Also known fully as Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, or Paris of the Orient, HCMC is so jam-packed with must-try activities and destinations, it’s so difficult to narrow down the attractions into a list. But we tried anyway – read on to find out more!
- Notre Dame Cathedral
The centrepiece of downtown HCMC, this French colonial era church with the two tall bell towers and Mother Mary statue is definitely the most recognizable sight in the city. Also, it’s still open for service!
- Central Post Office
Another hint at the city’s colonial heritage, this striking structure is one fine example of neoclassicism. While visiting, you may also encounter Vietnam’s oldest and possibly last public letter writer, the trilingual Mr. Duong Van Ngo, on his daily duty there.
- Independence Palace
Also known as Reunification Palace, this was formerly the centre of the allied Southern command and after the fall of Saigon it is now preserved in all of its grandeur as a historical landmark.
- War Remnants Museum
For a sobering take on Vietnam War, visit the War Remnant Museum for its comprehensive exhibits of war machines, photographs and documentations on the 30-year long conflict.
- Museum of Vietnamese History
Take a rough tour through the 4000 plus years of history with artifacts ranging from ancient Cham sculptures to a sovereign mummy discovered right in the heart of the city itself.
- FITO Museum/ Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
One of the only two private museums in HCMC (the other being Áo Dài museum, dedicated to the national costume long tunic), FITO museum houses an impressively well-curated collection of items related to traditional health sciences in Vietnam.
- Cao Dai Temple
Dedicated to Caodaism, a monotheistic religion originated from Southern Vietnam, the temple welcomes all visitors to learn more about this faith that is a blend of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism altogether.
- Cu Chi Tunnel
A must for all visitors is definitely a trip to this underground labyrinth of a military base, its sheer complexity a lasting proof of the guerrilla fighters’ might and resilience during the war.
- Fosaco Ecotourism Village
Conveniently located near the tunnels, this tourism complex is modelled after a traditional Tây Nguyên ethnic village and is the best way to experience the vibrant tribal culture of the Central Highlands of Vietnam without actually travelling there.
- Tre Viet Resort
Another simulation of rural Vietnam – this time the rustic and serene Mekong Delta region – Tre Viet or The Bamboo Village offers a respite from the hectic city life, with numerous water sports such as kayaking and waterbiking among other resort facilities.
- A O Show
A modern interpretation of life in rural Vietnam with Cirque du Soleil-esque acrobatics and contemporary dance, this best-selling theatrical production and its spinoffs are a must-watch, also for the fact that it is hosted at another gorgeous colonial heritage site that is the city’s Opera House.
- Old Apartment Complexes
Yes, residential buildings as an attraction, we mean it. Many rundown apartment complexes are now revived as the it downtown destination à la SoHo district, with quirky cafés, chic boutiques and avant-garde galleries sprouting from its otherwise worn and ordinary urban façade.
- Station 3A, Ton Duc Thang Str.
Another destination for those artistically inclined, 3A is essentially a backstreet neighbourhood repurposed into a bazaar and studio space for the creative-minded, completed with an urbane graffiti finishing that would delight any budding photographer.
- Wholesale Apparels Markets
HCMC is the shopping heaven of Vietnam, so it makes sense to take some time to scour for a good bargain on export quality deals in Taka Plaza and Saigon Square.
- Starlight Bridge
Located in the town’s poshest residential district, this pedestrian bridge is known for its dazzling nightly light shows, making it a popular rendezvous spot among young Saigonese.
- Mong Bridge & Ben Nghe Canals
The oldest bridge still in use in HCMC, Mong bridge and its surroundings is also a popular destination for its scenic riverside view and abundance of street food options around.
- Saigon Skydeck
Fancy a bird’s eye view of the whole city? Of course you do, so head down to the Bitexco Tower’s observatory and get your camera ready for that epic panoramic vista.
- Nighttime Hotspots
Want to experience the endless energy of this city that never sleeps? Take your pick from fancy rooftop bars such as Chill or Lush, gritty street-style hangouts like Saigon Outcast or underground clubs such as Observatory and get ready for a great ride.
- Pham Ngu Lao & Bui Vien Street
This area is essentially the Khao San road of Vietnam where one can find loads of accommodation options and travel services together with a fantastic range of bars and street food joints, served all day and (especially) all night.
- Binh Tay Market
While Ben Thanh Market would always remain a staple recommendation in all travel books for its iconic looks, Binh Tay market is definitely trumps over the former in terms of an authentic look-try-buy-eat market experience.
That’s it for the must-visit locations, now head over here for the obligatory food post 🙂