things to do in ho chi minh city

The Best Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, known as Saigon up until 1976 (although it is still known as Saigon to some, including me), is the largest city in Vietnam. It used to be the capital of the French Protectorate of Conchinchina or the Southern region of Vietnam. After the Indochina War, Vietnam was divided into northern and southern zones. During the Vietnam War or the second Indochina War, northern Vietnamese troops captured Saigon bringing it under communist control and renaming the city as Ho Chi Minh.  It’s often the first stop for visitors to Vietnam, so here are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Today, Ho Chi Minh City stands as a highly bustling metropolitan featuring soaring skyscrapers offering a view of the landscape, an intriguing mood, and an exciting and vibrant nightlife. It’s a great place to explore no matter what your budget.  The French influence remains among the French-styled infrastructures and the overall atmosphere of the city. Plenty of old buildings also add charm to the city, offering both locals and travelers a glimpse into the rich history of Ho Chi Minh City.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER

What's In this Article hide

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

There are a host of places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, mid-range places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, and budget accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City. 

The Fusion Original Saigon Center:  This 5-star Ho Chi Minh Hotel in District 1 is in a great location and comes with all the facilities you’d expect.  There’s an outdoor pool with amazing city views, a fitness center, and a bar.  Rooms here come as standard with bathrobes, slippers, and private bathrooms.  This is fabulous luxury in a great location.  Check rates for this top Saigon hotel here.

The Cochin Sang Hotel is a glorious boutique hotel in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City.  A fabulous rooftop terrace and pool crown this super hotel, with dark wood furnishings and simple but sumptuous rooms.  There’s also both a dry and a wet sauna here and the rooms have some of the best mattresses and pillows that you will ever sleep on!  Reserve a great rate at this mid-range hotel in Ho Chi Minh City here.

The Woody House, Saigon Center is a fabulous budget option in the heat of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City.  There’s a communal rooftop terrace and each of the units here at this Ho Chi Minh aparthotel has a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, a washing machine, and a private bathroom with bidet and slippers. Rooms also have a fridge, a minibar, and a stovetop, as well as a kettle.  Home away from home.  It gets amazing reviews and the prices are incredible.  Book early!

What to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a must-visit place in Vietnam with plenty of activities to do and places to visit. I saw places rather than attractions because some of the best things you can do in HCMC are to simply hang around.  Or go somewhere specifically for food.  You can head to museums and monuments to learn more about the past; you can also explore the streets of the city and find some amazing food here, and you can get stunning views of this amazingly vibrant city from the decks on the skyscrapers. 

Ho Chi Minh City is easy to get around – if you’re prepared to walk, or take local buses, but it can be a little confusing at first (and, to be fair, the traffic is pretty full on too!), so if you prefer to have a local to show you around there are a few options when it comes to taking a tour of the city.

Best Tours of Ho Chi Minh City

You have a variety of options when it comes to tours of the city. Normally when we visit a city, the first thing that we’ll do is take a free walking tour. In Ho Chi Minh, we didn’t, but there are a few free walking tours available and you can check the options here.

Best bus tour of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a pretty big city, and it can be tough getting around in the heat to see all the attractions that you want to see. Luckily now there’s a hop on hop off bus available that gets you to all the main sites. You can book (and prepay) a ticket on the Saigon hop on hop off bus here – and opt for either a 24 hour ticket or a 48 hour ticket. Reserve your ticket here.

Best motorbike tour of Ho Chi Minh City

There is no better way to see the sights of Saigon than on the back of a motorbike. Join the thousands of other bikes on the road, go down small alleys and see the bits that the bus can’t get you to on this fabulous Ho Chi Minh motorbike tour. Don’t worry about riding the bike, all you need to do is hang on, take photos and enjoy the sights, the sounds and the tastes of the city, as this tour also includes a bowl of Pho! It’s absolutely the best way to see Ho Chi Minh City. Check out available dates here! (helmets are provided!)

things to do in HCMC take a motorbike tour

Best private tour of Ho Chi Minh City

If you prefer a less frantic paced tour and a little (ok, a lot) more comfort, then this private air-conditioned car tour of Ho Chi Minh City is for you. You’ll visit the key sites, and your English speaking guide will detail what you’re seeing and the importance of the locations to Vietnam. It’s an extremely comfortable and easy way to see Saigon’s main attractions. You can check available and reserve your dates here.

