The story of Thích Quảng Đức

You may have passed the busy intersection of Cách Mạng Tháng Tám and Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Streets and seen this big dark statue standing there amidst a park, with flowers, plants and burning incense.

You may have passed the busy intersection of Cách Mạng Tháng Tám and Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Streets and seen this big dark statue standing there amidst a park, with flowers, plants and burning incense.

This is the statue of Thích Quảng Đức, a famous Buddhist Vietnamese monk who immolated himself in 1963 and whose picture spread around the word in all the media. For this reason, he is also known as the “burning monk”.

The statue was erected in HCMC in 2010 to honor the venerable monk’s piety, courage and patriotism and is located where the self-immolation took place at the time.

Let us go back to the year 1963 to refresh our memory on this part of Vietnam history.

At midday on June 11, 1963, Thích Quảng Đức took a ride in a car to the corner of Phan Đình Phùng and Lê Văn Duyệt Streets in central Saigon (now Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and Cách mạng tháng Tám Streets). He then got petrol poured over himself, sat in the middle of the junction in the traditional meditative position, struck a match and burned himself to death without a movement.

At 66 years old, Thích Quảng Đức decided to sacrifice himself to show his opposition to the political issue of religion during the Vietnam War, becoming a martyr.

The aim of that terrible act was to protest against the repressive policy towards Buddhism coming from pro-catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm’s regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Buddhists priests were then not allowed to practice their religion and were persecuted and detained. His act increased the international pressure on the former Vietnamese regime to authorize religious equality.

No one can forget this striking black and white picture of his self-immolation in the middle of the street. It is part of the most iconic visuals about Vietnam War.

If you are interested in getting an overview of Saigon’s other essentials in a short time, take a ride with our 2CV tours, morning or evening.

Colorful “Bánh da lợn”

Would you want to taste a “Bánh da lợn”?

Bánh da lợn” literally means “pig skin cake” because of the texture and the touch of this dish.

It’s a Vietnamese dessert made from tapioca starch, rice flour, coconut milk and mung beans which give this very particular green color. It can be made also with durian or taro.

You can find this sweet and gelatinous cakes on Ly Tu Trong and Hai Trieu streets in District 1.

 

If you want to discover some of the best local street food, get on board for our evening food tour!

Iconic Saigon notre Dame Cathedral closed for renovation

Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most emblematic landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, is currently being renovated. This massive restoration work is expected to take at least 2 years to complete.

Built between 1863 and 1880 during the French Indochina, it is the biggest church built by the French in Vietnam. This building highlights the influence of French architecture and Christian religion at that period. Due to time and climate, some parts of the cathedral had being falling apart for several years, especially the roof.

This renovation, financed by Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, will include the interior and the outside walls of the cathedral. But the main part of the renovation will be conducted on the roof. Its 91m length is covered by 50,000 red tiles originating from Marseille  (South of France). The tricky part is to manage to source tiles similar to the original ones in order to keep the harmony of the building.

Until the end of the renovation the cathedral cannot be visited except during the time of the church services which take place in the weekend only.

Our evening tour will still include a stop by the Cathedral which remains one of the sights of HCMC, despite the presence of a blue gate that surrounds it.

For more information about our tours and routes, you can have a look right here.

“Nước Sâm”, a very healthy drink!

Have you ever wondered what this black drink was?

This black-colored popular drink is a herbal tea and is usually served over ice, without sugar, making it perfect to sip in the heat of another steamy day. It is considered as tonic and believed to have “cooling” and restorative properties according to Chinese medicine.

It is made from many different medicinal herbs. Recipes varies from one shop to another but the basic “nước sâm” contains sugar caneartichokecorn silknettle leaves and grass roots. You can as well have it from chrysanthemum, cilantro flower, liquorice or even dried longan or roasted water chestnuts.

So many weird ingredients! However, it is worth a try as it is very revitalizing especially on a very hot day. If you are not keen on the bitter-flavored taste, you can ask a bit of sugar!

Tasty “Bánh tráng nướng”

Have you ever tried a Vietnamese pizza?

On Cao Thang street, there is a very popular crowded street restaurant which is famous for selling “bánh tráng nướng”. This local and very tasty “pizza” is made of bbq-grilled rice paper covered with your choice of topping. Deliciously crusty & fresh!

This is definitely one of our favorite places in Saigon for the evening.

Young people gather there at night to eat while chatting together and drinking some iced-tea on small plastic chairs. Very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.