Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh) City, formerly called Saigon (Sài Gòn), is Vietnam’s centre of commerce and also the largest city of the country, though it’s not the administrative capital of Vietnam. As a result, of the sweeping economic changes recently, this effervescent city, perched on the banks of the Saigon River, has changed its image from that of a war-torn city to one of the thriving metropolis, potentially challenging Bangkok, Singapore, and also the other traditional Southeast Asian powerhouses. This city may not have seductive beaches or great plantations yet there’s no dearth of things to visit in Ho Chi Minh. If visitors are going to go visit Saigon City during near future, you must not skip the bellow most interesting things to explore in Ho Chi Minh City. Just take a look!
1. Go To Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chùa Ngọc Hoàng)
Jade Emperor Pagoda was built in 1909 in honor of the supreme Taoist god. This pagoda is reckoned among the famous spectacularly atmospheric temples in Saigon, full of statues of grotesque heroes and phantasmal divinities. This pagoda is the great representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism which is practiced widely in Vietnam. Jade Emperor Pagoda is still a living and praying shrine which is the frequent destination for locals coming here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers, and joss sticks and light candles. With a lots of worshipers coming and going, this temple could get busy and feel a bit cramped. There is an overcrowded tortoise pond right ahead of the temple grounds. Besides, feeding the animals is reckoned as a part of the temple-going, merit-making rituals.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
- Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu (Mai Thị Lưu), District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
2. Visit War Remnants Museum
Once famous as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, the War Remnants Museum is consistently the must visit of the Western visitors. It is a shocking reminder of the brutal and long American War with many graphic photos and American military equipment presented, including a helicopter with rocket launchers, a fighter plane, a tank, a single-seat aeroplane and also the 6,800kg conventional bomb.
These weapons were strongly utilized by America against the Vietnamese at some points during the war lasting from 1945 to 1975.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 07.30 – 12.00 and 13:30 – 17:00
- Location: 28 Vo Van Tan (Võ Văn Tần), in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
3. Late-Night Pedicure/Spa
Pedicure and Manicure shops are everywhere when travellers visit Saigon City, especially the Pham Ngu Lao (Phạm Ngũ Lão) area. The majority of them are open late into the night. Thus, it’ll be a pity if visitors do not enjoy a refreshing night with joy of these shops. Happily, most of those shops will even serve you a massage, a glass of wine, and more. The cost of a basic treatment is incredibly low. So, this could be one among the foremost relaxing things to explore in Ho Chi Minh City in your to-do list.
4. Go For Scooter Tours
While staying at Saigon City, you must not miss exploring the Saigon streets from behind seat of a Vespa, which is an exhilarating manner to feel Saigon – a city with approximately 5 million motorbikes.
In order to have your orientation fast, you must use an organized tour with an experiences on nightlife, foods, iconic sights or some unusual attractions. It is worth noting that motorbike helmets are compulsory in Vietnam, so you must not forget wearing helmet while traveling through Saigon streets.
5. Bonsai River Cruise
Despite that’s true the Saigon River has suffered from pollution problems, a Bonsai dinner cruise remains a refreshing and unique experience travellers should try. Watch the town light at sunset whilst sipping a Tom Collins from the deck of the folk 19th-century dragon boat, enjoy a buffet meal and join in a show here. Bonsai River Cruise provides you with a ride upstream including a gourmet feast of Vietnamese specialties. Daily, they organize two tours of Saigon River during high season , and both of those tours characterize a delicious buffet, drinks and live music. If your budget permits, you must book earlier and stretch your dollar for a more unique boutique cruise.
6. Have Fresh Beer
When you arrive in Saigon City, you may be surprised at how popular beer is at this vibrant city. Found on most street corners and bars, fresh beer, aka “Bia hơi”, that is the answer of Vietnam to micro brewing. Drinking in Saigon is an experience like no other. Unlike posh bars with expensive liquors, drinking beer in Vietnam involves sitting in small plastic chairs along a busy street.
Why would locals and tourists here do that? That is just because beer is very cheap here. Just ranging about USD 0.25 per glass and USD 0.70 per bottle, that’s mean no reason for you to deny enjoying such an excellent solution for a hot summer day. The tables are so close to one another; thus, it is also impossible not to chat up with strangers who might soon be your friends, who know? Popular choice of beer in Saigon is Tiger beer and Saigon beer. You can try both of them as these is so cheap anyway.
