Pick up after breakfast In the morning you will have an excursion to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon.
At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specifically constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life during the war must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!). For those interested there’s even the opportunity to try an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range.
Back to Ho Chi Minh city for the afternoon tour.
In the afternoon, you visit:
• The Reunification Palace : This is one of the most important buildings in the city. Here on April 30, 1975, what the Vietnamese refer to as the ‘American War’ officially ended when tank number 843 of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through the gates of what was, at the time, the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam .
• War Remnants Museum : Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes , this is a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching, dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict. The exhibit includes the last shots these photographers had taken before their deaths. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks and cannons captured from the American military machine.
• Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office : Built between 1877 and 1883 this is one of the best examples of classical French colonial architecture. Remarkably every stone used in its creation was shipped from France to Vietnam . Her two 40m towers, topped with iron spires dominate the city’s skyline. The Old Post Office is another example of French colonial architecture and is also the country’s largest post office.
• Ben Thanh Market & DONG KHOI STREET: This bustling and well-organized market is very popular with tourists, primarily due to its central location. It has a wide selection of goods ranging from fake Nike shoes to beautiful silk Ao Dais.