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Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Things to do in  Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City hums with life. Packs of motorbikes zip along grand boulevards, whipping past colonial buildings left over from the days of French rule. Colorful markets overflow with flowers and fruit from the Mekong Delta, and vendors hawk cold Vietnamese coffee alongside steaming bowls of pho. Known as Saigon until the fall of the South Vietnamese government, Ho Chi Minh City is full of wartime history, from the War Remnants Museum to the nearby Cu Chi tunnels. And while there’s plenty to discover within city limits, for many, Ho Chi Minh City makes an ideal base for exploring southern Vietnam, where the Mekong River becomes a maze of canals and rivers flowing towards the South China Sea.

Top 10 attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

#1

Cu Chi Tunnels

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The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground passageways that run to more than 120 miles (200 kilometers) in total length in this area alone. Work by the Viet Cong commenced in 1948 as a means of shelter from the French air attacks during the Indochina conflict. The network provided vital access and strategic control over the large rural area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City; over the following two decades the tunnels became a complex underground city including hospitals, defenses and living quarters. This meant despite all the bombings in the area many of the local people could still continue to live underground. In its prime and at its most impressive the Cu Chi Tunnels stretched from the southern Vietnamese capital all the way to the Cambodian border to the west, and in places was dug to 3 stories deep. Much of the original tunnel system was destroyed in bombing raids during the 1970s but existing parts have been restored and opened.More
#2

Saigon River (Song Sai Gon)

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As a main water supply, the Saigon River is critically important to the residents of Ho Chi Minh City. Spend a few days in Ho Chi Minh, and you’ll discover it’s a young, modern city on the move. In contrast, cruising along the Saigon River gives you a glimpse of a more rural Vietnam, where life moves at a slower pace, much like it did decades ago. The best way to experience the river is by plying its waters in a traditional Vietnamese junk boat. Many such tours offer a meal -- usually lunch or dinner -- along the way. While it’s possible to see the river for the river’s sake, you can also use the river to get to the popular Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong to infiltrate the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City during the Vietnam War. While the portion of the river seen by most tourists is in southern Vietnam, it actually starts in southeastern Cambodia and flows south over a 140-mile (225-kilometer) distance.More
#3

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saïgon)

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The Gothic twin bell towers of this classic cathedral stretch high into the skyline, marking this as a destination for those looking to escape the buzz of Ho Chi Minh and find some quiet contemplation. Saigon Notre-Dame’s striking red façade and towering stone archways were constructed with materials imported from France in the 1800s. But its unique architecture is not the only draw to this iconic city landmark. In 2005, visitors reported seeing tears flow from the eyes of a statue of the Virgin Mary here, making it a destination for Catholics on religious pilgrimage.More
#4

Saigon Central Post Office

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Few major cities count the post office among their top tourist attractions, but the classic interior of Saigon Central Post Office continues to be a favorite destination among travelers visiting Ho Chi Minh City for the first time. Completed in 1891, the design of this architectural landmark mimics an old world European railway station with mile-high ceilings, a larger-than-life portrait of Ho Chi Minh and a centrally located clock face. These rich details are what manage to draw even the travelers who arrive with plans to purchase stamps or mail postcards, to pause and soak up the brilliant interior, which includes hand-painted maps of the old city.More
#5

War Remnants Museum (Bao Tang Chung Tich Chien Tranh)

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Opened in 1975, just a few months after the liberation, the War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Laid out in 8 themed rooms are different aspects of the war from imprisonment, to chemical warfare and military might. In the grounds there are military equipment, weaponry and aircraft on display including fighter planes, helicopters and tanks. Some of the exhibits are shockingly gruesome, explicit photos and prisoner cages detail a war-torn history. This is the story of the Vietnam War told from the other side which mixes the atrocities of war with the reality of military hardware.More
#6

Reunification Palace (Independence Palace)