The Best Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest Vietnamese city and at first glance, it can be somewhat bewildering (like as soon as you exit the airport!), but people are friendly here and there’s a great can-do attitude that makes it really easy to visit. Here’s the top things to see in Ho Chi Minh City.

Giac Lam Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City

Standing at almost 300 years old and the oldest temple in Ho Chi Minh City dating back to 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda is a seven-tier tall pagoda, set amongst a lush, vibrant garden. You can walk around the garden and enjoy the architecture as well as the 113 statues scattered around the area. The design elements here also acknowledge and pay respects to Taoism, despite this HCMC temple being a Theravada Buddhist temple. You can also climb the seventh floor of the stupa and see the ancient relics that are held inside. Ho Chi Minh’s Giac Lam Pagoda also has a bronze bell which when rung, is believed to help the elderly as well as those who are suffering from an illness.

  • Address of Giac Lam Pagoda: 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Giac Lam Pagoda: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • Entry Fees for Giac Lam Pagoda: Free

Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City

Visit one of Ho Chi Minh City’s prettiest pagodas and enjoy the burst of grand colors of red, yellow, green, and gold at the Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda. This stunning Ho Chi Minh City pagoda dates from 1902, and the Taoist temple houses brass ritual ornaments as well as weapons, and fine woodcarving on the altars, the columns, and the walls.  The temple is decorated with ceramic tiles which depict stories of local legends.  Hanging lanterns and incense combine to create a very atmospheric experience.  Outside there’s a life-size statue of the sacred horse, Quan Cong where you can leave offerings, stroke its mane, and ring the bell around its neck. The Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda is also a place where people who are going to embark on a journey often come to pray for prosperity or luck.

  • Address of Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda: 184 Hung Vuong, Phuong 12, District 5, Than Pho, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda: Open from sunrise to sunset daily.
  • Entry Fees for Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda: Free, but you can also offer donations.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City

Built between 1877 and 1883, Ho Chi Minh City’s Notre Dame Cathedral features spectacular Neo-Romanesque architecture.  All the red bricks used in the construction of Notre Dame in Vietnam were imported directly from France. The entrance of the cathedral is framed with two 40-meters tall bell towers.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh Notre Dame Cathedral

There is also a garden where you can check out the white all-marble statue of the Virgin Mary sculpted by Italian artist, Ciocchetti in 1959. Notre Dame Cathedral is hard to miss and you should put it on your list of places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Address of Notre Dame Cathedral: 1 Cong Xa Paris Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Notre Dame Cathedral: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Notre Dame Cathedral: Free

You can reach the Notre Dame cathedral on the Hop on, Hop Off bus, on a motorbike tour of Ho Chi Minh, or in this private guided history tour.

Cha Tam Church, Ho Chi Minh City

Cha Tam Church is a historic bright caramel-colored church built in the 19th century. Inside this famous Ho Chi Minh City church, you’ll find the spot where former Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were captured while there were attempting to escape from the presidential palace in 1963.  There’s a plaque that marks the spot.

  • Address of Cha Tam Church: 25 Hic Lac, Ward 14, District 5, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Cha Tam Church: 7 a.m. to 12 noon., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Cha Tam Church: Free

Tan Dinh Catholic Church, Ho Chi Minh City

The Tan Dinh Catholic Church in downtown Ho Chi Minh is a striking pink color and has a grandeur design. Aside from its social media-worthy exterior, Tan Dinh Catholic Church also has an impressive 53-meter tall bell tower and French design influences. The church is also considered one of the oldest churches in the city – it was constructed in 1870, and is, of course, called, ‘The Pink Church’.

