Topiary elephant in a botanical garden, Saigon, Vietnam
Saigon's one million motorbikes don't make for calm explorations, but you can escape the fray at the 130-year-old Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Wander the vast green park with its bonsai trees and orchid collection, and check out elephants and tigers in the zoo.
American military planes on display at Vietnam Remembrance Museum
The War Remnants Museum in District 3 has immaculate tanks and planes outside, as well as sobering exhibits detailing the realities of the war. Note it's closed for an hour and a half starting at noon. Outside town, visit the Cu Chi Tunnels to learn how the Viet Cong moved underground.
See District 1's ultra-modern Bitexco Tower with its sky deck and extending helipad, or the actively used Jade Emperor Pagoda with its fertility goddess statue in District 3. Also in District 1 is the 1975 time capsule of the Reunification Palace where the Vietnam War ended when a North Vietnamese tank drove through its gate.
Try pho in the birthplace the now-popular soup, made with a rich, long-simmered broth and flavored with cloves, cardamom and other spices. During your Vietnam cruise, feast on a banh mi sandwich, which integrates Vietnam's French colonial past with pork, pickled vegetables and herbs on a crusty baguette. Or try banh tam bi, thick noodles with pork in a coconut cream sauce.
Lacquerware, in the form of bowls, trays and vases, is a popular souvenir in Vietnam. You'll see it everywhere, but head for the An Dong Market, Binh Tay Market and Ben Thanh Market. Dong Khoi Street is considered the main shopping street with a mall and the Parkson Department Store.
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