Ho Chi Minh is a dynamic city in South Vietnam, formerly known as “Sai Gon” which is more energetic than any other city in Vietnam. Visitors coming to Ho Chi Minh will vibrate with the bustling and hustling vibes in Vietnam’s leading economic, financial, and entertainment center. Alongside innovative and modern, Ho Chi Minh City is the place that marks the impressive history of Vietnam in the 20th century. The new and the old create a colorful painting intertwined with this magnificent metropolitan’s glorious past and bright future.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh for an unforgettable trip? This article below will highlight some of the best activities and locations to ensure memorable experiences in this dynamic city.
Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh – 22 Best places must visit in Ho Chi Minh
Show table of content
- 1. Historical Landmarks
- 1.1 Independence Palace
- 1.2 War Remnants Museum
- 1.3 Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
- 1.4 Cu chi Tunnels
- 2. Cultural
- 2.1 Ben Thanh Market
- 2.2 Saigon River Cruise
- 2.3 Ao Dai Experience
- 3. Famous Neighbourhoods in Ho Chi Minh City
- 3.1 Chinatown (Cho Lon)
- 3.2 Thao Dien
- 4. Art and Architecture
- 4.1 Sai Gon Opera House
- 4.2 Bitexco Financial Tower
- 4.3 Street Art Exploration
- 4.4 Saigon Central Post Office
- 5. Explore Temple and Pagoda
- 5.1 Jade Emperor Pagoda
- 5.2 Thien Hau Temple
- 6. Ho Chi Minh Nightlife
- 6.1 Bui Vien Street
- 6.2 Rooftop Bars
- 6.3 Night Market
- 7. Local food and drink
- 7.1 Embrace Saigon’s Coffee Culture
- 7.2 Sample Saigon’s Craft Beer
- 8. Day Trips from Ho Chi Minh City
- 8.1 Mekong Delta
- 8.2 Vung Tau Beach
1. Historical Landmarks
For history buffs, Ho Chi Minh City is a must-visit as many historical landmarks remain for visitors to understand Vietnam’s history and how Vietnamese people regain their independence and freedom. Here are some of the famous historical attractions in Ho Chi Minh City:
1.1 Independence Palace
The Independence Palace is located in the city’s heart and is an iconic symbol of the nation’s history and struggle for independence. The architecture combines modernist and traditional Vietnamese design elements, creating a distinct and captivating aesthetic. In 1975, an Army’s Vietnamese tank crashed through palace gates, marking the end of the Vietnam War, lasting 20 years.
It is preserved in its 1970s state, and the palace is a museum today, allowing visitors to step back in time and explore the maintained offices, meeting rooms, and underground communication tunnels. Visiting the Independence Palace offers a profound experience and deeply connects visitors with Vietnam’s turbulent past. Remember to buy a map or review it in advance on the Internet to facilitate moving and sightseeing as the palace is massive.
Location: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Ticket prices: 40.000 VND for adults – 10.000 VND for children
1.2 War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is a poignant testament to the severe effects of the Vietnam War. Established in 1975, the museum is a stark reminder of the brutality and suffering endured by the Vietnamese people during the conflict. More than 20,000 diverse collections of artifacts and photographs are on display and serve for education and history research to offer visitors a comprehensive understanding of the war’s devastating impact on soldiers and civilians.
During the visit, visitors are not touched by witnessing the struggles faced by the Vietnamese people and their resilience in the face of adversity. Also, visiting the museum, visitors should not touch or damage the artifacts and should not enter the prohibited areas.
Location: 28 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 7:3O AM to 5:30 PM
Ticket prices: 40.000 VND for adults – free for children under 5 years old
1.3 Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is an iconic architectural masterpiece and a significant religious site. It was constructed between 1863 and 1880 during French colonial rule. The Cathedral’s design is reminiscent of the Gothic style, boasting intricate façades adorned with meticulously crafted stone carvings. The Cathedral serves as a place of worship, drawing tourists and devotees.
