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Useful information for shore excursions from Phu My (Ho Chi Minh)
We have put together all useful information about the most beautiful tourist attractions, a map of the cruise port as well as other tips for your cruise excursions in and around Ho Chi Minh city below:
The most beautiful attractions in and around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City means loudness, confusion, traffic chaos and hot temperatures. However, Vietnam’s largest city also has many activities and attractions to offer. Ho Chi Minh City has always been very significant to Vietnam, having played a central role in the Vietnam War and is now the country’s economic center.
Until 1975, the official name of the city was still Saigon and especially in Western countries, it is still very common even until now. However, with the withdrawal of the Americans from Vietnam after the defeat of the South Vietnamese government, it was renamed and now bears the name of former North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh.
Not only was the city named after the Vietnamese politician, but also the famous road that connects Vietnam’s south with the north. Ho Chi Minh Road or Ho Chi Minh Highway runs across the country. This revolutionary left a lot in Vietnam, for example the Ho-Chi-Minh Mausoleum is located in Hanoi.
The Independence Palace
The Independence Palace is an important piece of history, built in the time of war and at the same time also the place, where it ended. In the past, the government of South Vietnam once worked with the Americans against communist North Vietnam.
Even until today, meetings and events of the government are still held here, but a part of the building was also converted into a museum. From original rooms, which still have the furniture at that time, to the basement with control rooms, there is a lot to see. A visit usually takes about one hour, costs you 30,000 VND (1.3 USD/ 1 Pound). In the morning, opening hours are from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and in the afternoon from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
War Remnants Museum
The Vietnam War was a dark and formative chapter in the history of the country – it still raged until 40 years ago and insights into this cruel time can not only be seen in the Independence Palace. Therefore, there is the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, which tells the story of the war very vividly.
Photos and detailed descriptions of what is happening bring visitors closer to the state of war back there. Hence, it is by no means a light fare, but still a special highlight during a visit to the city.
Ben Thanh Market
One of the most popular attractions in bustling Ho Chi Minh is a market hall located in District 1 that offers almost everything your heart desires. In this tourist shopping hall you will find clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, electrical appliances, pet shops, handicrafts, flowers, spices, nuts, food and many small restaurants. Basically, the prices are not fixed (except in restaurants) so bargaining is a must!
A good (and a little cooler) alternative is the night market, which will open at 06:00 PM after the doors close at the market hall. From 19:30, all dealers are ready to offer their goods such as clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, etc.
Notre Dame Cathedral
In addition to the informative museums and sites that tell the stories of the war, there are also various architectural buildings in the city that will definitely inspire you. They were built during the French colonial era and are also characterized by the Romanesque architecture. One of them is the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is identical to the one in Paris. This cathedral was built between 1863 and 1880 with building materials specially imported from France.
The 190 ft high bell towers are very impressive. It is adjoined by a spacious forecourt, which is often used by Vietnamese couples for wedding photos. The opening hours are from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. You could visit this place before noon since it won’t be many visitors at this time of the day.
Main Post Office
One of the most photographed motifs of the city is probably the Ho Chi Minh image inside the post office. This will bring us to the next highlight, which is also a French built and located opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral. The colonial building was designed by nobody else than Gustave Eiffel and is still in operation today.
Here you have the opportunity to send a few postcards to make the experience even more authentic. Both the exterior and the interior of the building is very impressive and worth seeing. The main post office is open from 7:00 AM am to 7:00 PM during the week and until 6:00 PM on weekends and admission is free.
Another French colonial-style building is the Opera House on the famous Dong Khoi Street. Built in 1897, this beautiful Opera House can only be observed from the outside. The venue is reserved for performances like traditional Vietnamese shows, opera performances of classical music and ballet. The entire area around the Opera House is also very pretty and a bit quieter than the rest of Ho Chi Minh.
Chinatown and Thien Hau temples
District 5 or Chinatown is anything but quiet. Here you are off the beaten track, but the neighborhood itself is also exciting enough to earn a visit. In this district you can just watch the traffic and marvel at how people come from A to B in such a chaos with fully loaded two-wheelers. Chinatown is Ho Chi Minh City as it lives.
Especially, if you explore Ho Chi Minh city on your own and keep your program flexible, you should definitely make a trip to the Thien Hau Temple during a visit to Chinatown. Do not be fooled by the outer facade, the interior of the temple is the special feature.
The premises are really impressive. You will be taken by the scent of incense hanging all over the ceiling. Also interesting are many art paintings and sculptures inside the temple. As early as 1706, the Thien Hau Temple, one of the most important in Vietnam, was built.
