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Ho Chi Minh City, often referred to as Saigon, is the largest city of Vietnam and therefore the first point of contact with this country for many travelers. Ho Chi Minh City is chaotic, noisy, hot and just a bit crazy.

If you are for the first time in Ho Chi Minh City, it is most probably overwhelming and you will need some tips on things to do in Ho Chi Minh City or for some activities around the city. Saigon is huge and the sights are spread all over the city and its districts.

Saigon: Tips, sights and must-see’s – all you can do in Ho Chi Minh City

In the following article we will tell you which things to do and what to see in Ho Chi Minh City in detail. With these tips your stay in the city couldn’t be more exciting.


How to get to Ho Chi Minh City

You can reach Vietnam’s largest city in many ways. If you are arriving from outside Vietnam, then the airplane is best. Not only from Southeast Asia, but also from the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong or Istanbul you can reach Ho Chi Minh City directly. For an overview of flights and ticket prices, we recommend Skyscanner.

Within Vietnam, there are other popular travel options such as the bus or train, because Vietnam has a relatively well-developed route network. If you’re looking to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, then look on 12go.asia for bus or train connections.

Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City – our hotel tip

A good location is in our opinion the most important thing when exploring a big city. In Ho Chi Minh City, of course, District 1 is best. This beautiful boutique hotel is our recommendation: Anpha Boutique Hotel.

The location could hardly be any better. The Ben Thanh Market is just a few minutes walk away, hence it’s absolutely in the city center. Despite the central location, it’s still relatively quiet in the hotel. The rather small but elegant rooms offer everything you need. From the rooftop terrace there is a great view of the city skyline. More hotels in Ho Chi Minh City can be booked here.

Ho Chi Minh City: Tours and tickets


1. Ben Thanh Market

The Ben Thanh Market is one of the famous landmarks of Ho Chi Minh City. Every day thousands of visitors come to the market to stroll around and buy something. You can almost buy everything over here. Clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, food or the popular Vietnamese coffee. Don’t forget to bargain about the prices!

The Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Inside the Ben Thanh Market there is always something going on. You can also try some Vietnamese delicacies, which is totally recommended.

The inside of the lively Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When the shops at the Ben Thanh Market close about 6.00 P.M., various stalls are set up outside for the daily night market. It is definitely worthwhile to walk around the night market, but not before 7.00 – 7.30 P.M.

If you would like to visit the Ben Thanh Market with a tour, you can take a half-day trip around Ho Chi Minh City including a visit at the War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral.

2. Saigon Skydeck

Not too far from the Ben Thanh Market you can find the Bitexco Financial Tower, where the amazing Saigon Skydeck is located. It is on the 49th floor and has a great 360-degrees view at Ho Chi Minh City. We totally love viewpoints and if you do so too, don’t miss that one.

The view at Ho Chi Minh City from the Saigon Skydeck

Currently the price for a ticket is VND 200,000, which is about € 8. If you can refrain from visiting the Skydeck, you can still check out the cafe or bar in the floors 50 to 52. There you won’t have to pay an admission but still have to order something like a drink.

Furthermore, you can also buy tickets in advance online where you can skip the queue during busy times at the Saigon Skydeck.

3. War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum shows the wars in which Vietnam was involved in the recent past. Special attention is given to the war with the Americans, where also weapons of mass destruction like napalm were used.

For those who are interested in this subject, it is definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, you can see several vehicles like tanks or jets in front of the building, which were used during the war.

The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

The museum is open daily from 7.30 A.M. to 11.30 A.M. and from 1.20 P.M. to 4.30 P.M. The admission is VND 15,000 (€ 0,60) per person.

4. Cu Chi tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels are located about 70 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. You can find many travel agencies in the city that offer trips to the tunnels. Originally, the tunnels had a length of 200 kilometers. But most of them have decayed over time.

The tunnels were used by the Vietcong during the war to hide. There were even schools and offices under the earth. Today you can visit a 90 meters long tunnel section in memory of the war and see for yourself how it must have been back in the days.

A day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City usually starts at USD 4-5 plus an admission of VND 90,000 for tunnels. You should have a look at several agencies before you book the trip to compare prices.

5. Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most important Taoist temples of Ho Chi Minh City. In the temple you will find plenty statues of various gods, Buddhist statues and of course some of the eponymous Jade Emperor.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Next to the main building is a small basin with many turtles and on the inside you can see lots of different rooms, shrines and altars. Very impressive and despite the high visitor rate the whole temple complex is really quiet and relaxed.

The inside of the Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City

The pagoda is open daily from 7.00 A.M. to 6.00 P.M. and there is no admission to pay. Nevertheless, you are always welcome to leave a donation.

6. Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. The cathedral is another landmark of the city and was built in 1883. The two bell towers are 58 meters high and the cathedral was built with materials from France, which were imported especially for that.

In 1962 the cathedral was officially declared a Basilica by the Pope and since then it has been named Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. Today it is not only a church, but also a major tourist attraction.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

There is no entrance fee if you want to visit the cathedral, but you have to be aware of the opening times. It is open daily from 8.00 to 11.00 A.M. and from 3.00 to 6.00 P.M. On Sundays there are also regular worship services, which you also can attend to.

7. Central Post Office Ho Chi Minh City

Right opposite the Notre-Dame Cathedral you will find another famous building – the Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City. This building is also kept like many others in a French colonial style. The design was made by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Central Post Office is nowadays a tourist attraction, but still serves the purpose as a real post office and you could send some letters home to your family and friends. The interior is beautifully designed and there are also some souvenir shops for visitors on the inside.

Souvenir shops in the Central Post Office of Ho Chi Minh City

During the week the Central Post Office is open daily from 7.00 A.M. to 7.00 P.M. At weekends it will close at 6.00 P.M. Of course there is no admission to visit the building.

8. Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, is today not only a museum, but there are still meetings and events held by the government. It’s also the place where the end of the Vietnam War was decided.

The palace is one of the most visited sights in Ho Chi Minh City. On the inside you can take a look at many rooms with the original furniture like chairs or tables. The basement with some control rooms etc. is also worth seeing.

The Reunification Palace of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The admission is VND 30,000 per person. The Reunification Palace is open daily from 7.30 to 11.00 A.M. and from 1.00 to 4.00 P.M.

You can also explore the Reunification Palace in combination with the Notre Dame Cathedral, the War Remnants Museum and Binh Tay Market on a day trip in Ho Chi Minh City.

9. Mariamman Temple

As in many Asian cities like Bangkok or Singapore, you will also find the famous Hindu temple Mariamman in Ho Chi Minh City. On the inside there are many images and statues of Hindu gods.

The Mariamman Temple is located close to the Ben Thanh Market. It was built at the end of the 19th century in honor of the Hindu deity of strength – Mariamman. Today it serves the quite small Hindu community of Ho Chi Minh City as a place of worship. It is open daily from 7.00 A.M. to 7.00 P.M. and free of charge.

10. Opera House

Located on the famous Dong Khoi Street, you can see the Ho Chi Minh City Opera. This is another French colonial building and very well-preserved. On the inside there are still traditional Vietnamese shows regularly. If you would like to see one, you should definitely not miss the Opera.

The Opera of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Prices for a show start at VND 500,000. You can either buy them directly on site or book online beforehand.

11. Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Another magnificent building in French colonial style is the former Ho Chi Minh City Hall. The impressive hall was built in 1906 and is today the place of business for the Vietnamese People’s Committee.

The old city hall with the statue of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

In front there is a statue of Ho Chi Minh and a huge square, which leads down to the river. However, during the day you won’t find lots of shady spots on the square and therefore it is pretty empty. But as soon as the sun sets, the square comes to life – just like the rest of the city.

The huge square in front of the old city hall of Ho Chi Minh City at night

In addition to some vendors and many visitors in the evening, there are also lots of students who like to chat with some tourists to improve their English. And also, the former city hall is colorfully illuminated and a popular spot for some great nocturnal pictures.

The old city hall of Ho Chi Minh City at night, Vietnam

12. Trying the Vietnamese food

Vietnamese food with its diverse cuisine is well-known beyond the country. There is everything from rice dishes to sandwiches or noodle soups. You should absolutely try the Vietnamese soup Pho and our favorite Vietnamese dish, the Banh Mi sandwich.

The famous Vietnamese soup Pho in Ho Chi Minh City

13. Thien Hau Temple

The Thien Hau Temple is located in Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown. The Vietnamese name is: Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the protector of the sailors.

The Thien Hau Temple in Ho Chi Minh City

Even if the temple isn’t really impressive from the outside, it is still known as one of the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City. As soon as you get to the inside, you will notice the smell of the incense sticks that are scattered throughout the temple and hanging from the ceiling. A really imposing temple which is definitely worth a visit.

Incense sticks at the Thien Hau Temple in Ho Chi Minh City

14. Binh Tay Market

The Binh Tay Market is also located in Chinatown and similar to the Ben Thanh Market, but much less touristy. You will not only notice this with the prices, but also because most of the visitors are locals at this very market.

The Binh Tay Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

At the market you will find all sorts of goods from food to clothing. The market as well as its side streets are a real great experience. There are countless people walking around and in spite of all those people, there are still motorbikes squeezing through the side streets of the market. The pure chaos, but quite worth seeing. If you are heading to Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City, be sure not to miss the Binh Tay Market.

