Xin chào Wanderlusters! Get your travel shoes ready and your bags packed because it’s time we take you through the vibrant and bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City!
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as the locals love to call it, is a captivating city filled with rich history, mouth watering food, and unique experiences that make this Vietnamese gem a must-visit destination.
People say that it is like a beautifully crafted tapestry that seamlessly weaves together the old and the new. The neon lights flickering amidst a sea of motorbikes zipping by, while traditional street vendors whip up steaming bowls of pho.
First things first, you might want to soak in the city’s rich history. Ho Chi Minh City has a spellbinding story to tell, from the heart-wrenching War Remnants Museum to the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a gastronomic adventure. From the legendary Banh Mi sandwiches bursting with flavors to the delightful chaos of Ben Thanh Market, where you can munch on delectable street food while bargaining for souvenirs. When you’re not busy satiating your taste buds, take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting streets of the city, sip on a refreshing cup of Vietnamese iced coffee, and forget about all your worries.
Believe us, this was just scratching the surface. Ho Chi Minh City has a plethora of activities and fun things you can do to have a memorable trip. So get your traveling hats on and let’s go!
Table of Contents
Visit The War Remnants Museum
Let’s get the first thing sorted first, you must not forget your cameras because this is one place you will not want to miss out on in terms of capturing. The museum is a collection of captivating exhibits and displays that will take you on a journey through Vietnam’s tumultuous past. The museum pays homage to the many emotions and stories of the Vietnam War.
There is a lot on show in the museum. It has exhibits, photos, artifacts, and other items from the war, including some of the ammunition and equipment used by both sides during the war. But it is not just about the artifacts and exhibits. It is also about learning more about the repercussions of the war and the kind of ongoing effects the war has had on the people in Vietnam.
You must remember to take out some time to read the personal stories and watch a couple of documentaries there on show. If you feel like you want to know more about something, feel free to reach out to the museum staff. They are super informed and would love to have a conversation with you about any questions you may have.
And yes, remember to keep an open mind and your attitude respectable at all times through the course of your visit. The museum also has a space for “reflection and remembrance” where you can gain a deeper understanding of all that happened during and after the Vietnam war.
Take A Stroll Through The French Quarter
For the seekers of all that is beautiful and fascinating, a journey through the beautiful French Quarter is one of the best things.
Ho Chi Minh City has a famously rich colonial history, and the French Quarter is the place to go if you want to learn all about it. This segment of town is lined with charming colonial buildings, lush green streets and cute cafes and cozy restaurants.
If you’re into architecture, you’ll have a field trip because the place has elegant balconies and façades. The French influence is very evident and seems to take you back to colonial times.
For all the foodies out there, the French Quarter is also a melting pot of cuisines, cultures and flavors. When you’re on your stroll you’ll be welcomed by the scintillating aromas of freshly baked baguettes and spices from all the open food vendors. The food here is the best blend of French and Vietnamese flavors. Make sure you take some time out to taste the famously delicious banh mi sandwiches and the flavorful and aromatic Vietnamese coffee.
If you’re into art, then you will immediately fall in love with the quaint art galleries, boutiques and cafes. And what is more is that the people of Ho Chi Minh City are as vibrant as the streets there.
So, if you are looking for a relaxing time filled with history, culture and food, taking a stroll is your best bet.
Look At The Amazing Street Art
The streets of Ho Chi Minh City are no less than any art galleries you may have seen. Ho Chi Minh City has a resplendent street art scene. From murals to graffitis and to installations, you name it and the streets have got it.
The city has been turned into a canvas of artistic stories. Talented artists have painted the streets with their emotions and stories and have transformed all the streets into masterpieces of their own. District 1 is one of the best places you can visit to see this art in its best form.
The lush greenery of Saigon’s interior
Most art shows the story of the Vietnam war and are a testament to the rich culture and heritage of the country.
The mix of art and the urban surroundings of the streets is quite fascinating. Especially, when the art is submerged with the architectural elements of the streets. The art is so powerful that it brings the buildings to life in a way you can’t even imagine.
Visit The Bitexco Financial Tower
Imagine looking at a towering structure that soars into the skies and looks like a spaceship about to take off. That is exactly how you will feel when you look at the Bitexco Tower.
This tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City that stands 68 floors tall is nothing short of a bundle of futuristic amazement. It has a sleek design and shimmering glass windows making the building something you simply can’t take your eyes off of.
The moment you walk into the building you feel like you’ve entered some foreign world. If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the city, the observation deck on the 49th floor is the best place to head to. Well, you can also enjoy a drink and some snacks at the deck there to complement the breathtaking views.
You will easily be able to take in the beautiful streets of Ho Chi Minh City, the bustling markets and the gushing river that also flows nearby.
Once you’ve taken in the views and have fed yourself, you can also enjoy some shopping in the shopping mall in the building. Because, retail therapy is mostly the answer to everything.
Bitexco Tower is the answer to most of your urban lifestyle questions apart from the breathtaking scenic views it offers, of course.
Go For A Shopping Spree At The Markets
The markets of Ho Chi Minh City are simply amazing. They provide a wide variety of stylish and in-trend clothing accessories and fashion choices. And of course, now that you’ve come to such a beautiful place, you cannot imagine leaving without some souvenirs.
Whether you are a fashion expert or just love to shop, Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of markets for you to explore. Ben Thanh Market is the most famous market. It also happens to be the largest market in the city. The vendors there sell everything from clothes and shoes to jewelry and souvenirs. It is a dream come true for all the shopaholics of the world.
But if such a bustling market is not the kind of place you want to shop at, you can explore the smaller markets like the Binh Tay Market in Chinatown and the An Dong Market in District 5.
Just remember to put your best haggling skills to use and you’d be good to go.