Jade Emperor Pagoda
This temple looks rather inconspicuous from the outside. Nevertheless, you should indulge in the spiritual atmosphere that comes with the visit. It was named after the Jade Emperor and houses various Buddhism statues and also of the name giver. In addition to the quietness, relaxing atmosphere and beautiful statues, the temple also contains a pool with turtles, various rooms and altars. The city’s most important Taoist temple has even been visited by Barack Obama.
Bitexco Financial Tower and the Skydeck
Finally, we would like to introduce you to a very special highlight in Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon Skydeck. It is located on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower and offers spectacular 360 degree views of the city. The skyscraper rises 870 ft into the sky and is full with shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, a cinema and offices. At 68 floors, it is the tallest building in the city.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Even outside of Ho Chi Minh City, the historic sights Cu Chi Tunnels await you. The excursion destination is located 43.5 mi from Ho Chi Minh City and is a great all-day excursion.
The mile-long tunnel system was created during the war as a hiding place, in which there were even schools and offices. Many of the corridors have fallen apart, but a 295-ft tunnel section has been preserved and can now be accessed by visitors. The tunnels are narrow and stretch like a labyrinth through the earth. If you are brave, you can crawl through one of the tunnels yourself for a short tour.
The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is a vast labyrinth of rivers, swamps and islands with floating markets, Khmer pagodas and villages surrounded by paddy fields. The boats are by far the most important means of transport and tours to the region usually also include a traditional boat trip, for example through the Tan Thach Canal to Ben Tre. Taste tropical fruits on the turtle island and experience the typical rural life of the local population. A full-day excursion to the Mekong Delta will bring you close to the incomparable scenery.
Map of the cruise port in Phu My
The Vietnamese port city of Phu My is located in the far south of the district of Ho Chi Minh City. Your cruise ship will dock in the commercial port of Phu My. Phu My is a very large industrial port located about 37 miles from the city center. Depending on the traffic, it would take about 1.5 – 2.5 hours to get there.
In addition to Phu My, there are other berths for cruise ships, which are even closer to Ho Chi Minh City. However, these berths can only be accessed by smaller cruise ships. One is even quite centrally located in Ho Chi Minh City near the Bitexco Financial Tower. From there it is only a short walk to the city center.
Things to know about cruise excursions in Ho Chi Minh
Shipping companies and routes
The most diverse Asian routes include the city of Ho Chi Minh in combination with Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai or many other destinations. Shipping companies calling at Ho Chi Minh City are MSC, Marella, Royal Caribbean, Princess cruises and other major lines.
Immigration and visa
US-citizens and UK-citizens must apply for a visa before visiting Vietnam by sea. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay, and you must have at least one blank visa page. Visit the Embassy of Vietnam website for the most current information.
For more accurate information please contact your cruise operator before your cruise to Vietnam.
Vietnam Dong (VND) is the national currency of Vietnam. (1 dollar = 23,300 VND; 1 pound = 30,633 VND). You can exchange your cash in advance or use ATMs to withdraw money for your expenses.
Taxi and other public transports
There aren’t any public transport from the industrial port Phu My to Ho Chi Minh City.
Frequently, the shipping companies offer fee-based shuttle buses that go directly to the city center. This is the more recommended option than taking one of the taxis waiting in front of the terminal.
Outside the port area there are usually numerous taxis and motorbike taxis available, but this is definitely not recommended. Most drivers hardly speak English and sometimes don’t really know their way around the huge industrial port.
The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is undoubtedly massive and not to be underestimated. Since there is not a metro yet, the best way to get around is probably by Grab. It is very convenient – especially if you are on a shore excursion on your own – cheap, and saves you from nerve-racking bargainings.
Transportation within Ho Chi Minh City is usually only required if you want to visit attractions outside of District 1. Within the area, the highlights are within easy walking distance.
The south of Vietnam is predominantly tropical climate with temperatures of 30 to 35 °C / 86 to 95 °F. The months from November to January are the dry season in which the temperatures are between 28 and 30 °C / 82 and 86 °F and at night about 20 °C / 68 °F. In the hot season of February to May, it is normally around 35 °C / 95 °F with high humidity, whereas rainy season lasts from June to October, in which the temperatures can sometimes fall sharply.
The best travel time may be the dry season, but there is always a high humidity in Vietnam. You should keep this in mind before planning a trip to the country.
Websites of the port and tourist organizations
Impressions from Ho Chi Minh
Enjoy your Ho Chi Minh cruise with “My Cruise Excursion” in small groups and at great prices. Make your stay in Phu My an unforgettable experience!
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