Top 12 Best Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City


Going to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam? Let’s make sure you get the most out of visiting this fabulous city, previously also known as Saigon. Below we are listing the Top 12 best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. The activities are listed in random order.

1. The Saigon Central Post Office

Ho Chi Minh City Central Post Office
Saigon Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh

The Saigon Central Post Office is renowned for being the biggest post office in the country. Located in District-1, the Saigon Central Post Office is built by none other than the great Gustave Eiffel. You’ve heard of the man, right, the architect of the famous Eiffel tower in Paris.

The Saigon Post Office has a neoclassical architecture all over it which makes it stand out – especially if you are a history, art, or architecture lover!

The following Saigon Central Post Office tour is a great option for exploring Ho Chi Minh City.

2. Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Min City
Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for it’s French colonial architecture, best embodied by the Notre-Dame Basilica. This is especially important for both Ho Chi Minh’s architectural and historical value. It was built under the French colonial rule and perhaps because of that, all of its materials construction came from France straight.

3. The Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The Reunification Palace

When touring the historical-architectural sites in HCMC, you just can’t miss the Reunification Palace. This also has French colonial history behind it, as this palace symbolizes the unity of and independence of Vietnam after the French rulers left the country back in 1954. Originally constructed under the orders of Ngo Dinh Diem, the palace was known as the Independence Palace at first. But later on during the 70s, the name was changed to its current name.

The following tour will take you to both the Notre Dame Basilica and the Reunification palace.

4. Boat ride to the Cu Chi Tunnels across the Saigon River

The Cu Chi Tunnels are an elaborate underground network
A man escaping into the Cu Chi Tunnels

While you’re on your tour to HCMC, you’ll find there is a place called Ho Chi Minh Pier. It is the starting point from where you can take a ride on a speedboat straight to the Cu Chi Tunnels across the Saigon River. While the speedboat races you can take snaps of your journey across the beautiful river too. There are plenty of tour packages available.

The following tour are great options if you are looking for tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels:

5. The ‘Tasty’ Street Food

Traditional Vietnamese food
Vietnamese traditional food platter

Some tourists shy away from eating the street food of Ho Chi Minh City, but that’s a mistake. Vietnam is famous for its tasty street food. There are plenty of places in the city where you can sample delicious local street foots at little cost. Avoid the restaurants that are pricier in this case – you’ll just spend most of what’s inside your wallet for (almost) no reason. The street food is always better in HCMC and you’ll get to taste them spending only a few dollars too! If you’re searching for specific names – take the surrounding area of the Cho Benh Thanh Market.

6. Vietnamese Coffee

Strong and flavorful Vietnamese coffee makes converts as quickly as it rais
Vietnamese iced coffee

Being the world’s biggest coffee exporter (yeah, it’s true!), Vietnam is a place where you must try the coffee. It tastes superb, and of course, u can get it almost everywhere, and yes, the price is reasonable as well. Beware though that the quality differs so in order to not get the wrong impression of Vietnamese Coffee please be a bit picky to start with. Also, be aware that you will probably need to get used to the local coffee, but from then onwards, you are all into it.

If you want to refresh your mind, you can have strong, sweet, and chocolaty black coffee with ice. Local brands like Trung Nguyen is very popular. As for the price, it usually ranges from around 33 cents to USD 3 or more – rather cheap for a good coffee.

For more information about the cafe scene in Ho Chi Minh, please see this article written by Nomadic Notes.

7. Movie Experience during Summer

To cool off during Summer you can just spend a few dollars to get a good movie-time with your partner or family – so this is a family special! You can get the tickets to the latest cinemas at maximum $5 while the older cinemas would cost a lot lesser.

8. The Cho Benh Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market
A local food stall inside the Cho Benh Thanh Market

The Cho Benh Thanh Market is a local tourist market adjacent to the Liberty Central Hotel (which is also a perfect place to stay!), where anything that you find would seem exotic. You will find almost everything there – various kinds of local food, drinks, handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs – all the things that are bound to attract most tourists. The market opens as early as at 5:00 a.m. and stays that way till about 6:00 p.m. If you want to buy livestock, then come early during the opening hours. But be ready to bargain for all prices. Language won’t be a barrier – they are used to simple English, so communication won’t be a problem.

9. Karaoke

Group of friends singing karaoke
Karaoke Bar in Ho Chi Minh City

If you’ve followed Vietnamese movies or have some knowledge regarding the favorite pastimes of the locals, you already know this. Karaoke is a national pastime of the Vietnam people, you can’t just sit it out. You got to go for karaoke experience at various karaoke bars of Ho Chi Minh City. Take the Sunrise Bar for instance – lovely environment for a karaoke experience and a nice bar.

10. Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Saigon City Hall is another excellent example of French colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City

If you are into architectural the City Hall of Ho Chi Minh City comes highly recommended. The City Hall was established back in 1908 and it shares certain level of similarity with the City Hall of Paris – if you’re into architecture, you’ll know – and you will certainly like it. Next to the City Hall you will also find Ho Chi Minh Statue as well which is worthwhile a visit.

11. Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi
Bia hoi a type of draft beer popular in Ho Chi Minh city. 

Bia Hoi is the local form of fresh beer in HCMC and although these days it is like tasting the forbidden fruit, you need to go for it if you really want to experience the local booze. Nevertheless, beware, don’t drink too much or there’s a chance you’ll fall ill.

12. Tackling the HCMC trail by Motorbike!

Couple on moped scooter
A Couple on a moped scooter enjoying their ride in Ho Chi Minh City

This last recommendation will seem just perfect if you love some adventure! Ride the Ho Chi Minh City trail with a motorbike (which will come for hire if you ask any local guide in HCMC). Start your adventure from Hanoi and witness the trail, enjoy the thrill and know more about what marks the War of Vietnam left behind, including many other great cities in Vietnam such as Hoi An, Mui Ne, and Dalat.

To end it all, call it Saigon, HCMC or by its full name Ho Chi Minh City – this place is famous for a lot of things and definitely worthwhile visiting for at least 4 full days.

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