Keep reading this detailed list to get more great things to do in Ho Chi Minh that may strongly amaze you!
7. Watch Water Puppet Show
Despite water puppetry derives from the north of Vietnam, around Halong Bay (Vịnh Hạ Long) area, water puppet performances tend to be also available at variety of locations throughout Saigon.
The art of water puppet performing depict Vietnamese countryside life also as folklore stories. This is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh city with a local travel agency.
8. Slurp Pho Noodles (Phở)
Pho is famous as a traditional Vietnamese cuisine, which is well-known everywhere the globe. This dish needs little introduction. Most Pho noodles serve a dish holding mint leaves, chopped chili, bean sprouts, and cut lime. Just simply garnish your bowl of Pho with vegetables and add a piece of lime for wholesome flavorful beer chicken or beef noodles.
9. Central Post Office And Notre-Dame Cathedral
One of the famous popular attractions of Saigon City is Saigon Central Post Office. This is the largest post office in Vietnam. Built in the years of 1886-1891 by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel, this building is deserved to present for a vast picture of Saigon.
Even if you may not have a bundle of letters or postcards to send to your relatives, you need still visit here to admire the building. The walls of the Post office are inlaid with devotional tablets and a few stained glass survives. Those English-speaking staffs dispense tourist information during 9am-11am from Monday to Saturday. In case the front gates are locked, you can try the door on the side of a building facing Reunification Palace.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon, also formerly called Saigon Church, is gorgeous , magnificent, and stable of the city’s centre and has always attracted plenty people, both locals and tourists. This church is quite large and could accommodate up to 12,000 people. In front of the church stands a statue of the Virgin Mary, made from Italian marble. Notre Dame Cathedral is really a working religious place where masses are celebrated every Sunday.
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 17:00
- Location:– Central Post Office: Paris Square (Công xã Paris), District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
– Notre-Dame Cathedral: Ben Nghe (Bến Nghé), Ho Chi Minh City.
10. Daring Food
As mentioned earlier this list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, once you have just arrived to middle of Saigon, let yourself discover this vibrant city on the scooters to explore the chaos around. Whether it’s by walking or by scooter, doing a food tour in Saigon will really bring you such an excellent experience that travellers can probably not experience anywhere else. You can find street food vendors every parts of this city. It is no surprise that most of people think Vietnamese street food surely the best of the world and enjoying it’s among the great things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Where to explore?
The most noticeable street for sampling food is Pham Ngu Lao, which is situated in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. This is well-known back-packers district, with very similar vibes as Khao San Road in Bangkok. Around this area, there are many outdoor and indoor markets, restaurants, amazing bars, coffee shops and cheap hotels. It is always fun and lively, and very close to Saigon’s city center.
There are two major snacks that everybody who wanna hang out will eat and tourist should not miss either. The first is Banh trang tron (Bánh tráng trộn), which is Vietnamese snack salad made with strips of the dry rice paper mixed with slivers of the green mango, hot sauce, quail eggs, strips of the dried squid and other kinds of random goodies. It is considered known as the hottest craze snacks in Saigon City, especially , and in Vietnam, generally . The second is Banh trang nuong (Bánh tráng nướng), aka Vietnamese pizza. This type of snack is made with rice paper grilled to be like a normal pizza crust over charcoal, deliciously topped with chili sauce, a quail egg, dry pork, green onions, and many other things.
The nightlife at this area is absolutely great, where people sit on the plastic chairs on along the street sides and drink cheap local beer. Go there and watch the Vietnamese lifestyle unfold around you. It is really diverse and funky atmosphere that you absolutely will enjoy, trust me!
11. Admire Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất)
This is the home of the president of South Vietnam during the “American War”. This is a singular and interesting building from outside and inside. For this reason alone, it makes a visit deserve your top things to do Ho Chi Minh City. It was designed by the French trained, award winning, Vietnamese architect called Ngo Viet Thu (Ngô Viết Thụ). Reunification Palace is opened to tourists as long as official receptions / meetings are not celebrated here. French- and English-speaking guides are on duty during opening hours.
