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The Best Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Hedwig Whatley



Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a bustling and vibrant metropolis in southern Vietnam. It is the largest city in the country and serves as the economic and cultural hub of Vietnam. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, a foodie, or simply someone who enjoys exploring new places, Ho Chi Minh City has something to offer for everyone.


With its rich history, stunning architecture, delicious street food, and warm hospitality, Ho Chi Minh City is a destination that is sure to captivate and mesmerize you. From museums that showcase Vietnam’s tumultuous past, to bustling markets where you can immerse yourself in local culture, to scenic river cruises that offer a different perspective of the city, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant city.


In this article, we will explore the top attractions and activities that you must not miss when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. Whether you have a few days or a few weeks to spend in the city, these recommendations will help you make the most of your time and create unforgettable memories.


Visit the War Remnants Museum

Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the War Remnants Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The museum provides a sobering and thought-provoking insight into the brutality and devastation caused by the war.


As you step into the museum, you will be greeted by a collection of military vehicles, including tanks and aircraft, that were used during the conflict. Inside, the museum houses a series of exhibitions that document the war from various perspectives, featuring photographs, artifacts, and personal accounts from both Vietnamese and international sources.


The museum offers a comprehensive and emotional journey through the war, covering topics such as the My Lai Massacre, Agent Orange and its long-term effects, and the struggles faced by both soldiers and civilians. It provides a stark reminder of the human cost of war and the importance of peace.


One of the most moving displays is the “Requiem” exhibition, which showcases the work of international photographers who documented the war. The powerful images capture the pain, suffering, and resilience of the Vietnamese people during this turbulent period in their history.


Visiting the War Remnants Museum can be an emotionally challenging experience, but it is an important one. It offers a valuable opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the war and its impact on Vietnam and its people. It serves as a reminder of the importance of peace and the need to strive for a world free from conflict.


Overall, a visit to the War Remnants Museum is not only educational but also a humbling experience. It allows visitors to reflect upon the past and appreciate the resilience and strength of the Vietnamese people in the face of adversity. Whether you have a personal connection to the war or are simply interested in history, this museum should be on the top of your list when exploring Ho Chi Minh City.


Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels

A visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels is a must for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War and the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people. Located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, these underground tunnels played a crucial role in the Vietnamese resistance against the American forces.


The Cu Chi Tunnels were initially built during the French occupation in the 1940s and later expanded during the Vietnam War in order to serve as a shelter and communication network for the Viet Cong guerrillas. Stretching over 250 kilometers, these tunnels were a vital lifeline for the Vietnamese soldiers, providing them with safe passage, hiding spots, and supply routes.


Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels have been preserved as a popular tourist attraction, allowing visitors to experience what life was like for the soldiers who inhabited the tunnels. You can explore a small section of the tunnels, which have been widened and reinforced for safety reasons, giving you a glimpse into the remarkable engineering and ingenuity behind their construction.


As you crawl through the narrow, dimly lit tunnels, you will gain a deeper appreciation for the resourcefulness and resilience of the Vietnamese people. You can also learn about the various trap systems that were set up to defend the tunnels, such as camouflaged entrances, spike pits, and booby traps.


Aside from the tunnels, the Cu Chi Tunnels site also offers other attractions, including shooting ranges where you can try your hand at firing a range of historic weapons, such as AK-47s. There is also a small museum that provides more context and information about the Vietnam War.


Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels is not only educational, but it also serves as a testament to the determination and bravery of the Vietnamese people. It offers a unique opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the conditions that Vietnamese soldiers endured during the war. Whether you have a deep interest in history or are simply curious to learn more, exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels is a worthwhile experience.


Overall, the Cu Chi Tunnels offer a fascinating and immersive journey into Vietnam’s wartime history. They provide a glimpse into the hardships faced by the soldiers and the resilience of the Vietnamese people. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the Vietnam War, make sure to include a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels in your itinerary when exploring Ho Chi Minh City.


Wander around the Ben Thanh Market

No visit to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without exploring the vibrant and bustling Ben Thanh Market. As one of the oldest and most iconic markets in the city, it offers a unique shopping and cultural experience that will leave you captivated.


