One of the top destinations in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. You won’t run out of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, whether it’s enjoying the mouthwatering cuisine, the stunning French architecture, or the burgeoning craft beer culture.
Too frequently, this bustling city serves as a brief pit stop on travelers’ itineraries through Vietnam before they continue on to Hoi An, Hanoi, and Halong Bay in the north. You can visit the War Remnants Museum to learn about the American-Vietnamese War, enjoy coffee at countless adorable coffee shops, and have a good time at upscale rooftop nightclubs.
We actually decided to move to Saigon after touring the entire country of Vietnam. We have put together our list of the top things to do in Saigon after exploring all that this city has to offer. Enjoy!
Visit The Reunification Palace
Norodom Palace was the original name of the Reunification Palace, sometimes called the Independence Palace. General Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam used it as his base up until his passing in 1963. Due to Diem’s extreme unpopularity, his own air force attempted to murder him in 1962 by bombing the palace. Therefore, he made the decision to construct a new home there, but he made sure it included a bomb shelter in the basement in case it happened again. When he was killed by his own men, his worries came true.
During the Vietnam War (or American War, as it is known locally), the President of South Vietnam moved into the new house, the Reunification Palace. It is a fantastic illustration of architecture from the 1960s. It has traditional 1960s furnishings and decor and is outside. The lower floor is dominated by meeting rooms, while the upper floors feature an excellent bar, a communication hub, and a bomb bunker.
When a North Vietnamese army tanker plowed through the main gate in 1975, this was also the location where the Vietnam War came to an end. Reunification Palace is becoming a must-see destination for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. It is pictured on the 200,000 VND bill as well.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 – 11:00, and again from 13:00 – 16:00
Entrance Fee: 40,000 VND for adults, 20,000 VND for children
See The War Remnants Museum
You will have an emotionally moving experience at the War Remnants Museum that will alter the way you view the Vietnam War casualties. The majority of us have been shielded from the horrors that our nation imposed on Vietnam because we are US citizens. You’ll leave this museum feeling startled and emotional if you’re anything like me.
An assortment of wartime vehicles and armaments are on show in the outside space. Additionally, there is an exhibition of anti-war materials on the ground floor. The museum grows more intriguing and challenging to see as you ascend the steps.
Incredibly depressing and overpowering photos document the consequences of the chemical Agent Orange, which was dropped all over Vietnam. The effects of the chemical exposure, including disabilities, have been handed down through numerous generations. A devastating exhibit featuring photographs of journalists who died in the fighting is called Requiem.
It is certain to be a sobering and eye-opening experience to visit the War Remnants Museum. One of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City even if it won’t be a fun afternoon.
Send a letter at the Post Office
Sending a mail from the central post office is just another of the best activities in Ho Chi Minh City!
The late 1800s saw the construction of the Gothic-inspired Ho Chi Minh City Post Office. It is unquestionably the city’s most impressive example of French design.
The interior truly steals the show, despite the building’s magnificent exterior. Admire the magnificent marble floors, the massive arches, and the row of vintage wooden phone booths on the left.
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is still operational, and most days you’ll find it bustling with activity. One thing that tourists visiting Vietnam enjoy doing is purchasing a few postcards from a souvenir vendor and sending them to their loved ones back home.
The city’s cathedral, Notre Dame Basilica, which is equally worthwhile to visit, is conveniently located close to the post office.
Shop Til You Drop
Bên Thanh Market is the most well-liked location for travelers to shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Keep in mind that we indicated it was the most crowded location, not the greatest. It’s crowded, expensive, and full of cheap knickknacks, in our opinion. Be prepared to deal with the pushy women at each booth. Additionally, if you do want to make a purchase at Ben Thanh Market, make sure to haggle over the price. 50–75% of their initial offering price is what you should spend.
Visit Binh Tay Market in District 5 for a more genuine market experience. The markets listed below also appeal to us:
Central Market (Address: 4 Phạm Ngũ Lão)
Saigon Square 1 (Address: 81 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa)
Russian Market (Address: 328 Võ Văn Kiệt)
There are numerous sizable malls in the area if you like to shop among the locals. Vincom Center Mall and Saigon Centre Mall are both conveniently situated in District 1.
