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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam so:
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Top Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Discover an array of exciting activities in Ho Chi Minh City with our comprehensive guide. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or shopaholic, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. Let’s dive into the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City!

1, Independence Palace (Reunification Palace):

Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, is a historic and iconic landmark located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This grand and imposing structure holds significant historical and political importance, as it played a central role in the reunification of North and South Vietnam in April 1975, marking the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of a united Vietnam under communist rule.

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Independence Palace is renowned for its unique and modernist architecture. Designed by architect Ngo Viet Thu, it features a blend of mid-century modern and traditional Vietnamese design elements. The palace is characterized by its open spaces, minimalist lines, and lush gardens.

Independence Palace covers a large area, featuring spacious gardens, courtyards, and several floors. The building consists of a basement, a ground floor, and two upper floors. It is known for its symmetrical and functional design.

Surrounding the palace is a lush, well-maintained garden with fountains and statues. The garden is a peaceful place to take a stroll and offers a contrast to the palace’s more formal architecture.

Today, Independence Palace is open to the public as a museum and tourist attraction. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the history of the palace and the events that led to its symbolic significance. The rooftop offers a panoramic view of Ho Chi Minh City.

Inside Independence Palace: Unveiling the Secrets of Saigon Iconic Landmark

Visiting Independence Palace allows you to delve into Vietnam’s rich history and witness the place where one of the most significant events in the nation’s history unfolded. It stands as a symbol of Vietnam’s journey towards independence and reunification and one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City for anyone interested in the country’s history and culture.

  • Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 08:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Entrance fee:
    •  Regular entry passes (covering both the Exhibit and the Palace) are priced as follows:
      • Adults: 65,000 VND per individual.
      • Vietnamese university students: 45,000 VND per person.
      • Children: 15,000 VND per youngster.
    • Tickets specifically for the Palace are priced as follows:
      • Adults and students: 40,000 VND per person.
      • Vietnamese university students: 20,000 VND per individual.
      • Children: 10,000 VND per child.

2, Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels are extensive underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Vietnam. These tunnels are a symbol of the resourcefulness and resilience of the Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War, also known as the American War in Vietnam.

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Although Cu Chi Tunnels were originally built during the late 1940s as a means of resistance against French colonial forces, they gained prominence during the Vietnam War when they were expanded and used extensively in fighting against the United States.

The Cu Chi Tunnels form a vast and intricate network of underground passages, covering an estimated total length of over 120 miles (200 kilometers). The tunnels are not only extensive but also deep, with some reaching depths of up to 40 feet (12 meters) below the surface.

The tunnels were mainly constructed by hand, using simple tools like shovels, and pickaxes, and served various purposes, including hiding spots, living quarters, and storage facilities for food, weapons, and other supplies. The tunnels were ingeniously designed with multiple levels, ventilation systems, and booby traps to deter intruders.

Top 5 most interesting experiences cu chi tunnels(or Chu Chi tunnels)

Today, parts of the Cu Chi Tunnels have been preserved and converted into a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore sections of the tunnels, gaining firsthand experience of the harsh conditions faced by the people who lived there during the war.

In 2018, the Cu Chi Tunnels were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their historical and cultural significance.

Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels is a must-do in Ho Chi Minh City that provides a unique opportunity to learn about the Vietnam War and the enduring spirit of the Vietnamese people who endured and survived these underground passages.

  • Address: Cu Chi District
  • Opening hours: from 07:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: There are varying entrance fees for Cu Chi Tunnel locations:
    • The admission cost for the Ben Duoc tunnels is 90,000 VND per person.
    • The admission cost for the Bin Dinh tunnels is 110,000 VND per person.

3, The War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum, located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a poignant and somber museum that serves as a stark reminder of the horrors and lasting impact of the Vietnam War (known as the American War in Vietnam). Established in 1975, shortly after the war ended, the museum was originally named the “Museum of American War Crimes,” but it was later renamed to the War Remnants Museum.

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The remnants museum features a wide range of exhibits, including photographs, documents, and artifacts from the war. It is divided into several thematic sections, each addressing different aspects of the war. Some of the most powerful exhibits include photographs depicting the human cost of the war, including the infamous “Napalm Girl” photograph, which captured the suffering of a young girl burned by napalm.

In addition, the museum also has outdoor displays in the museum’s courtyard, where you can find various American military vehicles, artillery pieces, and aircraft used during the war. These outdoor displays provide visitors with a tangible connection to the conflict.

The museum also has a dedicated section focusing on the devastating effects of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used by the United States military during the war. This section highlights the ongoing health issues and birth defects suffered by those exposed to Agent Orange.

The War Remnants Museum plays a crucial role in preserving the memory of the Vietnam War and serves as a place for reflection, education, and promoting a message of peace. It offers visitors a profound opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the war’s impact on Vietnam and the world.