Located in the heart of the city, Ben Thanh Market is a sprawling marketplace that is popular among both locals and tourists. The market is divided into different sections, each offering a wide variety of goods ranging from clothing and accessories to local handicrafts, textiles, fresh produce, and spices.


As you wander through the maze-like alleys of the market, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant atmosphere filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of Vietnamese culture. The bustling stalls, haggling vendors, and enthusiastic shoppers create a lively and energetic ambience that is a true reflection of the city’s spirit.


Ben Thanh Market is not only a shopping destination but also an excellent place to immerse yourself in the local food scene. The market is home to a food court where you can sample a wide range of Vietnamese street food, from delicious banh mi sandwiches and pho noodle soup to fresh seafood and exotic fruits.


One of the highlights of visiting the market is the opportunity to bargain with the vendors. Bargaining is a common practice in Vietnamese markets, and it can be a fun and interactive experience. When negotiating, remember to be polite and respectful, and always smile as you work towards a price that both parties are satisfied with.


Ben Thanh Market is open from early morning until late at night, making it a convenient place to visit at any time of the day. However, it is worth noting that the market can get quite crowded during peak hours, so it is advisable to visit early in the morning or later in the evening for a more relaxed shopping experience.


Overall, a visit to Ben Thanh Market is a must for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and lively atmosphere of Ho Chi Minh City. Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs, exploring the local food scene, or simply soaking up the ambiance, this bustling market offers a truly authentic Vietnamese experience.


Experience the Local Street Food

No trip to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without indulging in the mouthwatering local street food. Vietnam is renowned for its delicious and diverse culinary scene, and the streets of Ho Chi Minh City are a food lover’s paradise.


From fragrant noodle soups to savory pancakes, from flavorful banh mi sandwiches to delectable rice paper rolls, the local street food in Ho Chi Minh City offers a delightful array of flavors and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.


One of the best ways to experience the local street food is by exploring the city’s vibrant street food markets and stalls. These bustling hubs are filled with a wide variety of food vendors, each specializing in their own unique dishes. One of the most famous street food destinations is the bustling Binh Tay Market, located in the city’s Chinatown district. Here, you can sample a diverse range of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, from steaming bowls of pho to fresh seafood and exotic fruits.


For a truly authentic experience, be sure to try some of the beloved street food dishes that are synonymous with Vietnam. Pho, a fragrant and flavorful noodle soup, is an absolute must-try. It is typically made with tender slices of beef or chicken, fresh herbs, and rice noodles, all simmered in a rich and aromatic broth. Another must-try dish is banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich filled with a combination of flavorful ingredients such as grilled meats, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.


When indulging in the local street food, don’t forget to try some of the lesser-known gems as well. Treat your taste buds to a plate of banh xeo, a crispy and savory Vietnamese pancake filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. Or satisfy your cravings with a serving of bun cha, a popular dish consisting of grilled pork served with rice noodles and a side of fresh herbs and dipping sauce.


As you navigate through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find street food vendors on nearly every corner. Whether it’s a food cart serving up steaming bowls of noodles or a makeshift stall grilling skewers of meat over hot coals, these humble establishments offer some of the most authentic and mouthwatering culinary experiences.


Don’t be afraid to try new flavors and step out of your comfort zone. Embrace the vibrant street food scene and let your taste buds embark on a culinary adventure through the flavors of Vietnam. From the fragrant lemongrass-infused dishes to the tantalizing mix of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, the local street food in Ho Chi Minh City is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Take a Scenic Boat Ride along the Saigon River

One of the best ways to soak in the beauty and charm of Ho Chi Minh City is by taking a scenic boat ride along the Saigon River. This majestic river runs through the heart of the city, offering stunning views and a unique perspective of the city’s skyline and surrounding landscapes.


There are various options available for a boat ride along the Saigon River, ranging from short sightseeing tours to longer cruises that take you further upstream. You can choose to embark on a public ferry or opt for a private tour, depending on your preferences and budget.


As you embark on your boat journey, you’ll be greeted by the picturesque vistas of the city’s skyline, adorned with modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks. The riverbanks are lined with lush greenery and traditional Vietnamese houses, creating a charming juxtaposition between past and present.


During the boat ride, you’ll have the opportunity to pass by notable landmarks such as the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower, the historic Saigon Opera House, and the striking Dragon Bridge. The river also offers a different perspective of attractions like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the stunning Saigon Central Post Office.


