The border crossing into Vietnam was a bit laborious but we got in without any problems. After Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Min City seems a different world. Where Phnom Penh had rickshaws and not much modern development, Ho Chi Minh is a world city with everything that comes with it (good and bad).
On recommendation of the hotel we took a walking tour around town, spread over a few days. The heart of the city is beautiful with a mixture of modern buildings and old-fashioned French architecture. In parts it has wide streets with many upmarket shops. Not quite what I was expecting! The street food in Ho Chi Minh is plentiful and amazing and we had many tasters which were all excellent.
We visited the War Museum. It is gruesome, depressing and totally not suitable for children. Luckily there is an actual playroom on site where the kids could entertain themselves whilst John and I took turns to have a wonder through history. The many photos are graphic and sometimes sickening. The suffering for the people is not over yet as the Vietnamese still live with the after effects of Agent Orange (the nasty chemicals used by the Americans) that have caused cancer and all sort of disabilities in the population living through the war. Unfortunately it is also causing birth defects in the generations after and it is still a problem now.
Also along our walking tour was the Skytower, a newly built skyscraper with a viewing platform. Nice as it was, it was pricey and not all that exciting. Lift up to the 47th floor in 30 seconds was pretty neat though.
The Central Park had a nice play park for the children, whilst the park itself is nice to walk through with no traffic. The Vietnamese like to exercise in the evenings and you see people have aerobics lessons and play badminton.
John had a look at the Reunification Palace whilst I waited in the shade with a sleeping Nesta on my lap. It is huge and built in the 60s so quite interesting architecture and furnishings. The central market at the end of the park was worth a visit although the Vietnamese can be quite assertive salesmen so don’t think you can have a nice browse without being hassled.
After a couple of days we moved swiftly on to Mui Ne. A seaside town recommended as a highlight in the Lonely Planet. Normally you can’t go wrong with recommendations in the Lonely Planet but this time we were very disappointed. Really don’t get the attraction here. Yes I am sure the surfing is good because of the strong winds but the beach is small and mainly covered in high concrete walls from the hotels and restaurants. And mostly you cannot even reach the beach as there is hardly any paths to it so you have to walk through the hotels and restaurants, which they don’t like you doing. Mui Ne itself is a very, very long stretch of road. And I mean really long, it goes on for miles. So no nice area to walk around in and no nice beach, so what is the appeal? Unfortunately I do not have an answer!
Saying that, John took the children on a half day trip whilst I did some work. They had a nice time sliding off sand dunes and visiting the Fairy stream. But Mui Ne itself? Unless you are really into kite surfing, I would give it amiss.