Backpacking Cambodia and Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City DIY Walking Tour

We had just a full day to explore Ho Chi Minh before we fly back to Manila.  With no definite itinerary for the day, we decided to roam around the city mainly on foot.  Culture enthusiasts as most in the group are, the theme for today’s walking tour is art and history.

Just several steps from our hotel was the Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City.  As it’s been mostly road trips and beach trips for me the past few years, I was definitely intrigued to see the beautiful art works of the people of Viet Nam.

Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

I don’t remember feeling this much excitement seeing creations by people.  Being that I am not artistic – at all – I was so amazed by the talent that the artists have.  And, this experience definitely sparked my interest again in immersing myself in the art scene, especially in the Philippines.

Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

We also went to the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Independence Palace, and learned more about Viet Nam and its history.  It seemed, though, that all these days of hard core backpacking (in our standards) were finally taking a toll on everyone that, ehem, some of us slept through the lectures.  Oops!

Reunification Palace

For a country to have a museum dedicated to wars, for me, implied that they had a long history of armed struggle. It broke my heart when I saw the Agent Orange victims.  I was pretty sure that we had discussed about this in class when I was still a student.  But, seeing the pictures in the museum was a different story altogether.  The disfigured bodies of the victims were heartbreaking.  But, with some of them still holding big smiles on their faces provided hope.

War Remnants Museum

Notre Dame Cathedral is a Catholic church and a core Cathedral of the city.  Despite differences in religions, we all said a prayer of thanks for how wonderful the trip had been for us.

Notre Dame Cathedral

A few steps from the Cathedral is their post office, designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower.  It was the only place Angge requested that we visit, so here ya go.  (Photo taken by and used with permission from Angel Zorilla)


We then decided to have the Vietnam fried pancakes, locally known as Banh Xeo.  We didn’t know that it would be in such huge servings that most of us failed to finish what we ordered.  But, all the same, it was delicious!

Banh Xeo

While waiting for Angge to get her eyeglasses fixed (it was sat on by Angel!), we saw this cute pink church, the Tan Dinh Church.


We then went back to the hostel to pick up our stuff and headed to the airport for our flight back to Manila.

Good-bye, Viet Nam!

The entire trip reminded me that there’s so much more outside of what I know that’s worth spending my time learning about.  It also provided me with a renewed longing to visit more historical places in the Philippines.  And, yes, after our backpacking trip to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Ho Chi Minh, I vowed to go around my country and go beyond the what I’m used to.  After all, the places that I’d be visiting have their own stories to tell and I am committed to learning about them and sharing them with my family and friends.

Related posts:

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  1. brickthomas

    That’s very cool to come home wanting to see more of your own country after visiting another. I hope you share your experiences of traveling you own land too. Happy travels. 🙂

    1. monica

      Hi Brick!

      I actually went on and started seeing more of my country in December, a few months after visiting Ho Chi Minh. With a friend, I got to visit five indigenous peoples communities in the Philippines, including the Butbut tribe, to which the last Kalinga tattoo artist belong (she’s now 92 years old and still does the traditional tattooing!). It was so amazing.

      Here’s a link to the articles I wrote for this trip:

      I hope you get to visit the Philippines, too. 🙂

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