best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

20+ Awesome Things to do in Saigon

Saigon Travel Guide

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Ho Chi Minh City attracts millions of visitors yearly as one of the must-visit destinations in Vietnam. Although the city is noisy and crowded, it still has its own charm and worth exploring at least a few days.

What are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh city? Plan an awesome trip to Vietnam with a comprehensive guide to Saigon below.

 

Enjoy a great view from Saigon Skydeck at Bitexco Financial Tower

Opened since 2011, the Saigon Deck is located on the 49th floor of the the Bitexco Financial Tower, a 68-floor  lotus-shaped skyscraper.

best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

After purchasing Saigon Skydeck ticket, you can enter the elevator to get to 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 extra $2.15, you can join Heineken beer tour and enjoy beer with a great view.

-> Book ticket for Saigon Skydeck to enjoy the view of Saigon

Note:

  • Check the weather forecast carefully to avoid 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.

 

Visit Tan Dinh Church

Known as one of the most gorgeous church in Ho Chi Minh city, Tan Dinh Church is a great place to visit in Saigon. With vibrant pink facades, outstanding architecture and sculptured patterns, this church wins visitors’ heart from the first sight.

Tan Dinh church was built in 1880s and underwent several restoration and repair. However, nowadays its architecture and construction still remain the origin with Roman and Gothic style.

best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Open hours: 8am-11 am or 5pm to 7pm from Monday to Friday.

Address: 289 Hai Bà Trưng, Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh city.

Tips: If you get lost, just ask people about the “Pink church”. After visiting Tan Dinh church, don’t forget to pay a visit to Tan Dinh market and Le Van Tam park nearby.

 

Explore Saigon on Motorbike

Saigon is without a doubt the city of motorbikes. There are more than 7.43 millions motorbikes registered in Ho Chi Minh city (Thanh Nien News, 2016), as it is flexible and cheaper to move around compared to cars.

While exploring Thailand with tuk tuk is a must-do, traveling in Vietnam on Motorbike is a great experience that you should not miss.

You can either rent a bike per day or book the Saigon Motorbike Adventure Tour to explore the city.

Note:

Although the renter usually doesn’t ask for your license when you rent a bike, you may not get insurance if you have accident. Thus, we recommend to go on a motorbike tour instead for your safety and convenience.

 

Attend shows at Saigon Opera House

Built in 1897 with neoclassical style and inspired by the design of the Opera House in Paris, Saigon Opera House is a charming 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.

best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Nowadays, Saigon Opera House is a famous performance place of academic music programs with amazing international musical works and works by Vietnamese composers such as Orchestra, Opera, Ballet, etc.

Saigon Opera House opens frequent 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 folk Vietnamese 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.

 

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 great place if you enjoy art and creative activities. The wall is full of brilliant theme art which allows visitors to create interesting poses.

You can transform into giants or tiny characters, or experience the tsunami, and join the race of dinosaurs. You can also check in with the angel wings in the legend or fighting with a big bear.

Address02-04 Road 9, Him Lam Residence, Tan Hung Thuan Ward, District 7

 

Try out 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 a variety of street food from local restaurants to snacks that are sold along the road. It’s exciting to know that the low-cost street food is sometimes more delicious than the food at fancy restaurants.

Bun thit nuong, Banh xeo, Com Tam, etc. are popular Vietnamese street food that you should try in Saigon.

We recommend joining Private Saigon foodie tour or Vegan Adventure Foodie tour to enjoy local food and explore Saigon’s streets like a local aboard a scooter together with a guide.

where to eat Vietnamese street food in Ho Chi Minh Saigon

Note: You should learn some basic Vietnamese words and phrases such as numbers so it’s easier to order food.

 

Join 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 Vietnamese cooking class is a better choice as you can learn a proper recipe and have someone instruct you carefully.

best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

 

Visit War Remnants Museum

Located in District 3, War Remnants Museum is a good place to learn about Vietnamese history. It has heartbreaking exhibition related to Vietnam War involving the French and American colonialists.

The museum was opened in 1975 as “The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government”, but then got its name changed in 1993 after going under changes and renovations.

It has traumatizing pictures of Agent Orange, napalm, phosphorus bombs, My Lai massacre, etc. The exhibition is really haunting and shocking, so you should prepare mentally before visiting this museum.

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh city.

Open hours: 7 am to 6:30 pm

Ticket price: 40,000 VND/ person

 

Explore Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace, or also known as Independence Palace, was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

The palace is a witness of Vietnamese history with different Presidents and a place to mark the end of Vietnam War. The first President in this Palace was Ngo Dinh Diem.

