Ho Chi Minh City attracts millions of visitors yearly as one of the must-visit destinations in Vietnam. Although the city is busy with hectic life, it is charming and worth exploring for at least a few days.
What are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh city?
I. Top things to do in Saigon Vietnam
1. Enjoy a great view from Saigon Skydeck at Bitexco Financial Tower
Opened in 2011, the Saigon Deck is on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower, a 68-floor lotus-shaped skyscraper.
After purchasing the Saigon Skydeck ticket, you can enter the elevator to get to the observation deck on the 49th floor of the building. You can then enjoy a great view of Ho Chi Minh city.
A Skydeck ticket costs around $8.6, and with an extra $2.15, you can join the Heineken beer tour and enjoy a beer with a great view.
-> Book tickets for Saigon Skydeck to enjoy the view of Saigon
- Check the weather forecast carefully to avoid a foggy day.
- If you don’t have time in the morning, the view at night is also worth it.
- Upgrade your ticket to enjoy Heineken beer while observing the view
Address: Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.
2. Explore Saigon on Motorbike
Saigon is undoubtedly the city of motorbikes, with more than 4.2 million motorbikes on the streets at peak hours.
While exploring Thailand with a tuk-tuk is a must-do, traveling in Vietnam on motorbikes is a great experience you should not miss.
You can rent a bike or book the Saigon Motorbike Adventure Tour to explore the city.
Although the renter usually doesn’t ask for your license when renting a bike, you may not get insurance if you have an accident.
Thus, we recommend going on a motorbike tour for your safety and convenience.
3. Explore China Town Cho Lon
Saigon is home to different cultures, and the Chinese neighborhoods are one of the remarkable areas.
Chinatown, also known as Cho Lon, is located in District 5, District 11, and a part of District 6 of Ho Chi Minh City.
This place focuses on the Chinese culture, cuisine, and unique architecture, mainly Chaozhou and Fujian, creating a unique feature in Saigon.
Here, you will feel like you are in a residential area of Hong Kong or lost in a world entirely built by the hands of the Chinese. Most of the houses in this area were built in the late 19th century with Chinese architecture.
The best way to explore Saigon China Town
We joined a self-guided tour from Urban Tales and explored China Town in a unique way. It was challenging, and we loved it.
We were on the mission to solve a mysterious murder case, and while doing so, we visited different areas in District 5, including assembly halls and a market.
The tour was well-organized, and our guide checked on us several times to ensure we didn’t get lost.
Although we were a bit confused at the beginning of the game, we could finally solve the mystery on time.
Information on the Saigon Cholon tour by Urban Tales
The game is available daily for 2 to 12 participants.
Daily departure: 8:15am – 2pm
Price per person (no transfer): 990.000 VND / adult & 750.000 VND / child (7-11 year olds). Free for children under seven years old.
Supplement for transfer by classic French car:
+ 300.000 VND per adult
+ 250.000 VND per child.
What to pack for the game
Because the game takes part in the morning, you should apply suncream and bring sunglasses. Also, don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will walk a lot!
4. Try Saigon Street Food
Trying Vietnamese street food is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh city.
Saigon street has long become a culinary paradise with various street food, from local restaurants to snacks sold along the road.
It’s exciting to know that low-cost street food is sometimes more delicious than food at fancy restaurants.
Bun Thit Nuong, Banh Xeo, Com Tam, etc., are delicious Vietnamese street food you should try in Saigon.
We’ve joined several food tours in Saigon, and we recommend joining the Saigon Adventure tour to enjoy local food and explore Saigon’s streets like a local.
Note: You should learn some basic Vietnamese words and phrases, such as numbers, so ordering food is easier.
5. Join the Vietnamese cooking class
If you’re a big fan of Vietnamese food, why not try to cook one or two Vietnamese dishes?
Although there are several Youtube videos about Vietnamese food, attending a Vietnamese cooking class is a better choice. You can learn a proper recipe and have someone instruct you carefully.
We joined a farm-to-table cooking class and had a blast! You can read more about our experience here.
6. Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Saigon River
What is better than sipping a glass of wine 🍷 while enjoying a fine dining experience with a stunning view of Saigon?
With a cruise, you can enjoy 2-hour buffet-style dining with excellent live performances and professional service.
