Traveling to Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, a city over 300 years old, you can encounter many places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. There are many best places, such as high-rise buildings, outdoor entertainment areas, historical museums, and shopping centers.
Figure 1. 20 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Besides, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top non-sleeping places in Vietnam and offers many best things, such as cruising along the Saigon River by boat, visiting Pham Ngu Lao Street, and shopping at Ben Thanh Market. Have a look at the top 20 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City Overview
Ho Chi Minh City has two distinct seasons: the rainy season from May to November and the dry season from December to April. If you come here in the rainy season, bring an umbrella or a raincoat when going out because Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its many sudden rain drops.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a place filled with golden sunshine. They estimate 270 hours of sunshine a month, average temperatures 27 degrees, highest up to 40 degrees. But these things are not as harsh as other places.
Means of travel when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City
One of the chief means of transport for Ho Chi Minh City tourists is motorbikes, followed by cars, bicycles, buses, and cyclo (motorbike taxi). The cheapest means of public transport are buses, which cost only VND5,000 for each route, followed by motorbike and traditional taxis.
Traffic density in Ho Chi Minh City is quite crowded. Many top roads in the city have traffic jams from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
The best time to travel to Ho Chi Minh City
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the weather is almost hot all year round. Although it is not as hot as the North or as hot as the Central, the average temperature is 27 degrees. And the peak sunny time can even reach over the top of 40 degrees.
There are two distinct seasons here, rainy season and dry season. The rainy season starts from May to November. You should note that if you come here. Never forget to bring with you umbrellas because the rains this time always visit without warning. The dry season usually lasts from December to April within Vietnam.
Saigon is always busy and has a pleasant climate. So, you absolutely can travel to Ho Chi Minh City anytime. Through every season, Ho Chi Minh City offers distinguished top things to attract foreign and Vietnamese visitors.
Ho Chi Minh City Tourist Attractions
With a long history of development, Ho Chi Minh City is enormous and crowded, with over 8 million people. To help you not be overwhelmed by the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City attractions, we would like to highlight the top 20 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and places to visit in Saigon that you can experience.
#1. Ben Thanh Market
It is impossible not to mention one of the most famous places in Ho Chi Minh City first. People have considered it a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam for decades. This market is in the central District 1 of the city, next to Quach Thi Trang Square and September 23rd Park.
The market is one of the top places for Vietnamese citizens in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the reason this market is very bustling and crowded. Ben Thanh Market was started construction and completed from the early years of the 20th century. It has been operating continuously since then.
Ben Thanh Market is a great place in the city center. The market has four gates in the East, West, South, and North facing the top streets in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, and Le Thanh Ton streets. Inside the market, there are enough traditional and modern things to be gifts for family and friends.
At night, the market becomes more bustling around with shops of clothes and Vietnamese food restaurants crowded with visitors. Dating back to the 19th century, Ben Thanh Market is also one of the top historical witnesses through many changes of the times. Here, visitors can shop for many things such as souvenir products, fabrics, clothes, and traditional Vietnamese handicrafts.
There are over 3,000 stalls on sale here, including wholesale and retail goods from popular to luxury products. The products here are diverse. From around 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., it is the only one time when the food stalls open to really welcome guests. Actually, from this time on, the market is always crowded with buyers and sellers.
#2. Notre Dame Cathedral
If you’re a fan of the French classics, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo), you must have already imagined the context of the story. The chief place in this story is a majestic church space, standing in the heart of magnificent and ancient Paris. And right in Ho Chi Minh City, there is a palace-like that.
On the main road in the city center, Notre Dame Cathedral is now gradually becoming one symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. This place stands out with European architecture combining beautiful French Colonial style, with the biggest bell pair in Vietnam. Notre Dame Cathedral is the most beautiful and essential church of Ho Chi Minh City diocese as the city’s pride. The area around Notre Dame Cathedral also has the most beautiful scenery in Ho Chi Minh City.
This historic place is in the central area of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The Cathedral area shows the characteristics of Ho Chi Minh City. Near the ancient church, it is the opposite of modern reinforced concrete buildings. From Notre Dame Cathedral, you can visit Independence Palace, shop at Diamond Plaza, walk around Dong Khoi street, cross Con Rua Lake, and drink coffee or beer on Han Thuyen Street.
