What to do in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City - Day 40

Who are we?

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We're two eager travelers with roots in the US. Having explored quite a bit of our home country together, we set our sights abroad and kick-started our foreign travels in Southeast Asia. With everything we owned in our backpacks, we set off on our five month trip.

Having just traveled Japan for 35 days, we're well on our way through Vietnam. To our discovery, there are endless ways to explore this developing nation, and everyone has their own take on the subject matter. From the busy city life with endless markets and awesome street food to the pristine beaches and breathtaking mountain views, Vietnam has a little something for every kind of traveler.

The options can be overwhelming when considering your trip to Vietnam, so to help narrow down the possibilities, we'll highlight some of our experiences to give you some inspiration and personal know-how!

What day is it today and where did we stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

Today is Sunday, the 18th of November, 2018.

We stayed yet another night at the Jungle House Hostel. What we realized here is that the people you meet make or break your experiences. The hosts at our hostel have really made the stay worth while, making it incredibly easy for us as we travel Saigon.

While we might have preferred to have moved elsewhere by now, staying is actually helpful for us. We’re learning to slow down and savor the moment while we’re here, and be less occupied with where we’re going next.

What did we explore today in Ho Chi Minh City?

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Although we were a little bruised up from our motorbike wreck yesterday, we still wanted to explore the area. We opted to take an organized tour through our hostel to the Cu Chi Tunnels since it was so far away. Not ones to opt for such touristy activities, we decided to give it a go, seeing as the prices were dirt cheap. 

We crawled through the Cu Chi Tunnels 

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We embarked the bus with a dozen or so other tourists and hit the road toward the Cu Chi Tunnels. Our Vietnamese tour guide over the two-hour bus ride gave his usual spiel he's been doing for the past 37 years.

Explaining the history of Vietnam, the war, and the significance of the Cu Chi Tunnels definitely got us thinking. Us, being born in a developed country during peacetime, have never known the realities of war and the everlasting effects.

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Our guide had served in the Vietnam War on the American side, and had explained to us how the country had been quite literally ripped in half and the citizens divided amongst themselves.

Upon arrival to the tunnels, we were corralled into a large group and herded quickly throughout the Cu Chi Tunnels area. We were shown an artifact, given a brief description of it, had a second to take photos, and then went directly to the next thing.

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We are usually quick when touring exhibits and museums, so the speed for us was fine. Yet, we feel like we barely even scratched the surface of learning about the tunnels. 

We learned that the tunnels were built by the Viet Cong by hand, over 250km worth, to support their guerilla warfare style of combat. Aerial warfare was common during the war, so a lot of people lived underground to escape the bombings. Over time, entire villages had been constructed underneath the earth's surface. 

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He gave his personal take on the subject matter and we could see he was passionate about his country and his culture which was admirable. 

After the war, the tourism industry in Vietnam had increased significantly. We can even see it to this day; our hostel and surrounding streets are filled with foreigners and western-themed restaurants and venues.

Some older Vietnamese directly impacted by the war look down upon Americans as if they owe them something from the destruction caused by the war. We have nothing but positive things to say about the Vietnamese people, but it isn't uncommon to receive a few stares as we walk down the sidewalks and step over the mounds of rubbish and trash. We can't help but wonder what for, since our generation is not directly responsible. Yet, we must bear the weight of our predecessors as we travel to unfamiliar places and represent a nation upholding such values. Such is life…

How much did we spend traveling in Ho Chi Minh City?

Food: 70,068 / $17.43

Transport: 138,000 / $5.96 (Tour)

Lodging: 93,000 / $4.02 (Jungle House)

Sightseeing: 110,000 / $4.75 (Entrance Fee)

Other: $0

Total: 129,283 / $32.16