Brimming into history and soaked into the culture, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the major travel destinations in Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon, the city is known for its remarkable monuments, amazing museums, pristine pagodas, beautiful temples, and vibrant markets. With so many top things to do in Ho Chi Minh, it’s tough to decide on what to start with.
While you are here, go for a trekking in Ho Chi Minh trail, indulge in the shopping experience in one of the markets, enjoy the snorkeling experience in Cham Island or go for river rafting in Saigon River. There are many treasures to discover in Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, for you, I have compiled a list of top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City to help you make the most of your trip to Vietnam.
A Guest Post by Jimmy & Tah from Divert Living.
Top Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City
Bin Tay Market
One of the best ways to enjoy the colorful taste of Vietnam is by exploring the Bin Tay Market in Ho Chi Minh trail. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most-visited attractions in the city. Constructed by French in the 1880s, Binh Tay Market is situated in Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. From fruits and vegetables to meat and poultry, this market sells a wide range of products.
Textiles, handicrafts, and lacquerware are some important things that one should look to buy here. With rich historical past and cultural significance, Bin Tay Market is an experience of local lifestyle and delectable delicacies.
Chu Chi Tunnels
If you are wondering how Vietnamese won the Vietnam War then, a visit to Chu Chi Tunnels, one of the top Vietnam attractions is a must thing to do while in Ho Chi Minh City. Stretch over a large area of 120 km, the underground tunnels are dotted with trapdoors, storage facilities, living area, armory, hospitals, kitchens and command centers. These tunnels are open for public and you can crawl through the small spaces to explore these masterpieces. Chu Chi Tunnels should definitely be on your list.
The War Remnants Museum
A perfect place to quench your evergreen thirst for learning about the atrocities of the Vietnam War, the War Remnants Museum draws an influx of tourists every day. It was once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes, the War Remnants Museum was established in the year 1975.
The museum houses a rich assortment of artifacts exhibiting military vehicles, planes, attack bombers, and M48 Patton tanks on the outside grounds. Besides, old photographs along with the personal memorabilia of victims of the war are also put up on display.
Cao Dai Temple
One of the most important pilgrimage centers in Ho Chi Minh City, Cao Dai Temple was established in the year 1955. Inside this sacred place, you will find the exquisitely carved dragons that are a real treat to eyes. But, what makes this place so special is the fact that Cao Dai Temple houses beautiful statues from different religions. These include the effigies of Buddha, Brahman, and Lord Christ. Along with that, the temple also honors Muhammad, Joan of Arch, Confucius and Julius Cesar. On the whole, Cao Dai Temple is itself a great exemplar of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
A spectacular example of French Colonial architecture, The Central Post Office is a historical landmark built in the year 1891. The fact – Central Post Office was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Yes, the man behind the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Besides being a top tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh, it also functions as the city’s main post office.
Apart from this, it’s the architecture of this renowned attraction that stands out which also includes the giant map murals painted on the walls. For an experience, do buy a postcard from Vietnam, stamp it and send it to your beloved ones then and there.
Another spectacular building representing the French Colonial Architecture in Saigon is Opera House. Traces its history from 1897, the building of the Opera House has been beautifully preserved. Opera House is modeled on Petit Palais in Paris, the Opera House hosts some of the city’s best concert. Apart from history buffs, this attraction is also an ideal hideout for the ones who are interested in Opera performance. You can spend some time watching the traditional dance of Vietnam which is performed using bamboo.
Giac Lam Pagoda
Built-in the year 1744, Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest Buddhist temple in Vietnam. Located in Binh Thanh District, the Pagoda is listed as an important historical site by the Vietnamese Department of Culture. Engirdled by the exquisite garden, the main structure of the temple boasts stunning architecture. The literal meaning of Giac Lam Pagoda is ‘Feel the Woods Temple’. Right at the entrance, there is a Bodhi tree that is considered to be sacred in Buddhism.
Apart from admiring the picturesque architecture, you can also spend some time relishing the serenity of the pagoda. The ceremonial hall of the pagoda includes a large statue of Amitabh Buddha. Around this Buddha statue, there are also five smaller Buddha images.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens are clustered together in the same park. Dotted with abundant greenery and natural vegetation, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. The zoo host a range of animals including the ferocious tiger and the giant elephant. Whereas, the Botanical Gardens is a perfect place to relax and unwind. The lush greenery and peaceful ambiance of this place is something that has a different charm.
Bonsai River Cruise
While getting around in Ho Chi Minh City, a dinner cruise on the Saigon River is one of the most unique experiences which you can’t afford to miss.
The cruise comes with an Indochinese-contemporary inspired dining experience with interactive buffet and fusion shows. What makes this entire cruising experience is that the boat is a traditional dragon boat. These are the 19th-century boats that take you back to the time of elegant cruise dining.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Dates back to the 1880s, Notre Dame Cathedral is another French architecture in Ho Chi Minh City. For the fact, it is one of the few remaining centers of Catholicism in Vietnam. Situated in Parish Square, the church is named after the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame in Paris. In front of the cathedral, there lies a statue of the Virgin Mary statue. The architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral stands out amongst all the Christian pilgrimage sites in Ho Chi Minh City. Measuring almost 60 meters in height, the cathedral boasts a distinctive neo-Romanesque architecture which includes all red-brick facade. Along with that, it also includes two bell towers, stained glass windows, and a gorgeous garden.
Turtle Lake at Night
For those who are looking for a top thing to do in Ho Chi Minh at night, Turtle Lake is the best bet. Situated with the central Saigon, the lake site is dotted with dozens of street food snack vendors that serve some delectable Vietnamese delicacies. There is also an old school park which is adorned with sculpture, water, and fountains. Here, people can be seen hanging out with friends and family. The park is flocked with oodles of tourists throughout the day but, it’s the night when they enjoy the most here. Being located in the downtown of the city, there are several staying options near to this famous landmark, and hence, is often considered as one of the best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh.
Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City
With Ho Chi Minh City being one of the most visited cities in Vietnam you have tons of accommodations to choose from. If you are looking for someplace long term or short term, either way, you are covered.
Most of the time when we travel we stay in Airbnb. The main reason is when we travel we try and stay more on the budget side of things and with Airbnb that is very easy.
If you are looking for something a little more high-end that’s ok as well. Here are the top 3 rated Hotels in the city.
Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City – Check Availability
Address: 242 Tran Binh Trong, Phuong 4, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh
Somerset Ho Chi Minh City – Check Availability
Address: No 8A, Nguyen Binh Khiem, Da Kao, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh
New World Saigon Hotel – Check Availability
Address: Address: No 8A, Nguyen Binh Khiem, Da Kao, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh
So, what are your best thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City which you are going to indulge in on your next vacation to Vietnam? Do let us know in the comment section. Meanwhile, check out our travel checklist for more such travel-specific tips for other Asian countries.
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