Ho Chi Minh city is considered the largest economic center, the most vibrant and busiest region in Vietnam. This city is described with typical characteristics expressed via different names such as vibrant - the city that does not sleep; beautiful and nostalgic - the pearl of the Far East, the cross-cultural city,... Coming to such an amazing city like Ho Chi Minh, what are activities that you should experience? The top highly recommended things to do in Ho Chi Minh city are:
I - Sightseeing activities - the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Sightseeing tour is suitable for those who are interested in the ancient and modern culture, as well as exploring different looks of Ho Chi Minh City. The outstanding tourist attractions that you must see in Ho Chi Minh City include:
1 - Visiting historical sites
Historical sites have close connections to the history of the Vietnamese people during the war bringing back freedom and independence. Besides historical knowledge,, visitors also will have a better understanding of the life of Vietnamese people within the long periods.
Being built in 1867 by the French, the building was firstly named the Norodom Palace. This is the special accomodation for the Governor of Cochinchina (Southern Vietnam), then it was used for the workplace of the Governor-General of Indochina. The palace covers an area of 12ha with 80m wide of frontage. It is linked closely to many important historical landmarks of Vietnam. The most prominent historical landmark is the victory on April 30, 1975 which is associated with the liberation of the Southern Vietnam and Vietnam Reunification. Since, this building was officially renamed the Independence Palace.
- Address: No.135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 8am - 0pm (Monday - Friday); 8am - 4pm (Saturday & Sunday)
- Ticket price: 65,000 VND / adult (~ $2.8); 10,000 VND / child (~ $0.4).
Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels own a special defense system which was built under deep ground from 1946 to 1948. However, it was not until 1965 that this area was broadened to reach 200km of tunnels having 04 different depths and 03 floors which are 3m, 6m, and 12m from the ground surface. Coming to Cu Chi Tunnels, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the complex tunnel system, experience the life of Vietnamese people within the war period, and learn about Hoang Cam kitchen. Visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy the combination of potatoes and cassava with sesame salt- the main dish of the Vietnamese during the time living inside the tunnels as well as the war. Accordingly, tourists can understand more about the spirit, determination, and patriotism of the Vietnamese people in the past.
- Address: Provincial Road 15, Phu Hiep Hamlet, Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District
- Opening hours: 7am - 5pm
- Ticket price: 740,000 VND / person (~ $3)
Ben Dinh Tunnels
Ben Dinh Tunnel was built in 1967. Visiting Ben Dinh, visitors will have the chance to read official documentaries related to the tunnels; listen to an introduction to the formation and development of the tunnels; and visit the accommodation, workplaces, meeting rooms, and especially the complicated tunnels of manufacturing and displaying weapons intertwined with the tunnels systems. You will also witness the wreckage of the M41 tank which was mined in 1970. Additionally, visitors also can experience shooting under the guidance of the Vietnamese soldiers, visit the souvenir shop displaying many items made of cartridges such as oil lamps, pens, sandals made of car ties, lacquer products, bamboo and rattan products, and so on.
- Address: No.741D, Provincial Road 15, Nhuan Duc Hamlet, Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District
- Opening hours: 7am - 5pm
- Ticket price: 35,000 VND / person (~ $1.5)
2 - Religious sites
Ho Chi Minh City is also the place where visitors can find a wide variety range of religions such as Catholicism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Cao Dai, Islam, and so on. This leads to the forming of many religious buildings and architects associated with distinguished beliefs. They were constructed and developed along the history of the city.
Ba Thien Hau pagoda
Known as Ba Cho Lon pagoda, Ba Thien Hau pagoda was built in the 1760s and underwent many times of renovation to have the current look. The pagoda was built in the typical architectural style of the Chinese people which has 4 houses linking with each other to form the shape of the word "Kǒu" (口).
The details inside the temple are carved intricately following the shapes of flowers, birds, parallel sentence forms, and horizontal lacquered board having the distinctive red and golden tones. Ba Thien Hau is the place preserving many precious relics such as the Great Bell (Dai Dong Chung Bell) dates back the 60th generation of Can Long King, the large incense burner dates back the 12th Quang Tu, statue of Bat Tien dates back 1860, and so on.