For a truly memorable experience, consider taking a sunset or evening boat ride along the Saigon River. As the day comes to a close, the city awakens with shimmering lights, creating a magical ambiance. The reflection of the city’s lights on the water creates a captivating sight that is sure to leave you in awe.


While enjoying the picturesque views, you may also have the opportunity to witness local life along the river. From fishermen casting their nets to locals riding their boats along the riverbanks, the Saigon River offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who call this city home.


As you cruise along the river, keep an eye out for floating markets, where vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and other goods from their boats. These colorful and lively markets offer a unique glimpse into the local culture and provide a chance to interact with the friendly vendors.


Whether you’re a photography enthusiast looking for the perfect shot, a romantic seeking a memorable experience, or simply someone who enjoys being on the water, a scenic boat ride along the Saigon River is a must-do activity in Ho Chi Minh City. It is an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the river that has played such an integral role in the history and development of Ho Chi Minh City.


Discover the Historic Reunification Palace

A visit to Ho Chi Minh City would not be complete without exploring the historic Reunification Palace. Often referred to as the Independence Palace, this iconic landmark played a significant role in Vietnam’s history and serves as a symbol of the country’s reunification.


The Reunification Palace is a striking example of modernist architecture, with its sleek lines and unique design. It was originally built as the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today, it stands as a museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s political past.


Stepping inside the Reunification Palace is like stepping back in time. The building has been preserved to reflect its original 1960s design, complete with period furniture, art, and decor. As you explore the palace, you can visit the President’s living quarters, meeting rooms, and the basement command center, where key decisions were made during the war.


The Reunification Palace holds immense historical significance as it was the site of the dramatic end of the Vietnam War. On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the palace, signifying the fall of Saigon and the reunification of Vietnam. Today, you can still see the tank that was used during this pivotal moment on the palace grounds.


Visiting the Reunification Palace provides a unique opportunity to learn about Vietnam’s history and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s struggle for independence. The museum showcases photographs, documents, and artifacts that shed light on the events leading up to the reunification of Vietnam and the impact it had on the nation.


One of the highlights of the palace visit is the chance to explore the sprawling gardens surrounding the building. The beautifully landscaped gardens are dotted with manicured lawns, tropical plants, and fountains, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere away from the bustling city streets.


Overall, the Reunification Palace offers a captivating journey into Vietnam’s past and serves as a reminder of the country’s resilience and determination. It is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s tumultuous past.


Whether you’re captivated by the impressive architecture, fascinated by the historical significance, or simply intrigued by the stories that unfold within its walls, a visit to the Reunification Palace will leave a lasting impression and provide a unique insight into Vietnam’s rich and complex history.


Enjoy the Vibrant Nightlife at Bui Vien Street

When the sun sets in Ho Chi Minh City, the energy and excitement come alive along Bui Vien Street, the city’s most famous and lively nightlife hub. Located in the heart of the bustling District 1, Bui Vien Street is a vibrant and bustling area that offers a plethora of entertainment options for night owls.


Bui Vien Street is known as the backpacker’s street, attracting both locals and tourists looking for a good time. The street is lined with colorful neon signs, bustling cafes, bars, nightclubs, street food vendors, and souvenir shops. The lively atmosphere is infectious as crowds of people spill out onto the street, enjoying the vibrant nightlife.


This bustling street comes alive after dark and offers something for everyone. If you’re in the mood for live music, you’ll find plenty of venues with talented local bands playing a variety of genres, from rock and pop to traditional Vietnamese music. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you listen to the music and dance the night away.


For those looking to simply relax and enjoy a drink, the street is lined with numerous bars and pubs offering a wide selection of beverages, from locally brewed beers to handcrafted cocktails. Grab a seat at one of the sidewalk bars, soak in the atmosphere, and watch the world go by.


If food is your priority, Bui Vien Street has you covered. The street is dotted with street food stalls and local eateries where you can sample a variety of Vietnamese delicacies. Indulge in delicious banh mi sandwiches, steaming bowls of pho, flavorful seafood dishes, and much more. The street food options are diverse and cater to all taste buds.


