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Is Ho Chi Minh City Fun? Check Out What We Found!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city by population in Vietnam. It's a central transportation hub and one of the most important cities in Southeast Asia. As a result, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for a good reason. This vibrant and energetic city offers abundant activities and attractions to keep visitors busy from sunrise to sunset.

Whether you're interested in soaking up the history and culture, exploring the natural wonders, or simply enjoying the nightlife, Ho Chi Minh City has something for everyone. Here are a few reasons Ho Chi Minh City is such a fun and exciting place to visit.

Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh

You could spend weeks exploring all the different things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City, but if you're short on time, here are some of the top attractions and activities not to be missed.

1. Visit the War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

In the War Remnants Museum, you can see exhibits about the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War with France. The museum is designed to start on the top floor and work your way down. Most displays are photographs, which can be disturbing, particularly for children. There are also artifacts on display, such as a guillotine and the "tiger cages" used for Viet Cong prisoners.

The War Remnants Museum has been criticized for being biased, but it provides a powerful look at the brutality of war. The museum also includes a section on war photographers who lost their lives during the conflicts. Outside the museum, you can see military vehicles and weapons from the time period. After seeing these exhibits, you may appreciate them even more after touring the countryside and the Cu Chi Tunnels.

2. Take a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi tunnel built by vietnamese guerilla forces during Vietnam war.

Cu Chi Tunnels are a popular tourist destination for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City. The Viet Cong's military operations used these tunnels during the Vietnam War. The tunnels were very cramped and served as hiding places, hospitals, communication bases, supply routes, and even living quarters for the soldiers. A visit usually includes the opportunity to crawl through part of the tunnel network. This experience allows visitors to understand how difficult it was for the soldiers to live in these conditions during the war.

The tunnels also offer insight into the strategies that strengthened the VC's resistance against American forces. To make the most of your visit, consider joining a tour with transportation, snacks, and lunch. The tour will take you to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Mekong Delta, and a local farm. You'll learn about guerrilla warfare and booby traps used in the tunnels and have the opportunity to try local products.

3. Shop at Ben Thanh Market

Ho Chi Minh City's famous Ben Thanh market.

The Ben Thanh Market is a popular tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City. The market is chaotic and crowded, but it is a great place to witness the local culture and find bargains on souvenirs and other items. The Saigon Square shopping center is nearby and offers a more relaxed shopping experience, with air conditioning and better deals on clothing, backpacks, jewelry, and shoes.

Haggling is customary at both locations, so be prepared to bargain for the best prices. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs, gifts, and other items. Keep your valuables safe and be aware of pickpockets in the area. With a little bargaining, you can find some fantastic deals on unique items at the Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Square.

4. See the Notre Dame Cathedral

Ho Chi Minh City Notre-Dame Basilica, Vietnam

If you're looking for a taste of French colonial architecture, check out the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City. This red-brick cathedral was designed in the Neo-Romanesque style, and its two square towers are capped by iron spires that rise almost 60 meters above the city. The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883, and it's a popular tourist attraction today thanks to its beautiful stained glass windows, 12 apostles pillars, and an old organ. If you're visiting HCMC, be sure to stop by the post office across the street – it was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the French architect famous for the Eiffel Tower.

5. Visit the Central Post Office

Ho Chi Minh City Central Post Office

You may think a post office doesn't sound like the most exciting place to visit on your trip to Ho Chi Minh City. But trust us, this post office is worth a visit! The post office was built in 1886-1891 in the Gothic style and is still one of the most famous monuments in the city today.

Once you step inside, you'll be amazed by the huge domed roof and grand walls adorned with maps from the colonial period. And, of course, you can't miss the requisite portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam. So, add this stop to your itinerary when exploring Ho Chi Minh City!

6. Marvel at the Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating tourist destination. It was initially known as the Independence Palace and was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. This palace is significant because it was where a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through the gates on April 30, 1975, bringing an end to the Vietnam War. The palace is now frozen in time and offers a glimpse at what life was like for heads of state in 1960s Saigon.

Visitors can see the president's living quarters, the war command room with large maps and antiquated communications equipment, and the maze of basement tunnels. In addition, military vehicles are on display, including the tank that crashed through the gates on April 30, 1975.

7. Stroll through Dong Khoi Street

Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Khoi district streets, Vietnam

The street of Dong Khoi is a must-go for those looking to explore the best shopping and dining Saigon offers. Interspersed with beautiful old colonial buildings, high-end stores, cafes, and restaurants, the street is home to top attractions such as the Opera House, the Saigon Central Post Office, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. A popular stopover for international journalists, photographers, and writers during the Vietnam War, Givral Café was also located on Dong Khoi Street but was demolished in 2010. You can still find a new Givral close to the original location.

8. Take a ride through Mekong Delta

Vietnamese woman rowing a boat in Mekong River in Vietnam

If you're looking for an exciting and unique day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, consider taking a cruise through the Mekong Delta. This lush and labyrinthine region is home to palm-fringed channels, rivers, and islands and is well known for its floating markets, which usually occur in the early morning.

It is an excellent opportunity to see the way of life of the people who depend on this fragile waterway for their survival. You'll also have the chance to sample some traditional dishes and tropical fruit from the region. With so much to see and do, the Mekong Delta will surely be a fun and memorable experience.