However, the Cathedral has degraded signs over the one hundred years formed. Therefore, in July 2017, the Cathedral began a significant restoration and temporarily stopped welcoming guests. The restoration process is scheduled to be completed in 2027. If you visit the Cathedral during theses time, visit the park in front of it. This place has a flock of lovely pigeons; you can have memorable photos with just pieces of small bread.
Location: No.1 Cong xa Paris Sreet, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
1.4 Cu chi Tunnels – the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh
The Cu Chi Tunnels are about 70km from Ho Chi Minh City to the northwest. Cu Chi Tunnels are preserved at two locations in the Cu Chi district: Ben Duoc Tunnels and Ben Dinh Tunnels. These tunnel systems are a living testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese during the War. These intricate underground networks served as a strategic stronghold for the Communist soldiers, allowing them to evade and resist American forces.
The tunnels measure around 120 kilometers, showcasing remarkable engineering ingenuity, featuring narrow passages, hidden trapdoors, and camouflaged entrances. The tunnels comprised an extensive labyrinth encompassing living quarters, kitchens, storage areas, and medical and command centers. Visitors today can gain insights into the harsh realities of War by exploring a section of the tunnels, often modified for easier access.
Location: Phu Hiep, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, open all days in the week, including holidays
Ticket prices: Range from 20,000 VND to 50,000 VND
Another way to delve into local life is by experiencing the diverse cultural aspects here. Here are some best things to do in Ho Chi Minh for visitors to engage in an awe-inspiring voyage through cultural exploration:
2.1 Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a central Ho Chi Minh City market, with four main doors leading to the busiest streets of Saigon. This market provides various fruit, vegetables, and dry products and is a famous tourist attraction. Renowned as one of the city’s oldest marketplaces, building in 1912. The market is a bustling hub where locals and tourists converge to explore an array of goods, from traditional handicrafts and textiles to fresh produce and tasty street food. The marketplace has a clock tower shape, and stands are arranged neatly, making it a feast visual and delight for tourists. Whether seeking souvenirs, trying local flavors, or simply soaking up the lively atmosphere, this market is integral to Ho Chi Minh City’s charm.
Location: Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM
2.2 Saigon River Cruise
The Saigon River Cruise provides a tranquil experience escape from the urban hustle and bustle, allowing travelers to explore the city’s vibrant landscape from a distinct perspective. Passengers aboard the Saigon River Cruise can relish the stunning views of iconic landmarks such as the Bitexco Tower and the historic Saigon Opera House, all while enjoying the comfort and amenities of the cruise. From daytime cruises that savor the vibrant cityscape to enchanting night dining at cruises illuminated by the city’s sparkling lights, this experience allows you to explore the beautiful landscapes, enjoy the fresh air and learn about the daily life of the locals living along the riverside.
2.3 Experience Ao Dai Museum
Ao Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is an awe experience to learn about the development history of Ao Dai through every step. It officially came into operation in 2014 and is a place to store more than 300 traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai Models. Visit the museum tourists can bask in the authentic village of Vietnam with a lotus lake, a fresh vegetable garden, small ponds, and a row of ancient houses. Also, renting a unique Ao Dai to snap lovely photos is a must-experience. At the Museum, there are plenty of models of Ao Dai for both men and women, suitable for many different ages, so it is easy for visitors to find the Ao Dai for their preferences. Moreover, visitors can make their own beautiful Ao Dai under the guidance of artisans.