As you make your way along Bui Vien Street, don’t be surprised to encounter street performers, artists, and even tattoo parlors. The street is a melting pot of creativity and expression, with something new and exciting awaiting you at every turn.


While Bui Vien Street is notorious for its lively nightlife, it’s important to keep in mind that it can get crowded and noisy, especially during peak hours. It’s advisable to exercise caution and stay aware of your surroundings while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere.


Whether you’re a party enthusiast, a food lover, or simply someone who enjoys immersing themselves in the local culture, Bui Vien Street provides an unforgettable experience. It’s the perfect place to soak in the electrifying energy of Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife and create lasting memories of your time in the city.


So, put on your dancing shoes, grab a drink, and dive into the vibrant nightlife along Bui Vien Street. Let the music, the energy, and the lively atmosphere sweep you away into a night of unforgettable fun and excitement.


Visit the Beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral

A visit to Ho Chi Minh City is not complete without marveling at the architectural splendor of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Located in the heart of the city, this iconic landmark stands as a testament to the French colonial influence on Vietnam and is a symbol of the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.


The Notre Dame Cathedral, officially known as Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, was built in the late 19th century with distinctive French Gothic architecture. The cathedral’s façade is adorned with red bricks imported from France and features intricate stained glass windows, imposing bell towers, and a statue of the Virgin Mary.


Step inside the cathedral and you’ll be greeted with an awe-inspiring interior. The high arched ceilings, meticulously crafted stone pillars, and elegant stained glass windows create a sense of grandeur and serenity. The quiet ambiance invites visitors to pause and reflect, providing a peaceful sanctuary amidst the bustling city.


One of the highlights of visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral is the opportunity to attend a Mass or a service. The cathedral remains an active place of worship, and its services are conducted in Vietnamese, attracting both locals and visitors. Attending a service allows you to witness the religious devotion and experience the serene atmosphere of the cathedral.


Adjacent to the cathedral is the Statue of Peace, a bronze statue that commemorates the peaceful reunification of Vietnam. This statue, often adorned with vibrant flowers, serves as a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.


Surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral is a picturesque park, offering a serene respite from the busy city streets. Take a leisurely stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens, enjoy a picnic, or simply find a shady spot to relax and people-watch.


Located in close proximity to the Notre Dame Cathedral, you’ll also find the Saigon Central Post Office, another architectural gem that is worth exploring. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the post office showcases a blend of French colonial and Gothic architectural styles and offers a glimpse into the city’s past.


Whether you’re an architecture aficionado, a history enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates beautiful landmarks, a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral is a must when in Ho Chi Minh City. The impressive architectural details and the tranquil atmosphere of this historic cathedral will leave you in awe and provide a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s unique cultural heritage.


Relax at the Tao Dan Park

If you’re in need of a peaceful escape from the bustling city streets of Ho Chi Minh City, look no further than the serene oasis of Tao Dan Park. Located in the heart of District 1, this spacious green park offers a tranquil retreat where you can relax, unwind, and enjoy the beauty of nature.


Tao Dan Park is a beloved green space among locals and visitors alike, providing a welcome respite from the fast-paced urban environment. The park spans over 10 hectares and is beautifully landscaped with lush trees, colorful flowers, and well-manicured lawns. It is an ideal place to escape the noise and chaos of the city and reconnect with nature.


One of the highlights of Tao Dan Park is its charming bird garden. This dedicated area is home to a wide variety of bird species, including colorful parrots, playful lovebirds, and graceful peacocks. Bird enthusiasts and nature lovers will delight in the opportunity to observe these stunning creatures in their natural habitat.


The park also offers amenities and activities to cater to the needs of its visitors. There are fitness areas equipped with outdoor exercise equipment, where you can join in on tai chi sessions or engage in your own workout routine. Additionally, there are shaded seating areas and benches scattered throughout the park, providing the perfect spots to relax, read a book, or simply take in the surroundings.


As you wander through Tao Dan Park, you may come across groups of locals engaging in various leisure activities. From badminton and soccer games to playing traditional board games like Chinese chess, the park serves as a hub for socializing and recreation. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even join in on a game with the friendly locals.


Furthermore, during the Lunar New Year (Tet) celebrations, Tao Dan Park becomes even more vibrant, with colorful flower displays, traditional performances, and food stalls. This festive atmosphere draws both locals and tourists to the park to celebrate the start of the new year in a lively and joyous setting.