  • Address of Tan Dinh Catholic Church: 289 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Tan Dinh Catholic Church: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday; and 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Tan Dinh Catholic Church is closed on Mondays.
  • Entry Fees for Tan Dinh Catholic Church: Free

Explore Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City

For a traveling book lover, Ho Chi Minh City’s Book Street is the perfect place to visit! This street stretches from Notre Dame Cathedral to Hai Ba Trung Street and is a place for book lovers and book publishers alike. Book Street is where you’ll find book publishers from all over Vietnam promoting and sharing their new works.  It’s also a great place to chill out with your newly purchased book in a café.  There are stores offering new books, magazines, and second-hand books here.  Plus of course, cafes, where you can start reading straight away.

  • Address of Book Street: Nguyen Van Binh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh 

Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City’s Fine Arts Museum houses a range of Vietnam’s finest artworks dating back to the Bronze era, as well as contemporary works. You’ll find pottery, ceramics, paintings, and sculptures, along with exhibitions of ancient weaponry. The Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City’s façade is already a piece of art itself as it features a colonial-style mansion design and a charming yellow exterior.

  • Address of Fine Arts Museum: 97A Duc Chinh Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Fine Arts Museum: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Fine Arts Museum: VND 30,000 for adults and VND 15,000 for students with student cards.

The War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

A visit here will likely leave you shaken, and you’ll want to allow plenty of time to visit.  You’ll get to dive deeper into one of the most significant parts of Vietnam’s history with a visit to Saigon’s War Remnants Museum. The War Remnants Museum contains exhibition halls detailing the atrocities of the Vietnam War, providing awareness to both locals and travelers alike about Vietnam during the war.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh War Remnants Museum

The museum gets more than half a million visitors each year and is a must-go-to-place for visitors to Saigon. Inside, you’ll be able to find personal things owned by the victims of the war as well as photographs depicting the time of war.   I’ve covered more details about visiting Ho Chi Minh City’s War Remnants Museum as well as how to visit it here in my guide to the Vietnam War Sites.

  • Address of War Remnants Museum: 28 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of War Remnants Museum: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for War Remnants Museum: VND 15,000.

You can combine a visit to the War Remnants Museums AND the Cu Chi Tunnels in this day long tour that takes them both in. It’s a great options to maximise the time that you have and see both of these enthralling locations. Check availability here.

Visit Ho Chi Minh City’s Vietnam History Museum

The Vietnam History Museum is located in a 1929 French colonial building and it contains pre-war relics of Vietnam; a collection of artifacts that showcase Vietnamese culture and its evolution from the Bronze Age, the Funan civilization, to the Cham, Khmer, and Vietnamese. You’ll find a collection of Buddha statues here as well as the perfectly preserved body of a woman who died in 1869.

  • Address of Vietnam History Museum: 1 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Vietnam History Museum: 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Vietnam History Museum: VND 15,000. You can also purchase a VND 3000 camera ticket if you want to take photos.

Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The best place to learn about the history and culture of the city itself is the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. First built in 1885, the museum was first named the Gia Long Palace, then the Revolutionary Museum, and then finally it became the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. The museum is known to be one of the grandest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City and houses collections of ceramics, ancient maps of the city, traditional clothes belonging to the various ethnic groups of Vietnam, and galleries of the history of the Vietnam War.

  • Address of Ho Chi Minh City Museum: 65 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Ho Chi Minh City Museum: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Ho Chi Minh City Museum: From Monday to Friday: VND 150,000 for adults and VND 100,000 for children; for Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays: VND 200,000 for adults and VND 150,000 for children.

Visit Ho Chi Minh City’s Reunification Palace

The iconic Reunification Palace, also known as the Independence Palace was once home to a French governor, then to Japanese officials, and finally to the president of South Vietnam amid the Vietnam War.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh reunification palace

This grand palace is now a museum where you can take a tour and learn more about the history and culture of Vietnam. The Reunification Palace also has a lovely garden with a great water fountain display.

  • Address of the Reunification Palace: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of the Reunification Palace: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Reunification Palace: VND 40,000.

