Unveiling the Best Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City – 15 Top Attractions and Activities

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a bustling metropolis that serves as the economic and cultural heart of Vietnam. This vibrant city offers a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, with a wide array of experiences for travelers. From exploring historical landmarks to savoring delectable street food, there are countless things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover the top attractions and activities to make your visit truly memorable.

1. Visit the War Remnants Museum

A visit to the War Remnants Museum is a must for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War. This museum offers a sobering perspective on the conflict, showcasing powerful exhibitions and a collection of war artifacts, including tanks, aircraft, and weaponry. It’s a thought-provoking experience that provides insight into the nation’s past.

2. Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels, located just outside the city, are a network of underground passages that played a crucial role during the Vietnam War. Visitors can explore these tunnels, which once served as hideouts, supply routes, and living quarters for Viet Cong soldiers. It’s a fascinating journey into history and a testament to the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese people.

3. Wander Through the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, known for its stunning red brick facade and two bell towers, is a magnificent example of French colonial architecture. The cathedral’s interior is equally impressive, with beautiful stained glass windows and a tranquil atmosphere. It’s a peaceful oasis in the midst of the bustling city.

4. Admire the Central Post Office

Right next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, you’ll find the Saigon Central Post Office, another architectural gem from the French colonial era. Step inside to appreciate its grandeur, featuring an ornate arched ceiling and historic phone booths. You can also send postcards from here, making for a unique souvenir.

5. Take a Stroll Through Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most famous landmarks. This bustling market is a vibrant hub of activity, where you can shop for souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, and local cuisine. Bargaining is the norm here, so hone your negotiation skills and enjoy the experience.

6. Cruise Along the Mekong Delta

Venture outside the city to explore the picturesque Mekong Delta. Take a boat tour through the lush waterways and visit traditional villages along the riverbanks. You’ll have the opportunity to sample local fruits, visit floating markets, and experience the unique way of life in this fertile region.

7. Savor Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

Ho Chi Minh City is a food lover’s paradise. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in some of the best Vietnamese dishes. Try the iconic pho (noodle soup), fresh spring rolls, banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), and delectable street food such as com tam (broken rice) and hu tieu (noodle soup). Exploring the local food scene is one of the most enjoyable things to do in the city.

8. Experience the Nightlife

When the sun sets, Ho Chi Minh City comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Head to the lively Bui Vien Street in the backpacker district for a mix of bars, clubs, and street food stalls. Alternatively, you can opt for a more sophisticated experience at rooftop bars with panoramic views of the city.

Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City - Nightlife
Night Scene of Ho Chi Minh City | Photo by Peng LIU

9. Discover the Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, is a significant historical site in Ho Chi Minh City. This architectural masterpiece played a central role in Vietnam’s history, serving as the workplace and residence of South Vietnam’s president during the Vietnam War. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved rooms and learn about the palace’s historical significance.

10. Witness the Bitexco Financial Tower

The Bitexco Financial Tower, with its unique lotus-inspired design, stands as one of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers. You can take an elevator to the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor for panoramic views of the city. The tower is especially enchanting at night when it’s beautifully illuminated.

11. Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda, also known as Phuoc Hai Tu, is a Taoist temple that showcases exquisite artwork and intricate carvings. The temple’s serene atmosphere and the scent of incense make it a peaceful place for contemplation and exploration. Don’t forget to admire the impressive figurines and altars.

12. Experience Water Puppetry

Traditional Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique art form, and you can witness captivating performances at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater. The skillful puppeteers bring scenes from rural life to life in a pool of water, creating a mesmerizing show that’s both cultural and entertaining.

13. Explore the HCMC Museum

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum, housed in a beautiful French colonial building, offers a comprehensive overview of the city’s history and culture. The museum’s exhibits cover topics like archaeology, ethnology, and the fight for independence. It’s an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s heritage.

14. Venture to the Cao Dai Temple

Located a short drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the Cao Dai Temple is a remarkable religious site that showcases the syncretic Cao Dai religion. The temple’s ornate architecture and colorful decor are a testament to the vibrant beliefs of its followers. Visitors are welcome to observe religious ceremonies and explore the temple’s serene surroundings.

15. Relax in Tao Dan Park

For a peaceful escape from the urban hustle and bustle, head to Tao Dan Park, a green oasis in the heart of the city. You can take a leisurely stroll, admire the collection of bonsai trees, or join locals in their morning exercise routines. It’s a delightful place to unwind and observe daily life in Ho Chi Minh City.

A Dynamic City of Endless Wonders

Ho Chi Minh City, with its blend of history, culture, and modernity, offers an abundance of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re interested in delving into the nation’s past at museums and historic sites, savoring the diverse and delicious cuisine, or simply wandering through the bustling streets, the city has something for everyone. These top attractions and activities showcase the diverse and dynamic nature of Ho Chi Minh City, ensuring that your visit is an unforgettable journey filled with captivating moments and cherished memories.

Featured Image & Source: Ho Chi Minh City Skyline | Photo by Thịnh La