- Address: No.710 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 11, District 5
- Opening hours: 6am - 11:30am and 1pm - 4pm
- Ticket price: Free
Notre Dame Cathedral
The cathedral was built of wood in 1863 and was reconstructed in August 1876. It is 35.5m wide, 91m long. The main dome is 21m high and two bell towers are 57m high. Each altar within the Notre Dame Cathedral is made of monolithic marble. 56 colorful glass windows are assembled extremely special. The most noticeable detail should be the marble statue of Hoa Binh mother, sculpted by G.Ciocchetti in 1959. It is 4.6m high and weighs 8 tons. The statue is also the reason that the church is called the Notre Dame Cathedral. In addition, visitors will have the chance to experience lots of interesting activities such as feeding the pigeons, or drinking street coffee while watching the city life.
- Address: No.01 Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 6am - 8pm
- Ticket price: Free
Van Phat Pagoda
The pagoda is famous for its 10,000 Buddha statues. It was built in 1959 by Buddhist monk Duc Bon and Dieu Hoa. The Buddha statues are arranged on following different levels. The most outstanding statue is Shakyamuni Buddha sitting on 1,000 lotus petals. It is surrounded by 10,000 small Buddha statues placed on the wall of Quang Minh Palace. The 5-storey Van Phat tower is designed with red, green, and yellow tones providing natural light for the main hall.
- Address: No.66/14 Nghia Thuc Street, Ward 5, District 5
- Opening hours: 8am - 5pm
- Ticket price: Free
3 - History museums
For those who love to learn the historical stories of the city in particular and Vietnam in general, visiting the history museum is the most suitable choice.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
In the past, Ho Chi Minh Museum was the headquarters of the Hoang De Transport Corporation - the first construction that the French built after taking control of Saigon. Therefore, it was built in the Western style - the roof was decorated with "Two dragons flank the moon". On September 7, 1979, this building was officially the place to retain the monuments of President Ho Chi Minh’s life and dedication. The museum displays many valuable images, autographs, items, and monuments related to the greatest president of Vietnam.
- Address: 1, Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 12, District 4
+ April - October: 8am - 1:30pm and 1:30pm - 4pm (Monday - Friday) and 8am - 11:30am (Saturday & Sunday)
+ November - March: 8am - 11am and 2pm - 4pm (Monday - Friday) and 8sm - 11:30am (Saturday & Sunday)
- Ticket price: 40,000 VND / person (~ $1.7)
War Remnants Museum
The museum preserves many historical artifacts associated with the war for independence of the people in Ho Chi Minh city. The War Remnants Museum has three floors having separated exhibit space. The most outstanding works attracting tourists' attention include the recreation of the Tiger Cages (the place where the Vietnamese prisoners/ soldiers were kept and tortured badly); wreckage of aircrafts and tanks that are still preserved after the war; images of war crimes; the cruel influence of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese generations. 20,000 artifacts at the museum form a war painting reconstructing a hard but heroic period of the Vietnam war.
- Address: No.28 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3
- Opening hours: 7:30am - 4:30pm
- Ticket price: 40,000 VND / person (~ $1.7)
Vietnam History Museum
Vietnam History Museum preserves many typical cultural heritages of the Vietnamese people from the very first dynasty of Hung King. The museum is considered a diverse cultural "treasure" through many different periods such as the Stone Age, the Bronze Age with lots of relics, national musical instruments, traditional costumes, and so on. Buddha statues, land statues belonging to the Champa culture are also displayed within the museum space. Coming to the Vietnam History Museum, visitors drift into the flow of history, and have a chance to learn about the founding and development of Vietnam through different periods.
- Address: No.2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 8:30am - 11:30am and 1:30pm - 5pm
- Ticket price: 20,000 - 30,000 VND / person (~ $0.86 - 1.29)
4 - Nature exploration
Travelers who love to explore nature and learn about biodiversity of Vietnam can choose one of the following destinations:
Can Gio Monkey Island
Located about 50km from the Ho Chi Minh city center, Can Gio Monkey Island with its nature and biodiversity is a habitat of about 2,000 monkeys. This island is considered as the green "lung" of Ho Chi Minh City. It owns a huge green forest area, and provides tourists interesting experiences with monkeys such as experiencing the wildlife, taking photos with monkeys carrying their babies, and watching the monkey circus. Visitors also will roam a small boat along the creeks to enjoy the green landscapes, explore the ecosystem, visit the bat lagoon, and experience the amazing feeling when seeing crocodiles.