Visit the Reunification Palace on this combined tour that also visits the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Remants Museum. It’s a full on day, but well worth the time. Reserve your place here.

Go to the Water Puppets Show (Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater)

Want to see a unique traditional Vietnamese art performance? Head to the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater and watch a water puppet performance. As its name suggests, a water puppet performance is wooden puppets in water usually telling mythical stories and legends. Usually, these performances are partnered with musical performances using traditional Vietnamese instruments. If you don’t want to get wet, I suggest not sitting near the front.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  • Address of the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Phuong Ben Thanh, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater: VND 200,000.

Lines to buy tickets to water puppet shows can be quite long since this performance can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Skip the line and buy a ticket in advance here.

Take a Cruise on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City

Since Ho Chi Minh City is located on the Saigon River, you can also take a cruise to explore more of the city or see it from a different perspective.  Evening river city tours and dinner are a great option and allow you to stretch your visiting hours (and this is a great choice here).  Alternatively, combine a visit to the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels to see the city and its surrounds on both the Saigon River and the canals surrounding the area.  Take a look at this unique way to see the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels too.

Visit the Saigon Central Post Office

You might raise your eyebrows a little when I suggest that you should visit Ho Chi Minh City’s post office, but this post office is different and well worth the effort and a short time to visit it! The Saigon Central Post Office is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest buildings and was designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel).

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh the Post Office

The post office in Ho Chi Minh City combines a fabulous mix of French, Renaissance, and Gothic designs, making for a magnificent exterior ideal for a perfect photo. Head inside to check out the grand walls and domed roof.

  • Address of Saigon Central Post Office: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Thanh Pho, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Saigon Central Post Office: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Sundays.
  • Entry Fees for Saigon Central Post Office: Free.

Get the Best Views of the City from the Saigon Skydeck

To get the best landscape views of Ho Chi Minh City, head to the Bitexco Financial Tower’s 49th floor and the Saigon Skydeck. At the Saigon Skydeck, you’ll not only get an amazing view of the city but also the best place to see the sunset in Ho Chi Minh City.  You can book access in advance and skip the line tickets, essential so you don’t miss the best sunset times.

  • Address of Saigon Skydeck: 36, Ho Tung Mau Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Saigon Skydeck: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.
  • Entry Fees for Saigon Skydeck: VND 200,000 for adults and VND130,000 for children (4-12 years old), seniors (over 65 years old), and the disabled.
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Sky deck

Take a Vietnamese Cooking Class in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a fabulous city for food, and once you’ve tried all the local specialties, go a step further and take a cooking class to learn how to make them yourself. Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of cooking classes available most of which also include a market tour so you can familiarize yourself with the local Vietnamese ingredients.  You’ll want to pick a small group lesson, they’re much more fun and you have more chances to select the dishes that you want to learn to cook. Check the menu options for cooking classes here.

Binh Quoi Tourist Village, Ho Chi Minh City

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, without actually leaving the city, then you can head to the Binh Quoi Tourist Village, a quiet paradise at the heart of the city. The village was built to bring a piece of the Mekong Delta to the city.  It features blue canals, coconut trees, lily ponds, scenic walking paths, a bamboo monkey bridge, and quaint cottages.  If you want to experience “rural Vietnam” without actually going there, then you can try fishing, paddling in the lake, and wandering around the area.  There are three different areas of the village:  Binh Quoi 1 is the most popular and affordable area of the village where there are different music and food options; Binh Quoi 2, is the most famous area where you can go swimming, canoeing, play tennis, and folk games; and Binh Quoi 3, also knowns as Quan Xua, the more traditional and rustic looking area of the village where you can enjoy traditional cuisine down by the Saigon River.

  • Address of Binh Quoi Tourist Village: 1147 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Binh Quoi Tourist Village: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Binh Quoi Tourist Village: The entrance is free of charge, what you’ll need to pay for are the activities, the food, and transportation.

