June 2017

Want to dig a little deeper? Scrap your misconceptions of guided tours; they don’t always have to involve boring history lessons or trailing after a flag. Here are four fun and quirky tours to maximise your time and indulge your interests in HCMC. BY LEANDA RATHMELL

#1 For the novice Those tackling this frenetic city for the first time will benefit greatly from Trails & Tales , a crash course on Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to the locals. Understanding the events that have shaped this metropolis gives critical context to appreciating its beauty, and

#2 For the artist Why not explore Saigon’s history through the eyes of artists? From colonialism to independence and communism to globalisation, Sophie’s Art Tour gives the stage to artists that studied, fought, witnessed and documented major changes in 20th- and 21st-century Vietnam. Devised by art historian Sophie Hughes, the morning outing visits museums, galleries, private collections and contemporary art spaces across HCMC to expose the tumultuous story and key epochs in the development of Vietnamese art. From spellbinding propaganda, battlefield sketches and combat art

Duration: 4 hours Cost: US$55

this walking tour – led by gifted story-teller and history buff Adam Priestly – keeps kids and adults mesmerised. Adam’s vivid narrative explains the history, folklore and cultural idiosyncrasies of Saigon, with stops including historical and architectural landmarks, from the Reunification Palace to the French colonial Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saigon Opera House and the 68-storey Bitexco Financial tower. Along the way, Adam equips you with helpful tips to manoeuver through the streets of Saigon, from the motorbikemayhem to bargain-hunting and street food favourites. There’s no set charge for the tour, though do thank Adam with a tip for helping you establish your bearings in this mad city. trailstalessaigon.com

Duration: 3 hours Cost: Tip basis

riddled with influence from the West through to China and Japan, through to the growing contemporary art scene, never has a history lesson been more colourful. sophiesarttour.com

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