What are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam? Whether you’re looking for good eats and coffee, history, architecture, museums, or nightlife, bucket list activities, there are tons of awesome places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.
Most visitors tend to brush off Ho Chi Minh City as just a “big city” and skip a visit here. While it’s true that 9 million people live in the city, you’ll miss out on some of the fun things to do here that make visiting Ho Chi Minh City memorable.
As expats living in Ho Chi Minh City for over 3+ years, we want to share with you insider tips on where to go in Ho Chi Minh City. We want to show you how HCMC is a noteworthy place to visit in Vietnam and a fantastic spot in South Vietnam.
Get ready for this massive Ho Chi Minh City bucket list where we’ve categorized 52 various things to do. Don’t worry. We’ve thrown in plenty of touristy and local spots in HCMC for you to explore and the admission cost in Vietnamese dong and U.S. dollars (if available).
Click on the links to jump to a certain area of what to do in Ho Chi Minh:
Since you’re in the travel planning phase, check out other helpful Vietnam posts:
- Best Vietnam travel tips to know for your first visit
- Reasons to travel to Vietnam
- Top Vietnam travel apps to use
- How to travel around Vietnam
In addition, It can be challenging to figure out how to organize a schedule, so we’ve put together a few itineraries on how to spend your time in Ho Chi Minh City. Check them out below:
- One day in Ho Chi Minh City
- Three days in Ho Chi Minh City
- Five or more days in Ho Chi Minh City
- Weekend getaway destinations from HCMC
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Touristy & Must Do Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City For Your First Visit
Here are the top things to do when visiting Ho Chi Minh City during your first visit. These are the popular, touristy attractions, yet oh so fun to explore.
1. Visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame (Nhà thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn) is one of the popular and must do things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh City due to the architecture and size. During operation, it’s one of the largest churches in the city. The architect, Jules Bourard, designed the Cathedral and the French-built it between 1863-1880. It’s been used for service since 1959.
Currently in renovation so you can only take photos from the outside. It’s expected to reopen in 2023.
Since the road is built around the cathedral, please watch out for motorbikes and vehicles when crossing the street.
Address: 1 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, District 1
2. Visit the Central Post Office.
Central Post Office (Bưu điện Trung tâm Sài Gòn) is a bright yellow French architecture building with a portrait of Ho Chi Minh, an important person in Vietnam history and proponent of Communism. The post office still operates so you can send mail here.
Buy postcards at one of the souvenir shops inside and send them from here. Expect your postcard to arrive at your next destination in two weeks.
Address: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, District 1
3. Browse through Book Street.
The Book Street (Đường Sách Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) is a great place to relax under the trees, enjoy a cup of coffee at the outdoor cafe, and browse through the bookstores for books (English books are sold), souvenirs, and gifts. It’s an adorable street to hang out and visit in the middle of the afternoon.
Address: Đường Nguyễn Văn Bình, Bến Nghé, District 1
4. Go Shopping at Ben Thanh Market.
Visit Ben Thanh Market (Chợ Bến Thành) for souvenir shopping. It’s the largest market in Ho Chi Minh City. Wander through endless aisles of clothes, ceramics, souvenir items (coffee and snacks), and more.
Don’t forget to bargain if you want to purchase something as the prices tend to be tourist prices. (Compared to the local markets, the cost of fruits and vegetables is much higher here.) If you do not want to bargain, the outer perimeter has fixed pricing.
Insider Tip: The market does not have air condoning so it’s very hot throughout the day. It’s best to visit this place early in the morning.
In the evenings, both sides of Ben Thanh Market change to a Night Market. The items for sale are the same as what is sold inside the market during the day. There is a kiosk grilling seafood if you’re interested. (At the time of publishing, the Night Market has been closed until further notice.)
Address: Đ. Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, District 1
5. Visit the Independence Palace.
The Independence Palace (also known as the Reunification Palace and Dinh Thống Nhất) is the location where the former South Vietnam president worked in the 1970s. It’s one of the must-visit attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. You can’t miss this iconic white building in District 1.
The building has four levels and rooms have been preserved in pristine conditions. You can’t walk into the rooms but can peer into them through the open doors.
