An independent selection of the best things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City. No paid placements, no advertorial.

Ho Chi Minh City
see and do guide

Introduction

Last updated 26 Mar 2015

Saigon may not be a city of grand monuments, museums or architecture - but there are plenty of things to keep you busy. And what it lacks in formal attractions, it more than makes up for in energy, spirit and uniqueness.

Of the "formal' sights, the historic War Remnants Museum and the former Presidential Palace - now known as the Reunification Hall, are compulsory visits.

If history’s your thing, you’ll find plenty of other fascinating tidbits from the Vietnam War spread around town. 

French colonial era icons - the Continental Hotel, the Opera House, the People’s Committee Building, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office are easily visited in a walk around the city centre.

Tim Doling, a local historian, runs tours of the city exploring architecture and history. He struggles to stay ahead of the city's ferocious wrecking ball.

It's worth noting that since late 2014, Saigon's downtown area has faced major disruption as the construction of a new metro system and other public works cause the closure of many major roads - including the heart of the city. Keep this in mind as you plan your days.

A O Show - part musical, part circus and part theatre - charms locals and visitors most nights with its tale of Vietnam's evolution from rural to urban life. It's also a good opportunity to get inside the colonial era Opera House.

Cholon, Saigon’s frenetic Chinatown, is a great place to spend a half day. Incredibly, its streets are even more chaotic than downtown Saigon. You can seek refuge in the relative serenity of the colourful Chinese pagodas.

Since food is a major highlight of a visit here, make sure you plan out your eating experiences. Ben Thanh Market, the central market, is a great place to get an education in local cuisine while browsing hundreds of market stalls selling clothes, souvenirs, jewellery and loads more.

Do as much as you can on foot. Saigon is not a great walking city - pavements are cluttered, motorcycles often mount them agressively and it can be very hot. But most sights are close by District 1 and walking will definitely give you a better sense of the place. If you tire of walking or the heat gets to you, jump in a cyclo or a taxi.

Not far from Saigon, the Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi are also well worth a look. Allow half a day for these and visit the tunnels at Ben Duoc rather than the slightly closer more touristy complex and Benh Dinh.

Consider visiting Cu Chi by boat to include some river time in your stay.

Many travellers also combine the Cu Chi tunnels with a visit to the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh. It's a long day but it includes two very interesting sights and some beautiful rural scenes.



Day trips to My Tho in the Mekong Delta are also commonly taken from Saigon.

Read more introduction

Museums - the best of Saigon's museums

A guide to Saigon's best museums - as well as some of the quirky less-visited places. We list three for those with limited time... Read more
Museums - the best of Saigon's museums
All within easy reach of downtown

Nui Dat, Long Tan Cross Memorial and Vung Tau day trip

A visit to the former Australian military base at Nui Dat, the Long Tan Cross and Vung Tau, can be covered in a day from Saigon... Read more

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Nui Dat, Long Tan Cross Memorial and Vung Tau day trip
Baria Vung Tau

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Saigon's Art Galleries

Saigon's art scene runs deeper than the decorative art conspicuously scattered around Dong Khoi and nearby streets. Uncovering... Read more

3A Station Saigon

3A STATION WAS DEMOLISHED IN MAY 2017 FOR A NEW COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT. Read more

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3A Station Saigon
3A Tôn Đức Thắng, P. Bến Nghé, Q.1 Ho Chi Minh City - on the riverfront

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Antique Street - Le Cong Kieu St, Saigon

Saigon’s antique market may not be the place for the most discerning collectors but there are plenty of nice finds be they... Read more

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Antique Street - Le Cong Kieu St, Saigon
Le Cong Kieu St, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City - across from Ben Thanh Market

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AO Show Saigon

A O is a refreshing new show playing at Saigon's historic Opera House. It fuses dance, circus and musical forms in a vibrant and... Read more

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AO Show Saigon
Opera House, Lam Son Square, Saigon

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Ben Thanh Market - Saigon

Saigon’s Central Market - Great for a look, shopping and a surprisingly good spot for tasty Vietnamese soup be it pho, bun bo... Read more

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Ben Thanh Market - Saigon
Cnr of Le Loi and Le Lai Sts' District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

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Bitexco Financial Tower, Saigon

This brand new Saigon building stands way above all others. Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to miss. And there’s a skydeck... Read more

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Bitexco Financial Tower, Saigon
Hai Trieu St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
200,000VND

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Cao Dai Temple - Tay Ninh

The Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh is the spectacularly gaudy Holy See for the Cao Dai sect - a homegrown religion with around 2... Read more

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Cao Dai Temple - Tay Ninh
Just under 100kms northwest or 3 hours from Saigon

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Cholon - Saigon's Chinatown

Cholon is Saigon’s Chinatown and it’s great place to spend at least half a day. It’s hard to believe but it’s even more chaotic... Read more

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Cholon - Saigon's Chinatown
District 5, Ho Chi Minh City - around 15 mins by cab from downtown

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Cooking classes - Saigon

Cooking classes have become all the rage across Vietnam and they're very popular in Saigon too. Read more

Cu Chi Tunnels

The amazing 200km Viet Cong tunnel network from which communist guerillas waged their successful campaign against US backed... Read more