  • Address: 28 Vo Van Tan Ward 6, District 3
  • Opening hours: from 7:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: Adults: 40,000 VND per person

Children (6 -15) 20,000 VND per

Children under six years old can visit for free.

4, Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is one of the most iconic and bustling markets in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is not only a popular tourist destination but also a significant commercial hub for locals.

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The market dates back to the 17th century when it was originally established by street vendors who gathered near the Saigon River. Over time, it has undergone renovations and improvements, becoming the thriving market we see today.

The market’s iconic clock tower at the main entrance is a popular landmark in the city. The architectural style of the market combines elements of French colonial and Vietnamese aesthetics. Inside, you’ll find a bustling and vibrant atmosphere with a central courtyard surrounded by various stalls and shops.

Shopping In Ho Chi Minh City: Essential Insights You Should Know

This bustling market is a fantastic place to shop for souvenirs, clothing, handicrafts, and try local street food.

Ben Thanh Market is known for its diverse array of products, including clothing, textiles, handicrafts, souvenirs, jewelry, electronics, home goods, and more. It’s a one-stop shop for both tourists looking for unique gifts and locals seeking everyday items.

Moreover, the market is a food lover’s paradise. You can find a wide variety of Vietnamese street food and local delicacies here. From pho and banh mi to fresh seafood and tropical fruits, the food stalls offer an authentic taste of Vietnamese cuisine.

Coming to Ben Thanh Market, you shouldn’t miss the bargaining experience. It is a common practice at Ben Thanh Market, so be prepared to bargain. It’s advisable to start with a lower price and negotiate with the vendors until you reach a mutually acceptable deal.

Beyond shopping and dining, Ben Thanh Market offers a glimpse into Vietnamese daily life and culture. It’s a great place to interact with locals, practice your bargaining skills, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of a traditional Vietnamese market.

Whether you’re interested in shopping, trying local cuisine, or simply exploring the vibrant atmosphere, a visit to Ben Thanh Market is a must when in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Address: Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: free

5, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral was constructed by the French colonists between 1863 and 1880 during the period of French Indochina. The cathedral was designed by French architect Jules Bourard in the Romanesque architectural style, characterized by its red bricks imported from Marseille, France. The church’s two bell towers stand at a height of 58 meters (190 feet) and are adorned with statues of the Virgin Mary.

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The interior of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral is relatively simple compared to its stunning exterior. The main altar is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and various stained glass windows depict biblical scenes. Visitors can also see the cathedral’s beautiful painted ceiling and religious statues.

The cathedral is a significant religious site for the Catholic community in Vietnam. It was built to serve a community and religious services for French colonialists. However, today the cathedral continues to be an active place of worship for the Catholic community and regular religious services are held here. It also hosts various special events and ceremonies, especially during significant Catholic holidays and festivals.

Over the years, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral has undergone several renovations and restoration projects to maintain its architectural integrity. Notably, in 2005, the cathedral’s façade underwent a major restoration project to repair and preserve the deteriorating brickwork.

Beyond its religious significance, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral has become a must-visit tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. Its stunning architecture and historical value make it a popular spot for photography and sightseeing. Admire the stunning French colonial architecture of this iconic cathedral, located in the heart of the city.

  • Address: 01 Paris Commune, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 08:00 to 11:00 in the morning

from 02:00 to 04:00 in the afternoon

  • Entrance fee: free

6, Saigon Central Post Office

The Saigon Central Post Office is a historic and iconic landmark located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This architectural gem serves both as a fully functioning post office and a popular tourist attraction.

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The post office was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the renowned French architect and engineer famous for designing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was constructed between 1886 and 1891 during the French colonial period in Vietnam. The building showcases a remarkable blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and French colonial architectural styles.

The exterior of the Saigon Central Post Office is characterized by its grand arched entrances, ornate ironwork, and a prominent clock tower that resembles a miniature version of Big Ben in London. The cream-colored facade with green shutters adds to its charming aesthetic.

Upon entering the post office, visitors are greeted by a vast, cavernous interior with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. The interior features beautifully designed marble floors, wooden telephone booths, and decorative maps of Saigon and its surrounding regions from French colonialism. The main hall is dominated by a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s revolutionary leader.

Despite its historical significance and tourist appeal, the functioning post office is fully operational. Locals and tourists alike visit to send mail, purchase stamps, and conduct postal services. Inside the post office, there are also souvenir shops where visitors can purchase various postal-themed souvenirs, postcards, and gifts.

The post office has become a must-visit tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. Its historical and architectural significance, as well as its central location, make it a popular spot for taking photographs and immersing oneself in the city’s rich history.

  • Address: 2 Paris Commune, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 07:30 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: free

7, Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House, also known as Nhà hát lớn Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh in Vietnamese, is a prominent cultural and architectural landmark located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is an exquisite example of French architects and serves as a hub for performing arts and cultural events in the city.