Location: 206/19, 30 Long Thuan Street, District 9, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 8:30 AM to 05:30 PM, opening all days in the week
Ticket prices: 100,000 VND for adults – free for children under 2 years old
3. Famous Neighbourhoods in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant metropolis, is renowned for its diverse neighborhoods, each with unique charm and character. Among these, several districts stand out as particularly charming destinations for tourists:
3.1 Chinatown (Cho Lon)
Chinatown is also known as Cho Lon (Big Market). This town is located in District 5, which is one of the most vibrant, rich cultural neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City. Moreover, Cho Lon is considered one of the largest Chinatowns in the world by area. The area was formed in the 18th century as Chinese traders immigrated to Sai Gon for trade and exchange. Gradually, becoming an integral part of Sai Gon.
Nowadays, Chinatown is renowned for its bustling street markets with delicious Chinese cuisine, traditional craft, and goods. Especially do not forget to immerse in Chinese food with bold flavor, from dumplings and wontons to mouthwatering duck noodles and more. The Chinese people still living here strive to well-preserved their lifestyles, religion, architecture, and traditional values. Visiting Chinatown is a perfect way to explore the blend between Chinese culture and Vietnamese life in the middle of the city.
3.2 Thao Dien
Thao Dien is situated in District 2 this area has evolved into a sought-commercial hub. Thao Dien offers a dynamic lifestyle with trendy cafes, stylish boutiques, and a diverse culinary scene, making it a favorite among expatriates and locals. It provides a vibrant lifestyle with trendy coffee, restaurants, and luxury boutiques, making it a favorite among expatriates and locals.
Its leafy streets are lined with luxurious villas, high-end condominiums, and well-equipped amenities, including international schools and fitness centers. The picturesque Saigon River winds alongside Thao Dien, adding to its appeal. Residents and visitors can enjoy a relaxing stroll along the riverbanks or explore the bustling local markets. Thao Dien is a microcosm of HCMC’s rapid development, encapsulating the global’s atmosphere with the serene aspect of the city.
4. Art and Architecture
Ho Chi Minh City’s architectural marvels and artistic indications blend tradition and modernity uniquely. The constructions stand not only as physical structures but also as embodiments of the city’s spirit. Here are some typical art and architecture of the dynamic city:
4.1 Sai Gon Opera House
The Sai Gon Opera House is located in District 1, about 1,2km from Ben Thanh Market. The Opera House was established in 1898, combining the beauty of ancient Greek-Roman architecture and romantic and delicate lines of French art. Its neoclassical façade, adorned with delicate details, harkens back to the French colonial era. The theater consists of 1 ground floor and two floors with a capacity of up to 1800 seats.
The Opera House is where various performances from opera, chamber concerts, dance genres, musicals, and more. Sitting in the Opera House, listening to chamber music, you will feel like you are becoming an old aristocrat with a regal life, fully immersed in high-class art. The opera house does not charge an entrance fee like other attractions but determines the price according to the type of program, event, time, and seat class. Generally, it ranges from 200,000 VND to 2,000,000 VND.
Location: 07 Cong Truong Lam Son Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM & Weekend: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
4.2 Bitexco Financial Tower
Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper with 68 floors, the 4th highest among buildings in Vietnam today. There is a helipad on the 52nd floor of the building. The elegant image of the lotus bud, a symbol of Vietnamese culture, inspired Bitexco Financial Tower’s design concept. What is the exciting thing inside this building? The Bitexco Financial Tower is gathered various shopping malls, food malls, cinema theaters, and offices.
Especially remember to visit the 49th floor to enjoy the panoramic view of bustling Saigon from the observatory. This observatory is called Saigon Skydeck. Around the Skydeck is glazed to give visitors a 360 view, especially a transparent binocular system so that visitors can see most of the city’s places. The building is considered a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City’s dynamism during economic integration.