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Cu Chi Tunnels
70kms northwest of Saigon
80,000 VND

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Dong Khoi St - Saigon's French colonial architecture

Dong Khoi St has been at the centre of life in Saigon since French colonial times when it was known as Rue Catinat. In the 60s... Read more

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Dong Khoi St - Saigon's French colonial architecture
Dong Khoi St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

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Emperor Jade Pagoda, Saigon

Emperor Jade Pagoda (aka. Chua Phuoc Hai) was built at the beginning of the twentieth century, and may be the most atmospheric... Read more

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Emperor Jade Pagoda, Saigon
73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Free

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Exploring Saigon's colonial era apartment buildings

Saigon is racing ahead with the demolition of its past with regrettable fury. Meanwhile, the city’s young are increasingly... Read more
Exploring Saigon's colonial era apartment buildings
Around District 1

Fine Arts Museum, Saigon

Saigon’s Fine Arts Museum is changing for the better - but change comes slowly. It houses the city’s most important collection... Read more

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Fine Arts Museum, Saigon
97A Pho Ðuc Chinh St., Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City
+84838294441
10,000 VND

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Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Saigon

The grand downtown mansion that was the former French Governor’s Residence and the final residence of assassinated South... Read more

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Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Saigon
65 Ly Tu Trong St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
15,000VND

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Mekong Delta for a day - Ben Tre

The best option for a Mekong Delta day trip from Saigon, Ben Tre retains an authenticity lost in nearby My Tho. The recent... Read more

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Mekong Delta for a day - Ben Tre
Under 2 hours - around 86kms from Saigon - past My Tho.

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Mekong Delta for a day - My Tho

Day trips to the Mekong Delta from Saigon are popular for travellers that don’t have time to make a longer journey into... Read more

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Mekong Delta for a day - My Tho
72 kms or 90 minutes SW of Saigon along Route 1

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Motorbike tours in Saigon

The ubiquitous motorbike is the way most Vietnamese weave their way around Saigon. In recent years, tour companies have sprung... Read more

Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Saigon

In 2015, Nguyen Hue St, one of Saigon’s main streets, became a “walking street” - a rare concession by city leaders to the idea... Read more

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Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Saigon
Nguyen Hue St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

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Reunification Palace - Saigon

The former Presidential Palace of the US backed South Vietnamese government, is now known as the Reunification Palace. It’s... Read more

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Reunification Palace - Saigon
135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street - District 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
30,000VND

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Saigon and Cholon Heritage tours

WE REGRET TO ADVISE THAT. DUE TO LOCAL REGULATION, TIM DOLING IS NO LONGER OFFERING HIS EXCELLENT TOUR - A GREAT LOSS TO THE CITY. Read more
Saigon and Cholon Heritage tours
Meets at Caravelle Hotel
+84 128 579 4800

Saigon River walk

An early morning or late afternoon walk along the Saigon riverfront gives an interesting perspective on the changing city - from... Read more

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Saigon River walk
Ton Duc Thang St - 3A Station starting point

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Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Saigon’s Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the largest green space in the city centre. It’s a pleasant place for an early morning or... Read more

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Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
50,000VND

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Sophie's Art Tour, Saigon

Sophie's Art Tour is a journey through Vietnamese art and history from 1850 to the present, with British art lover, Sophie Hughes. Read more

Vietnam History Museum - Saigon

Set in a stunning building in the French era botanic gardens, the museum covers the thousands of years of Vietnamese history the... Read more

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Vietnam History Museum - Saigon
2 Nguyen Binh Khiem St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City - in botanic gardens
15000VND

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War Remnants Museum

Known in the 90s as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, these days it’s the War Remnants Museum and Saigon’s most... Read more

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War Remnants Museum
28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
15000VND

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Xa Loi Pagoda, Saigon

Built in 1956, the Xa Loi Pagoda is of interest for its past rather than its beauty as a Buddhist place of worship. It was the... Read more

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Xa Loi Pagoda, Saigon
89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan St, Distr. 3, Ho Chi Minh City

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What's On At Morin Hotel, Hue

Sweet B, Youss, Dimitri

The Observatory

5 Nguyễn Tất Thành, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | Map
Sat Jul 22, 2017
8PM
---------- ENGLISH BELOW -------------- THÔNG TIN VỀ SWEET B Bắt đầu chuyến phiêu lưu này ba... Read more

Vietnamese Crush The Floor 2017

Saigon Outcast

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong. Thao Dien, D2 | Map
Sun Jul 23, 2017
8AM
Chào anh em homiez trong và ngoài nước. Trở lại với Crush the Floor tournament nào. Giải năm... Read more

Indika Sunday Chill: Gorillaz Edition feat. Cheezy Gangztaz

Indika Saigon

43 Nguyễn Văn Giai, phường Đakao, Quận 1 | Map
Sun Jul 23, 2017
9AM
Welcome to Sunday Chill Gorillaz Edition at Indika! feat. Cheezy Gangztaz spinning all the... Read more

Border Breaks: World Funky Sounds

Rogue Saigon

13 Pasteur (floor 2) | Map
Sun Jul 23, 2017
6PM
Globe-Trekker/Beat-Selector DJ B.O (Tou-JAM) brings planet spanning sounds to Saigon. Expect... Read more