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The Reunification Palace is an important site of political and cultural significance, built by the French in 1868 to mark the newly established colony of Indochina. In 1945, it briefly became the headquarters for the Japanese after their defeat of the French. In 1962, two Vietnamese rebel pilots bombed the palace - the president survived but the palace did not. He commissioned a new one to be built. It was renamed Independence Palace and the design became a Modernist icon. In 1975 the palace was the symbolic site of the triumphant liberation of Saigon. Vietnam was then reunified; since then the building has been known as Reunification Palace. Today it is a working government building as well as having areas open to the public. Tour the private quarters, the president's former office and the War Command Room. You get a real sense of what happened here and its importance in Vietnamese history.More
#7

Ho Chi Minh City Cruise Ports

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Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is a sophisticated city of more than seven million people, making it the largest city in Vietnam. Larger cruise ships will dock at Phu My, a port on the South China Sea, about 2.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City. Smaller and mid-size ships that are able to navigate the Saigon River dock much closer to the city. Many ships will provide shuttles from either port into the centre of the city. Kick off your day with a visit to Reunification Hall, once the presidential palace of South Vietnam. Take a tour of this somewhat eerie building that has been left mostly untouched since the 1960s. From there, move on to the War Remnants Museum, whose moving and sometimes disturbing exhibits share the story of the Vietnam War from a distinctly Communist perspective.Next, head to the Ben Thanh Market, a bustling market that dates back to 1914. Scan the stalls for paintings, porcelain and jewelry before grabbing a late lunch.More
#8

Ben Thanh Market (Cho Ben Thanh)

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Let the spirit of Ho Chi Minh City lift you up and carry you through this network of colorful bustling activity. Cho Ben Thanh, or Ben Thanh Market, comes alive every evening with a thrum of tireless energy that never ceases to enthrall. This is the most celebrated and regularly visited of the markets. It is also the most central, located in one of the liveliest parts of the city where the streets and alleyways surrounding the market place fill with food stalls. At Ben Thanh Market you can expect to find almost everything that the locals might need in their day to day lives: from fresh meats and vegetables to clothes, domestic items, pots, woven baskets and bamboo ladders. This is a feast for the senses.Take in the sounds: the excited chatter of shoppers and the pitch of vendors’ voices rising into the steaming night. Breathe in the sweet spiced air - chili, tamarind, ginger - and witness the bright array of colors from exotic fruits to beautiful silks.More
#9

Saigon Opera House (Opéra de Saïgon)

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East meets west at this stunning example of French Colonial architecture in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The gleaming white municipal theater, which is home the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet and Symphony Orchestra, was built in 1897. Its well-lit façade casts a brilliant glow on nearby city streets. Visitors can file into the 1,800 seat theater to catch regular dress rehearsals, or buy a ticket for one of the weekly cultural shows the theater is known for. On weekends, free public performances take place on the opera house steps and the nearby park offers travelers a perfect spot to stop and enjoy the music.More
#10

Cholon (Saigon Chinatown)

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Cholon, Saigon's Chinatown district, dominates the west bank of the city, boasting the attractions of Quan Am Pagoda, Thien Hau Temple, Binh Tay Market and numerous teahouses. Visit this long-established Chinese community (the largest of its kind in Vietnam) and soak up the fascinating culture, architecture and sights. Quan Am Pagoda - a Chinese-style Buddhist temple - features beautiful courtyards, gardens, a pond and a Jade Emperor. At Thien Hau Temple, dedicated to the goddess of the sea, check the stunning carved porcelain ceiling designs. Cholon Mosque and Cha Tam - the catholic cathedral - as well as the thriving Binh Tay market also add to the rich texture of this historic community.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Ho Chi Minh City

How to Spend 2 Days in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam War History Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam War History Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

Mekong River Cruises from Ho Chi Minh City

Mekong River Cruises from Ho Chi Minh City

Top activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Shared Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Shared Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

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US$102.56
Dinner Cruise in Ho Chi Minh City