- Opening hours: 7.30-11am and 1-4pm
- Location: No.135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa), Ben Thanh (Bến Thành), District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
12. Go Shopping
Shopaholics also as bargain hunters will love Saigon City. From those street markets to Western-style department stalls, this vibrant city is absolutely ideal for shopping.
Diamond Plaza is great for those well-heeled while Saigon Plaza isn’t a so pricey shopping center.
The classic marketplace for tourists visiting Saigon is Ben Thanh (Bến Thành) Market. At this market, you’ll be able to purchase clothing and as well as souvenirs easily; nonetheless, eating there’ll give you greater experience than shopping does.
Another destination for shopping in Saigon is Le Loi (Lê Lợi) Street, which runs through the centre of District 1. Here, you may discover plenty of diverse range boutiques, clothes, designer brands, electronic and more. For a lesser-known alternative, District 1’s Tan Dinh (Tân Định) market focuses on clothing material and silks.
13. Enjoy Saigon Nightlife
Saigon is awash with clubs and bars, varying from gloomy, tiny establishments to some hustle and bustle market venues. Most of Saigon’s nightlife is concentrated in District 1. Pham Ngu Lao Street, as mentioned before, is equivalent to Bangkok’s famed Khao San Road. This is where the nightlife of Saigon presents most vibrantly. If you’re trying to find a more urbane option, you should try a rooftop bar of three of the best well-known hotels of the town , including the Rex, Majestic, and Caravelle.
Drinks are very expensive, yet there’s a colourful history come with impressive view from each of them. Imported drinks are considerably more expensive than those local ones and alcohol sold in the more exclusive is much more expensive. Some of most well-known bars in Saigon are Alto Heli Bar, Sky Bar, The Spotted Cow. The samples of highly recommended clubs in Saigon City are International Tourist Club, Lush, and also the Observatory. The ideal places to enjoy live music are Park Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe, Sax n’Art Jazz Club while the most famous perfect stop for traditional music are opera house.
14. Enjoy Coffee Culture
This sounds strange when it includes drinking coffee. However, in Saigon City, enjoying coffee becomes a traditional culture. In fact, Vietnam is one of the largest producers of Robusta coffee beans in the world, which are considered to be inferior to Arabica ones. In Saigon, coffee treat await you on every corner .
Thanks to the extreme humidity, iced coffee with milk, known locally as “cà phê sữa đá”, is popular favored. Besides, there are other types of coffee, which are iced blacked coffee (Cà phê đen đá), hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk (Cà phê sữa nóng), and hot black coffee (Cà phê đen nóng). Because Saigon is teeming with great coffee shops which not only serve great Vietnamese coffee, but also provide a mean Italian coffee, too. Also, you also can try the coffee just for less than a dollar at many street stalls around this city.
An interesting idea to enjoy coffee is to go to the Tan Tao (Tân Tạo) Park and have an early-morning brew with locals or order a cup from any street coffee vendor.
15. Join In Cooking Classes
Are you a cooking lover? After sampling plenty of great food here, you may want to explore how to cook dishes from them to treat your family and friends after coming home right? Whilst there are a lot of main hotels offering generic cooking lessons, a smaller-size class can be a far better option. When joining in those classes, you may be taught to source ingredients at a close-by market and cook classic dishes like rice noodle soups, summer rice rolls, and plenty of more. Most classes provide a take-home recipe pack so you may dazzle your own mates back home.
16. Enjoy Live Concerts
Concert is a good option to spend your nights when visitng this bustling city. It is said that Hanoians often envy Saigoneses for having numerous live concerts performed even each night, of all kinds . There are plenty of stages for watching and performing concerts in Saigon and that they have shows almost each weekend. Just opt for the concert that you think it might be interesting and attracted to you, go to it and you could enjoy the live music and get acquainted to the music taste of locals.
The ticket for concerts depends on the kind of show you’re planning to watch. Most of them over over $5. The concerts are taken place at one specific time so you would like to mend yourself therewith time priorly. It is as flexible as moive theaters where you may easily take the show by yourself. Concert is generally popular amongst youngsters who love lively dancing and music. Some popular stages for concerts in Saigon are Trong Dong (Trống Đồng), Lan Anh (Lan Anh), etc. In addition, the Military 7 Stadium also hosts some international music nights so stay tuned with the new events if you’re looking to watch such kind of concerts.