You can see the living arrangements on how the former president and the family lived and the working space. It’s cool to see the cinema room, entertainment room with a bar, and helipad. The basement level is a bunker so you can see old communication equipment.
There is also a special exhibit that requires an additional entrance fee.
Outside of the palace are some old tanks collected from the Vietnam War. In addition, there is a Highlands Coffee where you can enjoy drinks in a shaded garden area.
Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, District 1
- 40,000 VND ($1.70) for adults and 10,000 VND ($.40) for children for the Palace entrance
- 65,000 VND ($2.80) for Adults or 15,000 VND ($.65) for children for Palace and Exhibit entrance
6. Learn about the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum.
The War Remnants Museum (Bảo Tàng Chứng Tích Chiến Tranh) is a good opportunity to learn about the Vietnam War (American War according to the Vietnamese) from the Vietnamese perspective and also the tragedies entailed.
Have a tissue in hand when you visit the Agent Orange section. Reading the stories about the victims exposed to the Agent Orange toxin will be emotional.
Outside of the museum, there are helicopters, tanks, and other old relics from the war. You can also learn about the tiger cages used during the war. (Other places to learn about tiger cages in Vietnam are in Con Dao Islands and Phu Quoc Islands).
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, District 3
Admission Cost: 15,000 VND ($.65)
7. Walk along Nguyen Hue Walking Street in the evenings.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street (Nguyễn Huệ) is must visit in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s located in District 1 and it’s a 900 meters (.55 miles) pedestrian-friendly walkway and perfect for people watching.
While you can visit this place at any time of the day, you’ll see more people and action in the evenings. Many vendors hang out along the walking street selling cold drinks, LED toys, and grilled rice paper with toppings (bánh tráng nướng). People also dress up in costumes to pose with visitors. Expect to pay a tip (at least 20,000 VND/$.88) to take a photo with them.
While you’re here, take a photo with the Ho Chi Minh Statue with the gorgeous City Hall (People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City) building in the backdrop.
On the weekends, the street is closed to cars and motorbikes so you can walk around with ease. Depending on your time of visit, the walking street may have a festival or event.
During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet holiday), there is a gorgeous flower display that stretches the entire walkway. The theme is based on the Lunar zodiac animals. It’s a pretty time of year to take photos.
Address: Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, District 1
8. Stop by the iconic Cafe Apartments.
Located above the Fahasa Bookstore along Nguyen Hue Walking Street is the famous Cafe Apartments. The building itself is a bit run down, yet each floor has boutique stores, cafes, and/or restaurants. You can easily go cafe hopping and try the various coffee and cold beverages here.
One of the coolest reasons to visit this place is that you’ll get an awesome aerial view of Nguyen Hue Walk Street from any of the cafes.
If you want to exercise, take the stairs up to each floor, or pay a small fee to use the elevator.
Address: 42 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, District 1
Related: What to do in Ho Chi Minh City in the rainy season
9. Take a photo of the pink Tan Dinh Church.
Located in District 3, Tan Dinh Church (Nhà thờ Tân Định) is the popular bubble-gum pink Roman Catholic church with white trimmings. It’s an Instagram-worthy spot for a photoshoot. It’s considered the second largest church in the city while the largest church is the Cathedral of Notre Dame in District 1.
Address: 289 Hai Bà Trưng, Phường 8, District 3
10. Walk or run along the Saigon River.
When you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, you can’t miss the views of the Saigon River. It is 225 kilometers (140 miles) long and flows through much of the city. During your visit, you can walk or run by the riverside. Just watch where you’re going as the walking path may be disrupted by construction or motorbikes on the sidewalk.
While the river itself is polluted and has tons of hyacinth weeds floating in the water, it’s an important way to travel in the city. You’ll see water boats and sunset cruise boats utilizing the riverway.
11. Get a massage.
After walking around the city for a few days, you deserve to treat yourself to a massage. You’re in the right city for massages since there are massage places everywhere. You can find either a full-body massage place or those focusing on specifically the head and feet. What is awesome about these massage places is that they’re affordable which may tempt you to get a massage every day.
