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Welcome To Ho Chi Minh City!
Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam. I was completely captivated by this bustling city and everything it had to offer. This busy Asian metropolis perfectly blends the old with the new. Ho Chi Minh City is a must-visit for any traveller seeking rich history and vibrant street life, especially if you’re backpacking South East Asia.
There's no shortage of amazing sights and experiences to be had in this vibrant city. Many of the top attractions, such as the City Hall and Saigon Post Office, are located within close proximity of each other and can easily be visited in one day. However, some other must-see destinations, like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong River Delta, require a bit more time and planning. With that said, I recommend spending at least 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City to comfortably cover everything on this list and truly experience all the city has to offer.
1. Ho Chi Minh Statue & City Hall
Let’s kick off this list by understanding how Ho Chi Minh City got its name.
Ho Chi Minh City is named after Ho Chi Minh (no surprises here) — but who was Ho Chi Minh?
Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the Vietnamese Revolution to fight against the French colonials. He inspired the Vietnamese with the hope of independence throughout the war with the American Army from the 50s to the 70s. In 1975, the North of Vietnam won the war and changed the name of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City, in honour of their hero.
To pay tribute to his memory, a magnificent statue of Ho Chi Minh is placed right in front of the grand City Hall, in the heart of the city. It's impossible to miss this iconic landmark, as you're sure to walk through this area during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
2. War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is an essential destination for anyone seeking to understand the true effects of the US-Vietnam War (1954-1975) on the Vietnamese people. The War Remnants Museum displays documents, images, and artifacts about the crimes and consequences of the war. To understand the struggle of the Vietnamese people, you must visit the War Remnants Museum.
This one’s bound to break your heart. While it may not be an enjoyable experience, it's a vital one that will leave a lasting impact on you. Visiting this museum was by far the most moving 2 hours I had in Vietnam.
When it comes to the War Remnants Museum, it's not a matter of whether you shed tears, but rather on which floor you shed them. This poignant museum is not for the faint of heart, and the exhibits can be emotionally overwhelming.
3. Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground tunnels stretching more than 200 kilometres. These tunnels were used by Viet Cong to hide from the US during the US-Vietnam War (1954-1975).
A visit to Cu Chi Tunnels will teach you more about the US-Vietnam War from a different perspective. More importantly, you will be able to get inside and experience the tunnel system which is a unique adventure! It’s crazy to imagine how people spent years of their lives in these tunnels fighting for their survival.
I took a half-day tour with Vietnam Adventure Tours and it was a powerful and enriching experience! Our tour guide was a commander in the war and he told us some spine-chilling stories of battle and survival. It’s that level of depth and personalization that made this tour outstanding.
Here’s a link to the tour I took*:
4. Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a vibrant and buzzing South-East Asian market that sells anything and everything at super cheap prices. You’re bound to find local souvenirs, counterfeit clothing, spices, teas, accessories, and more when you’re shopping at Ben Thanh Market. The quality here isn’t generally top-notch, but the prices are surely unbeatable.
And don’t forget to haggle! Bargaining is a must here. If you don’t bargain, you’ll definitely be getting ripped off.
5. Bui Vien Street
If you like a solid night out, Bui Vien Street is your answer. Bui Vien Street is a pedestrian-only street in Ho Chi Minh City in which all the bars and clubs are pouring out into the street in classic South East Asian style. It’s chaotic, it’s loud, and it’s messy — all in the best way possible!
Bui Vien Street Comes alive at night with its flashing lights, literally screaming your name. Bui Vien Street is a must-visit for any traveller in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you’re looking to meet other travellers and have a fun night out, I highly recommend signing up for the Saigon Pub Crawl. The host, Steve, is an awesome guy who’ll take you to the best spots and make sure you have a safe and fun time!
You can sign up for the pub crawl here: Saigon Pub Crawl
6. Jade Emperor Pagoda
The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist temple in Ho Chi Minh City and is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.
The pagoda was built in the early 1900s by Chinese immigrants and is dedicated to the Jade Emperor, a Taoist deity who ruled over heaven and earth. The temple is famous for its intricate architecture, which features colourful murals and ornate statuary. The temple is also known for its collection of turtle and tortoise statues, which are believed to bring good luck and longevity.
7. Mekong River Delta
The Mekong River Delta, also known as the "Nine Dragon River Delta" in Vietnamese, is a vast region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea. The delta is one of the largest and most densely populated areas of Vietnam and is an important agricultural and economic region for the country.
The Mekong River Delta is also a popular tourist destination, with visitors coming to explore its floating markets, traditional villages, and beautiful scenery. The delta is also home to several national parks and nature reserves, which are home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including the rare and endangered Indochinese tiger.
If you have a day to spare, book yourself a day trip here*:
8. The Cafe Apartments
This was personally one of the most authentic experiences I had in Ho Chi Minh City. The Cafe Apartments is a 6-storey old and rundown building that is filled with cafes and restaurants serving the best Vietnamese coffee and food. The rundown nature of the building adds to the charm.
I ended up visiting Madam Quyen on the 5th floor of this building and had the best Vietnamese Egg Coffee (yes, egg coffee is a thing here)! It surely made my day 👌
9. Saigon Post Office
The Saigon Post Office is one of those charming old-school buildings whose sole draw is the vibe. If you want a couple of pics for the gram, this one’s for you.
Though this one's slightly overrate IMO, it’s right in the centre of town and doesn't take more than 20 mins to explore. Stop by here if you’re passing by and don’t forget send a postcard to your grandma, best friend, or your pet back home.
10. Book Street
If you like getting lost in stories, literally, then this one is for you. Book Street is a pedestrian-only street in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City with plenty of book street vendors, bookstores, and open-air cafes.
This one’s also in the city centre, so make sure you take a stroll through here when you’re passing by — or stop by for an iced Vietnamese coffee!
11. Independence Palace
Also known as Reunification Palace, Independence Palace was originally built in the 1960s as the official residence of the President of South Vietnam, but it became famous worldwide for its role in the fall of Saigon in 1975, when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its gates, signalling the end of the Vietnam War.
The Independence Palace is a popular tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, and visitors can explore the various rooms and exhibits inside. There are some tours you could take to see the underground tunnels beneath the Palace, which were used during the Vietnam War as a command centre and bomb shelter.
12. Tan Dinh, The Pink Church
Saigon’s famous Tan Dinh church is considered one of the most beautiful architectural structures in Ho Chi Minh City with a combination of Gothic, Roman, and Baroque designs.
This structure is pink from head to toe and is famously known as The Pink Church. This one literally looks like it’s straight out of a Disney film.
13. Saigon Skydeck
If you’re on the hunt for the best vantage point in Ho Chi Minh City, this is it. Look no further and catch a long elevator ride to the top of Bitexco Financial Tower to enjoy the most beautiful views of Ho Chi Minh City.
The observation deck here gives you a 360 degree view of the Ho Chi Minh City from 9:30 AM till 9:30 PM. Come and visit when you please, your eyes will leave happy!
Other Vietnam Travel Guides
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, check out these guides I created on Hanoi and Hoi An.
Discover the bustling charm, attractions, and natural beauty of Hanoi, a city perfect for solo travellers, backpackers, and digital nomads.
Discover the captivating charm of Hoi An, a Vietnamese small city gem that allures solo travellers, backpackers, and digital nomads.