7. Attend shows at Saigon Opera House
Built in 1897 with neoclassical style and inspired by the Opera House design in Paris, Saigon Opera House is a beautiful and elegant artwork highlighting the heart of vibrant Saigon.
Although this place was built to entertain the French expeditionary force, it was also known as the popular entertainment destination of the elite.
Saigon Opera House has famous academic music programs with notable international musical works by Vietnamese composers such as Orchestra, Opera, Ballet, etc.
Saigon Opera House opens numerous shows for travelers, such as A O Show or Teh Dar Show. You can experience the richness of Vietnamese culture with a spectacular hour-long show in Saigon Opera House.
-> Book and enjoy the show at Saigon Opera House
You can choose to
- Listen to Vietnamese folk music played with 17 traditional instruments in the A O Show.
- Listen to the energetic rhythm performed live with tribe instruments in the Teh Dar Show.
Address: 7 Công Trường Lam Sơn, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
8. Have fun at 3D Artinus Museum
Although the location is a bit far from the center, visiting Artinus Museum should be on your list of alternative things to do in Ho Chi Minh.
This museum is an excellent place if you enjoy art and creative activities. The wall is full of brilliant theme art, allowing visitors to create creative poses.
You can transform into giants or tiny characters, experience the tsunami, and join the race of dinosaurs. You can also check in with the angel wings in the legend or fight with a big bear.
Address: 02-04 Road 9, Him Lam Residence, Tan Hung Thuan Ward, District 7
9. Go Shopping at An Dong Market
If you are too familiar with Ben Thanh Market, visit An Dong Market instead.
Located in An Dong Commercial Center, this place is considered the largest wholesale clothing market in Saigon, with various models and highly reasonable prices.
Tips: You should negotiate before purchasing any item in this market.
Address: 34-36 An Dương Vương, Ward 9, District 5, Ho Chi Minh city.
10. Enjoy the coffee culture
Traveling to Vietnam without trying Vietnamese coffee will be a huge miss.
Coffee is not only a drink but also a cultural activity in Saigon. You can find several coffee shops in Saigon, with people sitting inside or on the street, sipping coffee anytime.
The most well-known coffee in Saigon is Ca Phe Sua Da, coffee with condensed milk. Ca Phe Da (black coffee) is an alternative option if you prefer something not so sweet.
My favorite area for coffee is on Pasteur street near Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1. You can find many coffee shops around the quarter.
11. Have drinks on a rooftop bar
What to do at night in Ho Chi Minh?
After a busy night exploring the city, enjoying a night with some cocktails and a vibrant view of Saigon seems to be a great choice.
You can find several rooftop bars in Saigon, and my favorite one is The View Rooftop bar on Bui Vien street.
Address: 195 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.
12. Party till morning on Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien street, known as Phố Tây (Foreign area), is an excellent place for a night out for foreigners and locals.
The weekend is the busiest time of the week thanks to its unique and fascinating entertainment activities. Many artistic performances on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street attract many visitors and create an exciting atmosphere.
Bui Vien’s walking street is full of cafes, restaurants, and bars. You can sit on the sidewalk, drinking beer and eating street food, or visit busy bars and clubs in the area.
The street can be super crowded, and you cannot move due to “traffic jams,” but visiting here will be fun and relaxing.
II. Day trips from Saigon
After exploring the city, taking half-day or full-day trips from Saigon may be interesting. There are many places to discover, such as Cu Chi Tunnel, Mekong Delta, or the Floating market.
Below are my reviews on those trips
- Explore Thoi Son Islet in Mekong Delta
- A detailed guide to Cai Rang floating market
- Best things to do in Can Gio Vietnam
III. Where to buy SIM Card in Ho Chi Minh
To enjoy the best of your trip to Ho Chi Minh, you should purchase a local SIM card when arriving in Vietnam.
IV. Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh
The best area to stay in Saigon is District 1 or District 3. Most of the main attractions are in District 1, so you may save up the transportation budget and walk around.
On the other hand, District 3 is quieter and easier to get to the center within 10 minutes. The accommodation price in District 3 can also be slightly lower than in District 1.
V. How to get around Ho Chi Minh
The most common way to get around Vietnam, or Ho Chi Minh, is by motorbike. You can also get a taxi easily on the street.
I recommend taking a cab from Vinasun or ordering a Grab car/ Grab bike when visiting Saigon.