We prefer to go to more clean and upscale massage places that offer full-body massages with lay-down beds. Even then, a 90-minute full-body massage will set you back only 520,000 VND ($22.50). Expect to pay between 430,000-520,000 VND for a massage.
Our recommendation is to visit Miu Miu Spa (Either #1 or #2 is our preference). We love getting the Shiatsu and Thai massages here.
Other choices include Golden Lotus Massage, Leelawadee Thai Therapy (in District 2), Mộc Spa, and Cát Mộc Spa.
12. Party all night long on Bui Vien Street.
Experience the craziness of Bui Vien Street (Bùi Viện) or “Backpacker’s Street” in the evenings. It’s Ho Chi Minh City’s version of Las Vegas. With flashing lights, deaf-defying blasting music, affordable food and drinks, and large crowds, the area is quite the party scene for foreigners and backpackers. Even if this isn’t your scene, it’s good to experience this road at least once.
Some of the highlights of the area include smelling the dried squid from pushcarts, seeing people spit fire from their mouths, and eating seafood on the side of the road.
You can also stay in this area for very cheap but it’s a bit far from the local attractions (about a 30-minute walk) so you’ll need to walk or take a taxi or Grab car/motorbike.
Insider Tip: Watch out for purses, phones, and belongings as motorbikes are allowed to drive through here. Therefore, petty theft occurs.
Address: Bùi Viện, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
13. Check out Ho Chi Minh City views from a rooftop bar or rooftop restaurant.
What better way to see the city from above? Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants to enjoy food and drinks. You can even see the sunset from one of the buildings here.
Here are recommended rooftop bars: Banana Mama, M-Gallery, and Chill Sky Bar.
Here are recommended rooftop restaurants: Chanh Bistro and Secret Garden.
14. Go cafe hopping.
Who loves drinking coffee and tea? Ho Chi Minh City has thousands of cafes to choose from to grab drinks all day long.
While the popular chain coffee shops (Trung Nguyên Legend, Highlands Coffee, Phúc Long and Tea, and Cộng Cà Phê) are consistent, you can easily walk around and find a coffee shop to sit in and relax. Or, you can sit on the sidewalk and watch people and vehicles pass by. (This is a very popular activity in the evenings.)
We prefer to go to cafes that offer dessert options such as Miyama Cafe, Maison Marou, and Vagabond Patisserie.
Cultural Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City
During your visit to Ho Chi Minh City, check out some of these cultural activities to learn more about the Vietnamese culture.
15. See a show at the Opera House.
The Opera House is one of the prettiest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in 1897 and is still in operation. If you love watching shows, then check one out at the Opera House. Depending on the time of year, they have the popular AO Show and Nutcracker. Check out more information here or here.
There is a small park in front of the Opera House and the Nguyen Hue Walking Street is a block over. You can hang out in the area before or after the show.
Address: 07 Công Trường Lam Sơn, Bến Nghé, District 1
16. Watch a water puppet show.
When you’re in Vietnam, one of the cultural activities to do is to watch a water puppet show. The show has wooden puppets to tell a story about Vietnamese folklore and stories. It’s a fun show to watch in the evenings and learn more about Vietnamese culture and hear the music.
Purchase discounted tickets for the water puppet show in advance and save money! Buy show tickets with dinner cruise here.
17. See gorgeous Ao Dai, traditional Vietnamese dresses, on display.
Ao dai (áo dài) is an important Vietnamese clothing used for everyday or formal celebrations. It’s a long dress with split sides and worn over pants.
There are two exhibits where you can see exquisite ao dai on displays. In District 1, along Nguyen Hue Walking Street, there is a small exhibit with a few dozen ao dais on display. The ao dai’s bright colors and embroideries are gorgeous! The downside is that this place is tiny so you can go through this in a few minutes.
In District 9, there is a small museum and you can rent an ao dai to take photos around the premises. It’s more worth it to visit this place since there will be more to see here. More information about this place is here.
