After our Mekong River cruise, we made our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Cathedral built during French occupation, dominates downtown in a city that is predominantly Buddhist. It is not very large but the interior is beautiful and serene. The exterior is of red bricks shipped all the way from France in the nineteen century and has remained a standout colour and an attraction in this bustling city.
Within walking distance is the Central Post Office also built around the same time as the Cathedral and deemed an architectural jewel with design reminiscent of French influence.
Ben Thanh Market is really big and a great place to look for Vietnamese art, souvenirs and local handicraft. There are numerous eating stalls where you can get a taste of Vietnamese hawker food.
It is best to avoid the market during in the afternoon as it is truly like an oven inside. I mean the market is clean but the heat is unbearable as maybe it's not so well ventilated. I was inside for about fifteen minutes and had to rush back to the hotel as I felt suffocated.
When night falls, the perimeter of the market is super vibrant with stalls selling tees and stuff. Most interesting are the food stalls dishing out flavourful barbecued fish and crabs and fried noodles. We ate at one particular stall for three consecutive nights because we simply fell in love with the cooking. Even after eating some food in another restaurant, we were drawn by the aroma of the coalfire cooked dishes to sit down again for another round of dinner.
p/s It would be so cool and romantic if this beautiful city is still called Saigon!