- Address: Monkey Island road, Long Hoa Commune, Can Gio District
- Opening hours: 7am - 5pm
- Ticket price: 35,000 VND / person (~ $1.5)
Can Gio Forest
Not only having a green area, Can Gio Forest also has a rich ecosystem with many typical animals. Visiting Can Gio Forest, visitors will have the opportunity to observe many kinds of animals such as monkeys, storks, crocodiles, birds, etc. You also will visit many heritages in the forest, see how people create fresh water, see the image of soldiers Hoang Duong Chuong defeating crocodiles, and so on. Tourists also will have good experience on interesting tourism activities like fishing crocodile, and crab fishing.
- Address: Rung Sac, An Thoi Dong Commune, Can Gio District
- Opening hours: 7:30am - 5:40pm
- Ticket price: 350,000 - 550,000 VND / package (~ $15.08 - 23.7)
5 - Other attractive destinations
For those who love the vibrant, youthful and classy atmosphere, you can visit some of the following places:
Saigon Central Post Office
Saigon Central Post Office was built in 1886 and inaugurated in 1891 by the famous architect, Gustave Eiffel. The Central Post Office is the combination of European and Asian architectural styles (with curved arches at the large doors and along the ceiling of the building). Besides, it owns the elaborate decorative details covering the four sides of the building, forming a luxurious and nostalgic look for the construction. Regarding the amazing inner design, visitors should not miss the telephone service counters, souvenir counters, letter-writing service, post office monument, etc.
- Address: No.02, Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (Monday - Friday) and 8am - 6pm (Saturday - Sunday)
- Ticket price: Free
Built in May 2004, Bitexco Tower is considered the symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. The tower was designed by Zapata - an American architect. Being inspired by the image of "lotus bud rising up the sky", it is 269m high with 68 floors. The Skydeck Saigon observatory is located on the 49th floor and the helipad is on the 52nd floor. Tourists will experience the modern service facilities such as: commercial center, coffee shop, restaurant, and cinema. Bitexco will surely meet all your entertainment needs, and help you experience and watch the city from a favorable place.
- Address: No.19-25, Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 8:00 - 11pm
- Ticket price: 200,000 VND / adult (~ $8.6) and 130,000 VND / children (4 - 12 years old) (~ $5.6).
II - Entertainment and activities
1 - Cuisine exploration
Coming to Ho Chi Minh City, you have the chance to explore a paradise of cuisine with many unique dishes being diverse in flavors, processing steps, and ways to enjoy. Com tam (broken rice), Hu tieu, Vot coffee, Pha lau, Banh xeo, mixed rice paper, baked eggs are the most typical dishes that tourists should try. You can find them when visiting some of the following addresses:
Ben Thanh street food market
Inside the market, there is a separated cuisine area serving many delicious dishes such as: tea, Banh xeo (pancakes), steamed layer cake, baked banana cake, vermicelli, porridge, pho roll, spring roll, etc. Because a wide range of dishes and drinks gather within the city from many regions, Food & Wine (an American magazine) voted Ho Chi Minh one of the 10 destinations having the most attractive street food on the planet. Coming to Ho Chi Minh, visitors will enjoy the amazing cuisine with impressive flavors at the "surprising" price of 5,000 - 50,000 VND / serving (~ $0.21 - 2.15).
Phan Xich Long Food Street
One of the busiest "food streets'' in Phu Nhuan district, where visitors can find and enjoy many unique Vietnamese and other national dishes such as pancakes, spring rolls, periwinkle, Singapore frog porridge, Starbucks coffee, and so on. Especially, on the street, there is an unnamed tea meditation shop owning a quiet space, displaying many feng shui mascots that are often used in the Vietnamese worship space. This is a great place for visitors to experience the Vietnamese tea culture (address: the intersection of Phan Xich Long street and Hoa Hong street). Food price ranges from 15,000 to 350,000 VND / dish (~ $0.64 - 15.08).