Nguyen Hue Street, Ho Chi Minh City

Head to Nguyen Hue Street on a weekend, when this famous street becomes pedestrian-only.  This 650-meter-long road has plenty of boutiques, shops, as well as cafes, and restaurants. One of the most famous places to visit is Apartment 42, aka the Café Apartments, an old apartment that is now a café.  It’s great here on a night too, with a fabulous atmosphere and a water fountain show.

  • Address of Nguyen Hue Street: Ben Nghe, District 1, Thanh Pho, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Nguyen Hue Street: Open on Saturdays and Sundays as vehicles will be prevented from driving through during these times.

Bui Vien “Walking Street” aka Western Street

Bui Vien Walking Street, also called Western Street, is Ho Chi Minh City’s center for cheap and fun nightlife.  During the day there are coffee shops, street food, and shops where you can buy just about anything from.

Explore a Floating Market, from Ho Chi Minh City

Floating markets are a great experience in South East Asia.  You’ll need an early start from Ho Chi Minh City, but this is a great Saigon 2- Day Trip that means you can be back in time for beers in Backpacker Street at the end of the second day.  While the markets start early, if you leave HCMC by 530am, you’ll arrive just in time to see the market at its height.  It’s a 3 hour drive to Cai Rang, but you can snooze away and arrive in time for a traditional Mekong Delta breakfast of vermicelli soup and then explore the market.  This tour also visits a rice mill to see how rice is processed.  Check it out and save by booking a place early!

Visit the Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta

Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City

One of the places you definitely should not miss visiting is the Cu Chi Tunnels and they are one of the major Vietnam War Sites (I’ve written about the main sites here). The Cu Chi Tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.  The tunnels stretch around 120 kilometers near Ho Chi Minh City.

You can visit sections of the tunnels including the living areas, kitchen, storage facilities, armory, hospitals, and command centers, as well as trapdoors which you can only visit with a guide.  The Cu Chi Tunnels are considered one of the most well-known war memorials in Vietnam, and a must-visit when you’re in Saigon.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh Cu Chi Tunnels

There are plenty of ways for you to get to Cu Chi Tunnels; you can head there by public bus, rent a motorbike or a scooter, or you can also go as part of a trip where you can combine it with a tour to other sites in the area.

Visit the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City

One of the more popular day trips to take from Ho Chi Minh City is to go to the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is known as Vietnam’s “rice bowl” since its responsible for providing more than half of Vietnam’s rice. 

The Mekong Delta is a 39,000-square-kilometer area composed of waterways which is why you’ll find plenty of floating markets, schools, and homes, and be able to try out delicacies that are specific to the Mekong Delta region. Whether you choose to float down the river on a traditional wooden canoe or take a more energetic approach, you have several options. You can check them out here.

Markets to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City

The markets in Ho Chi Minh City are amazing and a great place to go to experience local life, eat the food, and experience the atmosphere of the city.  Here are some of the best markets to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh City

The Binh Tay Market, in Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown (aka the Cholon district), is a great place to go to fill up on a fabulous breakfast. It’s easy to spot the Binh Tay Market as it has a large clock tower and a vibrant exterior.

  • Address of Binh Tay Market: 57A Thap Moui, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh
  • Opening Hours of Binh Tay Market: 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City

This is Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular and biggest market.  It’s located close to some of Ho Chi Minh’s popular attractions like the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace), Saigon Opera House, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.   There are great options here, from food (staples to make your own AND some super food to eat there), clothing, handicrafts, and just about anything you can think of.

  • Address of Ben Than Market: Le Loi, Phuong Ben Thanh, District 1, Thanh Pho, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Ben Thanh Market: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
things to do in HCMC visit markets

Saigon Central Market, Ho Chi Minh City

The Saigon Central Market is a popular underground mall located right at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. There are more than 400 large and small traditional and modern stalls that sell pretty much everything. The mall also has a large food court which has nearly 100 stalls selling both local and foreign dishes like Japanese, Singaporean, and Indian. The Sen Hong stage on the ground floor is used for cultural performances held at weekends.

