The southern Vietnamese city, formerly called and still often referred to as Saigon, is changing very fast. Business towers, office blocks, glitzy shopping malls, high-end real estate developments, urban regeneration projects, visually stunning new bridges, this city has got it and is about to get much more. Change is in the air—and Ho Chi Minh’s exceptionally youthful population, over half of whom are younger than 35, are leading the way. According to the World Economic Forum Saigon took the number two spot second among the most dynamic cities. Needless to say, there are many activities for international tourists over there. Here is a brief guide of what to do in the southern capital of Vietnam.
1. The War Remnants Museum
If you want to dive into the American War in Vietnam, The War Remnants Museum is the right place for it. Formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes—offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s turbulent past. Prepare to be shocked—a number of photography exhibitions display the effects of U.S. military action, including the enduring legacy of napalm on Vietnam’s population. Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs believed that there were 500,000 children born with birth defects while as many as 4.8 million people were exposed to it from 1961 to 1971. The War Remnants Museum is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30-year long war. It is located in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City and is run by the government. It is open all year round from 07:30 to 17:00. A visit to this war museum is a disturbing experience for most people and may not be suitable for children (though they are allowed to enter).
Opening Hours: Daily from 07.30 - 12.00 and 13:30 – 17:00
Location: 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
2. Củ Chi Tunnel
If you have time and don’t mind going further to explore a historical site, check out Củ Chi Tunnel. Those Tunnels are another spot, showing how Vietnamese forces used their land to defeat the enemy. During the Vietnam War, in order to combat better-supplied American and South Vietnamese forces, Communist guerrilla troops known as Viet Cong (VC) dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels, including an extensive network running underneath the Cu Chi district northwest of Saigon. When you are there, you can experience crawling in the tiny tunnels and hear all the interesting stories happened back then. Almost everyone who has gone there says it’s incredible, interesting and worth your time. You will learn about the structure, geography, how the Vietnamese survived and lived for long periods of time during the war and if you aren’t claustrophobic, you can even get down inside the tunnels.
3. Bitexco Tower
It is an ultra-modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension which acts as a helicopter landing pad. It stands 262 meters high at the center of the city’s business district and offers visitors an unparalleled city view from its Sky Deck. The Sky Deck is on the 49th floor and can be reached by using one of the tower’s 16 elevators. On the top, you can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the city and the Saigon River. Great views are also enjoyed from the 50th and 51st-floor restaurants, particularly at night when the metropolis below glitters above.
Opening Hours: The Sky Deck is open daily from 09:30-21:30
Location: 36 Ho Tung Mau Street in District 1
4. Binh Tay Market
Constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the center of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.
5.Tan Dinh Church
You just have to mention the “pink church” and everyone knows which one you mean. But few are aware that the building - is one of Saigon’s oldest and most important Roman Catholic institutions. It was built by the French in the early 20th century, in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city. The church is easy to spot thanks to its bright pink color. In fact, Tan Dinh Church was expanded in several stages and it took 6 years to complete this masterpiece (1870 to 1876)
6. Coffee Shop
Since its introduction to Vietnam by French colonists in the 19th century, coffee has become a national obsession that rivals our own. Thanks to the intense humidity, iced coffee, known locally as "ca phe sua da", is generally favored, and is brewed with a dark roast over a single metal French drip filter called "ca phe phin". Served with sweet condensed milk poured over ice, it's the perfect kick-start. Head to the Tan Tao Park to enjoy an early-morning brew with the locals or order a cup from any street vendor.
If you are after familiar to Westerners atmosphere of coffee shops, L'Usine will be a real discovery, a trendy cafeteria in an old workshop. Here, in this old workshop behind the large glass swing doors, is a lively cafeteria of a new genre in Ho Chi Minh City. The authenticity of the place is not just in its industrial style, marble tables, and steel chairs, which seem an obvious choice in the context. It is also found on your plate. From breakfast, which is served all day, through dinner, offering an octopus salad, caramelized onions, and peppers, or linguine with clams and squid, the menu offers fresh, inspired Vietnamese cuisine, prepared on site by expert hands.
Location: 70 Le Loi, District , 70000 Ho Chi Minh-Ville
Tel : +84 (0)8 35 21 07 03
Average bill: around 100,000 VND
Street food. Come to Ho Chi Minh City prepared to eat well and to eat often. From the slapdash street stalls to fine dining establishments, it’s a city with a voracious appetite.
Must try foods in Saigon:
- Banh Xeo - Sizzling cake. A good sizzling cake is a crispy crepe stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and of course the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of the most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
- Sticky rice is commonly popular breakfast giving you a boost of energy for the whole day. The most common combination is included chicken meat, sausage, and scallion oil. Another wide-spread combination is mango and sticky rice served as a dessert.
- Ca Kho To (Caramelised Fish) is prepared by cutting a whole catfish into fillets before it’s braised in a thick sauce made with a combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic, and various spices and seasonings. Because of its intense sweet-salty flavor, ca kho to is always served with a plate of white rice.
- An important dish in Ho Chi Minh City, Bun Thit Nuong includes vermicelli rice noodles with freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrot, basil, peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled tender pork shoulder.
- Bun Rieu (Crab and tomato vermicelli soup). This amazing vermicelli soup will blow your mind with a large combination of different ingredients and spices. The soup includes the tomato soup base with a few drops of shrimp paste (the main spice of the dish). Crab meat and variety of veggies add more flavor to the bowl, slurp and enjoy.
If street food got you bored, then it is a time to try something more familiar to your taste, but different at the same time. Pizza 4P’s is a popular restaurant with innovative ideas on the menu. The locals claim that they serve some of the best pizzas in Saigon and even all of Vietnam. The chef, who is Japanese, is a lover of Vietnam, passionate about Italian food, and mindful of eating in a healthy way. Everything is unremarkably presented—the Japanese touch and the attention to details are quickly recognized. All are served by knowledgeable and attentive staff. Above all, remember to book ahead - it’s always packed to the beams.
Popular airports in Ho Chi Minh
Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) - Vietnam
Popular airlines flying to Ho Chi Minh
Japan Airlines -> 419 USD Air China -> 348 USD All Nippon Airways -> 500 USD Swiss International Airlines <-> 701 USD Air Canada -> 433 USD Air New Zealand -> 448 USD United Airlines -> 443 USD Klm Royal Dutch Airlines <-> 770 USD China Eastern Airlines -> 224 USD China Airlines -> 427 USD Bangkok Airways -> 225 USD Philippine Airlines -> 200 USD Dragon Airlines <-> 442 USD Delta Airlines -> 410 USD Qatar Airways -> 162 USD Srilankan Airlines -> 306 USD Korean Air -> 375 USD Eva Airways <-> 317 USD Singapore Airlines -> 355 USD American Airlines -> 427 USD
Popular flights to Ho Chi Minh
Country City United States -> Ho Chi Minh City 395 USD Waco, Albany, Bellingham, Clarksburg, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Medford, Manchester, Plattsburgh Japan -> Ho Chi Minh City 409 USD Aomori, Sapporo, Morioka, Osaka, Obihiro India -> Ho Chi Minh City 206 USD Bangalore Hong Kong -> Ho Chi Minh City 107 USD Hongkong Lao, People's Dem. Rep. -> Ho Chi Minh City 214 USD Luang Prabang Canada <-> Ho Chi Minh City 1,292 USD Ft McMurray, Val D Or, Yellowknife