Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City!
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. It was the capital of the French protectorate of Cochinchina and of South Vietnam. The city lies along the Saigon River and has developed into a spectacular place that you shouldn`t miss! There are many sites to see and things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, but here is the essence – check out our TOP 5 Must-See in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
1. Explore the markets – Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market
Ben Thanh Market is a good place to buy souvenirs as here you will find more handicrafts than any other market. Though due to its location and foreign costumers, this market is a bit more expensive than others and locals are ok with naming mind-blowing prices, but just when you start to walk away, the prices will drop. Remember to bargain!
Binh Tay Market is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district and that movement what`s around is truly amazing. Firstly, the market itself was constructed by the French, it occupies a two-storey building with a yard in the middle of it, adding all those shopping streets around. Even if at first it seems like a wholesale market, there are many things you can try and buy. Mostly that would be clothing, different gadgets, nuts, fruits, spices and tea.
2.Take a tour around the city`s religious buildings such as Jade Emperor Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, Thiên Hậu Temple and others
Jade Emperor Pagoda was built in 20th century by a community of Cantonese that migrated from China. The place itself doesn`t look like anything spectacular from outside, but inside the Buddhist temple you will find beautiful statues, delicate woodcarvings and, of course, the incense in the air. Locals come here to pray, so you will be able to see many interesting rituals.
Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the late 1880s by French colonists. Actually, in 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral`s status to basilica.. This is one of the Ho Chi Minh City’s most prominent attractions.
Thiên Hậu Temple was built in 19th century and is located in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. It is one of the oldest Chinese temples in the city. It is a beautiful temple to visit to see the stunning architecture and many rituals the locals are performing.
And do not forget about other religious buildings like Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Giac Lam Pagoda, Cao Dai Temple, Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda and many of beautiful cathedrals and churches!
3.Get to know the city`s diverse architecture – visit the Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House, Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck
Ho Chi Minh City has many Western-style buildings dating from the period of French colonial times. Explore the city during the day, when the sights are open for entrée, and do walk around the streets at night, when the colonial buildings and modern glass towers are lit!
Central Post Office is here from the French colonial times. The inside of the building is stunning – looping arches, marble floors and antiquated telephone boxes. And this is actually a functioning post office, so you can send a letter or postcard from here – beautiful postcards, price list and all the necessary is available and easily understandable. Moreover, there are some souvenir shops where those can be bought for even lower prices than in the central Ben Thanh Market.
Reunification Palace was once known as Independence Palace. It is 1960s-style building with large rooms and dated furnishings. This palace represents the year when the North Vietnamese army tank crashed through the iron gates here, bringing an end to the Vietnam War.
Saigon Opera House is also known as the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City. It was built by a French architect to entertain French colonists. Beautiful building to see, it is also possible to buy a ticket to a performance.
Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck is 262 metres high building in the city’s business district that offers 360 degree views across the city and the Saigon River from its Sky Deck. There is an entrance fee of 200.000 VND for the Sky Deck.
4.Enjoy the food, drinks and nightlife in Bui Vien walking street
Vietnamese cuisine is amazing! Your taste buds will be happy that you have chosen this country as your destination! And huge variety of Vietnamese foods can be found on the main street of Bui Vien in District 1. Do not miss Phở that is standard Vietnamese noodle soup with bean sprouts, basil, and lime. Broken Rice is also something special. In rice-producing countries, any grains that are damaged in the milling process are usually kept for food industry ingredients rather than human consumption, but in Vietnam, it is a delicacy, usually served with shredded pork and various veggies. There is also Che – sweet dessert soup and Bun Cha – mix of flavourful barbecued pork, fresh noodles and fish sauce together with sliced papaya, carrots and herbs.
Coffee is the most popular drink, but here you will also find loads of tea variations, where locals usually put inside jelly balls and fruits. And don`t forget the Saigon beer!
5. Go outside the city – visit Floating Markets and Cu Chi Tunnels
Floating markets will bring you to a totally different world apart the one you will experience in the city. Floating markets here have existed for hundreds of years and has always been a part of the local life in the Mekong Delta. Hundreds of ships and boats are floating there daily. From the Ho Chi Minh City you can reach Cai Be floating market, located in Cai Be district on the giant Tien river. Here you will find variety of sea foods, local dishes, and other different goods. Get there by one of the tours offered by the tour companies across the Ho Chi Minh City or look for the bus in the bus station till Cai Be bridge. Once you reach the floating market you will be able to find boat tours, both private ones and for groups.
The other place you should visit once you are in Ho Chi Minh City is Cu Chi Tunnels. This is an immense network of tunnels which were used as a base in the war. And now it is possible to crawl around the safest parts of the tunnel system, and get that really tingling feeling of the Vietnam`s tuff times.
Ho Chi Minh City with a population of over 9 million welcomes 3 million visitors every year. It has the highest GDP growth in the country and it`s possible to see that the city is evolving! Enjoy the stunning architecture, vibrant culture and fun atmosphere in this city that never sleeps!