Referring to cuisine exploration in Ho Chi Minh City, it will be regretful if you do not experience a cooking class. Visitors by themselves will experience the feeling of buying ingredients, preparing, processing, and presenting Vietnamese food (with the guidance and support from professional Vietnamese chefs). You can learn how to cook some of the following dishes: salads, spring rolls, chicken rice, Banh xeo (pancakes), and so on. Tourists may consider some cooking classes:
Grain Cooking Studio:
- Address: At 3rd Floor, 71-15 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1
- Opening hours: 9am - 5pm. There are two cooking classes starting at 9am and 2pm respectively.
- Contact: 028 3827 4929
Chef Vu Cooking Class:
- Address: No.06/28, Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
- Contact: 028 6680 4235
2 - Shopping in Saigon
You can experience Vietnamese shopping style at modern shopping malls and old markets in Ho Chi Minh city. Each form of location will offer you typical experiences.
Ben Thanh market
Ben Thanh market was completed in 1914. It was formerly known as the Old Market in 1833s. Ben Thanh Market is one of the attractive tourist attractions in the city selling many different types of items as well as serving a rich range of cuisine. Scarfs, wallets, earrings, and some other small souvenirs are the beautiful items that visitors can easily buy when coming to Ben Thanh market. It is open all day and night so visitors can visit this place at any time. The most important thing is, don't forget to enjoy the delicious skewered meat in the market.
- Address: No.Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 7am - 11pm.
Saigon is the shopping paradise of people in the city. Right from the entrance of Saigon Square, visitors can feel the busy atmosphere of trading activities with crowded people. Visitors can buy a lot of basic items, with a full range of types and different qualities such as clothes, shoes, and so on. In particular, a large portion of goods sold in Saigon Square are "made-in-Vietnam" goods and have extremely affordable prices. However, visitors should consider bargaining a cheaper price and ask carefully about the product return policy to avoid unnecessary cases.
- Address: No.77 - 89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
- Opening hours: 9am - 9pm
Saigon center is one of the most luxury shopping malls in the city, offering visitors the feeling of being lost in Takashimaya in Singapore. The interior space is designed in a royal style with twinkle light. Especially, with the participation of many famous brands from Vietnam and other countries, Saigon center will surely meet the shopping needs of everyone. Next to the shopping area, visitors will find dining areas having beautiful spaces, quality services, and delicious food such as: Runam coffee, TWG tea, Khanhcasa tea shop, etc.
- Address: No.65 Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
- Opening hours: 9:30am - 9:30pm (Monday - Friday); 9:30am - 10pm (Saturday - Sunday)
3 - Amusement parks
The amusement parks system of Ho Chi Minh city has developed recently. Spending time relaxing in an amusement park will help you escape from the extremely hot weather. Some recommended places for visitors including:
Dam Sen water park
Covering a huge area of 3,000m2, Dam Sen water park is one of the attractive destinations every weekend with many amazing and interesting games such as wave pools, water slides, swimming pools, lazy rivers, etc.. Because of new and cool feelings that the entertainment activities provide to visitors, tourists are interested in most of them. Boomerang sliding, water jet massage, Kamikaze sliding, Tornado sliding, and Twister Max sliding are the most noticeable activities. In addition, visitors also should take time to visit the aquarium and learn about rare animals within the main subdivisions including outdoor aquarium, Atlantic Lake, Shark Lake, and Central Lake. Besides, don’t forget to enjoy delicious dishes around the park such as Pho Le, Hai Nam Chicken Rice, and so on.
- Address: 03, Hoa Binh Street, Ward 3, District 11
- Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (Monday - Saturday); 8:30 - 18:00 (Sunday); close every Tuesday (for machine maintenance).
- Ticket price: Free for children under 0.8m tall and people over 60 years old.
