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 12 Sep 2017

Our handpicked selection of the best things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City (aka. Saigon), was updated in September 2017. We’ve visited all the recommended museums, galleries, temples, historical sites and we’ve walked the chaotic streets, eaten the food and met the people to bring you this guide. Let us know if you have any suggestions.

If history’s your thing, you’ll find plenty to think about wandering around Saigon. The sombre War Remnants Museum is a must-see. And 

French colonial era icons like the Continental Hotel and Notre Dame Cathedral are easily visited in a walk around the city centre. Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown is a vibrant and historic feature of the city. But it’s the Saigon vibe - the energy and optimism of the people - that you’ll remember most.

After you check out the sights, for a taste of Saigon’s unique character, hit the street food stalls, the cafes and the parks. Some of the city's old colonial-era buildings have been taken over by young entrepreneurs opening coffee shops and boutiques.  Take a walk - but mind the anarchic traffic.

There’s enough keep you busy for a couple of days in Saigon and you can base yourself here for visits to the Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi, the Cao Dai temple at Tay Ninh, and the Mekong Delta.

While you’re in Saigon, be sure to visit us at our Saigon home - The Old Compass Cafe right downtown on Pasteur St.

NOTE;
Expect major disruption in downtown Saigon due to the construction of a new Metro system that is scheduled for completion in 2020.

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

Goodfellas presents : Ten Toes Down 2

Lush Saigon

So 2 Ly Tu Trong, District. 1 | Map
Sat Sep 30, 2017
11PM
Gather around for the next episode of TEN TOES DOWN party series, the sketchiest party you... Read more