We advise you to check out The New Playground (Address: 26 Lý Tự Trọng) for all the newest trends from cool Vietnamese apparel brands if you’re looking for something a little more distinctive. It is situated directly across from Vincom Center Mall. We also adore the Hello Weekend Market, which has a different venue every few weeks; for more information, see their Facebook page.
If you want to do some serious shopping while you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, you should read our comprehensive guide to shopping there.
Embrace Saigon’s Coffee Culture
Vietnamese people have a strong affinity for coffee. Additionally, there are adorable coffee shops almost everywhere throughout the city.
Check out The Workshop in District 1 if you want to get some work done. They have plenty of seats for everyone, brews fit for a coffee connoisseur, and dependable Wi-Fi. Padma de Fleur is a florist turned coffee business where your cup is served with a little bouquet if you’re searching for an Instagram-worthy coffee shot. A classy coffee cafe with some delicious American breakfast favorites is L’Usine.
If you simply need a quick fix of coffee while on the road, there are also a number of trustworthy coffee shop chains in the area. Our favorite traditional Vietnamese coffee is Phuc Long (pronounced “phoop lawm”), and Cong Caphe offers some of the best coconut coffee in the nation.
Additionally, even though Saigon has a large number of cafes serving fantastic egg coffee, the drink’s origins are in Hanoi. Try the incredibly adorable Goc Ha Ni coffee shop, which is hidden away in a small alleyway off of Bui Vien Street, or the trendy Okkio Cafe, which is close to Ben Thanh market.
Read our article on the top cafés and coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City for additional suggestions.
See the Skyline from the Bitexco Tower
The Bitexco Financial Tower, at 860 feet tall, is now the tallest building in Saigon. When the skies are clear, you must visit since it offers stunning views of the city below! The observation deck on the 49th floor is called the Saigon Skydeck. The cost to observe the scenery from the observation deck is 200,000 VND for adults and 130,000 VND for those aged 4 to 12 years, elderly, and individuals with impairments. For 50,000 VND more, combine with the World of Heineken (includes two drinks).
If you think the price is excessive solely for the view, you might want to check out the EON Heli Bar on the 52nd level. Although it doesn’t provide 360-degree views like the sky deck, entry is free. Although the cost of the cocktails is high by Vietnamese standards, the spectacular vista makes up for it.
Opening Hours: Daily from 9:30 – 21:30. The last ticket sold 45 minutes prior to closing time.
Entrance Fee: 200,000 VND/adult, 130,000 for children 4-12, seniors, and people with disabilities
Sample Saigon’s Craft Beer
The craft beer scene in Ho Chi Minh City is quite exciting and growing. Brewers from all over the world’s beer capitals are migrating here to experiment with novel and intriguing flavor combinations. The majority of tasting rooms also provide delicious appetizers to go with their beers. Tasting rooms are hip and buzzy.
The Best Microbreweries in Saigon is an entire piece we created about how much we liked the craft beer in Saigon.
Eat Seafood on Vinh Khanh Street
Have you been having dreams where you’re eating snails out of their shells while perched on a small plastic seat on a crowded Saigon street? You’re in luck since Vinh Khanh Street is dotted with eateries that serve a variety of delicious, fresh fish. Check out our comprehensive guide to eating snails in Vietnam for help with ordering and understanding how to prepare them.
Stroll along the Pedestrian Mall
Directly in front of the People’s Committee, Nguyen Hue Street is a sizable pedestrian-only area that extends all the way to the river. One of the few spots in the city where you may walk without worrying about being attacked or hassled is where vendors and motorbikes are prohibited.
Ho Chi Minh is commemorated by a sizable, charming statue, and a fountain that performs in the evenings. In addition to being a great area to promenade, the street is surrounded by adorable coffee shops, delectable restaurants, and boutiques. Don’t forget to visit Apartment 42, also referred to as the “Cafe Apartments”—a former apartment complex that is now home to hip stores and restaurants! You can’t miss it if you’re facing the People’s Committee; it’s on the right side.