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The Saigon Opera House was constructed during the French colonial period in Vietnam, primarily between 1898 and 1900. It was designed by French architect Eugène Ferret and resembles the architectural style of the Third Republic of France, featuring a combination of Baroque and Neoclassical elements.

The opera house’s architecture is characterized by the building’s facade, which includes ornate details, wrought-iron balconies, and arched windows. It is painted in a pale yellow color, adding to its elegance and charm. The interior is equally impressive, with a grand staircase, chandeliers, and a richly decorated auditorium.

The Saigon Opera House was originally built as a venue for theatrical performances, operas, and other cultural events. Over the years, it has hosted a wide range of performances. These include classical music concerts, opera productions, traditional Vietnamese performances, and contemporary dance shows. It plays a significant role in promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of Vietnam. It has also hosted international artists and cultural events.

The opera house has undergone several renovations and restorations to maintain its historic charm and structural integrity. These renovations have helped preserve its architectural heritage and ensure its continued use for cultural performances.

Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City can often take guided tours of the Saigon Opera House to learn more about its history, architecture, and cultural significance. These tours provide insights into the building’s past and its role in the city’s cultural scene, and at the same time catch a live performance.

  • Address: 07 Lam Son Square, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 09:00 a.m. to 04:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)

 from 09:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

  • Entrance fee: free (Ticket costs vary depending on the performances you see.)

8, Jade Emperor Pagoda (Phuoc Hai Tu Temple)

The Jade Emperor Pagoda, known locally as “Chùa Ngọc Hoàng” or “Phước Hải Tự” in Vietnamese, is a significant religious and cultural landmark located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This beautifully adorned pagoda is dedicated to the worship of the Jade Emperor, a principal deity in Taoism and a key figure in Vietnamese folk religion.

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Was built in 1909, by the Chinese community in Ho Chi Minh City to honor the Jade Emperor, who is considered the ruler of heaven and earth in Chinese mythology and Taoist beliefs. The pagoda showcases a fascinating blend of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taoist architectural elements. It features a traditional Chinese temple design with a series of ornate courtyards, intricate tilework, and colorful murals. The roof is adorned with traditional Chinese-style figurines and motifs.

The main hall of the pagoda houses a statue of the Jade Emperor, flanked by various other deities and mythical creatures. The pagoda also contains altars dedicated to other figures from Taoist and Buddhist traditions, as well as ancestral tablets to honor deceased members of the Chinese community, especially the Cantonese community.

The pagoda’s interiors are adorned with woodwork, intricate carvings, and colorful frescoes that depict scenes from Taoist mythology and Chinese folklore. The vibrant colors and artistic details make it a visually captivating site.

Additionally, it features peaceful courtyards with bonsai trees, koi ponds, and various statues, providing visitors with a serene environment for reflection and relaxation.

The Emperor Pagoda is a place of worship for many Taoists and Buddhists in Ho Chi Minh City. Devotees visit the pagoda to make offerings, light incense and pray for blessings, good fortune, and protection. It is particularly busy during Lunar New Year and other important festivals.

The Pagoda exists as a testament to the city’s multicultural heritage and the harmonious coexistence of various faiths and traditions.

  • Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 08:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: free (Tourists might make donations to the pagoda to demonstrate their sincerity.)

9, Bitexco Financial Tower

The Bitexco Financial Tower, also known simply as the Bitexco Tower, is a prominent skyscraper located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in the city for its unique and futuristic design. The tower’s shape is often described as resembling a lotus bud or a lotus petal, Vietnam’s national flower.

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The building was designed by the renowned architect Carlos Zapata and constructed by the South Korean company Ssangyong Engineering & Construction.

The Financial Tower stood at 262.5 meters (861 feet) tall. It was the tallest building in Vietnam and one of the tallest in Southeast Asia.

The Bitexco Financial Tower was constructed to serve as an office building, which is a mix of office spaces for various companies and organizations. However, besides office spaces, the Bitexco Financial Tower also houses various commercial and retail spaces. Visitors can find restaurants, cafes, and shops within the building.

One of the most popular attractions within the Bitexco Financial Tower is its observation deck, known as the Saigon Skydeck. It offers panoramic views of Ho Chi Minh City and its surroundings, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the cityscape.

The financial tower features a distinctive helipad near its pinnacle. This helipad, often referred to as the “helicopter landing pad in the sky,” adds to the building’s unique and futuristic appearance.

It’s a popular tourist destination and a great place for both tourists and locals to take in the city’s skyline.

  • Address: 2 Hai Trieu, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 08:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: Adults: 240,000 VND per person

                                       Children/ seniors (over 65 years old)/ disabled: 160,000 VND

10, Giac Lam Pagoda

Giac Lam Pagoda was originally built in 1744 during the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. It is considered the oldest pagoda in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and has witnessed centuries of historical and cultural change in the region.