Location: 02 Hai Trieu Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM, open all days in the week
Ticket prices: 200,000 VND for adults, 130,000 VND for older and children
4.3 Street Art Exploration
Street art and graffiti art are famous on Ho Chi Minh City streets. District 1 is among the most popular destinations for HCMC’s murals, public art, and graffiti. Coming to some alleyways in Ho Chi Minh city, visitors will be captivated by vibrant colors with different shapes on the wall. The graffiti is often painted by some young people who love art and want to add vitality and color to the small streets that have been tinged with time. These colorful streets beautify the city’s landscape and are an ideal place to attract tourists to visit and take pictures. Close to District 1, Binh Thanh District is also an excellent place to see public art and murals while experiencing an authentic Vietnam neighborhood vibe. The best way to start a street art exploration is by wandering through the alleyways and enjoying the local life here.
4.4 Saigon Central Post Office
Sai Gon Central Post Office is in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon; therefore, it is convenient for tourists to combine two spots for visiting. Established in 1886, the post office records the imprints of Vietnamese – French culture and, at the same time, witnessed many ups and downs in the history of old Saigon. As a French architectural work, the post office stands out from the outside with large doorways and domes. Explore the inside; tourists will see the two pictures of the city’s historical maps on both sides of the wall post office. Also, post offices keep old mailboxes, telephone booths, and souvenirs such as stamps or old letters so tourists can enjoy the ancient features of the modern city.
Location: 02 Cong Xa Pari Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
5. Explore Temple and Pagoda
When it comes to Ho Chi Minh City, tourists immediately think about the bustle and hustle city with skyscrapers and luxury brands. Apart from the vibrant aspect, Ho Chi Minh City also offer various spiritual wonders, including pagodas and temples. Here are two typical spots for tourists to explore temples and pagodas in the city:
5.1 Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda is a sacred and ancient pagoda located in the bustling street of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Built around the beginning of the 20th century by a Chinese, the temple’s design is bold with the ornate architecture of China. Nowadays, Jade Emperor Pagoda attracts locals and tourists to visit and pray for their health, love, and peace. In 2016, the former US president, Brack Obama, visited this pagoda on his official trip to Vietnam to express his respect for Vietnam culture.
Every year, on the 9th day of the first lunar month, the pagoda regularly organizes a great celebration for the Jade Emperor. It is a special occasion; thousands of people come to pray here. You can come pagoda during this time, pray and enjoy the festive ambiance. Hopefully, all your wishes at Jade Emperor Pagoda will come true.
5.2 Thien Hau Temple
Thien Hau Temple is located in the heart of Chinatown, District 5. Constructed in 1760 by the Cantonese community to the purpose express their gratitude and respect for the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. This temple becomes a spiritual place that significantly influences the life and culture of most city dwellers. Visiting Thien Hau Temple, tourists will be captivated by a collection of antiques with more than 400 artifacts.
Moreover, remember to write down your wish on paper and hang it with a ring of incense to pray for the good things to come. You can visit the temple at any time of the year. However, if you want to bask in the bustling atmosphere of the festival and witness the Chinese and Vietnamese communities coming to worship, you should visit the temple on March 23 of the lunar calendar. It is Mazu’s Birthday celebration, which is the ideal time for you.
Location: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: From 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM, open all days in the week
6. Ho Chi Minh Nightlife
Ho Chi Minh City is dubbed as the city that never sleeps. Exploring the dynamic and energetic beauty at night is one of the unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh. Here are three famous spots for you to delve into the sparkling and lively city at night:
6.1 Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien Street stretches approximately 1 kilometer and is located in the center of District 1. Bui Vien Street is one of the most popular nightlife spots in Ho Chi Minh City, especially among tourists. Bui Vien Street is a lively and bustling street known for its energetic atmosphere. The street area comes to life in the evening with various bars, clubs, live music venues, and street food stalls. Bui Vien Street is the intersection of many cultures, attracting international tourists as well as locals. It offers a unique combination of nightlife, cultural experiences, and opportunities to interact with other travelers. From shopping for souvenirs to savoring local cuisine, Bui Vien Street truly reflects the dynamic of Ho Chi Minh City’s urban life.