  • Address of Saigon Central Market: Zone B, 23/9 Park, ham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Saigon Central Market: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

The Russian Market, Ho Chi Minh City

The Russian Market, in the Central Garden building, true to its name sells goods that are from Russia or are produced in Vietnam to be exported to Russia. The market consists of three floors with around 100 stores selling different products, but the market is mostly known for the variety of warm clothes such as overcoats and windbreakers. Since most of the vendors went to study and work in Russia, you’ll find some of them speaking in Russian and sharing their stories with customers.

  • Address of Russian Market: 382 Vo Van Kiet, Co Giang Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Russian Market:  9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Saigon Square 1, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Square in the center of District 1 is a  “shopping paradise”.  It’s where you’ll find fashionable stores and designer shops such as Zara, Mango, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Calvin Klein.

  • Address of Saigon Square 1: 77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
  • Opening Hours of Saigon Square 1: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

What & Where to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is amazing for its food.  And so cheap too.  There are some great dishes that call Ho Chi Minh City home – and here’s what they are, what you must eat in Ho Chi Minh City, and where to find some of the best versions.

Eat Pho in Ho Chi Minh City

First and foremost, Pho! You most likely have heard this and have tried it already back home, but nothing beats trying it where it originated, with all of its original flavors intact. Pho is traditional rice noodles in a beef broth and topped with herbs. The Pho in Ho Chi Minh City has both its traditional flavor as well as a modern touch with its richer taste (and more herbs on top). You should definitely try them with a poached egg.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh eat Pho

Head to Anan Saigon, considered one of the best restaurants in Vietnam if you want to taste the best Pho you can have. Anan Saigon is located at 89 Ton That Dam, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh. Its prices range from VND 50,000 to VND 250,000.

Want to see more of the food in Ho Chi Minh City?  And get further afield?  Join this private motorbike tour which takes you around Ho Chi Minh City on an evening to try out different Vietnamese specialties without having to worry about where to go.  

Go to Binh Tay Market for breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City

For a fabulous breakfast, head to Binh Tay Market, where there’s a food court at the back with plenty of food stores selling a variety of food.  We tend to head to the busiest stall as they are most likely the ones with the best food! But we’ve also never had a bad meal from a food court or a market in Vietnam, and you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, so don’t hesitate to try out as much as you can and fill yourself up before you go on exploring more of the city.

  • Address of Binh Tay Market: 57A Thap Moui, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh
  • Opening Hours of Binh Tay Market: 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Eat Banh Xeo in Ho Chi Minh City

You definitely shouldn’t miss trying Banh Xeo, one of Vietnam’s most popular dishes. Banh Xeo is Vietnam’s version of pancakes, its batter is made from rice flour and coconut milk, and its filling is made with chopped pork belly, shrimp, bean sprouts, and jicama.  

things to do in HCMC banh xeo

If you want to try the best Banh Xeo, you can go to Banh Xeo An La Ghien located at 11A Tu Xuong, Vo Thi Sau Ward, District 3, Ho Chi Minh. Their prices range from VND 70,000 to VND 108,000.

Eat Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City

What’s a visit to Ho Chi Minh without trying out the famous and iconic Banh Mi? Definitely Incomplete! You’ve probably also heard of Banh Mi, a Vietnamese baguette stuffed with a combination of meat and vegetables. You can find Banh Mi in most streets that have food stalls in Ho Chi Minh City (which is a sign that you definitely should not miss out on trying this Vietnamese delight!). In a typical Banh Mi, you’ll find Vietnamese ham, mayo, pate (or paste), pickles, cucumber, spring onion, chili, soy sauce, and cilantro.  My mouth is watering just writing that. In Ho Chi Minh’s Banh Mi, you can also find some options that include grilled pork, fish cakes, sardines, and roasted pork.

things to do in HCMC eat banh mi

One of the best places to try Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City is at Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, located at 26 Le Thi Rieng, Phuong Phan Ngu Lao, District 1, Thanh Pho, Ho Chi Minh, and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s Banh Mi cost around VND 58,000.

