Ho Chi Minh City best things to do & travel guide

Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the largest and most chaotic city in Vietnam. It is the business and financial center of Vietnam, with a prominent history that goes back hundreds of years. It is a city with a billion things at the same time. The city has a lot to offer: beautiful shops, fantastic nightlife, good museums and delicious food. You can read all about it in this Ho Chi Minh City travel guide.

5 reasons to visit Ho Chi Minh CIty

  1. Learn more about the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels
  2. Feel the energy of the city from a rooftop bar
  3. Enjoy the most wonderful local dishes in the striking restaurants and street stalls
  4. Take advantage of the convenient location of the city to discover the Mekong Delta
  5. Explore the markets and off the beaten track lanes behind a motorcycle

What is in this Ho Chi Minh City travel guide

Book your local Ho Chi Minh City experience

Practical information

Recommended days to stay

The city has great nightlife and a lot of sights where you can learn more about the Vietnam War, great to stay two to three days. You can stay longer if you decide to make a day trip to the Mekong Delta.

ATM's & money exchange

Money money exchanges and gold traders at Ben Thanh Market are the first choice of locals and visitors when it comes to currency exchange.


Local events and holidays

  • Tet New Year (first day of the first lunar month) – The city is partying or back to their home town. Ð Nguyen Hue has a large flower exhibition.
  • Saigon Cyclo Challenge (mid-March) – Professional and amateur cyclists find out who is the fastest; the money raised is donated to local charities that support underprivileged children.

Best time to visit

  • February: Hardly any rain, the least humidity and a city full of flowers for the Tet parties.
  • March: Little rain and humidity.
  • December: December is cooler than normal for HCMC and relatively dry.

10 best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

With streets full of French colonial buildings and a constant buzz, Ho Chi Minh City has rewarding sights for temple and museum visitors, market lovers, history junkies, architecture fans, park enthusiasts or just anyone who wants to see Vietnam’s most economically vibrant city in action.

1. Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels
The best thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City is making a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels are part of a war museum, where you can learn more about the Vietnam War. Crawl through the cramped tunnels to get a sense of how the Viet Cong lived during the war. In addition, you can see many different traps that she used, how they lived underground and view abandoned military vehicles. Optionally, it is also possible to shoot with different guns on the shooting range.

2. War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum is arguably the best and most impressive museum in Vietnam; something you really shouldn’t skip. In this war museum you will learn more about the horrific Vietnam War. Outside the museum are a number of abandoned military vehicles, such as a tank, jet, helicopter and rocket launchers. Inside you can see more war objects and graphic photos of the brutal war.

3. French colonial buildings

Saigon Cathedral
Saigon Central Post Office

Just like Hanoi and a number of other cities in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of architecture dating back to the French colonial era. Since the center has now developed into a modern metropolis, it is a unique sight to see centuries-old buildings between towering skyscrapers.

The old Saigon Central Post office is definitely worth a visit. The building is still in use, so you can send a postcard to your friends and family at home from here. Opposite this building is the impressive Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral from 1863.

The colonial building Saigon Opera House is also still in use. It is a unique experience to attend a show here. Close to this you will also find the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, the former town hall.

4. Street food tour on the back of a motorbike

street food tour on motorbike Ho Chi Minh City
street food tour on motorbike Ho Chi Minh City

The food in Vietnam is sacred and their proudest possession to the people. In every street you will find a place to eat, whether it is a luxury restaurant or a simple street stall with some plastic stools. Because people from all over the country have migrated to Saigon for economic reasons, you will also find dishes here from every hat in the country.

The best way is with a street food tour. Just like a street food tour in Hanoi, here you will try different dishes, see places in the city that you would otherwise never see and you get a truly unique insight into local life. If you dare, go on a street food tour on the back of a motorbike of a local guide. This gives an extra unique experience to the already cool activity.

By sitting on the back of the bike and eating at local stalls, you really become a part of the local culture. It is an experience you will never forget.

5. Nightlife

Bui Vien Street
Chill Sky Bar Saigon

The best nightlife in Vietnam can be found in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the largest city in the country with the most entertainment and the most diverse.

The most famous place to find nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City is Bui Vien Street, the backpacker street of Ho Chi Minh City or perhaps the backpacker street of Vietnam. It’s the equalevant of Khao San Road in Bangkok – but better. This street is full of bars and clubs. You can also have a drink on one of the many plastic chairs on the street.

If you are looking for a place with a few more classes, come and have a cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City. You will also find many different bars and clubs spread throughout the city; whether you like jazz or EDM, there is something for everyone.

6. Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace

This palace was the Vietnamese general’s base until his death in 1963. It became world famous in 1975 when a North Vietnamese army tank passed through the main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Nowadays you can visit this palace in the form of a museum. It is quite unique to see that everything still looks as it was 40 years ago, including an air raid shelter and a communication room from which troops were directed.

7. Bitexco Financial Tower


Bitexco used to be the tallest building in the city until Landmark 81 was built in 2018, which is now also the tallest building in Southeast Asia. Yet Bitexco is still the most beautiful skyscraper in the city, right in the center. It is in the shape of a lotus flower and has a helicopter platform on the side.

At 262 meters high you will find a sky deck that you can visit with a great view over the city and river.

8. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Cafe Apartments Ho Chi Minh City

For one of the best spots in the city for the social and dating life in the city, head to Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Thousands of people mingle here every night and enjoy a cool evening in the center. It is surrounded by impressive architecture of the colonial building such as Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and the Opera House and you find the beautiful Cafe Apartments building here, where each apartment is a different cafe with unique decor. It looks great from the outside on the street. In addition, these old buildings are surrounded by the newest skyscrapers.