A side street at the Binh Tay Market in Chinatown, Ho Chi Minh City

15. Turtle Lake

The Turtle Lake is a huge roundabout in the center of Ho Chi Minh City and especially popular in the evening among locals. Here you will find countless street stalls with delicious Vietnamese food and the locals (mostly the younger ones) meet at the Turtle Lake to eat, chat, play games and more.

The Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

16. Starlight Bridge

The Starlight Bridge is located in a more upscale part of Saigon called Phú Mỹ Hung. The cityscape over here is quite different and you will find lots of exclusive restaurants and huge shopping malls in this area of Ho Chi Minh City.

However, the Starlight Bridge, which leads across a lake and has a small waterfall installed, is a special highlight. In the evening it is illuminated in rainbow colors and offers a great play of colors on the water of the lake.

17. Eating and drinking on the street

During your stay in Ho Chi Minh City you will see lots of small chairs at street corners, where people sit down to eat or drink something. However, mostly you will only see locals at those places and not much tourists.

Street food stalls on a street in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Dive into the local culture and join the locals. You will definitely be accepted with a friendly smile. Most of the stalls offer some beer in the evening, which you can enjoy by the roadside. Take a seat, have a drink and absorb the atmosphere of the city. It’s amazing!

Locals eating and drinking with Marcel on the streets, Ho Chi Minh City

You can also try the local street food in Ho Chi Minh City on an evening street food tour and let yourself be guided through the various dishes.

18. Watching the traffic

If you are already drinking or eating on the street, you should take some time to watch the chaotic traffic. It is absolutely amazing.

The traffic of Ho Chi Minh City at the Ben Thanh Market, Vietnam

The hectic hustle and bustle on the streets looks like there are no rules at all and one scooter would crash inside the next in just a second. But somehow everything has its order and strangely, it works. Even in the nighttime the traffic is a massive spectacle and worth seeing.

The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City at night, Vietnam

19. Trip to the Mekong Delta

In many travel agencies of Ho Chi Minh City you can also book a tour to the Mekong Delta. These day trips start in Saigon in the early morning and will take you by bus to the Mekong Delta. From there you will go on by boat.

On the way you will pass local villages, beautiful scenery, mangroves and many other highlights while experiencing the idyllic life of the Mekong Delta. A great report on a tour through the Mekong Delta you can find on Bruised Passports.

20. Talking English with students

Like mentioned before, at the Ho Chi Minh City Hall, you can also meet many students at the September 23 Park next to the Ben Thanh Market. They go here to talk to tourists and to improve their English skills after university.

Students in the September 23 Park in Ho Chi Minh City

So if you stroll around the park in the late afternoon, don’t be surprised if some Vietnamese students approach you and ask something about your origin. It’s also a great way for you to learn something about their culture and make some contact to locals.


Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City – our recommendations

In Ho Chi Minh City you’ll find a range of hotels – from simple low budget hotels to stunning luxury accommodations with a view at the skyline of the city. If you are looking for a place to stay, we have listed a few recommended accommodations in the following.

Nam De Hotel

Nam De Hotel

Located in the District 1, the Nam De Hotel is a great base for Ho Chi Minh City. The Ben Thanh Markt is only a 10-minutes walk away and many other sights are nearby. The rooms provide a TV, air conditioning, free wifi and partly a balcony. The friendly staff is always there to help you with any questions. There are also some dining options and cafes in close proximity. Book Book

Sunny Tropical Apartment

Sunny Tropical Apartment

The Sunny Tropical Apartment hotel offers its guest 12 rooms. The location in District 4 is a good position to explore the city. The rooms offer a nice city view and other amenities like a gym and swimming pool are also included. Every room has free wifi, air conditioning and a balcony. In addition, guests can enjoy the free of charge tea and water. Book Book

Saigon Europe Hotel & Spa

Saigon Europe Hotel

Located among District 1, this hotel scores with its good location. Nearby there are several sights, dining options and the vivid nightlife. A lot of backpackers are staying in this area. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV, safe and free wifi. Furthermore, there is a swimming pool and spa for the guests. Book Book

Have you ever been to Ho Chi Minh City? Is any important sight missing on our list? Leave us a comment below!

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Tobi

Hi, ich bin Tobi, Freelancer im Bereich Übersetzungen und Texten, aber vor allem leidenschaftlicher Reiseblogger. Am liebsten bin ich in Südostasien unterwegs und arbeite von den verschiedensten Orten online. Wenn du wissen willst, was ich gerade mache oder wo ich bin, dann folge mir am besten auf Twitter, Instagram oder schaue bei Facebook vorbei.