Many of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) relate to wars and colonial times. From American tanks and warplanes to the classic French architecture and from Chinese temples to the skyscrapers with rooftop bars, a walk through Ho Chi Minh is like seeing the past come alive with so many famous sights scattered throughout the city.
With this list of top 10 things to do in in Ho Chi Minh City you have all the information you need to ensure that you won’t miss a thing in this fascinating city.
1. Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels is the most popular thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnels were used by the Vietcong to attack the Americans. They were hardly found to be found underground. Entire tunnel systems were built with sleeping places, hospitals, ammunition depots and kitchens. Part of the Cu Chi Tunnels have been widened so that tourists can now view them.
2. War Remnants Museum
If you want to learn more about the Vietnam War, visit the War Remnants Museum. This is the most impressive museum about this war that there is. Outside there are abandoned vehicles such as tanks, cannons, planes and helicopters. You can also see tiger cages in which political prisoners were held and there are many shocking photos.
3. French colonial buildings
Vietnam has been a colony of France for over a hundred years. You can find traces of this everywhere in the country. There are also a number of French colonial sights in Ho Chi Minh City. The best known are the Saigon Central Post Office, the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon, the town hall (Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee) and the Saigon Opera House.
4. Street food tour on the back of a scooter
The best fast food in Vietnam can be found in Ho Chi Minh City. This is because people from every region of Vietnam live in Ho Chi Minh City who have brought their special local dishes. So there is no place in Vietnam with such a varied offer. You can look for the best streed food yourself, but one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is a food tour. With a streedfood tour you are on the back of the scooter and you travel like a real local from place to place to try the best food.
Ho Chi Minh City also has the best nightlife in Vietnam. Enjoy a cheap drink in Bui Vien Street, the famous backpacker street with bars and street tents. You can also visit one of the clubs or go higher up at some of the best rooftop bars in Asia, with a great view of the skyline. You can also go for a more peaceful evening and watch a traditional show at the Saigon Opera House or a dinner cruise on the Saigon River.
6. Reunification Palace
The Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, is an absolute must. This is the place of those famous images of tanks that drove through the gate during the fall of Saigon in 1975 and thus announced the end of the Vietnam War. Apart from the beautiful grounds and the impressive architecture, the inside of this building almost feels like you are going back in time. You can see where the southern government ran the executive during the Vietnam war and even the bunker in the basement, where the maps are still hanging on the walls.
7. Bitexco Financial Tower
The Bitexco tower is no longer the tallest building in the city, that is now Landmark 81, but still the most iconic skyscraper. The first six floors contain shops and a cinema. On the 49th floor you will find the Skydeck, where you have a beautiful 360 degree view of the skyline. On the 50th floor to the 52nd you will find restaurants and the EON Heli Bar. At the very top of the 58th to 60th floor you will find The World of Heineken.
8. Nguyen Hue Walking Street
For one of the best places of social and dating life in Ho Chi Minh City, go to Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Here you see families enjoying themselves together and young couples chatting away and taking selfies. This is a place to watch at night, when thousands of people mingle and enjoy a cool evening in the center, surrounded by impressive architecture. What is certainly nice to do is to have a drink at the unique The Cafe Apartments building.
The markets are in themselves attractions in Ho Chi Minh City and a must-visit for shopping enthusiasts. You can experience the daily life of the local population here. These traditional markets are usually located in the tourist center district 1 and open early with local suppliers selling fresh produce, household items and Vietnamese street food at attractive prices. The two best known markets are Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market in Chinatown.
10. Saigon river
The Saigon River is the last in the list of best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. The best thing to do is take a boat trip on the river; you have different options. In the evening you can take a dinner cruise, where you can enjoy good food and a traditional show with a view of the skyline. During the day you can take a boat trip to the secret city canals where the locals live, giving you an authentic taste of real Vietnamese life. More popular are the longer day trips on boats that go along the Saigon River to the Cu Chi tunnels, along with a visit to the Mekong Delta.