Ao Dai Exhibition Address: Second floor, 77 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, District 1
Ao Dai Museum Address: 206/19, 30 Long Thuận, Long Phước, District 9
18. Rent an Ao Dai and go on a photo shoot.
If you’re not able to visit the Ao Dai Museum, consider renting an ao dai and go on a photoshoot throughout the city center’s attractions.
19. Visit Suoi Tien Theme Park.
Suoi Tien Amusement Park (Công viên văn hóa Suối Tiên) is an interesting place to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s an unusual theme park where there are Buddhist influences and statues of Vietnamese folklore stories everywhere. Some things are a bit quirky to see as there isn’t any signage describing the statue.
This place has plenty of games and theme park attractions such as go-karting and Ferris wheels, yet these require an additional admission cost. Depending on when you visit Suoi Tien, you can catch the seasonal parade.
There is also a waterpark here which is an ideal spot to cool off from the heat.
Address: 120 Xa lộ Hà Nội, Phường Tân Phú, District 9
Admission: 120,000 VND ($5.20) adults and 60,000 VND ($2.60) children (1-1.4 meters in height); games and waterpark is extra
Bucket List Worthy & Unique Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City
Depending on the amount of time you have in Ho Chi Minh City, consider adding a few of these bucket list attractions to your HCMC itinerary.
20. Visit the Landmark 81 and Vinhomes Central Park.
Located in Binh Thanh District, Landmark 81 is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City. You can’t miss it when you’re in the city. During the evenings, the 81-floored building lights up in different colors so you can easily see this building from the airport and city center.
While you’re here, wander through the Vincom shopping mall, visit the observatory deck (for an additional fee), try one of the restaurants on the upper floors, and/or take a stroll through the gorgeous Vinhomes Central Park.
Vinhomes Central Park is a 43.91 hectares (108 acres) park that has two playground areas for children, two overlook areas, a Japanese garden, a large lawn area, a BBQ area, sports courts, and a nice walking path along the riverfront. It’s one of the greenest places that you’ll visit in Ho Chi Minh City!
Depending on your time of visit, check out the sunset to see the purple and orange skies. Or, fly your kite on the lawn area.
Note: We live in Vinhomes Central Park so we absolutely love this park!
Address: 772 Điện Biên Phủ, Phường 1, Bình Thạnh
21. Check out the city views from Saigon Skydeck’s observation deck.
We mentioned above how you can visit Landmark 81 to see the views of the city. Another good place to see the city is from Saigon Skydeck’s observation deck in the Bitexco Financial Building in District 1. It’s within walking distance from Nguyen Hue Walking Street.
The best time to visit the observation deck is early in the morning with fewer crowds or late in the afternoon to see the sunset.
Read this Saigon Skydeck visitor guide for more information about this place.
Book your ticket to skip the lines at the Saigon Skydeck.
22. Pose with fun, interactive artwork at Artinus 3D Art Museum.
One of the unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is to take photos with 3D interactive artwork at Artinus 3D Art Museum. Pose with ocean creatures, King Kong, animals, dinosaurs, Vietnam landscapes, and more 3D artwork. It’s a fun place for children and adults to enjoy for a few hours.
Tip: You can ask the workers to help take photos of you. It’s recommended to visit on a weekday with fewer crowds.
Read more about our experiences at Artinus 3D Art Museum here.
Address: 2 Đường số 9, Khu đô thị Him Lam, District 7
- 230,000 VND ($10) for adults and 180,000 VND ($7.80) for children (90cm-130cm/35 inch-51 inch) (Tuesday-Friday)
- 280,000 VND ($12.10) for adults and 230,000 VND ($10) for children (Weekends & Holidays)
23. Visit the Starlight Crescent Bridge (Rainbow Bridge) at night.
Did you know that there is a rainbow-colored bridge that lights up at night? When visiting District 7’s Crescent Mall, check out the Starlight Crescent Bridge. The bridge lights up from 5:30pm-10:00pm on Thursdays to Sundays.
Address: 101 Tôn Dật Tiên, Tân Phú, District 7 (to Crescent Mall)
24. Visit the Fine Arts Museum.
The Fine Arts Museum is a gorgeous building to wander through and take photos. Three main buildings have artwork, pottery, sculptures, and paintings. The exhibits change often so you can find something new to see on every visit. This place isn’t crowded so you can observe the artwork in peace (although, there won’t be much description of the artwork.)
