We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) on the 17th March after a 1 hour flight from Danang. Saigon was the capital of South Vietnam until 1975 when the country was unified and the name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City. HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam and is considered to be the economic centre of the country. We never really saw a lot of Saigon (they still refer to the centre of the city as Saigon) as it's such a huge city. As soon as we arrived it was straight into a half day tour and a visit to some of the main sites in the city centre. We visited the Reunification Palace which was the former presidential offices of the South Vietnamese Government and is where the war finally came to an end after one of the North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the palace on the 30th April 1975 and the North took control of Saigon. A replica of the tank is still parked outside the building!
We also visited the War Remnants Museum which contains some pretty disturbing and graphic images and stories of the war. It used to be called the American War Crimes Museum so it's a pretty one sided account of some of the stuff that went on during the war. By this time I think we'd both seen and heard enough war stories so we were both happy to get out of there! Our plan was to have just one night in Saigon and then a couple of days on the Mekong Delta and travel down to the South West coast to catch a boat to Phu Quoc Island. We decided when we got to our hotel in Saigon that we'd had enough siteseeing and wanted a break from the guided tours so we cancelled the last couple of day of the tour.
We found a really nice little place just outside of the city on the Saigon River. We checked out of the hotel the next day, jumped in a taxi and about half an hour later we were sitting on the deck on the banks of the river with a welcome cocktail watching the boats go by, and that's pretty much where we stayed for the next two days. It was bliss!! The hotel had a shuttle service into the centre of Saigon by speedboat which took about 20 minutes but we just stayed at the hotel as it was so quiet and peaceful. It was quite a small hotel and there could only have been about a dozen guests at the most and it felt like there was more staff than guests! The cocktails were great and the food was amazing! Was just what we needed to recharge our batteries a bit!
After a couple of days chilling out there it was time to move on again and we managed to book a last minute flight (as we'd cancelled the planned ferry) from HCMC to Phu Quoc Island. We've now got FOUR nights on Phu Quoc Island. That's the longest we'll have stayed in one place since we left home about 10 weeks ago! Looking forward to doing nothng for a few days.