9. Markets

Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Night Market

Just like any other city in Vietnam, you will find many different markets in Ho Chi Minh City. Here you can observe the daily life of the local inhabitants. The further from the center, the more local and authentic the markets are. Most markets sell everyday products such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, household products and clothing. But there are also specialized markets, such as a motorbike market, flower market and pet market. The two best-known markets are Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market.

10. Saigon River

Saigon River Skyline Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon sunset cruise on speedboat

The Saigon River flows right through the city. When you are on the other side of the river opposite the center you have a great view of the city skyline. There are also several boat trips that you can do on the river.

For example, you can visit the Mekong Delta by speedboat starting from this river. It takes you quickly to the delta, but above all it is a much nicer way than by road. You can also watch the sunset by speedboat tour, where you will also drink a cocktail at a luxury restaurant. For more romance or just fun, you can take a Saigon River dinner cruise. Delicious food while overlooking the beautiful city skyline.

Best hotels & hostels in Ho Chi Minh City

Where to stay

District 1 – The city is huge with many different neighborhoods. However, it is always advisable to find your accommodation in district 1, this is the center of the city.  From here you are close to the sights, many restaurants and places to go out. In addition, day tours guarantee a pick-up service from district one. Due to its popularity, District 1 offers a range of accommodation options, ranging from five-star hotels along chic Dong Khoi Street to budget hostels in Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Street.

Best hotels & hostels in Ho Chi Minh City

Budget hotels & hostels

  • Hangout Hostel HCM
  • The Hideout
  • Vietnam Inn Saigon
  • The Like Hostel & Cafe
  • Long Hostel

Mid range hotel

  • A&Em Art Hotel
  • The Hammock Hotel Ben Thanh
  • Triip Boutique Ben Thanh Hotel
  • C Central Hotel
  • Cititel Parkview Saigon Hote

High end hotel & resort

  • Grand Hotel Saigon
  • Sedona Suites Orchid Tower
  • Muong Thanh Saigon Centre Hotel
  • Rex Hotel Saigon
  • Novotel Saigon Centre Hotel

Food & drinking


It may be a controversial claim, but this city is the culinary capital of Vietnam. It offers the best of the delicious regional cuisine of the country, the north and the center, a lively street food scene and some fantastic international eateries. If you love food, this is one of the best cities in Asia.

Local restaurants

  • Nha Hang Ngon
  • Vo Roof Garden
  • The Garlik De Tham Restaurant
  • The Deck Saigon
  • Hum Vegetarian, Lounge & Restaurant

Fine dining

  • Bun Cha 145 Bui Vien
  • Cyclo Resto
  • Bep Me In
  • Royal Saigon Restaurant Bui Vien
  • 4Ps Pizza Saigon


You can find the best nightlife of Vietnam in this city. The hippest rooftop bars, trendy clubs and lively live music bars, traditional shows and the local beer drinking scene on low plastic seats.

  1. Bui Vien Street
  2. Rooftop bars
  3. Food tour
  4. Pub Crawl
  5. Dinner cruise
  6. Clubbing
  7. Live music bars
  8. Ben Thanh Night Market
  9. Show in Opera House
  10. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

How to get there

Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

The constantly growing network of domestic flights from Vietnam connects Ho Chi Minh City with every other major city in the country, which is good news for visitors with limited time. The prices are reasonable, and flying to places such as Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang and DaLat saves a lot of time.

Buses to Ho Chi Minh City

The cheapest way to or from another city in Vietnam to / from Ho Chi Minh City is by bus. The bus to Dalat takes around 7 hours ($ 11- $ 15) and Nha Trang 22 hours ($ 10- $ 20). You can buy bus tickets everywhere at travel agencies in the city center or at your hotel / hostel. There are also buses to Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta, although it can often be more convenient for the Mekong to explore this area by tour.

Trains to Ho Chi Minh City

Trains to northern Vietnam start from Saigon Train Station. The train to Nha Trang takes around 6.5 hours ($ 14- $ 32).

How to get around

Walking – Most of the sights are in the center nearby. A great way to explore the city is on foot.

Car and motorbike – Check with almost every hotel, tourist café or travel agency to arrange car rental. Don’t forget that the rent also includes a driver, because it is illegal for foreigners to drive in Vietnam without a Vietnamese driver’s license.

Taxi – Taxi with meter drive through the streets. The price is around 12,000d for the first kilometer; expect to pay around 25,000d (US $ 1) from Dong Khoi to Pham Ngu Lao. Use Mai Linh Taxi and Vinasun Taxi. An even better alternative is Grab (similar to Uber).

Itinerary 2 days in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1

Take a city tour and explore sights such as Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Take a food tour on the back of the motorcycle in the evening.

Day 2

In the morning take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Can be combined with cao dai temple. In the afternoon explore Chinatown. In the evening take a river cruise with dinner. Finish the day at a rooftop bar.

More tips for traveling in Ho Chi Minh City

Where to go next?

Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south of Vietnam. From here you can either take a day trip to the Mekong Delta or stay there for multiple days. If you head north you can choose to go on the coastal road via Mui Ne and Nha Trang or via Dalat in the central highlands.

Ho Chi Minh City with kids

Ho Chi Minh City is not a real city to take children to. The streets are very busy with traffic and there are few activities you can do with children.

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