+ Before 4pm: 150,000 VND/ adult (~ $6.46); 100,000 VND/ child from 0.8m to 1.4m (~ $4.3)
+ After 4pm: 120,000 VND/ adult (~ $5.17); 80,000 VND / child from 0.8m to 1.4m (~ $3.5)
Saigon Outcast is a unique space for young people and tourists who love art and street sports. The space is a harmonious exchange of Western culture and modern Vietnamese culture. It is also one of the most ideal places to hold outdoor events including wooden painting exhibitions, sketching, graffiti, bicycle sports,... Saigon Outcast is simply a place to exchange, meet, and hang out among young people with delicious and attractive drinks such as tea, coffee, and fruit juice.
- Address: 188/1, Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2
- Opening hours: 10am - 11pm (Tuesday - Sunday); 4pm - 10:30pm (Monday)
- Ticket price: 80,000 VND / person (~ $3.5).
Suoi Tien tourist area
The place reenacting lots of Vietnamese fairy tales such as Hung King , Lac Long Quan - Au Co, Son Tinh - Thuy Tinh, the legend of Chung cake, and so on. Suoi Tien also owns Tien Dong Ngoc Nu beach, the first artificial beach in Vietnam. Coming to the Suoi Tien area, besides the fascinating games, visitors also have the opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese culture and many interesting adventure games. This is also the reason why Suoi Tien tourist area is one of the most attractive destinations to domestic and foreign tourists, especially on summer days and weekends.
- Address: 120 Hanoi Highway, Tan Phu Ward, District 9
- Opening hours: 7:30am - 5pm
- Ticket price:
+ Entrance ticket: 120,000 VND/ adult (~ $5.2); 60,000 VND/ child 0.8 - 1.4m tall (~ $2.6)
+ Combo of 15 games: 518,000 VND/ adult (~ $22.3) and 333,000 VND/ child (~ $14.4).
4 - Top cool things to do in Ho Chi Minh City at night
Ho Chi Minh city is known as the sleepless city with many attractive night activities that you should not miss such as:
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Nguyen Hue Walking Street is one of the most youthful and vibrant streets in Ho Chi Minh City with many attractive cultural activities such as taking photos, enjoying street art, trying roller skating, watching fountains under the light, watching the art flower works.... Especially right on Nguyen Hue street is the cuisine paradise providing delicious dishes such as rice paper, iced tea, and so on, as well as the cafe's shop possessing beautiful and unique spaces.
Address: Nguyen Hue Street, District 1
Cruise on the Saigon River - a romantic things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
You can be on a cruise and witness the beauty of Ho Chi Minh city when night falls under the bright light. It is also interesting to enjoy delicious dishes with typical Vietnamese flavors. Going on a cruise trip along the Saigon river surely brings cool breezes.
Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien Street is always busy and crowded with people, pubs, and bars. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, listen to a song, enjoy a cool beer and some Vietnamese dishes such as periwinkle, grilled skewers, and teas. Especially every weekend, there are many street performances from different countries, bringing different colors to attract visitors.
Address: Bui Vien Street, District 1
5 - Top 2 fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Source: Roya ann miller
It offers many different levels to help you step by step to challenge, as well as explore your own abilities. Before experiencing the game, you are instructed and equipped to ensure their own safety. There are some artificial climbing places in Ho Chi Minh:
- Address: No.789D, 1, Ha Noi Highway, Binh An Ward, District 2
- Ticket price: 150,000 VND/ person (~ $6.46)
- Address: No.188/1 Nguyen Van Huong street, Thao Dien ward, District 2
- Ticket price: 150,000 VND / hour (~ $6.46)
Fishing in Ho Chi Minh City
Fishing is not only an interesting activity to help you train patience but it also brings you closer to the idyllic life of indigenous people. You can consider some ideal fishing spots in Ho Chi Minh City:
Vuon Khe Fishing Restaurant
- Address: No.38 Le Van Quoi Street, Binh Hung Hoa A Ward, Binh Tan District
- Contact: 028 3767 2567
Tri Rau fishing area
- Address: No.2647/2 Group 25, Quarter 2, An Phu Dong Ward, District 12
- Contact: 0932 196 871
Lang Tre Fishing Lake
- Address: No.642, Le Van Luong, Hamlet 2, Nhon Duc Ward, Nha Be District
- Contact: 0908 014 931
It can be seen that there are tons of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City that certainly bring you the most memorable experiences.