TOP 5 SPOTS TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS IN SAI GON
Actually, Christmas festival in Vietnam is as not a big deal as it is in Western world. Most of the Vietnamese population is Buddhist.
However, Vietnamese people seem Christmas as a chance for going out, celebrating something hand having fun with their friends and family. Especially in Ho Chi Minh city, commonly called Sai Gon, where is one of the most developed and modern cites of Vietnam, the streets and buildings are decorated by thousands of string lights and christmas things. On the Christmas eve or few day before, hundreds of people go downtown for festive activities.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
Speaking of Christmas, one of places can not missed for both Christian and non-Christmas people is that the cathedrals. How Buddhism architecture reflects the Vietnamese thoughts and lifestyle is, the same as Catholicism in almost western countries.
Notre Dame Cathedral is the largest, oldest and most imposing church in Vietnam. It is build in the period of Vietnam war by the French. So that, the cathedral bring the special architecture of Gothic style. It also become a historical famous symbol remaining the western culture in Vietnam. Located in the center of Sai Gon, near the Saigon Office Post and Independence Palace, Notre Dame cathedral is one of should-visited places in Ho Chi Minh not only on Christmas but also all over the year.
On Christmas day, Notre Dame cathedral is covered with many dazzling lights and Christmas trees. Christian people in Ho Chi Minh city come to the church and gather under the statue of Our Lady of Peace for ritual. To non-christians, Christmas day is when people discover more in Christian beliefs and have a memorable dinner with their friends under Jingle Bell song.
NGUYEN HUE WALKING STREET
Nguyen Hue walking street is no more stranger to almost inners as well as foreigners in Sai Gon. It performs itself as an ideal paradise in every night for walking, dating, entertainment, cultural and national activities…. People coming here, no matter where you’re from, no matter how old you’re and what is your sex.., they are all free to show their characters, their talents… And I love that.
Surrounded by many tall buildings in the middle of District 1, The square look like a valley of light. Aside from many famous coffee shops and stores on the 2 sides of square, there are a few landmark worth noting. Home of the Ho Chi Minh people’s committee since 1975, French colonial Hotel de Ville… is also the well-known building in Sai Gon.
On Christmas, Nguyen Hue walking street is lit up by many red & green lights, Christmas trees and snow man mannequin. Most of stores here is decorated so much beautifully and magnificently that if someone tell me Santa Claus will come here and give me a present, i will believe in that moment.
TAN DINH CHURH
Beside the Notre Dame cathedral, Tan Dinh is the second biggest church in Sai Gon. The overall brings the Gothic architecture, but some details in Roman style( Roman is born before Gothic architecture). From a distance, Tan Dinh church looks like a very romantic, youth and beautiful French girl. When approaching, visitors will find the church in new, ingenious design.
In some days before Christmas, the atmosphere around the church begins more crowded and fanciful by the light. The illustrated scenes and stage are set for Christmas performances and the scene of God being born again. Inside, the ritual activities take place in a very solemn and sincere way.
BUI VIEN WALKING STREET
Not as big and luxury as Nguyen Hue walking street, Bui Vien is simply small connecting roads in Pham Ngu Lao ward, district 1, Sai Gon. Bui Vien walking street is often called “the backpackers area” because of the attendance of a lot of backpackers here. While sitting here, visitors soak up the local lifestyle and culture. None of tall building, none of luxury restaurants with many glass door around, Bui Vien street bring the busy and warm atmosphere by many outside pubs and bars. There are many services for backpackers such as foot massage experience, fast-cutting hair salon, Vietnamese fresh beer… The street bans the traffic from 7:00 p.m to 2:00 a.m on Saturday and Sunday.
The Christmas taste in Bui Vien walking street don’t come from the zig zag lights but the people’s spirits. Every backpacker brings something like a Noel hat, the presents, and the most important is themselves.. to make the meaningful night at Bui Vien. All of them find here very easy for chatting, making friends and exchanging among the different cultures. People dance together on the street, listen the Christmas songs and pray for new year coming.
CATHOLICITY DISTRICT 8
Catholicity ward 8 is the common place for everyone who was born and lives in Ho Chi Minh. It is quite hard for foreigners to find out. Anyway, I think Catholicity ward 8 will be a destination for those who want to enjoy Christmas in a religious community.
In every years on Christmas day and some days before, Catholicity district 8 become much more crowded and bustle than usually. The street is lit up with many many yellow, red, blue light. Fake snow caves are erected for God inside. Especially because of the existence of many Catholic home here, every house is decorated very carefully both outside and inside. Christian family also prepare a Christmas meal on this day.
In fact, the traffic on Christmas night is quite crazy. People held the festival on every corner of district. People don’t hesitate to show their respect, beliefs and gratitude to all the God symbols.
Backpackers can enjoy a warm Christmas night by go shopping, meeting friends at a cafe shop,…Here is some ideal sites for you on Christmas day.
- The old apartment on Nguyen Hue street: Thinker & Dreamer Coffee, Boo Coffee, The Letters,… they are not only decorated very beautifully but also served the cafe in good taste. From here, backpackers can take a overall city view from the bird’s eye.
- En Tea House – luxury one: Floor G-M-2 Robot Tower, 308C Dien Bien Phu, ward 4, district 3, Sai Gon.
- She cafe – warming atmosphere: Floor 1, 158D Pasteur, District 1, Sai Gon.
- VinCom – 72 Le Thanh Tong, district 1, Sai Gon.
- Takashimaya – Saigon Center: 92 Nam Ki Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe ward, district 1.
- SC Vivocity: 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, district 7.
Find more here: 25 GREAT TIPS HOW TO BACKPACK VIETNAM