Although it is not the love story’s context, it seems to be a copy with the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Cathedral is a combination of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the impressive classical architecture of the French Colonial style. Every weekend, the church is one of the best places to celebrate Masses.
#3. Central Post Office
As a place for kids and young people who love taking pictures, the Ho Chi Minh City Central Post Office is one of the best architectural projects, thanks to the French engineer. Central Post Office is a combination of luxurious European and Asian classic styles. Vietnamese people consider this place as a right reserved location for the Vietnamese lifestyle.
They decorate the outside of the building in rectangular boxes. On the boxes, they cover the surfaces with pictures of men and women wearing laurel wreaths. In the center, there is the house arc with one enormous clock. In the evening, the post office, glowing with light, radiates more magnificence.
#4. Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City
Inaugurated in 1900, the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon Municipal Opera House) is one of the oldest theaters with French Colonial style. Over 100 years, the Theatre is the witness of a historic stage of the fierce resistance of the nation until the liberation of the South and reunification of Vietnam.
Like the Saigon Central Post Office, this work also influenced late 19th-century French art from facade reliefs to interior decoration. Visiting the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
#5. Saigon Square
For those who are shopping fans, it is impossible not to know Saigon Square. It is one of the most famous shopping paradises with three facilities in District 1. Visiting this shopping mall will overwhelm. It is like being lost in the matrix with too many booths with all kinds of Vietnamese dresses, clothes, bags, and other Saigon things.
However, the prices of fashion items here fluctuate since they are mainly exported. So, you need to haggle hard when visiting this shopping district. It is easy for you to find and buy your favorite items when coming to Saigon Square.
#6. Starlight Bridge (Anh Sao Bridge)
If you are a lover of light and romance, do not miss without leaving a moment at this special bridge. The Starlight Bridge is horizontal, which connects the banks of the Crescent Mall. At first sight, this bridge does not differ from other common bridges, but the magic only appears until free darkness falls.
You’ll see all the beauty, as its name suggests. On the floor and bottom of the bridge, countless lights sparkle like the night sky. The water spray system installed on the rainbow’s sides combined with the rainbow light effect constantly changing is very magical and eye-catching.
After walking around and taking photos is one of the best things you can do on this bridge. Visitors can stop by at a snack shop and admire the splendid beauty of this bridge in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Also known as the Reunification Palace, Independence Palace is a rights reserved work going into national history. It used to be the workplace of the government apparatus of the Republic of Vietnam during the resistance war against the US.
They design the work based on oriental architecture, but in a modern style. Visiting the Independence Palace, visitors can see firsthand many items from the old regime and the evidence marking the Independence Day of April 30, 1975.
After the liberation, they classified Independence Palace as a national special monument. It is similar to a museum. Today, on every important anniversary of the Vietnamese people like April 30 and September 2, thousands of people flock here to visit and to review the nation’s history and to commemorate the pass-away heroes.
#8. Dam Sen Water Park
As a part of the entertainment service complex, Dam Sen Water Park is a destination not to be missed for young tourists. It contains a large wave pool with 26 floors of underwater entertainment equipment and is one of the top things for you to entertain and play.
The games are also gradually increased for those who love adventure and thrills, such as a high-speed slide with a steep swing or a swing to cross the waterfall. However, you need not worry too much about safety because there is always a team of rescue workers closely supervised and ready to assist promptly.
#9. Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park
Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park has a spacious and very fresh space in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This top place is exploited deeply in the aspect of culture and history. Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park offers a great deal in daily historical education, keeping the top quintessence of Vietnamese culture without being dry for tourists.
At the northeastern gateway of Ho Chi Minh City, Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park is an entertainment destination attracting many tourists when coming to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park is also the best place for cultural and historical education through sightseeing areas built on national legends and Eastern ideology.
Visiting this resort, children, and adults can play much fun and rewarding games, watch the best musical, circus, and magic performances. Also, over your visit, there will take place unique festivals. Especially, some top festivals are held according to seasons, such as summer festivals with works made from fruits or winter festivals with angel nights.
#10. Saigon River
The busiest area along the Saigon River is Ton Duc Thang Street. It’s also in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. This street has high-class hotels and restaurants. From this vibrant street, you can enjoy the poetic Saigon River in the afternoons. There is a pier for visitors to take a cruise on the Saigon River or try dining at the restaurants on the river.
