Still don’t know where to go on Christmas Day? Here’s a suggestion you won’t regret following: spend Christmas (or at least an hour of it) onboard the Hop On-Hop Off bus for an exciting Saigon city tour.

The Hop On Hop Off bus is a double-decker vehicle that offers a different way to tour around the city.

Yes, there’s no better way to make Christmas and the whole holiday season more meaningful and educational than going on a tour around most iconic tourist spots in Saigon and learning more about this oh-so-marvelous city.

The Hop On-Hop Off bus, which rolled in January this year, is an open-air double-decker bus that takes passengers around the city. The bus goes through 24 streets and at least 30 popular sites such as the Vietnam History Museum, War Remnants Museum, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Independence Palace.

Passengers will be left in awe as the bus winds its way past streets that they didn’t know bear historical and cultural meanings to the Vietnamese. And really, this is the best way to see Saigon without getting yourself stuck in the frustrating traffic.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. (Pexels)
Saigon City Hall, with Ho Chi Minh’s statue in front. (Pexels)
Saigon Central Post Office. (Unsplash)

Standing on top of the bright red bus, you’ll realize, is the perfect set up for a closer look at an intriguing place such as Saigon.

The tour, which is priced at 150,000 VND (single trip for adults) and 50,000 – 90,000 VND (for children), includes a “non la” (Vietnamese traditional conical hat), a city map, free wi-fi on board, water, insurance and an audio guide the come in multiple languages.

The bus has 63 seats, perfect for big families and friends. But with the coronavirus pandemic still very much a threat, social distancing in the bus is highly required. Passengers also need to wear face masks, and must have alcohol or hand sanitizers with them.

All buses start their trip at the Central Post Office in District 1 at 30-minute intervals from 8:30 in the morning until 10:30 pm.

Intended to boost tourism

When it was first launched earlier this year, the Hop On Hop Off bus was intended to attract more tourists in the city. It was seen to give travelers – foreigners, most especially – the option to get a quick city tour in the convenience of a big bus.

The upper part of the bus is roofless, and is where most passengers prefer to sit as it offers unobstructed views of the city.

But more than giving the tourism industry a big push, the trip is also aimed at enriching travel experiences. The audio guides, with clear English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French and Vietnamese versions, give out relevant information about each destination.

However, the launching of Hop On Hop Off bus came at a very bad time. The coronavirus pandemic shook the world as infections spread globally and people were not allowed to travel.

The current restrictions for both inbound and local travel in Vietnam have affected the Hop On Hop Off buss. The number of passengers has significantly declined.

To adapt to the hard times, Hop On Hop Off has introduced a one-hour tour, where passengers don’t need to stop at places, but simply pass by them, listen to the audio guide and continue the journey until it stops back at the Central Post Office, according to Helen, a staff at the Anh Viet, the bus tour’s operator.

Christmas Eve Tour

If you want to welcome Christmas in a different and more exciting way, the Hop On Hop Off bus is available on Christmas Eve! Yes, you read it right. And the tour costs the same as the regular daytime trip.

The bus takes you to the same iconic sites – but the bright city lights and the twinkling Christmas decorations displayed throughout the city make the journey truly magical and worthwhile.

The streets – especially at Nguyen Hue in District 1 – will be lit up with elaborate ornaments and people dressed up as Santa Claus, Spiderman and other notable characters will definitely make passengers feel the real Christmas vibe.

You can book your tickets here.

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