Dinner Cruise in Ho Chi Minh City

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US$38.98

Recent reviews from experiences in Ho Chi Minh City

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Awesome visit to Vietnam
bpapanton, Feb 2020
Private Ho Chi Minh City Shore Excursion from Phu My Port
Met was very knowledgeable about all of the important sights to see in Ho Chi Minh City.
star-5
The tour was run by one of the best...
Saesario I, Aug 2017
Half-Day Afternoon Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
Our guide was very well versed in the history of Vietnam and speaking English fluently
star-5
I thought this was a relatively good...
Hannah S, Jan 2017
War Remnants Museum - City & Cu Chi Tunnels Day Tours
The tour guide I think his name was MT had great English and was really funny.
star-5
Tung! Greatest bike guide for...
JOHN M, Mar 2017
Saigon Pho and Beer Bike Tour
Not too scary and fantastic way to see the City.
star-5
My wife and I really appreciated...
Jean Frederic H, Dec 2016
Half-Day Tour in Ho Chi Minh with Lunch
I believe that this tour is a must if you plan to visit Ho Chi Minh City.
star-5
Well organised trip. Staff were...
R G H, Mar 2016
Half-Day Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by Luxury Speedboat
The boat trip up the river was also a great way to see a different side to Ho Chi Minh City and the countryside
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The tour was informative about the...
Chuck S, Mar 2016
Cu Chi Tunnels Half Day Experience with DeluxeGroupTours
The tour was informative about the war and village life in Vietnam, and provided a great escape from Ho Chi Minh City to see the surrounding environs.
star-4
I had a good time with my guide Duc...
George A, Oct 2015
Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Historical Tour with Lunch
He also speaks pretty good English.
star-4
This tour was a very good...
Bill, Apr 2015
Private Tour: Ho Chi Minh City Half-Day Sightseeing
Our guide was very knowledgeable and had very good English language skills.
star-5
Perfectly organized tour. The...
Gonçalo A, Jan 2016
Half-Day Afternoon Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
The guide spoke English quite well and told us many quick facts about Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City.
star-5
BRILLIANT way to see Ho Chi Minh...
Tracy S, Apr 2013
Hồ Chí Minh Cyclo and Market Small Group Adventure
BRILLIANT way to see Ho Chi Minh City.
star-5
Great tour, tour guide was...
Karen K, Jan 2012
Cu Chi Tunnels Small Group Tour from Ho Chi Minh City
Great tour, tour guide was excellent, spoke very good english and had good knowledge about a wide variety of thing in Vietnam.
star-4
Our tour guide speaks English...
Ana Marie R, Sep 2011
Half-Day Tour in Ho Chi Minh with Lunch
Our tour guide speaks English articulately.
star-4
This trip was very interesting, and it...
Dean D, May 2010
Mekong Delta Discovery Small Group River Cruise Adventure Tour from Ho Chi Minh
This trip was very interesting, and it was a nice change to see some of the countryside after being in the chaos of the city.
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It was probably the highlight of our...
Daryll H, Nov 2009
Mekong Delta Discovery Small Group River Cruise Adventure Tour from Ho Chi Minh
A variety of activities was enjoyed by all.
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Shore Excursion in Ho Chi Minh City
twoo, Feb 2020
Make Your Own Full Day Shore Excursion in Ho Chi Minh City
We took a shore excursion with this company to visit the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City.
star-5
Wonderful Experience
CasualRetirees, Nov 2019
Private Ho Chi Minh City Shore Excursion from Phu My Port
He was a great guide and it was hard to believe that this was his first tour with English speaking clients.
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Cu Chi Tunnels - Mesmerising Experience
762kannanr, Oct 2019
Half-Day Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by Luxury Speedboat
Since we had 2 days, we thought of going on a day trip to see some of the sightseeing places recommended by tourists and that's how we decided on Cu Chi Tunnels' trip.
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Enjoyable day out with knowledge guide
pgoodall76, Apr 2019
Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Delta Full-Day VIP Tour from Ho Chi Minh city
This aspect is important as by combining the two attractions (Cu Chi tunnels and Mekong Delta), there is quite a distance to travel, and because Ho Chi Minh City is so congested, getting in and out of the city takes some time!
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I was solo for the weekend after a...
Meredith V, Sep 2017
Cu Chi Tunnels Small Group Tour from Ho Chi Minh City
It was very well run, on time, our guide spoke good english, and there was only about 12-15 ppl, which made for a nice size.

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