Party on Bui Vien Street
Saigon’s backpacker district is Bui Vien. Khao San Road is comparable, though not quite as insane. You can see why backpackers adore it: it is teeming with bars playing dance music, small beer joints with plastic tables spilling into the street, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.
The phrase “walking street” is used to describe Bui Vien, but this is untrue. The majority of the time, you’ll have to stroll in the street because the sidewalks are clogged with parked motorcycles and dining tables. Additionally, as Bui Vien is a busy street, automobiles and motorcycles may regularly pass you as you navigate the congested street.
Start your evening outside at a pub so you can observe the chaos as it happens all around you. Then, you may saunter into whichever bar seems to be the liveliest afterwards. You’ll undoubtedly stay here to party till the early hours of the morning.
Check out the Ho Chi Minh City Museum
This museum is a great spot to spend an afternoon learning more about the history, culture, and traditions of Ho Chi Minh City. Not only is the structure itself incredibly lovely, but it also features a number of fascinating exhibitions including ancient coins, pottery relics, and archaeological items. The independence struggle in Vietnam is also thoroughly covered in the museum.
Several military vehicles are outside, including the plane that a South Vietnamese soldier used to destroy the Reunification Palace.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 – 17:00
Entrance Fee: 30,000 VND/person
Listen to Live Music
Ho Chi Minh City has a large number of live music venues where upcoming local artists perform American songs. One of our favorites can be found across the street from the same-named souvenir market at the Ben Thanh Street Food Market. From 7:30 to 9:30 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, young musicians sing your favorite hits. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of food and drink sellers there.
Another excellent music venue in the area is Yoko Cafe. They feature a wide range of performers, including blues, pop, and acoustic. Since there is limited room, if you want a table, plan to arrive early. The upcoming shows are listed on their Facebook page. You’re sure to have a blast no matter the artist!
Dine on Dumplings in Chinatown
If you’re weary of Vietnamese food, Chinatown, which is in District 5, is a terrific place to eat. At a fraction of the cost, these dumplings are on par with those served at Hong Kong’s top dim sum establishments.
Though ordering was a little difficult, we still enjoyed Sủi Cảo Đại Nương (address: 125 Duong Chau Van Liem, Phuong 14, Quan 5). Dumplings can be ordered fried, steamed, or in soup (or all three).
Take a Trip to the Mekong Delta
The most touristic activity around Ho Chi Minh City is undoubtedly a trip to the Mekong river delta, although it’s worthwhile if you want to explore some of the surrounding countryside. If you organize your own vacation to the Mekong Delta, it’s simple to venture off the beaten road.
There are two typical tour alternatives if you choose to travel in a group. The shorter tour brings you to a little village where you can visit a confectionery store and a small honey business. You’ll get to take a quick boat trip on the Mekong and listen to local musicians’ music. At the exhibition and on your boat, you’ll be urged to purchase honey and candy, and you’ll be asked for tips. It’s a little off-putting, but if you’d rather, you can give little or nothing at all.
The lengthier excursion brings you to Can Tho, a city in the Mekong river delta, and its floating market. You could also do a multi-day tour. No matter whatever tour you select, be prepared for a little bit of a show while keeping in mind that your money supports these local economies.
Climb Through the Cu Chi Tunnels
The Vietnamese military utilized the 75-mile-long Cu Chi Tunnels, which connect to one another, throughout the Vietnam War (or American War, as they prefer to call it). They served as communication and supply channels, as well as hiding places.
Despite the miserable conditions, several soldiers spent time dwelling in these tunnels. Naturally, they had limited access to oxygen and water, but they also had to contend with the underground animals. Malaria was a frequent disease among the soldiers who lived in the tunnels.
The safer areas of the tunnels are now open to visitors who want to experience what life was like for the soldiers during the war. This tour probably isn’t for you if you have trouble breathing or suffer claustrophobia.