7 Top Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Looking for the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City?

Referred to by many locals as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top places to travel to in Southeast Asia. The top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City include cultural attractions, eating amazing local food, and partying with the locals. 

Whether you have one day in Ho Chi Minh or you’re staying for weeks, there are always more things to do and see. The city also has a huge ex-pat population, so you can easily make friends to go sightseeing. 

Ho Chi Minh City is also one of the most affordable places to travel to in the area. You’ll find that the drinks, food, and hotels are very inexpensive. This makes doing everything on your bucket list easy! 

Ready to find the best Ho Chi Minh City attractions? Here are my top picks from around the city!

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Ben Thanh Market

You’ll find this market right in the middle of town. It has some of the best shopping in Ho Chi Minch city as well as some amazing food. Some of the most popular items to buy are ceramics, handmade clothing and bags, and other great souvenirs. 

Don’t be afraid to bargain. It’s common for vendors to overcharge tourists. I recommend going here with a local friend or guide so they can tell you when prices are fair or not. 

Towards the front of the market, you’ll find food. Most items are local snacks, as well as smoothies and coffee. 

Ban Thanh Market is located at Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam.  The day market is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. The night market starts at 6 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m. 

market in ho chi minh city, vegetable vendors, what to do in ho chi minh, attractions in ho chi minh, shopping in ho chi minh city

Street Food Tour 

Ho Chi Minh City is best explored by eating! You can find everything in Ho Chi Minh, including the most famous dishes like banh mi and pho. You may be familiar with these where you live as they are global Vietnamese food staples.  

Since Saigon has so many places to eat, a street food tour is the best way to find some of the best places to grab food. 

On a tour, you can go to various parts of the city. You will sample food from restaurants as well as try snacks from local vendors. With a guide, you can also be sure the street food you’re eating is safely prepared and clean. 

Make sure you also sample Vietnamese coffee. Local smoothies and juices are also amazing, as they’re fresh and hydrating after walking around in the hot sun. 

Check out this street food tour by motorbike!!

street food tour, woman selling street good, big woks on hot plates, things to do in saigon,

Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife 

If you want to venture into Ho Chi Minh City after dark, there are some great bars and nightclubs to check out. Some are more aimed towards backpackers with drink specials and cheap food. Other places are more high-end and are perfect for an elegant night out. 

Here are some of the best places to visit around the city:

  • Blanchy’s Lounge: Come here for a classy night out. They specialize in cocktails, but they also offer a wide variety of beers and wines. 
  • Lush Nightclub: This club has been open for more than a decade. It’s a great place to come to if you enjoy dancing and strobe lights. Local and international DJs often perform here. 
  • Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar: For amazing views of the city come here! It has been open since 1959. During the war, it was a popular place for politicians, journalists, and soldiers to drink. 

When going out to drink and party in Ho Chi Minh City at night, it’s a good idea to stay away from Bui Vien Street, the red light district. Although there are some popular clubs and bars, many of the women working in them are sex trafficked and exploited. 

Bui Vien Street is better (and safer) during the day. You can find many cool coffee cafes, small shops, and affordable hostels along this street. 

District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City is a popular place to go bar hopping as it’s right in the middle of downtown. There are also more upscale places in this area if you prefer to stay away from the club scene. 

aeriel view of ho chi minh city at night, buildings with lights on, ho chi minh city nightlife, district 1 in ho chi minh city

War Remnants Museum 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Vietnam War, the War Remnants Museum is one of the best things to do in Saigon. The museum takes you back in time as you wander through the exhibits and see photos of the soldiers. 

There are also real Huey helicopters and M48 tanks. The Vietnam War greatly affected the country, so it’s a good place to start your Ho Chi Minh City tour to learn more about Vietnam and its citizens. 

The War Remnants Museum is located at 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam. It’s open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost 40,000 VND (around $1.75 USD). 

Cu Chi Tunnels 

As long as you’re not claustrophobic, head to the Cu Chi Tunnels. They’re a series of underground tunnels used by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. 

Even though the tunnels run for more than 18 miles, you can only crawl through certain sections. The rest of the tunnels are closed off now. 

The tunnels were built in 1968 and are still there today to show people how the Vietcong guerillas used to fight and live during the war. Although the tunnels are super small, the Vietcong created beds and even tiny hospitals in them where the injured could receive treatment. 

There are two tunnels you can go through. Entrance is paid separately, but the tunnels look about the same. So if you’re limited on time, crawling through one is enough. 

Before going through the tunnels, there is a place where you can watch a short film to see how the tunnels were made and used during the war. 

