XO Tours Vietnam | Necessary Indulgences

XO Tours Vietnam

In July 2014, John and I went to Saigon for a few days.

One of the highlights of our time there was The Sights Tour with XO Tours Vietnam.

XO Tours Vietnam

The Sights Tour includes a fun motorbike ride to the most popular tourist attractions in Saigon, a lot of info at each destination, a sugarcane smoothie, local fruits to snack on, and several photos taken by the staff.


Our tour guides picked us up at our hotel, and then drove us to the tour meeting spot between the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral.

XO Tours Vietnam

This is also a popular place for couples to take their pre-wedding photos.

XO Tours Vietnam

And for tourists to have their photos taken with the soon-to-be bride and groom.

XO Tours Vietnam

The first stop on our tour was the Saigon Central Post Office:

XO Tours Vietnam

The building was built in the 19th century, when Vietnam was under French rule, and was designed and constructed by the famous architect, Gustave Eiffel.

XO Tours Vietnam

It is said that Eiffel was inspired by a train station when designing the interior.

XO Tours Vietnam

I love these old wooden phone booths:

XO Tours Vietnam

And people still use them for making phone calls.

XO Tours Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral is across the street from the post office.

XO Tours Vietnam

The cathedral was built between 1863 and 1880 and the two bell towers were added in 1895, each 190 feet high.

XO Tours Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral is still used for worship and weddings.

XO Tours Vietnam

The Our Lady of Peace statue arrived from Rome on February 16, 1959.

XO Tours Vietnam

Rumor has it that in October 2005, the Virgin Mary statue shed tears.

XO Tours Vietnam

The phenomenon attracted thousands of people but the Catholic Church claims the statue did not shed tears, no matter how many eyewitnesses said she did.

Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, was the home of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

XO Tours Vietnam

It was also the site of the end of the Vietnam War when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the gates.

XO Tours Vietnam

The building now functions as a museum.

There is a busy intersection in front of the palace and our guides decided we should all jump for a photo in front of it.

After several tries, we managed to capture a couple of “good enoughs”.

XO Tours Vietnam

XO Tours Vietnam

Those girls were a hoot!

Our next stop was the Venerable Thich Quang Duc Memorial.

XO Tours Vietnam

Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, burned himself to death on Thang Tam Street on June 11, 1963.

XO Tours Vietnam

Quang Duc was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.

XO Tours Vietnam

From the memorial we could see down Gia Long Street.

XO Tours Vietnam

At the end of the Vietnam War, Dutch photojournalist, Hugh Van Es, took one of the best-known images of evacuees boarding an American helicopter from the roof of 22 Gia Long Street.

Photo by Hugh Van Es

It was reported that the photo showed Americans on the roof of the US Embassy, but it was really an apartment building for the employees of the CIA, a half a mile from the US Embassy.

XO Tours Vietnam

The last stop of the Sight’s Tour was the Thien Hau Pagoda, a temple located in Chinatown.

XO Tours Vietnam

The temple is dedicated to the goddess Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea.

XO Tours Vietnam

It is believed that Thien Hau can travel over the oceans on a mat and can ride clouds to save people in trouble on the high seas.

XO Tours Vietnam

For that reason, the goddess is mainly worshipped in seafaring Chinese communities.

XO Tours Vietnam

XO Tours Vietnam

Thien Hau is not a deity of Taoism or Buddhism, but she has been brought into connection with figures and themes from both.

XO Tours Vietnam

XO Tours Vietnam

Thien Hau Pagoda is also well-known for the large incense coils that hang from the ceiling.

Saigon

Some are so large, they can burn for almost a month!

John and I enjoy learning about different cultures and religions and appreciated all of the information our guides offered us on the tour.

XO Tours Vietnam

XO Tours is a highly ranked motorbike tour company in Vietnam and I now know why.

XO Tours Vietnam

Not only did we learn a lot, but we had a blast riding through the city on a motorbike in the Motorbike Capital of the World!

Thank you, Khanh Pham and Friends . . . we loved every second!

XO Tours Vietnam

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We also went on the Seafood Trail Night Tour with Saigon Street Eats. You can read all about that HERE.

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