The winding flow of the Saigon River through the 37-kilometer long city is an exquisite landscape. Try to experience the cruise along the river. You will discover the unique features of this tourist attraction in Saigon. It comes with the rustic and barbaric scenery of the river in the bustling urban area.
The forms of sightseeing include boat excursions along the river to Nha Be, Can Gio; Canoes go to Lai Thieu; and dinner onboard restaurants. Depending on the quality of service, the cost for a cruise along the Saigon River costs from VND80,000 for each person or more.
#11. Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Nguyen Hue is the road in the central area of Ho Chi Minh City, which is unique among many top places to visit in Vietnam. On both sides of the road, there are many hotels, restaurants, entertainment areas, and high-end shopping areas. Some old buildings have existed for hundreds of years, bearing the appearance of classical European architecture.
Go straight on Nguyen Hue Street in the Southeast direction, and you will reach Ton Duc Thang Street on the Saigon River. In particular, every year on the Lunar New Year, Nguyen Hue Street becomes brilliant, where many flowers gather to bloom to welcome spring. They display the iconic Nguyen Hue Annual Flower Road for about 7-10 days during the Tet holiday of Vietnam.
#12. Bui Vien Backpacker Street
Bui Vien Backpacker Street lies across Pham Ngu Lao Street, De Tham street, and neighboring streets in the center of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. We have included this place in the list of guides for tourists visiting Ho Chi Minh City by the famous travel magazine Lonely Planet. Bui Vien Backpacker Street is very close to Ben Thanh Market, and the common bus station transports passengers around the city.
Chinatown is the busiest business center in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This place is also a crowded residential area ofChinese people in the South. Here, you can enjoy a very rich cuisine with Chinese-style dishes. Chinatowns are the largest wholesale and retail markets such as Binh Tay Market, Kim Bien Market, and Soai Kinh Lam Market.
#14. Binh Tay Market
In Chinatown, Binh Tay Market is a wholesale market supplying goods for many provinces in the South areas, Mekong Delta, and Vietnam. The market trades many commodities from dry food, cereals, and dry seafood to normal things such as clothes, shoes, and children’s toys. It is an area where many Chinese people live.
#15. Museum of Vietnamese History
They built the Museum of Vietnamese History in 1929, formerly known as Blanchard de la Brosse Museum. Visiting this museum, you will admire and learn about tens of thousands of valuable artifacts and rights reserved for Vietnamese history and the Vietnam war.
The city museum also has over 25,000 books, articles, and valuable documents for archeological and ethnographic research. Make sure you have a plan that is well made before visiting the museum. For example, when visiting a museum, you should know its opening hour and regulation.
#16. War Remnants Museum
In the Vietnamese War Remnants Museum, tour visitors will feel the trust of a fierce war to further appreciate what Vietnam’s armies and people had suffered through the wartime.
Visiting the Vietnamese War Remnants Museum, you will see many unique things about the Vietnam war. There are artifacts such as airplanes, cannons, tanks, guillotines, and two tiger cages were built to the correct size in Vietnamese Con Dao Prison.
Among the top museums for world peace, the Vietnamese War Remnants Museum is the gallery of crimes during the American war. In the city’s heart, the museum is the place to keep artifacts and contexts related to the period of the Vietnam war against the French and the Americans. This museum annually attracts millions of tourists, especially international tourists who are extremely interested in this history museum.
The museum displays over 13,000 artifacts and memoirs of reporters who were on duty in the Indochina battlefield. There are also galleries about the Southwest Border War, the Northern Border Protection War, the Spratly Islands issue, and the conspiracy of hostile forces in the Vietnamese War Remnants Museum.
#17. Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels is 70 kilometers far from northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. Cu Chi Tunnels is the place to shrink the transformation map of the Vietnamese army and people during the fierce Vietnam war for 30 years. Cu Chi Tunnels make today’s generation admire the works located deep in the ground, with many floors, many nooks and crannies like spider webs with a total length of over 200 kilometers.
#18. Bitexco Financial Tower
They started the tower construction in May 2004, designed by American architect Zapata and inaugurated on October 31, 2010. The design concept is inspired by the image of a lotus bud rising to the sky, expressing the nation’s aspiration to rise, representing a dynamic Vietnam but still preserving its identity.