Cu Chi Tunnels are located at Đ. Tỉnh Lộ 15, Phú Hiệp, Củ Chi, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 733814, Vietnam. They’re open every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Ben Duoc Tunnel cost 110,000 VND (around $4.50 USD), and the Ben Dinh Tunnel cost 90,000 VND (around $3.80 USD). 

underground tunnel for viet cong, chi chi tunnels

Jade Emporer Pagoda 

This is one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. The Jade Emporer Pagoda is one of the most beautiful and elegant temples in Vietnam. It was built as a dedication to Ngoc Hoang, a Taoist god known as the king of heaven. 

Everything in this temple is stunning, and the roof is the most spectacular part. It’s covered in statues and small figurines. Most of them tell ancient stories from Buddhist legends. 

Jade Emperor Pagoda is located at 73 Đ. Mai Thị Lựu, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam. It’s open every day from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free, but make sure you have your shoulders and knees covered since it’s a temple. 

Mekong Delta 

When looking at pictures of beautiful Vietnam, you have probably seen photos of traditional Vietnamese people wearing pointed sun hats as they paddle their way down small waterways. Most of these photos are taken in the Mekong Delta. 

This is also the best place to come to visit a floating market. You can buy all kinds of goods from the boats, including souvenirs, vegetables, fruits, and fresh coffee. 

Since the best parts of the Mekong Delta are a few hours away from Ho Chi Minh, I recommend taking a day trip here or booking a tour. Although it’s a little far away, seeing the Mekong Delta is a must when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. 

Here is a map of the Mekong Delta. 

flowers on a boat in the mekong delta

How to Get to Ho Chi Minh City

If you’re not already in southeast Asia, flying to Ho Chi Minh City is the best option. The country has one international airport—Tan Son Nhat International (SGN). There are many international carriers with daily and weekly flights. 

You’ll find cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnam Airlines from other Asian destinations. You will likely have several connections from other continents before landing in Saigon.

If you’re in Thailand or Cambodia, you have a few more options if you don’t want to fly. You can take a bus from cities like Phnom Penh and Bangkok. You can also get to Ho Chi Minh City by bus if you’re already in other places in Vietnam. 

How to Get Around Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City has a bus system that is cheap and efficient. If you’re not keen on local transport, you can also take private taxis, although this method is more expensive. 

Motorbikes are also a great way to get around. You can find motorbike taxis on every street. This method can be dangerous, though, so always make sure to bring a helmet. 

You can also get the number of a motorbike driver that you like and regularly call them rather than getting on the back of the motorbike of drivers you might not know. 

aeriel view of motorbikes in ho chi minh city, motorbikes driving in traffic

When to Visit Ho Chi Minh City

For the best weather, try to come to Ho Chi Minh City from December to March. There are fewer travelers this time of year. The weather is also mild, although still very warm. 

Ho Chi Minh City is hot all year round, but the hottest month is April. It can be uncomfortable walking around during this time, especially in crowded places. 

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Best Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Looking for the best hotels in Ho Chi Minh City? Here are the top recommendations around the town: 

Budget—Little Saigon Boutique Hotel: Just a 5-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market, this small hotel has beautiful rooms with free Wi-Fi. They also have upgraded suites that offer more space and balconies overlooking the city. They have a bar on site and serve free breakfast. 

Mid-range—Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel: This hotel has spacious rooms. Many of them have balconies overlooking the Saigon River. It’s just a few minutes walk from the Central Business District and about a mile to the War Remnants Museum. They have free breakfast, a rooftop pool, and a bar. 

Luxury—Mia Saigon Luxury Boutique Hotel: For a stay in the best 5-star hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, book your room at Mia Saigon. All rooms have furnished balconies overlooking the Saigon River. They have an outdoor pool, gardens, a bar, a spa, and a gym. Full of endless amenities, this hotel has everything you need!

Best Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

Le Cafe des Stagiaires: This restaurant has one of the best views of the city since it’s a rooftop cafe overlooking all of Saigon. They have great European food as well as a long cocktail list. The sangria is by far the best drink on the menu! 

Xoi La Chuoi: Come here for some light and tasty Vietnamese snacks. Sticky rice is the most popular thing on the menu as well as Chinese sausage. They also serve shredded pork served with peanuts and soy-marinated chicken sandwiches. 

La Viet Coffee: If you’re looking for one of the best coffee shops in the city, this is the place to come. The owners roast their own coffee beans at their farm, which is also located in Vietnam. They have some fun options and not just your basic coffee drinks. Make sure to try the margarita coffee or one of the cold brew specialties. 

group of vietnamese men sitting outside a cafe in ho chi minh city

The Top Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City are Waiting For You!

Ready to start exploring the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City? I hope this guide helped you find the best activities around the city! Full of culture, friendly locals, and some of the best food in Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh City is a place you’ll never forget. 

Are you heading to Ho Chi Minh City? Which of these activities are you doing first? 

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