As the palace is now transformed to a museum, you can observe the F5E fighter plane that bombed the palace on 8th April 1975 and the tank number 843 which led the final assault through the palace gate at 11.30 am on 30th April 1975.

You can book a Saigon half-day private tour to explore the most famous places in Ho Chi Minh with a tour guide.

Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

Opening hours: 7.30am – 11.00am and 1.00pm – 4.00pm daily.

Ticket price: 40,000 VND/person.

 

Visit Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

Located in a heart of Saigon, Notre Dame Cathedral attracts many domestic and foreign tourists daily with its beauty.

The church has a ancient look with a little modern, and young people are very fond of coming here to take pictures and keep the beautiful moments.

best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Note: On the morning of July 4, 2018, the Notre Dame Cathedral began to set up barriers and restrict visitors to serve restoration which will last for 2 years. During the construction period, the Masses are normally held weekly but guests are not allowed to visit.

Address: 01 Cong xa ParisBen Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Send Postcard from Central Post Office

Located opposite the Notre Dame, Central Post Office is an iconic building which was built during French colonial period. As it still operates as a post office, you can send the customary postcard from here.

There are a couple of souvenir stores that have unique souvenirs that you cannot find at other places, so you should buy some gifts if you’d like to.

Open hours: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM

french buildings in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Central Post office

 

Wander around the Book street

Located near Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office in District 1, Nguyen Van Binh Book Street is the must-visit destination of book lovers. I love the feeling of wandering around, buying some books and reading them at the opposite coffee shop on a Sunday morning.

Nguyen Van Binh book street is the first book complex in Vietnam built with open space, allowing visitors free to visit and enjoy the reading culture of the Saigon.

what to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Although the street is not long, it is divided into different areas such as bookstore area, coffee book area, book selling area, and cultural items. There is also a playground for children, an exhibition area, and an old bus for book exchange.

You can find books in both Vietnamese and English, so don’t hesitate to visit and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere.

Address: Nguyễn Văn Bình, Bến Nghé, District 1,Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Walk along Nguyen Hue Walking street

best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Located in the heart of the city, Nguyen Hue Walking Street has become a great attraction in Ho Chi Minh city. In the evening, this street attracts hundreds of visitors walking, singing or playing outdoor games. Most of the visitors are young people, or families with children and tourists.

Surrounding Nguyen Hue walking street are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants. One of the must-visit place is the Cafe Apartment.

 

Visit Saigon City Hall

If you’re around Nguyen Hue walking street, don’t forget to stop by People Committee Head Office (Saigon City Hall).

Saigon City Hall is one of the most beautiful French colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City. The place was first used in 1909 as a hotel named Hotel de Ville.

best things to do in Saigon Vietnam

 

Visit Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ngoc Hoang Pagoda)

As one of the most popular religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, there are many pagodas and temples in Vietnam, or Saigon in particular. Generally, Vietnamese visit pagoda to wish for luck and peace, as well as showing the respect to the religion.

One of the famous pagodas in Ho Chi Minh city is Jade Emperor Pagoda, or Ngoc Hoang Pagoda. This place is also known as Dakao pagoda during French period.

best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Jade Emperor Pagoda is located on Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1 with age of more than a century and has been recognized as a national architectural heritage.

The architecture of the Jade Emperor Pagoda is brightly decorated with Chinese style. Once entering, you will be amazed by the impressive three-pointed gate with the water-bending curves of the two dragons in the posture.

Tips: When visiting pagoda, you must wear appropriate clothes that cover your shoulder and knees.

Address: 73 Mai Thị Lựu, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

 

Explore Ben Thanh market

If Dong Xuan Market is the symbol of Hanoi, Ben Thanh Market is one of the iconic buildings of Saigon. It will be a great regret if you visit Saigon and miss Ben Thanh market.

where to buy souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

The market has a history dating from the early 17th century. At that time, the market was located near the Saigon River and was a famous place for small traders.

During the French war, the market was located on the banks of the Ben Nghe River, and was used to serve visitors and soldiers in the city. Therefore, the market gained its name as Ben Thanh Market.

These days, Ben Thanh market is a famous places for travelers, to experience the old architecture of the building or to try some Vietnamese food.

Note: You should negotiate before purchasing souvenirs in this market.

Tips: At night, you should visit Ben Thanh Street food market which is located at 26 Thu Khoa Huan, District 1 (opposite Ben Thanh market).best places to eat in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

 

Go Shopping at An Dong Market

If you are too familiar with Ben Thanh Market, try visiting An Dong Market instead. Located in An Dong Commercial Center, this place is considered as the largest wholesale clothing market in Saigon with a variety of models and extremely reasonable price.

