Top 10 Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon
The Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon Bucket List
Although it’s officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city is still widely referred to as Saigon by locals and visitors alike. Large, tropical and always bustling with activity, Saigon is a city that’s full of exciting things to do, places to see and experiences to enjoy. It is also the perfect place to start an epic trip to Cambodia, by following this 7 Day Cambodia Travel Itinerary, as there are plenty of luxury buses plying daily from Saigon – Phnom Penh, and the land border crossing is extremely easy and straight forward.
Whether you’re visiting Saigon on its own or passing through on the way to Phu Quoc, Hoi An, Da Nang, Da Lat or one of Vietnam’s many other destinations, these 10 things to do definitely deserve a place on your Saigon to-do list while you’re in the city.
- Revisit the 1960s in the Independence Palace
- Learn About Vietnam’s History in the War Remnants Museum
- Walk Down Nguyen Hue Street
- Take a Half-Day Trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels
- Visit Saigon’s French Colonial Landmarks
- Stay in One of Saigon’s Surprisingly Affordable Luxury Hotels
- Enjoy the View From Landmark 81
- Drop By The Museum of Vietnamese History
- Cool Off at One of Saigon’s Numerous Water Parks
- Enjoy Delicious Vietnamese Food
Revisit the 1960s in the Independence Palace
Located right in the heart of District 1, Saigon’s Independence Palace (known as Dinh Doc Lap in Vietnamese) was made famous internationally as the scene of fighting during the final period of the Vietnam War, when a North Vietnamese tank burst through its gates in 1975.
Today, the palace is open to the public as a tourist attraction and serves as an interesting time capsule to previous generations, complete with 1960s architecture and interior decorating.
Learn About Vietnam’s History in the War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum, a short walk from the Independence Palace, is a must-visit while in Saigon. The museum provides a sobering look at the numerous wars Vietnam fought during the 20th century, including the Vietnam War and its war of independence against France.
Walk Down Nguyen Hue Street
Saigon’s most famous pedestrian street, Nguyen Hue runs through the center of District 1 and is home to some of the city’s best places to shop, eat and stop for coffee. Start at the Ho Chi Minh statue and visit one of the numerous cafes inside the iconic cafe apartment block.
Take a Half-Day Trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels
An incredible network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong, the Cu Chi Tunnels are located a short drive outside Saigon and make for a great day trip.
Not only are several of the tunnels open to the public to explore — the site also showcases the numerous booby traps used by the Viet Cong and even features a shooting range with war-era weapons for visitors to use.
Visit Saigon’s French Colonial Landmarks
District 1 and 3 of Saigon are full of beautiful French colonial buildings, including the particularly impressive Notre Dame Cathedral. Just across the street from the cathedral is the city’s equally beautiful 19th century post office, complete with an ornate interior.
Stay in One of Saigon’s Surprisingly Affordable Luxury Hotels
Vietnam is developing quickly as a tourism destination, with a growing number of luxury hotels popping up over the last few years. Compared to other popular destinations in Asia, hotels are very affordable in Vietnam, making Saigon a great place to enjoy a luxurious few days.
Good high-end hotel options include The Myst Dong Khoi, a stylish hotel in the heart of District 1, and Vinpearl Luxury Landmark 81 — a sky-high luxury hotel in Vietnam’s tallest building.
Alternatively, Saigon is a great place to splurge on an apartment for a few days. For short stays, AirBnB is a good option; for longer periods, a good selection of private apartments are available here.
Enjoy the View From Landmark 81
At 461 meters, Landmark 81 is Vietnam’s tallest building and one of the best places to enjoy a great view of Saigon.
For the best deal, avoid the overpriced official Landmark 81 SkyView and instead enter through the hotel. Take the elevator up to Blank Lounge on the 75th floor, where you can relax and look down at the city from up high for the price of a cup of coffee.
Drop By The Museum of Vietnamese History
While it isn’t quite as extensive as the National Museum in Hanoi, the Museum of Vietnamese History is worth a visit if you’re interested in the history of Vietnam, with exhibits dating back to the country’s prehistoric era, as well as the Ngo, Dinh, Le, Tay Son and Nguyen dynasties.
Cool Off at One of Saigon’s Numerous Water Parks
Saigon is hot year-round, with a tropical climate that can be quite a shock for those visiting from cooler countries. The city’s two water parks, Dam Sen and Suoi Tien, are both good options for cooling off and making the most of the sunny weather.
Enjoy Delicious Vietnamese Food
No trip to Vietnam is complete without sampling plenty of Vietnamese food, and Saigon is one of the best places to enjoy Vietnam’s excellent cuisine. Must-try dishes include Vietnam’s world famous pho, as well as local favorites such as bun cha, bun bo Hue, banh xeo and banh mi.
Before you leave, don’t forget to Pin This Post about the Best Things to do in Saigon, for ready reference, when you plan your future trip to Vietnam.