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See the war through new eyes
It is hard to think of Vietnam without its devastating war springing to mind – and Ho Chi Minh City commemorates this tragic period in a number of ways. One such nod to the conflict is the War Remnants Museum at Vo Van Tan, formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes. Exhibits include the notorious ‘tiger cages’ which were used to contain Viet Cong prisoners, as well as a heart-wrenching collection of wartime photographs. While an afternoon at this museum will almost certainly be very emotional, it is fitting that a trip to Vietnam should include recognition of its twentieth century struggles.
A veritable time capsule
Vietnam’s rich history can also be explored at Ho Chi Minh’s Reunification Palace, through whose gate a tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed in 1975. With that, the end of the lengthy and devastating war was signified. Today, a visit to the palace is like stepping back in time, with two of the tanks used in its capture on display in the grounds. Inside, you’ll find a war command room, still with maps on its walls and period telecommunications equipment on its desks, as well as a host of other fascinating artefacts across its five floors.
A rich religious heritage
Of course, there is much more to Ho Chi Minh than its wartime heritage - for example Its proud religious traditions. These can be explored at the atmospheric Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the five most important shrines in the city. This is an active place of worship where locals come to pray, make offerings of flowers and light candles. Amongst its rooms, visitors can pray to the goddess of fertility Kim Hua, while the goddess of mercy Kuan Yin can also be worshipped. The shrine, which was built at the turn of the twentieth century, features beautifully intricate carvings of dragons and birds.