Address: 97A Phó Đức Chính, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, District 1
Admission: 30,000 VND ($1.30)
25. Learn about the gems at the Geology Museum.
We found out about the Geology Museum while reading this article from the Saigoneer. It’s a small place along the corner of Nguyen Binh Kiem and Nguyen Huu Canh, where you can look at a variety of gems and stones. You can visit this place if you have time or are in the area. It’s located on the same street as the Saigon Zoo.
Address: 2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Bến Nghé, District 1
26. Visit the Southern Women’s History Museum.
Southern Women’s History Museum is one of the hidden gems of Ho Chi Minh City. Located in District 3, it’s where you can learn about important women and their contributions during Vietnam’s history. There are a couple of levels where you can see photos of these women, read about their efforts (although, it’s in Vietnamese), and see artifacts and some clothing. It’s a good stopping point if you have the time.
Address: 202 Võ Thị Sáu, Phường 7, District 3
Admission: Free. You need to wear a visitor’s badge when visiting the museum.
27. Explore Chinatown in District 5.
One of the unique areas to explore is Chinatown (Chợ Lớn) in District 5. There are lots of temples and pagodas to explore such as Thien Hau Temple and Quan Am Pagoda.
Or, you can visit the popular Hao Si Phuong apartment alleyway where many Chinese people live. It’s a colorful complex to take photos. You used to be able to take a photo on the second level but the crowds disrupted the residents’ lifestyle. Now it’s been restricted to the lower level.
If you’re craving authentic Chinese or Cantonese-style foods, then you can easily find them here. Dim sum and noodle shops are plentiful in this area. Two recommended dim sum places are Baoz Dim Sum and Kowloon Bingsutt.
During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet holiday), the area is festive with red lanterns and New Year decorations. Street vendors sell these decorations.
28. Throw axes at Big Daddy’s.
Need to destress from your vacation? Consider throwing axes into a wooden block at Big Daddy’s. It’s one of the local’s favorite things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and is highly recommended in the Female Expat Facebook group. Besides ax throwing, you can do air hockey and shuffleboard.
Address: 15 street 12, Khu Phố 5, District 2
29. Stroll through the beautiful Buu Long Pagoda.
Buu Long Pagoda is a bucket list attraction to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. Located in District 9, this gorgeous Buddhist temple is a fantastic excursion from Ho Chi Minh’s city center. Take the time to admire the white and gold temple and the architecture.
Address: 81 Nguyễn Xiển, Long Bình, District 9
30. Take a haunted motorbike tour.
Want to visit abandoned areas and hear ghost stories? Sign up for a haunted motorbike tour where you get to see these abandoned houses and buildings and other spooky areas.
31. See the sunset from a river cruise.
Another cool way to see Ho Chi Minh City is by taking a river cruise to see the sunset. The late afternoon is a fantastic time to see the colorful skies of orange, purples, and pink colors with the high-rise buildings. Some of the cruises offer dinner as well.
We’ve seen Saigon Princess along the river or you can consider taking this option which includes dinner.
32. Cool off at the Dam Sen Waterpark.
Ho Chi Minh City is hot and humid all year round, so head to the Dam Sen Waterpark to cool off from the heat. There are tons of waterslides and pools to swim in. It’s a popular weekend spot for families and children, so you may consider visiting on a weekday.
Address: Số 3 Hòa Bình, Phường 3, District 11
- Hoa Binh Gate: 190,000 VND ($8.20) for adults and 150,000 VND ($6.50) for children (.80-1.4 meters/32 inch-55 inch) (if entry before 4:00pm); 150,000 VND ($6.50) for adults and 110,000 VND ($4.80) for children (if entry after 4:00pm)
- International Gate: 150,000 VND ($6.50) for adults and 130,000 VND ($5.60) for children (if entry before 4:00pm)
33. Play indoor mini-golf at Ballers.
Did you know that you can play mini-golf indoors? Spend a few hours and check out the fun options at Ballers. You can also order drinks, craft beer, and food here.