Whether you’re seeking solitude, a quiet place to enjoy a picnic, or simply a spot to people-watch, Tao Dan Park offers all this and more. It is a sanctuary that allows you to take a break from the fast pace of the city and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.


So, take a leisurely stroll, breathe in the fresh air, and immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of Tao Dan Park. Whether you’re seeking a moment of tranquility or a chance to connect with the local community, this green oasis is the perfect place to find solace amidst the vibrant energy of Ho Chi Minh City.


Discover the Stunning Architecture of the Central Post Office

Located adjacent to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is not just a functional post office but also an architectural gem that deserves a visit. Designed by the renowned French architect Gustave Eiffel, the post office showcases a beautiful blend of French colonial and Gothic architectural styles.


As you step inside the Central Post Office, you’ll be greeted by a grand interior adorned with high ceilings, arched windows, and intricate details. The highlight of the post office is its stunning vaulted ceiling, adorned with a decorative mural depicting historical scenes and maps of Vietnam.


The architecture of the Central Post Office is a testament to the city’s colonial past. The elegant ironwork, marble floors, and ornate wooden counters exude a sense of old-world charm. It is a perfect example of how colonial-era buildings can seamlessly fit into the modern landscape of Ho Chi Minh City.


Aside from its architectural splendor, the post office remains a working facility, serving as a hub for sending letters and packages. As you explore the building, you’ll notice the rows of postal counters, vintage telephone booths, and a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam, adding to the historical significance of the site.


In addition to its postal services, the Central Post Office also houses several shops and kiosks where you can purchase souvenirs, postcards, and even have your letters or postcards hand-stamped with the post office’s official seal.


Visiting the Central Post Office is not only an opportunity to learn about the history of communication in Vietnam but also a chance to admire the incredible blend of architectural styles. Take the time to explore and appreciate the details of the building, from the ornate lighting fixtures to the decorative ceramic tiles that adorn the walls.


Surrounding the Central Post Office, you’ll find charming cafes where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee, immersing yourself in the nostalgic atmosphere of the area.


Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or simply appreciate the beauty of well-preserved buildings, a visit to the Central Post Office is a must when exploring Ho Chi Minh City. It offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past while showcasing the harmonious blend of different architectural influences that have shaped Vietnam’s cultural heritage.


So, don’t miss the opportunity to step back in time and marvel at the stunning architecture of the Central Post Office. Capture the beauty of this historical landmark and create lasting memories of your visit to Ho Chi Minh City.



Ho Chi Minh City, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning attractions, offers a multitude of experiences to captivate and enchant visitors. From exploring the war-related museums to immersing yourself in the local street food scene, there is something for everyone in this bustling metropolis.


A visit to Ho Chi Minh City would not be complete without witnessing the iconic landmarks that define the city’s identity. The War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels provide somber reminders of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, offering insights into the history and resilience of the Vietnamese people.


Immerse yourself in the local culture by wandering through the bustling Ben Thanh Market, where you can find unique souvenirs and savor the flavors of Vietnamese street food. Experience the vibrant nightlife of Bui Vien Street, lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants offering entertainment and fun until the early hours of the morning.


Take a scenic boat ride along the Saigon River to enjoy breathtaking views of the city and witness local life along the waterways. Visit the historic Reunification Palace and the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral to admire the architectural marvels that stand as reminders of Vietnam’s colonial past.


For relaxation, head to Tao Dan Park, where you can enjoy the tranquility of nature and observe the vibrant bird life. Finally, don’t miss the chance to explore the stunning architecture of the Central Post Office, a testament to the city’s colonial heritage.


Ho Chi Minh City offers a unique blend of history, culture, and adventure that will leave a lasting impression on every visitor. From its tumultuous past to its vibrant present, the city has transformed into a thriving metropolis while still holding onto its rich traditions and deep-rooted values.


So whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, an architecture aficionado, or simply someone seeking new experiences, Ho Chi Minh City has something for you. Embrace the energy, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, and let the city’s charm and beauty captivate your senses.


Plan your trip to Ho Chi Minh City and discover the incredible sights, tastes, and experiences that await you in this dynamic and enchanting destination.