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Giac Lam Pagoda is a beautiful example of traditional Vietnamese Buddhist temple architecture. The pagoda’s design incorporates elements of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, reflecting the diverse Buddhist traditions in Vietnam.

The oldest pagoda is set in a peaceful garden adorned with ancient trees and ornamental plants. The complex consists of several halls, courtyards, and statues. Visitors typically follow a path through these areas to explore the pagoda’s various features.

The main hall, known as the Buddha Hall or the Great Hall, is the central place of worship within the pagoda. It houses a large bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha, surrounded by intricate decorations and altars for offerings.

In addition, the pagoda’s front yard is designed uniquely with adorned with statues of Buddhist deities, including bodhisattvas, guardians, and other important figures in Buddhist mythology. These statues are beautifully crafted and add to the serene ambiance of the pagoda.

One of the distinctive features of Giac Lam Pagoda is its tall, octagonal-shaped bell tower. The tower houses a large bell with an inscription that dates back to the early 19th centuries.

Giac Lam Pagoda offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, providing visitors with an opportunity for reflection and cultural exploration. It is a serene place, with its historical and spiritual significance deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture, worthy of being one of the things to do in Saigon.

  • Address: 565 Lac Long Quan, Tan Binh District
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 12:00 in the morning

from 02:00 to 09:00 in the afternoon

  • Entrance fee: free

11, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, officially known as Thảo Cầm Viên Sài Gòn in Vietnamese, is a well-established and popular attraction located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Dating back to its establishment in 1865 during the French colonial period. It is one of the oldest zoos in the world and the oldest in Vietnam. The gardens were originally designed to serve as a research center for studying and preserving indigenous plant and animal species.

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The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens cover an expansive area of approximately 20 hectares (49 acres). The site is divided into two main sections: the botanical gardens and the zoo.

The botanical gardens within the complex are home to an extensive variety of plant species, including rare and exotic plants, flowers, and trees. These gardens provide a tranquil and green oasis in the midst of the bustling city. The zoo houses a diverse collection of animals from around the world. Visitors can expect to see animals such as tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, monkeys, reptiles, and numerous bird species. The zoo’s mission includes wildlife conservation, education, and research.

One of the notable features of the Saigon Zoo is its large bird aviary, which is home to a variety of colorful and exotic bird species, creating a vibrant and captivating display.

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens offer amenities such as food stalls, rest areas, and souvenir shops, making it a family-friendly Ho Chi Minh must-see destination, where visitors can spend several hours exploring the grounds.

  • Address: 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 07:00 a.m. to 08:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: Adults: 50,000 VND per person

Children: 30,000 VND per child

12, Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Ho Chi Minh City Hall, also known as the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building, is a historic and iconic architectural landmark located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This grand French colonial-style building is renowned for its elegant architecture and serves as the seat of the municipal government.

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The construction of Ho Chi Minh City Hall was completed in 1908 with the name “Hotel de Ville de Saigon,” and in a neoclassical architectural style, which was characteristic of many public buildings constructed during the colonial era.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall’s architectural design is characterized by its impressive symmetry, graceful columns, arched windows, and a prominent dome at the center. The dome’s design is reminiscent of European architecture and adds to the building’s grandeur. The facade of the building is adorned with decorative elements, including ornate wrought-iron balustrades and intricate reliefs.

The dome’s design is reminiscent of European architecture and adds to the building’s grandeur.

Today, the building serves as the headquarters of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, which is the city’s local government authority. However, the exterior and front courtyard are open to the public, allowing visitors to admire the architecture and take photographs.

The front courtyard of Ho Chi Minh City Hall is a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists. It is often adorned with colorful flowers and decorative features, making it an attractive spot for photographs.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall is beautifully illuminated at night, making it a striking spot to gather and talk in the city center, which are enjoyable things to do in Ho Chi Minh City at night.

  • Address: 86 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
  • Opening hours: from 07:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. (Monday – Friday)

closed on Saturday and Sunday

  • Entrance fee: free

These destinations offer a diverse range of experiences, from cultural and historical sites to natural beauty and modern landmarks, making Ho Chi Minh City a captivating place to explore.

Kris Goetghebeur

Kris Goetghebeur

With over 20 years of work experience, ranging from seasonal to full-time assignments in different sectors of the Travel, Recreation, Hostelry, and Service Industry, I have a strong background. I have been based in Saigon, Vietnam, since 1999. My educational qualifications include a degree in Management in Tourism and Recreation Studies as well as a degree in Accountancy. I am proficient in French, Dutch, English, and German. I have extensive experience in crafting tailor-made tours and incentive packages, boasting a nearly 100% satisfaction record from my customers.