Address: 236/29/2H, Điện Biên Phủ, Phường 17, Binh Thanh District
Nature Areas in Ho Chi Minh City
One of the popular topics that appear in the HCMC Expat Facebook groups is where to find green areas in Ho Chi Minh City. The city is growing rapidly and has more high-rises than before. If you need some greenery and nature spots in Ho Chi Minh City, check out the following spots.
34. Enjoy the greenery at Binh Quoi Tourist Village.
If you’re seeking some greenery and green areas in Ho Chi Minh City, head to Binh Quoi Tourist Village in Binh Thanh District. It’s a quiet oasis away from the city center.
Visit in the early afternoon to wander through the monkey bridges (a popular walkway in the Mekong Delta), see giant lotus leaves, go fishing or rowing, or swimming.
Stay in this area for dinner as the food served at the dinner buffet is delicious. The buffet is available on the weekends and holidays at Binh Quoi 1, 2, and 3 locations. You get to choose from a variety of Vietnamese cuisines such as grilled seafood and meat, salad, Vietnamese sizzling pancakes (bánh xèo), dessert, and more. Feel free to try a few things and go back for seconds or thirds! (As a heads up, there are a lot of mosquitoes here in the evenings so bring insect spray).
The buffet price is between 290,000-320,000 VND ($12.60-$14) for adults and 170,000-190,000 VND ($7.40-$8.30) for children.
It’s best to have your own transportation here such as a motorbike or hire a Grab car or motorbike to return to your accommodation.
Address: Bình Quới, Phường 28, Bình Thạnh District
35. Relax at Van Thanh Park.
If you’re missing a pool or some greenery, head to Van Thanh Park in Binh Thanh District. There is a large pool to cool off from the mid-afternoon heat.
Although, this place does get very crowded on the weekends. While you’re here, you can also enjoy a meal next to the lake or walk around the park area for some fresh air.
Address: 10 Điện Biên Phủ, Vinhomes Tân Cảng, Binh Thanh District
36. Visit the Tao Dan Park.
Nearby Ben Thanh Market is the Tao Dan Park (Công Viên Tao Đàn). It’s another green place to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll often see groups of people congregating here for team-building activities, practicing dance moves, doing tai chi, running, or just hanging out.
As you walk through the park, there are a variety of sculptures and the most notable one is the mini Cham Tower (similar to the Po Nagar Cham Tower in Nha Trang, Banh It Towers in Quy Nhon, and Po Shanu Cham Tower nearby Mui Ne).
During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet holiday), check out this park and see many vendors selling flowers and plants.
Address: Trương Định, Phường Bến Thành, District 1
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of stores and malls to satisfy your shopping needs. Don’t forget to bargain if prices aren’t marked or if you’re visiting a local market area.
37. Wander around the streets for the local boutique shops.
Ho Chi Minh City has small, boutique shops everywhere. You can buy plenty of souvenirs and unique gifts at any of these places. If you’re in District 1, you can find shops along Le Loi Street such as Ginkgo T-Shirts (where there are awesome Vietnamese-designed shirts).
38. Find bargains at the Russian Market.
Shop until you drop at the Russian Market. Located in District 1, this shopping center is known to have bargain prices and have larger size clothes for Westerners. They also have jackets and long pants available for outdoor activities or if you’re visiting a colder area of Vietnam such as Northern Vietnam (ie: Sapa) in wintertime or Dalat in the Central Highlands.
Address: 328 Võ Văn Kiệt, Phường Cô Giang, District 1
39. Stop by the shopping malls for more shopping.
Check out the large shopping malls with department stores and popular brands. In District 1, head to Saigon Centre/Takashimaya, Vincom Mall, and Parkson Mall. You can also stop by if you need a place for air-conditioning in the middle of the day. It gets hot and humid walking around.
Another place for air-conditioning shopping centers is Saigon Square, which is across from the Saigon Centre. It has similar stuff to Ben Thanh Market but the sellers aren’t as aggressive.
Foodie Experiences in Ho Chi Minh City
40. Try as many restaurants and street food as possible.
Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect place for foodies. Eat as much as you can here.
