide to stay here, do not go for its taxi service to airport, as that will cost you USD 15, and not the regular USD 8.

During my four days of stay in the Hochiminh City, I was able to explore many of its sights as well as things to do. The street location of my hotel itself is an attraction in itself holding a multitude of parks. Among them, the most visited is the Twenty-Three September Park, the venue of many games played by the locals. Even you can participate, if you wish in aerobics, badminton, and booting a shuttlecock. All of them are just fun to even watch. One more interesting feature is meeting the intelligent young groups who will request you to teach English if you are seen relaxing in the open area close to the Ben Thanh market.

Then, I explored the Reunification Palace at Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, which is also called the Independence Palace. It is a five-storey edifice left mostly pristine since the Saigon fell to the North, the war that finally ended in 1975. During this, tank #843 was destroyed at the gate, whose replica is on the lawn. On a guided tour, look for the stunning kitschy recreation room featuring an eerie basement, round sofa, phones of 1960s phones, office equipments, and radios. Also see the propaganda film and a photo gallery. Admission charges are 15,000 dong, but free tours are sometimes available.

On the Vo Van Tan Street, the War Remnants Museum (7:30 am to 12 pm and 1:30 to 5 pm) is a three-storey edifice features various war-related things including the U.S. military hardware such as helicopters, jets, and tanks. Admission is for 15,000 dong. From here, go south to be on the Le Quy Don for enjoying a soft ice cream for 2000 dong as the peak season is the hottest here. Next, explore the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Han Thuyen Street that is a French-built cathedral in downtown. Except for weekends and lunch time, you can come here to marvel at its artistic features for free.

The Chinatown district here is worth a visit for Chinese temples and cultural festivals. Among all the shrines, do visit the Thien Hau Pagoda that is dedicated to the sea goddess, Lady Thien Hau who is believed to leave behind two giant turtles for guarding things. Worth watching are the striking sculptures of the courtyard walls. Come here on the 23rd day of March lunar month to be a part of a great festival. Some more worthy pagodas here are the oldest Quan Am Pagoda and Phung Son Tu Pagoda housing the goddess of virtue and happiness.

The Dam Sen Water Park on Hoa Binh near the city centre is the venue of many water slides for those who want wild water experiences, especially via the stunning ‘Space Bowl’. However, just be a bit careful here as clutching the head while leaving is common here. Other highlights include restaurant, animatic dinosaurs, and health services. As per the height and time of coming, admission charges are applied – you can expect them to be between 35,000 and 90,000 dong. In January, don’t miss the fun of the Tet Festival, an exciting occasion.

Lastly, I visited the Dai Nam Tourist Park by catching 616 Bus from the main bus terminal and reaching there in an hour. This is one of the largest and most novel attractions in Vietnam. The main highlights here are the open range zoo, Dai Nam Van Hien Temple, big artificial mountain, an entertainment site, hotels, shopping areas, and local and western cuisine sites.

Thiện Duyên Bá»…n Thành is the best restaurant near the bus station famous for its vegetarian cuisine. One more ideal one is the Thai restaurant Spice at Le Quy Don known for its classics such as Papaya Salad. However, it is becoming costlier.

Some recommended hotels in Pham Ngu Lao area are Dai Huy Hoang Hotel at USD 20, Duna Hotel from USD 12, and Me Them Bed & Breakfast.

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