Visit The Reunification Palace
If you want to travel back in time, this is the place for you. Stepping into the Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, is just like stepping back into the history of Vietnam. The Reunification Palace is a yellow colored palace surrounded by verdant gardens. It is a perfect blend of old and new time charm.
During the Vietnam war, the president of South Vietnam used to reside in this palace. And having said that, it also means that it was the exact place where a lot happened. From secret meetings to strategizing, the walls of this palace have seen and heard quite a lot. It was quite an important building in terms of historical and political significance.
You can explore the palace’s many rooms, including the war room and the president’s office, and learn about the events that led up to the fall of Saigon in 1975. The halls are stacked with antique furniture and artifacts.
As the name goes, the Reunification Palace, along with being a historical building, is also a symbol of unity and progress. In today’s time it has become more of a museum people can visit to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s journey.
Discover The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
The Notre- Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is a magnificent masterpiece made out of red bricks. It has mesmerizing stained glass windows that shimmer beautifully as the sun rays strike them creating a rainbow of many different colors.
The ambiance of the neo-Romanesque building is the perfect blend of architectural beauty and spiritual calm. The ceilings are vaulted and ornate with intricately designed images and the arches tell stories from the days gone by.
From enjoying choir performances to praying at the side chapels, the cathedral has all you need to get those religious feels. It is the place where religion, spirituality, art and history come together to give the visitors an experience they will never forget.
Learn Some Vietnamese Cooking
Once you’re done exploring the city and want to indulge in some learning experiences, do take some time out to take a Vietnamese cooking class.
All the foodies, pay close attention, because this is exactly for you. Especially, if you are the lover of all that tastes heavenly and you can’t stop drooling every time you inhale all those aromas wafting from the open food shops in Ho Chi Minh City’s markets.
There are many cooking schools in Ho Chi Minh City that offer classes where you can learn to make dishes like pho, spring rolls, and banh xeo. The best part is, you will get to visit a local market and that is where you can buy ingredients. Once you’ve bought all the ingredients you need you can spend your time learning about traditional cooking techniques, and of course, eat your delicious creations at the end of the class.
Rich herbs and spices will play a harmony of all the flavors you can imagine. From sweet and sour to salty and spicy, a whole new world of flavors will open up for you. You will not only learn cooking techniques but also a new spirit that will make all the cooking you do all the more delicious.
Party Like There’s No Tomorrow In The Backpacker District
“Ain’t no party like a Backpacker District party!” (quite literally). All the party animals, we’ve just the place for you to dance your hearts out and just unwind. If you’re looking for a lively night out and want to truly enjoy the nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City, get your pretty feet to the Backpacker
District in District 1.
The streets come alive with lively music, vibrant lights and a general air of fun-loving individuals. Lined with bars, restaurants, clubs and the most popular spots, the Backpacker District is the place where backpackers from all over the world gather and have pure fun.
Whether you are the dancing-to-the-dj-songs kind or the street dancing kind, this place has something for everyone. The streets have a life of their own, with flash mob performances, amazing food being sold, and the most famous drinking games.
So, be prepared to dive head first into a wild and adventurous night of excitement, fun and making memories that will last a lifetime.
Explore The Jade Emperor Pagoda
The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city life of Ho Chi Minh City, is this enchanting pagoda.
If serenity is what you seek, this is the place for you. The moment you step inside the tall and proud pagoda, you’re immediately met with the ambiance of calm and tranquility. The thick incensed laden air takes you into the land of ancient traditions and spiritual magic.
The premises are something to see. The halls are beautifully ornate with mythical creatures situated in every corner. The minute carvings are worth observing and marveling at with vibrant colors emerging from everywhere.
And of course, the center piece is the awe-striking statue of the Jade Emperor. According to common belief, you can make wishes in the statue’s great presence and the emperor will grant them. It is also said that the people who pay respect to the statue receive good fortune.
So be ready to breathe in the spirituality of the place and revel in the beauty of calm amidst the chaos of the city.
Tips To Travel In Ho Chi Minh City
- Embrace The Traffic: It is okay! Ho Chi Minh City is ruled by scooters. Get over it. The traffic is just part of all the local fun. But make sure you are safe on the streets and be cautious and conscious of the vehicles around you.
- Research and Rule: Make sure your travel plans are well researched and you have booked everything in advance, from travel tickets to accommodations. Make sure you have a proper itinerary prepared. (Use the above for it, obviously!)
- Keep Your Valuables Safe: Be cautious about your belongings and make sure your valuables are kept close to your heart especially when you’re roaming the markets of the city.
- Choose Your Transportation Wisely: Only use reliable commute options that are reputable. Metered taxis are a safe option you can choose.
- Keep Your Hydration Game Strong: You will be walking quite a lot and the temperatures in Ho Chi Minh City can get tricky so it’s always a good idea to keep a water bottle with you.
- Learn A Few Basic Phrases: Aside from the obvious reason of helping you communicate, Locals always appreciate when you try to talk to them in their own language. So keeping a couple of phrases handy is a good way to go.
So this is all Wanderlusters! Now you know that visiting Ho Chi Minh City is like embarking on an adventure that will leave you in awe and with a newfound appreciation for the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people. So what are you waiting for, grab your shoes, bags and passports and head to this amazing place!
Some FAQs For You
The top places in Ho Chi Minh City to shop are Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Square, Vincom Center, and Dong Khoi Street.
You can choose from a variety of options. There are taxis, motorbike taxis known as xe ôm, buses, and Grab, which is a ride hailing service.
Ho Chi Minh City isn’t all that expensive, especially compared to other major cities. You can get affordable options for accommodations, transportation and food.
Not necessarily. While cash is still used in the city, debit and credit cards are also widely accepted.