You can choose from a variety of delicious foods from Vietnamese street food to international cuisine. There are also tons of vegetarian and vegan spots. (The entire country is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.)
Most of the foods that you’ve eaten at home are available in Ho Chi Minh City. So yes, you can get your pizzas and burgers here if you need Western food. Read our post on the top burgers spots to try here.
Plus, there are so many incredible desserts to try. Check out our recommendations of the best dessert places to visit here.
Our HCMC restaurant guide is still in the works, yet we recommend Japanese food here. You’ll get authentic Japanese food and flavors here as there is a high population of Japanese expats living in HCMC. There are 3 Japanese areas in HCMC – Le Thanh Ton in District 1, Pham Viet Chanh in Binh Thanh District, and several streets in District 2. Check out our affordable Japanese restaurant guide here for more details.
41. Have a meal in the dark at Noir.
What is it like eating a meal in the dark? Try it at Noir Restaurant. This restaurant hires deaf and blind people to work at the Noir Restaurant and neighboring spa and vegetarian restaurant. Visit this restaurant either for lunch or dinner. We visited for lunch on a weekend and had the dining area to ourselves.
This is a memorable experience as you get to eat a 10+ course meal (appetizer, main entrees, and dessert) completely in the dark. You have to use your other senses to figure out what you’re eating. It’s harder than it looks to determine what you’re eating. Guessing is part of the fun!
One of the challenges that we had is that we dropped a lot of food on our clothes and napkins.
Tip: Hold the bowls up to your mouth to scoop the food. Trying to eat properly won’t work.
Once you finish your meal, the waiter will review what you’ve eaten so you can see whether you’ve guessed correctly.
Click here to get a discount for Noir Restaurant.
Address: 180D Hai Bà Trưng, Đa Kao, District 1
42. Eat your way through the Cambodia Market.
Interested in eating Cambodian food in Ho Chi Minh City? Check out the Cambodia Market (Chợ Lê Hồng Phong), located in District 10. It’s a small alley where Vietnamese Cambodian vendors sell street food here. Try Cambodian foods such as hủ tiếu Nam Vang (a noodle soup that originated from Cambodia) and chè (sweet desserts).
While you’re in the area, you can also buy fresh flowers at Ho Thi Ky Market.
Address: Alley 374/51, Lê Hồng Phong, Phường 1, District 10
43. Learn how to cook Vietnamese food.
One of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is to take a cooking class. After eating your way through the city, add a cooking class to your itinerary. You’ll have a memorable experience bringing the taste of Vietnam back home.
Many of the cooking classes have a market tour and then you get hands-on experience in making your favorite Vietnamese dishes. If you’re a vegetarian, notify the cooking center and they can alter the recipes for a vegetarian version. Afterward, you get to eat your creation (you won’t leave hungry.)
Here is a recommended cooking class to take:
44. Learn how to brew Vietnamese tea and coffee.
Did you know that Vietnamese people love drinking coffee and tea? If you’re interested in learning about how to brew tea and coffee using the phin to perfection, sign up for this class and get insider tips from an expert!
45. Go on a food tour.
If you have an evening or two, consider going on a food tour by motorbike or walking. You’ll meet your local guide at your accommodation or specific meeting spot and eat your way through the night. You get the chance to try the hottest spots where the locals eat street food. Plus, it’s an opportunity to chat with a local and hear his/her experience living in Ho Chi Minh City.
Check out these food tours here:
Day Excursions from Ho Chi Minh City
After spending a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, consider taking a day trip from the city. Whether you want to visit a beach, see wildlife, or go hiking, there are plenty of activities to experience.
Click here for the full list of day trip options that you can take from Ho Chi Minh.
46. Explore the Mekong Delta and see life along the delta.
The closest city along the Mekong Delta is Ben Tre, but you can also visit Can Tho and An Giang. (Although, these areas will be a very LONG day trip and you’ll need to leave in the middle of the night.
On a Ben Tre day tour, you visit a coconut candy factory, ride a sampan along the Mekong River, listen to traditional Vietnamese music, and may have a chance to catch fish for your lunch. It’s touristy, yet a fun day to see Ben Tre and the surrounding area.