17. Discover Mekong Delta
Travel to the heart of Mekong Delta on a certain group adventure tour from Saigon is the next one in your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh. The Mekong Delta is an about 15,000 square mile area where the Mekong river flowing gently approaches and combines with the ocean.
Mekong Delta is the area of lush, fertile and tropical lands. You will board a small long tail boat, enjoy the beauty of Mekong gateways while exploring exotic fruit farms, fish farms, and dine on traditional Mekong Delta food. About 4 hours of drive from the city’s centre, it is another world, where villages, markets, and schools float on life-sustaining, sprawling estuaries. Actually, ordering a tour is reckoned like the simplest way to experience this delta. Most of the offered tours range from 1-5 days.
If you want to escape the bustling Saigon’s center for some time, and do one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh, then discovering Mekong Delta will be your great choice. Spending several days here if the time permits will assist you create such a memorable experience that you may not ever had before.
18. Go To Cu Chi Tunnels (Hầm Củ Chi)
Just one hour outside the city’s centre, you can experience the first-hand the claustrophobic tunnels which were used by the Viet Cong (Việt Cộng) in order to evade detection by the Southern Vietnamese and American forces. Though Cu Chi just covers just a few hundred metres, after crawling on your own hands and knees via the ill-lit tunnels for several minutes, passing rooms, schools along with dormitories, it’s difficult for you to imagine spending even weeks on underground.
19. Observe The View From The Bitexco Tower
Maybe, the famous iconic structure in Saigon known is Bitexco Tower, sitting 68 floors above the ground. From here, you can overlook all of Saigon City. This skycraper stands right in the heart of the buisiness district of the city. Its incredible design symbolizes the developing potential of this vibrant cosmopolitant city.
Right at the highest of this building, tourists will discover a sky-deck where they coul enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the Saigon River and Saigon City. This place is one of the must things to do in Ho Chi Minh City you must not miss. You will feel like on top of the world when being here.
20. Relax In The Green Spaces And Parks
Saigon may be a frenetic destination, yet it’s easy way to to hide away from it all by coming by one of the green spaces and parks in Distric 1. If you are not a big city lover, then these places can offer you a welcome break from the bustling streets.
While you’re relaxing under the shading greens, you’ll be able to watch many people with friendly faces are entertaining around you. Even, you can witness open air dance lessons that are really amusing to watch.
It is no doubt that you might be approached by some local students who would like to practice and improve their English. Tao Dan (Tao Đàn) park, among many parks in Saigon, is popular wiht both locals and tourists and set amongst plenty of the town sights. Looking for doing something to be more energetic? You can go to swimming pools or tennis courts or other sports amenities there.
21. Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reverse (Khu Dự Trữ Sinh Quyển Cần Giờ)
Located at the Southeast of Saigon City, where the Mekong Delta approaches the South China Sea, Can Gio Mangrove Reserve is one of the UNESCO Biosphere reverse. Reckoned like the “Green lungs” of the vibrant city, this region known as a crucial natural wetland attracting plenty of bird species like painted storks, and migratory spot-billed pelicans.
Also, Can Gio Mangrove Reserve acts as a natural nursery for various types of fish and marine life, including shrimp and crabs. Some boat trips to explore reserve include a padding excursion to Rung Sac Guerilla Base, wildlife spotting adventures in Giant Bat Lagoon, and a short stop at Vam Sat (Vàm Sát) Eco Park, at this place you may visit a crocodile reseve, witness monkeys playing within the trees, and take a hike via the mangroves to see wildlife animals including birds.
Don’t miss this…
Saigon, nowadays, is Vietnam’s most lively city, growing and developing at a rapid rate.
Right at the time you arrive this city, you’ll be surrounded by sea of motorcycle traffic, tasty street foods are everywhere, and the most of worth-visiting attractions that may surely keep you entertained and busy.
There, you got discovered top 21 most interesting things to do in Ho Chi Minh. I want to say a big thanks for reading through this detailed list of top 21 things to do in Ho Chi Minh. Hope that this list gives you great ideas for planning your upcoming trip. Now, it’s your address naivgate your way through the busy and also the bustling traffic, stop at a market or museum, and grab bánh tráng trộn or slurp a bowl of delicious Phở on the sidewalk.
Did I miss any great things to do in Ho Chi Minh? Share your own thoughts with us by dropping words below this post. We love to hear your voice!