Ho Chi Minh City is a captivating blend of history and modernity, offering a unique beauty that enchants visitors. Its stunning contrasts range from historic landmarks like the War Remnants Museum and Independence Palace, which tell the poignant story of the city’s past, to the towering skyscrapers that adorn the skyline, showcasing its dynamic present.
The city’s charm extends to its vibrant street life, where tantalizing aromas from street food stalls fill the air, tempting taste buds with savory delights like pho and banh mi. Ben Thanh Market buzzes with energy, offering a treasure trove of souvenirs and local goods. For those seeking respite from the urban hustle, lush parks like Tao Dan and the tranquil Saigon Zoo provide an oasis of greenery.
Here are some of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City on your next trip to Vietnam
1. Visit the War Remnants Museum
Visiting the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a powerful and sobering experience that provides important insights into the country’s tumultuous history, particularly the Vietnam War. The museum presents a comprehensive portrayal of the Vietnam War and the broader struggles for independence in Vietnam. It features photographs, documents, and artifacts that document the war’s impact on the country and its people. In the museum’s courtyard, you’ll find a collection of military vehicles, artillery, and aircraft used during the conflict, offering a hands-on look at the war machinery.
The museum also highlights the devastating effects of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used during the war, with a display of photographs and information about its long-lasting impact on Vietnamese people and the environment.
2. See the Central Post Office
Visiting the Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is a delightful experience that combines historical charm and architectural beauty. The Central Post Office is a stunning example of French colonial architecture. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same architect behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it boasts a grand, neoclassical façade with elegant wrought-iron details. The building itself dates back to the late 19th century when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. It’s not just a post office but also a living history museum, reflecting the colonial era’s opulence and design aesthetics.
While it’s a popular tourist attraction, the Central Post Office is still a functional post office. You can send postcards or letters to friends and family from here, complete with the old-world charm of postage stamps and clerks at the counters.
3. Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels
Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating and educational experience. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground tunnels that played a crucial role in the Vietnam War (known as the American War in Vietnam). They served as a base for the Viet Cong, a communist guerrilla force, and were used for living quarters, storage, and military operations.
It’s highly recommended to take a guided tour when visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels. Knowledgeable guides provide historical context, share stories about life during the war, and explain the ingenious design of the tunnels. The site features displays of weapons and equipment used by the Viet Cong and American forces during the war, giving visitors a glimpse into the harsh realities of that era.
4. Watch the A O Show
Watching the A O Show in Ho Chi Minh City is a captivating and culturally enriching experience. The A O Show is a contemporary Vietnamese circus performance that beautifully blends traditional and modern art forms. It weaves together elements of acrobatics, dance, live music, and theatrical storytelling to create a mesmerizing cultural tapestry. The staging and set design are visually stunning, immersing the audience in a world of vibrant colors, intricate props, and evocative lighting. It’s a feast for the eyes from start to finish.
The A O Show is typically performed in a more intimate theater setting, allowing for a close connection between the audience and performers. This enhances the overall experience and makes it feel personal.
5. Visit the Independence Palace
The Independence Palace is a symbol of Vietnam’s journey to independence and reunification. It’s a place where history comes to life, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, culture seekers, and anyone interested in the country’s rich heritage. The Independence Palace is home to a collection of historical artifacts, including photographs, documents, and gifts received from foreign dignitaries. These items offer insights into the palace’s history and its role during the war.
Surrounding the palace, you’ll find beautifully landscaped gardens and a park. It’s a serene oasis in the heart of the city, making it a great place for a leisurely stroll and some relaxation. Guided tours are available at the Independence Palace, providing detailed information about the palace’s history, its role in the Vietnam War, and the events leading to the reunification of North and South Vietnam.
6. Admire Panoramic Views from Bitexco Financial Tower
Admiring panoramic views from the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City is an exhilarating experience. The Bitexco Financial Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the city, and its Saigon Skydeck offers unparalleled panoramic views of Ho Chi Minh City. You can gaze out over the city’s skyline, taking in the vast urban landscape and the Saigon River. Whether you visit during the day to see the city bathed in sunlight or in the evening when the city comes alive with lights, the views are equally captivating. The sunset views are particularly stunning.
Visiting the Bitexco Financial Tower’s Saigon Skydeck is not only a visual treat but also a unique opportunity to appreciate the dynamism and vibrancy of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a must-do activity for anyone looking to gain a bird’s-eye view of this bustling metropolis.
7. Take a walk along Nguyen Hue Street
Taking a walk along Nguyen Hue Street in Ho Chi Minh City is a delightful experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Nguyen Hue Street is a pedestrian-only promenade, making it a safe and leisurely place for a walk. You can explore the street without the hustle and bustle of motorbike traffic. The street is centrally located in District 1, making it easily accessible from many of the city’s main attractions, including the Saigon Opera House and City Hall.
Walking down Nguyen Hue Street offers glimpses of some of Ho Chi Minh City’s most iconic landmarks, including the Bitexco Financial Tower and the Saigon River, providing fantastic photo opportunities. Along the street, you’ll find various cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, perfect for people-watching while enjoying a coffee or a meal.
8. Shop at Ben Thanh Market
Shopping at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant and bustling experience that’s a must-do for visitors seeking souvenirs, local products, and a taste of Vietnamese street market culture. Ben Thanh Market is known for its diverse selection of goods. You can find everything from clothing, textiles, and jewelry to electronics, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It’s a one-stop shop for all your shopping needs.
Ben Thanh Market also boasts an array of street food stalls and vendors surrounding its perimeter. You can indulge in Vietnamese dishes like pho, banh mi, fresh spring rolls, and more. It’s an excellent spot to sample local cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh City offers a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to a wide range of interests and tastes. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, an architecture buff, or simply seeking vibrant urban experiences, this bustling metropolis has something to offer.