Location: Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
6.2 Rooftop Bars
Ho Chi Minh City boasts several beautiful rooftop bars offering breathtaking city views. These rooftop bars are known for their elegant atmospheres, creative cocktails, and panoramic views. Some popular rooftop bars include Saigon Rooftop Bar, EON 51 Heli Bar at Bitexco Financial Tower, Chill Sky Bar at AB Tower, and Social Club Rooftop Bar. Rooftop bars provide an inviting atmosphere for locals and tourists, making them the perfect place to socialize, celebrate special occasions or enjoy the moment alone. Come to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a relaxing evening with loved ones while enjoying the sparkling view of the city at charming Rooftop Bars.
6.3 Night Market
Night Market in Vietnam is a unique feature of this beautiful country. Unlike day markets, which often sell foods and essential goods, night markets offer leisure activities for tourists. Night markets in Ho Chi Minh are a shopping destination and place for tourists to experience the city’s nightlife. The Ben Thanh Night Market or Ho Thi Ky Night Market is a popular option where you can delve into the delicious cuisine from BBQ and fresh seafood from West cuisine to Asia cuisine. The market comes alive in the evening, creating a lively and colorful atmosphere. It’s a great place to tourist experience the energy ambiance night of Ho Chi Minh City.
Location: Ho Thi Ky Night Market, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hour: 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM
7. Local food and drink
When exploring Saigon’s vibrant and diverse city, two culinary experiences simply cannot be missed: immersing yourself in the rich coffee culture and sampling craft beer.
7.1 Embrace Saigon’s Coffee Culture
Saigon’s coffee culture has become a unique cultural feature in local life. Locals and visitors gather at the numerous coffee shops that line the streets, each offering a unique twist on this beloved beverage. From the “Cà phê sữa đá” (Sai Gon Iced coffee with Milk) to the trendy like egg coffee, or coconut coffee, a cup will suit every palate. The city’s coffee shops aren’t just places to drink; they’re places where conversations flow freely and time seems to slow down. Sip your coffee slowly, savoring the flavors and the authentic Vietnam atmosphere as you watch the fast pace of the city.
7.2 Sample Saigon’s Craft Beer
While coffee might be the traditional choice, Saigon’s craft beer has steadily made a name for itself. Breweries have sprung up across the city, offering a wide range of locally crafted beers that cater to diverse tastes. You’ll find something to satisfy your palate, whether you enjoy rich stouts or refreshing wheat beers. These breweries often exude a laid-back and friendly vibe, providing an excellent opportunity to engage with locals and other travelers. Consider embarking on a craft beer tour to appreciate the city’s evolving beer landscape truly. Pair your brews with tasty Vietnamese street food for a culinary adventure that fuses local flavors with international craftsmanship.
8. Day Trips from Ho Chi Minh City
From Ho Chi Minh City, traveling to other appealing surrounding areas is relatively easy and convenient. With our reputable car rental service, we will accompany you on the way to join the day trips from Ho Chi Minh City.
8.1 Mekong Delta
A day trip to the Mekong Delta offers a chance to explore the picturesque waterways, lush green landscapes, fresh orchard gardens, and traditional floating villages of southern Vietnam. You can take a boat ride along the canals, visit local markets, and experience this region’s unique way of life. Mekong Delta is truly an ideal place to explore the authentic ambiance of West Vietnam; visit our comprehensive guidance for Mekong Delta to learn more about the charming region.
8.2 Vung Tau Beach
Vung Tau is a coastal town just a few hours from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a popular destination for beach lovers and offers a relaxing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. For panoramic views, you can enjoy the sandy shores, indulge in water sports, and visit landmarks like the Christ of Vung Tau statue. Beyond the beach, Vung Tau boasts a charming blend of local culture and international influences, reflected in its high-quality dining options and vibrant markets.
In conclusion, Ho Chi Minh City offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and vibrant energy. From exploring historical landmarks to indulging in local cuisine and enjoying bustling markets, the city presents a unique and enriching experience for travelers.