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!

  1. Notre Dame Cathedral
The iconic landmark of HCMC. (credit: jethuynh)

The iconic landmark of HCMC. (credit: jethuynh)

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!

  1. Central Post Office
Designed by Gustave Eiffel, this post office is definitely one of the best looking around. (credit: followoursoles.com)

Designed by Gustave Eiffel, this post office is definitely one of the best looking around. (credit: followoursoles.com)

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.

  1. Independence Palace
Days of the past, reimagined. (credit: hoangphuc95)

Days of the past, reimagined. (credit: hoangphuc95)

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.

  1. War Remnants Museum
Open air exhibitions outside the museum. (credit: Lune Production)

Open air exhibitions outside the museum. (credit: Lune Production)

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.

  1. Museum of Vietnamese History
The distinct East-meets-West structure of the museum. (credit: Longthaibao8011)

The distinct East-meets-West structure inside the courtyard. (credit: Longthaibao8011)

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.

  1. FITO Museum/ Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
Because museum-hopping is the new café-hopping. (credit: Lune Production)

Because museum-hopping is the new café-hopping. (credit: Lune Production)

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.

  1. Cao Dai Temple
The temple's interior during one of the mass proceedings. (credit: Cu Chi Tunnels Tour)

The temple’s interior during one of the mass proceedings. (credit: Cu Chi Tunnels Tour)

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.

  1. Cu Chi Tunnel
A visitor trying to disappear into the tunnel network through a camouflaged opening. (credit: Reuters)

A visitor trying to disappear into the tunnel network through a camouflaged opening. (credit: Reuters)

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.

  1. Fosaco Ecotourism Village
Bamboo bridge leading to a traditional ethnic longhouse. (credit: foody.vn)

Bamboo bridge leading to a traditional ethnic longhouse. (credit: foody.vn)

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.

  1. Tre Viet Resort
Floating bungalow along the river in Tre Viet complex. (credit: thongtindiadiem.com)

Floating bungalow along the river in Tre Viet complex. (credit: thongtindiadiem.com)

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.

  1. A O Show
A scene from the show. (credit: nhandan.com.vn)

A scene from the show. (credit: nhandan.com.vn)

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.

  1. Old Apartment Complexes
26 Ly Tu Trong, a prime hangout destination for the young and hip faction of HCMC. (credit: kenh14.vn)

Entrance to a cafe in 26 Ly Tu Trong complex, a prime hangout destination for the young and hip faction of HCMC. (credit: kenh14.vn)

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.

  1. Station 3A, Ton Duc Thang Str.
Alleyway 3A, where this creative hub is located. (credit: Adventure Faktory)

Alleyway 3A, where this creative hub is located. (credit: Adventure Faktory)

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.

  1. Wholesale Apparels Markets
If Hanoi is the capital of culture, HCMC would be the capital of capitalism #shotsfired. (credit: zenfoto)

If Hanoi is the capital of culture, HCMC would be the capital of capitalism #shotsfired. So shop till you drop. (credit: zenfoto)

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.

  1. Starlight Bridge
Crescent Lake's most resplendent feature, the Starlight bridge. (credit: vinalo.com)

Crescent Lake’s most resplendent feature, the Starlight bridge. (credit: vinalo.com)

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.

  1. Mong Bridge & Ben Nghe Canals
Ideal for an early evening leisurely stroll along the river. (credit: nhiki.com)

Ideal for an early evening leisurely stroll along the river. (credit: nhiki.com)

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.

  1. Saigon Skydeck
Currently the tallest skyscraper in town, the supposedly lotus-shaped Bitexco Towers offers an ideal vantage point to view all of HCMC. (credit: idealista.com)

Currently the tallest skyscraper in town, the supposedly lotus-shaped Bitexco Towers offers an ideal vantage point to view all of HCMC. (credit: idealista.com)

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.

  1. Nighttime Hotspots
Open air chill-out vibe at Saigon Outcast. (credit: Saigon Outcast via Facebook)

Open air chill-out vibe at Saigon Outcast. (credit: Saigon Outcast via Facebook)

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.

  1. Pham Ngu Lao & Bui Vien Street
The usual sight on Bui Vien street at night. (credit: Steven Wright)

The usual sight on Bui Vien street at night. (credit: Steven Wright)

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. 

  1. Binh Tay Market
Also called Cho Lon, Binh Tay market is located at HCMC's Chinatown district. (credit: Ken)

Also known as Cho Lon, Binh Tay market is located in the heart of HCMC’s “Chinatown” District 5. (credit: Ken)

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 🙂

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