It’s a broad question. However, I bet you’re a first time visitor to Ho Chi Minh, Hence, I’ll suggest a list of both top attractions and hidden gems for you to explore, based on your preference.
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Top city attractions:
War Remnants Museum:
War Remnants Museum
This is one of the most visited by Western travelers in Saigon. The museum displays an array of graphic images, which paint a vivid picture of the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War with the French colonialists. You will see the recreation of the infamous French tiger cage in Con Son prison, and certainly, don’t want to miss the anti-war photo gallery requiem.
Built-in 1868 during the French colonization, this is one of the city’s most historic sites. This is also the place that marked the Fall of Saigon in 1975, where the iconic tank of the Northern Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate. You will get to see the residence of the South Vietnamese’s president during his days!
Notre Dame Cathedral:
notre dame cathedral Vietnam
The Cathedral is an iconic historical site from the French Colonisation period. It was built upon an abandoned local pagoda for the Christian followers in the expedition army. Get some local advice as to when the best time is to capture its beauty!
This area used to be the asylum for Chinese refugees in the 18th century, separated from the North of Saigon. Now it occupies District 5 and 6, also known as Chinatown. A walking trip within this area will give you plenty of chances to taste the amazing street food and witness the local life here.
Surrounding places for a day trip in Ho Chi Minh City:
Mekong Delta: The Mekong Delta, located a 2-3 hour drive south of Ho Chi Minh City, is the perfect getaway from the bustling metropolis. Its distinct ambiance and tropical vibe have made the area a tourist hotspot, with highlights including life on the water, floating markets, local homes beneath coconut grooves, and an overall welcoming atmosphere. Like many other tourist attractions, however, the place has been exploited and overrun by tourists, making it hard for curious travelers to have an authentic experience in the city. This is certainly the case when all they see is fellow travelers scammed, duped, and attractions galore geared specifically towards foreigners.
Cu Chi Tunnels: Located about 70 kilometers northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels consist of a vast network of some 250 kilometers of crawl space. These underground tunnels connected things like living and cooking spaces, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, a command center, and were also equipped with hundreds of secret trap doors. The tunnels were initially dug with nothing but simple tools and bare hands to aid in the fight against the French in the 1940s. They were later utilized by Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers during the “American War” (how the Vietnamese refer to Vietnam War) in the 1960s and 1970s. The tunnels became a multi-story, deep underground city, providing hiding spots as well as communication and supply routes which aided the Vietnamese revolutionaries. You will get to experience what it was like for those people who called these tunnels home and see firsthand what it was they had to endure.
Best restaurants: F&B is one of the fastest growing industries in Ho Chi Minh City, with new eateries opening up daily dishing out some of the most delicious eats. Bypass international and over visited food chains to experience what Saigon’s foodie scene is really all about. One will truly feel accomplished after meandering the streets of the city or climbing one too many stairs to finally arrive at a restaurant entirely off the beaten path. One of our favorite restaurants is Secret Garden, a traditional Vietnamese restaurant that is hidden on the 5th floor of an old, seemingly abandoned building. Another great dining option is Cuc Gach Quan Restaurant, which sits inside a renovated villa. Diners will feel as though they are amongst family as they chow down on one of the restaurant’s many home-cooked meals. The restaurant was even visited by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they visited Vietnam in 2011.
Best music bar/cafe: One of the most memorable parts of tourists’ trips to Saigon has long been visiting a live music session in a bar, pub, or coffee shop. Locals love it, and listening to a band jam out is a great way to unwind after a day of exploring the city. An alternative, jazz, acoustic: Saigon seemingly has every type of music venue, regardless of the genre visitors prefer. Small coffee shops welcome live acoustic performances by young, local artists, while larger pubs and bars tend to play more upbeat music with performances given by both local and international artists. Some of the most popular venues to watch a live music performance amongst locals are Acoustic Bar (rock and acoustic), RFC (rock), Fang Pub (pop, rock, and mainstream), Saigon Ranger (indie), Yen Café (Vietnamese pop and acoustic), and Carmen Bar (Latin and French).
Best rooftop bars: There are a number of rooftop restaurants and bars to choose from in Saigon, each sporting its own unique ambiance and vibe. Whether visitors are looking for a laid-back rooftop to enjoy intimate and meaningful conversation or would prefer a wild night out accompanied by DJs and dancing, there is a rooftop bar for everyone in Saigon. One thing that all of these rooftop bars shares are their impeccable views of the city, with some of the most popular bars located in the central districts. Top bars include Broma Not A Bar, OMG, Air Sky 360, Chill Sky Bar, and One Plus Beer Club. Feel free to ask your local insider for further suggestions to find which rooftop bar is perfect for you on your night out in Saigon.
Best cafe: With a rich coffee culture, Saigon offers a wide range of coffee shops with many different styles, suitable for different budgets. Popular types of coffee you can find in Saigon are hidden coffee boutiques (inside old apartment buildings), 24h cafe, specialty coffee shops, etc.
If you are visiting Vietnam and looking to visit Ho Chi Minh city, it’s essential to know before you land there.
Without prior preparation, it could be a hassle and leads to unnecessary expenses. Hailed as Vietnam’s biggest city and business capital, Ho Chi Minh City features plenty of things to see and do, from fascinating historical landmarks and beautiful pagodas to hip bars and sprawling shopping malls.