Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is Vietnam’s commercial hub and a busy city with motorbikes honking in all directions. This developing metropolitan is famous for its exceptional Vietnamese cuisines, trendy cafes and sky bars, hidden charms, and the desired shopping destination. Since the French Colonial days to the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City has had a dark history; and a visit to it will allow you to learn more from the Vietnamese side of the story and how the locals fought for independence and liberation. With many things to do, here is our local guide on the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
As one of the leading attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most beautiful and recognizable landmarks at the Cong Xa Paris Square. This building is still in superb condition despite constructed in the late 1800s. Within the Post Office, one of the oldest government working structures in the city, steel pillars support the arched and massively high ceilings. In the center of the vast space, there is a memorial picture of Ho Chi Minh. Besides the convenience of centrally located ATMs, telephone booths, and souvenir shops, this Post Office attracts visitors to utilize the traditional mailing method of mailing a postcard home from Vietnam.
Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 7 AM - 6 PM
Centrally situated and across from the Saigon Central Post Office, this landmark was designed by a French architect, J. Bourad, in the 1870s when it was the highest structure in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Due to its prime location, the Cathedral is one of the top attractions in the city. Directly in front of the Cathedral is an astonishing square decorated with flowers and the Statue of the Lady of Peace. This center square is a preferred destination for young locals to gather and meet up for some street foods and light snacks in the evening after the heat has cooled down. This top attraction in Ho Chi Minh City is also an ideal pre-wedding and graduation photoshoot location.
Note: The Notre Dame Cathedral is currently closed to visitors for renovation until the end of 2017. Outside visit is possible.
Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 8 AM - 4 PM
The Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, is one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly, this stood the Norodom Palace, which was a home and workplace for the French during their colonial rule.
This was the infamous site that ended the war when the tanks crashed through the iron gates of the Palace symbolizing the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
Surrounded by tropical gardens and trees, this landmark brings travelers back to the 1960s era when they are inside because of secretive and war-time furnished rooms. On the rooftop of this Palace, there is an old helicopter used by the President of South Vietnam to escape in events of emergency. Now, the Palace is still used to host important national events.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 7:30 - 12 AM and 1 - 4 PM
Pricing: VND 40,000
If you love learning about history, this museum of war crimes and graphic images might bring compelling attention to you. Not only does it give you a glimpse of the Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War, but it also displays documented atrocities rarely mention in Western history textbooks. Previous known as the Museum of American War Crimes until 1993, the War Remnant Museum is an attraction in Ho Chi Minh City that brings a powerful message of the costs of wars, the anti-war movement, and the long-term effect of Agent Orange Dioxin.
Address: 28 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 7:30 AM - 6 PM
Pricing: VND 15,000
Without a doubt, Ben Thanh market is one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. It claims to have over 3,000 vendors selling almost everything you might need from ceramics, clothes, handbags, souvenirs, Vietnamese noodle soups, spring rolls, sugarcane drinks, and fruits, etc. As a general rule, when items don't have fixed prices display, you will need to bargain.
Around 6 PM, the market closes inside, but vendors will start setting up the night stalls surrounding the market square. Ben Thanh is one of the top night markets in Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 6 AM - 12 PM
Also known as the backpacker's area, sitting parallel to Pham Ngu Lao Street, this street gets very lively and busy at night, especially on the holidays and weekends. Bui Vien is where you can expect to get cheap meals, beers, and meet other travelers from around the world. When walking around crowded places, do be mindful of your personal belongings.
Since July 2017, to promote tourism and give visitors an opportunity to experience the artistic and cultural side of Vietnam safely, the city has turned it into a walking street.
The area is also home to a host of budget accommodations, so in case you're wishing to experience the energetic nightlife in Ho Chi Minh but still want to stay under budget, check for the hotels in Bui Vien Street.
Address: Bui Vien Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 6 PM - 2 AM
Find backpackers' hostels and budget hotels in Ho Chi Minh below:
Nguyen Hue Walking Street was officially opened in April 2015. The street stretches from the People's Committee Building with the Ho Chi Minh Statue all the way to the Saigon River on Ton Duc Thang Street. This area becomes lively and busy at night, and it is an excellent place to hang out with many food stalls. We recommend one of the free attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
On weekdays, vehicles are allowed to go along Nguyen Hue Street, but from 6 PM to 1 AM on the weekends, all kinds of transportation are restricted.
Address: Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: All day
Arguably, Thien Hau Temple is one of the top religious attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. This serene Chinese temple is located in District 5 of Saigon's Chinatown, and it's possible to get here by bus or a taxi. We recommend visiting in the morning because you will be able to see locals praying, worshipping their gods and the spirits. On the roof of the temple, many ceramic figurines illustrate a wide range of religious beliefs and folklore.
If you would like to take part in the cultural activity, at the back of the temple, you can buy spiral incense and make a wish by writing your wish on a piece of red paper. The locals will then help you attach the paper to the incense and hang it on the ceiling, and it will take about a week before it burns out.
Address: 710 Nguyen Trai, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 7 AM - 6 PM
Binh Tay market is also known as Cholon Market in Chinatown, and it is one of the largest wholesale local markets in Ho Chi Minh City. This attraction has a vast selection of dried goods, such as fruits, nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds), and seafood. This exciting but messy local market is the place to go if you wish to see real trades used by locals. Due to the crowdedness and narrow passageways, we don't recommend this attraction to families with children.
Note: Binh Tay is currently closed for renovation and stalls are relocated to nearby containers outside.
Address: 57 Thap Muoi, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City
The Cu Chi Tunnels visit is one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, located 45 KM - 65 KM Northwest of the city. Currently, there are 2 tunnel sites opened to visitors: Ben Dinh Tunnels and Ben Duoc Tunnels. To learn more about the difference between the 2 sites, visit our Cu Chi Tunnels page. A visit to the tunnels not only gives you insights into the Vietnam War but also how the people survived and used the tunnels to their advantage fighting against the better-equipped Americans. This historical and strategic fighting area is worth a visit to understand the Vietnam War better, and it is unlike any attractions you have ever seen.
We don't recommend the tunnels to any who is claustrophobic or has high blood pressure.
Shooting range at the Cu Chi Tunnels
Address: Phu Hiep Hamlet, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 9 AM - 4 PM
Pricing: VND 90,000
Whether you are interested in local culture and markets, architecture, history, or art, Ho Chi Minh City has many top attractions for everyone to enjoy and explore. To learn more about other things to do, check out our fun motorbike Ho Chi Minh tours.
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