9. Visit Giac Lam Pagoda

Ho Chi Minh City Giac Lam Pagoda

The Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest temple in Ho Chi Minh City, dating back to 1744. The pagoda is set in a pleasant garden and features attractive architecture. The temple's name means Feel the Woods Temple, and you will find a graceful Bodhi tree at the entrance. The grounds are perfect for a peaceful stroll, and you can admire the picturesque architecture while enjoying the serene atmosphere. You can also learn more about Buddhism and the history of the Giac Lam Pagoda by visiting the temple.

10. Watch a Show at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

Golden Dragon Water Puppet show Ho Chi Minh City

The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is a great place to take the family for an afternoon of traditional entertainment. The 50-minute show tells the story of life in rural Vietnam and is full of fascinating characters, both people and animals. You don't need to speak Vietnamese to enjoy the show, as the puppeteers are skilled at conveying the story through puppets' movements.

The live music is also a highlight, with traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and two-stringed violins adding to the atmosphere. In the front row, you might even get a few drops of water from the puppets – but don't worry, it's all part of the fun!

Top 4 Day Trip Ideas from Ho Chi Minh

A city as vibrant and exciting as Ho Chi Minh City is bound to have plenty of attractive day trip options. Here are four of the best:

1. Mekong Delta Guided Tour

Vietnamese woman rowing a boat in Mekong River in Vietnam

The Mekong Delta is a beautiful and unique region located in southern Vietnam. This guided tour takes you on a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City and allows you to explore the delta landscape by motorized riverboat, rowboat, and horse cart. You'll visit a traditional temple, canal island, and local home and stop in a restaurant for a delicious delta-style lunch. This tour includes all transport, activities, entrance fees, lunch, snacks, hotel pickup, and drop-off in central Ho Chi Minh City. Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to explore the Mekong Delta!


2. Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

American Tank destroyed by Viet Congs in Cu Chi, Vietnam

The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong used them as a base of operations, storage facility, hospital, and living quarters. The tour will take you through the tunnel system and explain its importance during wartime. You will then cruise through the canals of the Mekong Delta on a motorboat and rowboat to visit a village. The tour includes round-trip transportation and a traditional Vietnamese lunch. This is an ideal tour for travelers who are short on time and want to learn about two of Vietnam's major attractions.

3. Mui Ne Day Tour

Mui Ne White Sandy Beach, Vietnam. Asia

Mui Ne is a beautiful beach town just a few hours away from Ho Chi Minh City. The town is known for its lovely white sand beaches, palm trees, and traditional Vietnamese vibes. Visitors can enjoy a Jeep ride through the white sand dunes, visit the fishing village, and explore the "fairy stream." The town also offers fantastic sunsets that can be enjoyed from the red sand dunes. A day trip to Mui Ne is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in a beautiful setting.

4. Street Food Tour

 Vietnamese street food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

This fun and delicious tour will take you through the street food scene in Ho Chi Minh City. You'll get to try some of the city's most unique and tasty dishes, including banh mi, sugar cane drinks, and sweet soup desserts. The tour starts and ends at your hotel; you can choose to do it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Your guide will share the culinary and social history of Ho Chi Minh City with you as you eat your way through the city.

And if you're traveling all around Vietnam, we definitely recommend going to a smaller city called Kon Tum. There are so many fun things to do there!

Top 3 Places To Stay in Ho Chi Minh

The best way to experience what Ho Chi Minh City offers is by staying in a centrally located hotel. This will give you easy access to the city's best attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. Here are three of the best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City:

1. Park Hyatt Saigon

Park Hyatt Saigon luxury hotel in Ho Chi Minh City

The Park Hyatt Saigon is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel is situated in a French Colonial-style building and offers stunning city views. You can enjoy various amenities at the Park Hyatt Saigon, including an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a spa. The hotel also boasts two restaurants, a bar, and a tearoom. If you're looking for five-star accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City, the Park Hyatt Saigon is a perfect choice. It's sure to make your stay in the city a memorable one.

2. Caravelle Hotel

Center of Saigon with the Opera View building surrounded by famous five-star hotels Caravelle and Sheraton

Caravelle Hotel offers a luxurious and sophisticated experience for guests. The hotel is located in a modern high-rise building. It is within walking distance of popular tourist destinations such as the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica and the Bến Thành Market. Rooms are comfortably furnished with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and sitting areas.

Upgraded rooms come with additional living space, access to a lounge, and views of either the city or the river. You can also book suites that come with dining areas and kitchenettes. Some suites even have balconies or terraces. For the ultimate experience, upgraded suites have additional bedrooms and whirlpool tubs. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

3. ÊMM Hotel Saigon

You'll be centrally located when staying at MM Hotel Saigon, with the War Remnants Museum only a kilometer away and both the Saigon Railway Station and Bến Thành Market only 2 kilometers away. You'll enjoy free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV in your modern and contemporary room with colorful accents. Your room will also have a desk, minibar, and tea and coffee-making facilities. If you're traveling with family or friends, you can book a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment with additional features like a kitchenette, dining area, and living room. Room service is available should you desire it.

In Conclusion

Aerial sunset view at Landmark 81, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis with plenty of things to see and do. If you're looking for an action-packed vacation, HCMC is the place for you. From street food to nightlife, there's something for everyone in this city. This city is also a great place to shop, with its many markets and shops. You can find something new to do every day of your vacation. We would like to wish you all the best on your travels and have an amazing experience!

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