47. Explore Tan Lap Floating Village in Long An.
One of the pretty places to visit outside of Ho Chi Minh City is Tan Lap Floating Village (Làng Nổi Tân Lập) in Long An. It’s an ecotourism nature site along the Mekong Delta.
You get the chance to ride a sampan along the river and pass through the Melaleuca Forest, walk through the cajuput forests and mangroves area, and enjoy the peace and quiet. You can also walk across monkey bridges, which are famous in the Mekong Delta, to cross over the rivers.
Check out our Tan Lap Floating Village guide here.
48. Visit Vung Tau to spend the day on the beach or go hiking.
Vung Tau is only two hours away from Ho Chi Minh City, so it’s easy to visit as a day trip (or longer if you have more time).
While most people hang out at the beaches or the resorts, you can easily spend your day hiking. There are some incredible mountains to conquer in the area. We recommend hiking Dinh Mountain, Big Mountain, or Minh Dam Mountain. Check out our guides to learn more about these hikes.
49. Learn about the Caodaism religion at the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh.
The Cao Dai Temple is a bucket list place to visit in South Vietnam. Inside the building has gorgeous sculptures and mosaic work. Plus, you can see the prayers occurring several times a day.
Although it’s in Tay Ninh Province, you can combine a visit with hiking Black Virgin Mountain and/or visiting Cu Chi Tunnels.
Click here for a Black Virgin Mountain, Cu Chi, and Cao Dai tour.
Address: Phạm Hộ Pháp, Phường Long Hoa, Thị xã, Hoà Thành, Tây Ninh
50. Climb the highest summit in South Vietnam, Black Virgin Mountain.
If you’re a hiker and need some nature during your extended stay in Ho Chi Minh City, hike Black Virgin Mountain (Núi Bà Đen). It’s the highest mountain in South Vietnam and is located in Tay Ninh Province. You’ll need at least 4-6 hours to hike Black Virgin Mountain as it’s tough to climb up to 986 meters (3,235 feet).
Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the Sun World Ba Den theme park and see the gorgeous flower topiary. Don’t forget to take the photo with the triangle summit sign!
Tip: Take the cable car if you do not want to climb up. Buy discounted tickets here.
51. Spend the day with the monkeys at Can Gio Island.
Want to see wild monkeys roaming around? Head to Can Gio Island, also referred to as Monkey Island. Can Gio is a biosphere reserve and UNESCO recognized area.
When you first enter Can Gio Island, you’ll see hundreds of wild monkeys everywhere. Watch out for your belongings since they’ll take anything – hats, water bottles, sunglasses, and phones.
You can also walk further into the reserve to see the mangrove trees, statues of soldiers during the Vietnam War time frame as this area was used as a base, or take a speedboat through the waters.
Read more about visiting Can Gio Island here.
52. Learn how the Viet Cong Soldiers lived in the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels is one of the best day trips to take from Ho Chi Minh City. You get the opportunity to learn about the Viet Cong Soldiers and how they utilized over 250 kilometers (155 miles) of underground tunnels to fight in the Vietnam War.
There are two tunnels to visit – Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Most tours head to Ben Dinh since the tunnels are wider for foreigners. If you want to visit an original tunnel, head to Ben Duoc.
The best part about this trip is crawling into the underground Cu Chi Tunnels that were used during the Vietnam War. The space is very tight and can be claustrophobic. Bats also fly around in the tunnels.
If you’re renting a motorbike, you can visit Cu Chi Tunnels yourself or schedule a day tour. You can choose one of these day tours:
Final Thoughts about Ho Chi Minh City’s Top Things to Do
Which of these Ho Chi Minh City attractions do you want to visit? Since this list is HUGE, you can easily spend an extended amount of time exploring the best of Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Feel free to ask a question in the comment section below for any clarification on any of these attractions.
To continue your travels from Ho Chi Minh City, explore more Vietnam posts here:
- Best Vietnam islands to visit
- What to do in Central Vietnam
- Vietnam’s Off the Beaten Track Places to visit
- Vietnam’s UNESCO sites
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