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.

 

Take a look at Turtle Lake

Officially known as International Square, Ho Con Rua (Turtle lake) is a name of the traffic circle with fountains, connecting three streets: Vo Van Tan, Pham Ngoc Thach and Tran Cao Van in Saigon.

The Turtle Lake area is now one of the most active dining areas from morning to night, with many restaurants and bars around. Especially at night, you can find many Vietnamese meeting friends and eating street food around the corner.

best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam

Not only attracts visitors as a nice dinning area, Turtle lakes is a unique combination between Eastern and Western in architecture that was built before 1975.

Designed with only large concrete pillars plug into the lake bowl, the Turtle Lake is associated with the anecdote related to Feng Shui of the President of the Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Van Thieu.

Address:  Vo Van Tan and Tran Cao Van Streets, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Explore China Town Cho Lon

Saigon is home to different cultures and the Chinese neighborhoods is one of the remarkable area. 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 culture, cuisine and unique architecture of the Chinese, mainly Chaozhou and Fujian, so it has created 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.

Bà Thiên Hậu Temple,  Hà Chương Hall, Ôn Lăng Hall, and Cho Lon Market are popular places to visit in China Town Saigon.

 

Walk around Tao Dan park

One thing I love about Ho Chi Minh city is its parks. There are many parks in Saigon, and most of them have medium size. A large and central one is Tao Dan park.

In the past, this park is located on the premises of the French Governorate. Until 1975, this place became the official park of the city and was built more places such as the Temple of the Hung King and Cham towers. There are many events happening here frequently, such as spring flowers exhibition.

Address: Trương Định, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

 

Have a great time at Dam Sen Park

Dam Sen Park is an amusement park built and designed with a variety of styles from nostalgic to modern. Along with beautiful gardens, zoo, and aquarium, Dam Sen Park also has a several thrilling games for children and adult.

On sunny day, visitors can enjoy a fun time at Dam Sen Water Park. It has 36 modern water game equipment and a 3000 square meters cool wave lake.

Address: 3 Hòa Bình, Ward 3, District 11, Ho Chi Minh city.

Open Hours:

  • 8 am – 6 pm from Monday to Friday
  • 8 am – 8pm on the weekends

 

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 at any time of the day.

A popular coffee in Saigon is Ca phe sua da, which means coffee with condensed milk. If you prefer something not so sweet, Ca phe da (black coffee) is an alternative option.

My favorite area for coffee is on Pasteur street near Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1. You can find many coffee shops around the area.

things to do in Ho Chi Minh: trying coffee in saigon

 

Have drinks on 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, but my favorite one is The View Rooftop bar in Bui Vien street.

Address: 195 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

 

Party till morning on Bui Vien street

Bui Vien street, or known as Phố Tây (Foreign area), is a popular place for a night out for foreigners as well as the locals.

Weekend is the busiest time of the week thanks to its unique and interesting entertainment activities. Many artistic performances on the sidewalk or the middle of the street attract a lot of visitors and create an exciting atmosphere.

Bui Vien’s walking street is full of restaurants, cafes, restaurants, and bars. You can sit on the sidewalk, drinking beer and eating street food, or you can get in the busy bars and clubs in the area.

The street can be super crowded and you cannot move due to “traffic jam”, but a visit here will be fun and relaxing.

where to go at night in Saigon Ho Chi Minh

 

Take day trips from Saigon

After exploring the city, you may find it’s interesting to take half-day trip or full day trip from Saigon. There are many places to discover, such as Cu Chi Tunnel, Mekong Delta or Floating market.

Where to buy SIM Card in Ho Chi Minh

To enjoy the best of your trip to Ho Chi Minh, you should buy local SIM card when arriving in Vietnam. The easiest way is to reserve SIM card online and collect it at Tan Son Nhat airport or get it at your hotel in Saigon.

 

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh

The best area to stay in Saigon is District 1 or District 3. As most of the main attractions are in District 1, you may save up transportation budget and just walk around.

On the other hand, District 3 is a quieter and easy to get to the center within 10 minutes drive. The accommodation price in District 3 can also be a bit cheaper than in District 1

-> Read tips to book a good accommodation in Vietnam

 

How to get around Ho Chi Minh

The most common way to get around Vietnam, or Ho Chi Minh in particular, is by motorbikes. You can also get a taxi easily on the street. It recommended to take taxi from Vinasun or order Grab car / Grab bikes when visiting Saigon.

To get from Tan Son Nhat airport to your hotels, you can book a private transfer vehicle

Note: Grab is a similar transport app to Uber.

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links

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