The building has a height of 269 meters with three basements and 68 floors, which are designed with steel and double tempered glass in terms of low iron content. The 49th floor is the Saigon Skydeck observatory and the helipad with a length of 40 meters on the 52nd floor of the tower.
As the second tallest building in Vietnam (after Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower), Bitexco Financial Tower is becoming the new symbol of Saigon and a familiar photo-taking place for young people coming here. The impressive feature of this building lies in its architecture like a lotus bud reaching high.
Bitexco Financial Tower also owns Saigon Skydeck with a perfect view to see the entire city from above, from where you can see the most typical works of Ho Chi Minh City such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Thu Thiem Tunnel, and East-West Avenue.
Bitexco Financial Tower is the best symbol of the era of the top development of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Coming to this place, you not only set foot in the tallest building in the city but also take part in many other activities. From admiring city beauty on the observatory, enjoying cocktails on the rooftop bars to trying out one of the fastest elevators in Southeast Asia.
#19. Thu Thiem Bridge
If you can observe the check-in photos of young people recently on social networks, Thu Thiem Bridge is a beautiful view of the city with a prime location across the river. When night falls, it embeds the whole Saigon in the electric lights from the streets, skyscrapers, or other means of transport.
The view from Thu Thiem Bridge makes you surprised by an unbelievable view. Visiting here and saving a photo with Ho Chi Minh City is probably one of the popular things that should not be missed.
#20. Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda is a religious place to worship Jade Emperor God built in the period from 1892 to 1900, according to Chinese architecture. In 1984, they renamed Jade Emperor Pagoda Phuoc Hai Pagoda. However, many people in the city are still known as Jade Emperor Pagoda because the main hall is the place to worship Jade Emperor according to Chinese beliefs.
According to the manager of Jade Emperor Pagoda, this place has a total area of about 2,300 square meters and was built in the style of Chinese temples and pagodas with brilliant decorative motifs. We built the pagoda of baked bricks. The tiled the roof with yin and yang. People decorated the roof corners with many colored ceramic statues.
Over a century, until now, the state has recognized Jade Emperor Pagoda’s national architectural heritage in Vietnam.
Street Food and Vietnamese Cuisine in Ho Chi Minh City
Broken Rice (Com Tam)
Referring to Ho Chi Minh City day trip, the first dish that people make sure to eat is probably broken rice. It is such a popular dish in Saigon as people eat this dish from breakfast to dinner. Also, many provinces have Saigon-style broken rice, but Ho Chi Minh City still brings the most delicious dish of broken rice to you.
This dish is also called Com Tam because, in the past, we cooked this dish from broken rice. It means that the rice is cracked, broken, and looks bad, unlike expensive rice. They grill the most popular dish rib with broken rice. Besides, many food vendors always serve other types such as roasted chicken with broken rice. The grilled pork ribs make the dish richer and more attractive.
Personally, many Vietnamese tourists do not recommend eating broken rice in big restaurants because it is not a high-end dish. You can always find this amazing dish at the trolleys right on the street. With one cup of iced tea, these local things are enough to enjoy this regional specialty.
Trang Bang Rice Paper
Although this dish originated from Trang Bang, Tay Ninh, it has become very popular in Ho Chi Minh City. In Ho Chi Minh City, Trang Bang rice paper shops sprouted like mushrooms, but the best one is probably still the Trang Bang Hoang Ty store at 70 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
Phnom Penh Noodle Soup (Hu Tieu Nam Vang)
Many tourists know Phnom Penh noodle soup as a multi-ethnic dish because it originated from Cambodia, but processed by the Chinese. Noodles is an equally popular dish compared to broken rice in Ho Chi Minh City, but Phnom Penh noodle soup is even more special.
Especially because of the variety of materials, Phnom Penh noodle soup originates from pork pieces and minced pork. But in Ho Chi Minh City, there are many more types to eat such as shrimp, liver, quail eggs, and squid. It is indispensable when enjoying Phnom Penh noodle serving with vegetables such as celery, squash, chives, lettuce, and bean sprout.