Visit the Viet Cong Café – Ca Phe Do Phu

The Viet Cong Café or Ca Phe Do Phu isn’t just a normal café, it also played a significant role in Vietnam’s history. The Viet Cong Café was home to a Viet Cong supporter. Inside, you’ll be able to find plenty of secret passages which served as escape routes for the Viet Cong and trap doors. It’s a great place to eat with a difference. 

  • Address of Viet Cong Café: 72 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Phuong 5, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Opening Hours of Viet Cong Café:  7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Eat Snails & Seafood in Ho Chi Minh City

If you’ve heard about being invited for an “an oc” which literally means “eat snails,” don’t be alarmed (if the idea of snails alarms you), it just means eating seafood in general. Snails however may be on the menu Seafood at Ho Chi Minh is always fresh and is served in various ways, grilled, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled, you’ll most likely find a dish that will suit your taste.

Head to Ho Chi Minh’s Vinh Khanh Street, the city’s most popular seafood street, particularly oc and shellfish. Try Quan Oc Vu to try out some of the best traditional seafood (and snails). Quan Oc Vi is located at 37 Vinh Khanh, Phuong 8, District 4, Ho Chi Minh.

Pham Ngu Lao Street aka Backpacker Street

This is backpacker street.  But you don’t have to be a backpacker to enjoy it.  Sit on small plastic stools, drink cheap cold beer, and enjoy some great Vietnamese street food from kebabs to the best Banh Mi I’ve ever had.  Having a beer here is as important as experiencing pub culture when you go to the UK! Going to Pham Ngu Lao Street is a must as this will complete your Ho Chi Minh experience!

things to do in Saigon Backpacker street

How to Get Around Ho Chi Minh City

There are plenty of options to get around Ho Chi Minh City. If you’re going to travel at longer distances or you’re heading outside the city center or District 1 (which is also called the backpacker district), opt for taking a public bus. Bus fares range from VND 3,000 to VND 10,000 depending on the distance and you’ll pay cash directly to either the bus driver or the conductor, just watch what other people do. Public buses also usually stop at major attractions, so check if your bus will stop at one of the spots you want to go to. Ho Chi Minh City has 24 districts and getting around from district to district is easiest when taking the bus.

If you’re traveling short distances or prefer private transport, opt for a taxi. Getting around by taxi is easy as taxis are easily available. But be careful as some taxis charge travelers a way higher price. Check that the meter is on and that you’ve looked up an estimate as to what the cost will be, alternatively, there are also Grab Taxis available.

You can also get around by Xe Om or motorcycle taxi if you want to get around faster. Xe Om fares vary based on the distance (VND 10,00 to VND 15,000), but you can also pay by hourly booking (VND 25,000).

Take a cyclo for the ultimate eco-traveler experience! The cyclo is a three-wheeled cycle where you’ll sit at the front, while an experienced rider/driver will cycle you through the city. The cyclo is a dying mode of transportation and is mostly only used by foreign travelers. Cyclo fares range from VND 50,000 to VND 70,000.   Agree on upfront on what the cost is.

Where is Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south of Vietnam and is about 8 kilometers away from the Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Getting to Ho Chi Minh City from Tan Son Nhat Airport will take about half an hour by car.

How to get to Ho Chi Minh City

If you’re arriving at the international airport, then you’re pretty close to Ho Chi Minh City and there are a variety of ways to get into the city.  There are public buses, shuttle buses, and taxis. If you’re arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on a bus – then you’ll want to check with the specific bus company as to where their depot is in the city.

Travel Tips for Exploring Vietnam

Final Words on The Best Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

I love this city.  It’s filled with rich history, vibrant architecture, friendly locals, and buzzing nightlife. It’s got great food and a laidback style.  Arriving here and seeing the sea of motorbikes and other road users is amazing fun and it’s a great city to visit.  Immersing yourself within the culture and atmosphere in Saigon is pretty easy with the many things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. From visiting important historical spots, and taking cooking classes, to having a cold cheap beer, Ho Chi Minh City is a welcoming place perfect for travelers looking for a great experience and I can’t wait to go back.

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

ASocialNomad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.