There are two ways to eat noodles, which are dry noodles and water-based noodles. Dried noodles with a little soy sauce, garlic, and a separate bowl of broth. There are many famous Phnom Penh noodle shops in Ho Chi Minh City such as Hong Phat noodle soup (Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City).
Snail is the only dish that can be eaten, can be mixed, and can be satisfied for a variety of needs from students to tourists. District 4 has a series of snail restaurants and food vendors. Every restaurant menu has dozens of types of snails.
We consider that Snail Restaurant at 229 Hoang Dieu, the most luxurious restaurant in this area. This restaurant has a Crab Curry that everyone loves to order. You can enjoy this dish with bread, which is quite delicious.
Banh xeo when eaten in Ho Chi Minh City is larger than those outside of Hanoi. The diameter of Banh xeo is almost the same as the diameter of the pan used to cover it. The name of the dish comes from the fact that after you put the shrimp and bacon in the pan, the chef will pour a scoop of golden flour into the pan and beat a skewer.
If you eat Banh xeo at a top restaurant, you will not enjoy the chef’s skill of pouring it. Also, visit Ba Hai Banh Xeo at 119 Nguyen Van Linh, behind the Xom Chieu market, you can both watch the top chef cook and enjoy the dish when it is cooked.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ho Chi Minh City expensive to travel?
For the airplane ticket fees, the price ranges from VND3,500,000 to VND5,500,000 for a round-trip ticket if you fly from Hanoi. And train tickets will be around VND1,000,000. Passenger cars are like train prices, depending on your starting point.
In the city, rent a motorbike to move to the fun spots. Staying in the city, you need not worry. There are many hotels in the center to choose from. There are many five-star luxury hotels such as New World Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, and Pullman Hotel. Or you can choose nearby motels or hostels where you want to have fun.
The areas with many hotels such as Phan Xich Long, Su Van Hanh, along the embankment road between Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. The price also depends on the comfort you choose from VND200,000 to VND500,000 per day. There are also types of rental hours for those who just need to take a lunch break or take a bath and prepare to move to the next fun place.
We can say Ho Chi Minh City to be the top dining capital of Vietnam. In this city, you can eat the specialties of all other regions, even other countries. But if you want to try a little of Ho Chi Minh City, dishes like pho, banh mi, Banh xeo, or broken rice are the things you should not miss. The price of street food and cuisines are low compared to other countries.
Is it worth visiting Ho Chi Minh City?
Coming to Ho Chi Minh City by tours, the central location is not suitable for budget travelers. Although it is close to the attractions, the price of hotels in District 1 is also twice as high as that of the motel while the facilities are the same. Instead of the money at the hotel, you can search for a motel a little further than take a bus, motorbike taxi, or taxi to the attraction.
For the convenience in Ho Chi Minh City, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Turtle Lake, Ben Thanh Market, and Independence Palace are enough for you to visit all day. Near Tan Son Nhat airport, there are also many cheap hotels.
Is it safe in Ho Chi Minh City?
2017 marked the industry’s efforts when the police industry has ensured the security and safety of visitors by reducing the number of robbery cases of tourists. Also, they regularly strengthen the youth volunteer force to help tourists solve situations of rowing and robbing property at sightseeing destinations.
To reduce the problem of attracting tourists and robbing property, the City Police continued to coordinate with the patrol units, regularly checking areas with crowded tourists to visit, updating the tourist situation to intervene in case of incidents with tourists.
How do you travel around Ho Chi Minh City?
Renting a motorbike only takes about VND100,000 and is quite convenient to go around the city. However, having a Grab or Uber service is also a convenient and safe idea for those who have just arrived in this dynamic city. Also, with a dense number of bus routes going to almost anywhere in the city, you can completely climb on the bus and comfortably go to preferred places.
Compared to Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City is a young and energetic city but occupies the best places in a vibrant and modern life. This city with all the best activities is always attracting visitors to visit and experience.
Above are our recommendations for the best places for your trips to Vietnam. Otherwise, Taoist Temple, Ho Chi Minh Museum, or Vot Cafe is the location that should be booked for a good place of traveling to Ho Chi Minh City. The choice is yours, make sure you address one simple plan and add the above locations.
If you are planning to visit Ho Chi Minh City, make sure you save and do not miss the top 20 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City that we have mentioned above. Thank you for your concern about this article. Register with your name email and leave your comment below!