Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam, where you can find many interesting things to explore, such as history, culture, and cuisine. Most tourists visiting Vietnam will include Ho Chi Minh City in their itinerary. Another name that people often use for Ho Chi Minh City is Saigon, which was its former name before the city changed its name in 1976, so in this article, we will use both names interchangeably. Let’s explore Ho Chi Minh City and the places to visit here together with S Vietnam Travel.
Overview of Ho Chi Minh city
Ho Chi Minh City is located in the southern region of Vietnam. It is the largest and most vibrant economic center of Vietnam, with a population of over 9 million people. Situated at the heart of Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh City serves as a crucial transportation hub for road, waterway, and air travel, making it an extremely important international gateway for Vietnam.
The history of Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City spans approximately 300 years, marked by numerous ups and downs and significant events during its formation and development. Today, Ho Chi Minh City has transformed into a modern metropolis with towering skyscrapers and remarkable landmarks, while still preserving many historical values that cater to all travelers interested in exploring this place.
Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh city
The weather in Ho Chi Minh City is divided into two distinct seasons throughout the year: the rainy season from May to November and the dry season from December to April. If you visit during the rainy season, it’s advisable to carry an umbrella or raincoat when going outside because Ho Chi Minh City often experiences sudden showers (rain followed by clear skies, then rain again). The temperature in this city typically ranges from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius.
Each season in Ho Chi Minh City has its own beauty and unique charm, so you can visit at any time of the year. However, in our opinion, the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the dry season from December to April for a more convenient exploration of the city. To learn more about the best times to visit Vietnam and its cities, you can refer to: Best Time To Visit Vietnam (Including cities)
Transportation to Ho Chi Minh city
Being the largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has a comprehensive transportation infrastructure, and you can travel to Saigon using various modes of transportation, such as planes, trains, cars, and motorcycles.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport is located right in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, making it very convenient for travel. Virtually all flights to the entire Vietnamese territory are connected to this airport with high frequency.
You can choose to travel to Saigon by train for an interesting experience where you can admire the scenery on both sides of the tracks. However, it may take quite some time to travel by train as they tend to run relatively slowly.
For short distances, you can opt for car transportation to get to Saigon. However, please note that traffic congestion is a common occurrence here due to the high density of personal vehicles on the road.
Best Places to visit in Ho Chi Minh city
Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, is one of the historical sites in Saigon listed as a special national heritage. Formerly, it was the workplace of the Governor-General of French Indochina and President Ngo Dinh Diem. It is most renowned for its role in the liberation of South Vietnam and the reunification of North and South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. Afterward, it was preserved as a historical tourist attraction. This is undoubtedly a must-visit destination when you come to Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ho Chi Minh City.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is also a popular tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City, frequently visited by travelers. This market was constructed in the late 19th century and is among the oldest markets in Vietnam. Today, it remains bustling due to its central location and international popularity as a tourist attraction. The market offers a wide range of products, including clothing, footwear, fabrics, handicrafts, local specialties, jewelry, and various food items. However, it’s worth noting that the vendors here are known to charge higher prices, so it’s advisable to haggle, aiming for a 30-50% discount.
Address: Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Located in the heart of District 1, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is another historical symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. Construction of the cathedral began in 1877 and was completed in 1880, designed by French architect J. Bourad in a Romanesque and Gothic architectural style. In front of the cathedral, there is a square with four intersecting roads forming a cross shape. Currently, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is temporarily closed for renovation and interior upgrades, expected to be completed by the end of 2027.
Address: 01 Paris Commune Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Saigon Central Post Office
The Saigon Central Post Office was constructed from 1886 to 1891, featuring the distinctive yellow paint characteristic of French architecture at the time. It was designed by the renowned French architect Auguste Vildieu and his assistant Foulhoux. Over 100 years later, it remains the largest post office in Vietnam, maintaining its original design. Inside, you’ll find a vaulted ceiling, with a prominent bust of the god Mercury in the center, surrounded by a laurel wreath, symbolizing communication. The post office’s architecture is reminiscent of the Orsay train station in Paris and stands adjacent to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, forming a unique architectural complex in Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: 125 Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
Landmark 81, completed in 2018, is one of the largest projects in Ho Chi Minh City and is currently the tallest building in Vietnam. Here, you can enjoy various amenities, including accommodations, shopping centers, cinemas, and dining options. This building houses a hotel, a commercial center, a cinema, and a dining area. Moreover, if you visit the SkyView observation deck on floors 79 to 81 at a height of 461.3 meters, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: 720A Dien Bien Phu Street, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Similar to Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake walking street, one of Saigon’s most crowded spots during the evening is Nguyen Hue Walking Street. This 670-meter-long street is exclusively for pedestrians, lined with eateries, cafes, and entertainment centers that are popular among young people. It’s also a hub for street art performances and other captivating activities.
Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien is a short street located in District 1, the central district of Ho Chi Minh City, but it comes alive during the evenings. This place bears some resemblance to Hanoi’s Ta Hien Street. Here, you can savor a variety of street food and engage in nightlife activities that last until the early hours. Along both sides of the street, you’ll find a wide range of establishments, from fast-food joints and cafes to bars and pubs. Bui Vien also offers free public amenities such as restrooms, Wi-Fi, and a tourist information station. It’s particularly popular among young people and international tourists.
Ho Chi Minh City Opera House
If you’re looking for a tourist destination in Saigon with professional artistic performances such as drama, Cairojess, and opera, then the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is considered the top ideal place. It’s also one of the most unique architectural landmarks in Vietnam today. This opera house has an area of up to 2,016 square meters and was designed by architects Eugène Feret and Ernest Guichard, completed in 1900. The building not only showcases grandeur and elegance on the outside but also represents architectural innovation in interior design and modern sound and lighting systems. When you visit, you can preview the theater’s performance schedule. With a seating capacity of around 1,800 people, you can enjoy professional performances by Vietnamese and international art groups with your family.
Address: 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Visiting hours: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (Monday to Friday) and 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Saturday and Sunday).
Dragon House Wharf
A Saigon tourist destination that preserves many memories and the legacy of President Ho Chi Minh is the Dragon House Wharf. This structure bears witness to the historical struggles of the Vietnamese people against the French and the Americans. Today, when you visit this tourist attraction, you can observe numerous artifacts and documents related to the life of President Ho Chi Minh. It is also one of the tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City that helps you better understand the history of Vietnam.
Address: 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 12, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City.
Museums in Ho Chi Minh City
Visiting museums is an essential activity when you come to Ho Chi Minh City. With a rich history of fighting against foreign invaders, there are many historically significant museums waiting for you to explore, such as the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum, the Southern Women’s Museum, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, and the War Remnants Museum. To find out more details about the museums in Ho Chi Minh City, please visit: 7 Museums in Ho Chi Minh city You Should Visit
The Saigon River, with a length of up to 230 kilometers, runs through Ho Chi Minh City. You can buy tickets to start your journey exploring Ho Chi Minh City along this river with a very exciting experience. In addition to admiring the architectural structures on both sides of the river, you can enjoy drinks and meals right on the boat.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a famous historical site located in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, attracting a large number of visitors every day. Located about 70 kilometers from the city center of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels consist of a system of tunnels stretching about 250 kilometers underground, formerly used as a defense system and a base for the Vietnamese military during the war. Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are used for tourism, and they still preserve many historical relics, artifacts, and structures associated with a heroic period in the history of Vietnam. To explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, you can consider this tour: Saigon – Cu Chi Tunnels – Cao Dai Temple
Can Gio Ecotourism Area
Can Gio Ecotourism Area is located about 50 kilometers from the center of Ho Chi Minh City. It features a mangrove forest and an ecosystem that includes a diverse range of terrestrial and aquatic species. Since 2000, Can Gio has been officially recognized by UNESCO as the world’s most outstanding biosphere reserve, and it is also the first biosphere reserve in Vietnam.
Here, you can explore the forest by canoe, visit the revolutionary base of Rung Sac, historical sites, and learn about the lives, battles, and achievements of the special forces soldiers during the war, as well as participate in many other exciting activities.
Ho Chi Minh city Cuisine
Many experienced travelers to Saigon believe that there are countless delicious dishes for you to enjoy. The cuisine of Ho Chi Minh City is very diverse, a combination of dishes from various regions across Vietnam. Some of the must-try dishes when visiting Ho Chi Minh City include:
If you were to ask what the “specialty” dish of Saigon is, the definite answer would be broken rice (com tam). This is the main meal for Saigonese people during lunch or dinner. The most distinctive version of broken rice is still broken rice with grilled pork, shredded pork skin, served with scallion oil, pickles, and a little fish sauce.
Some delicious broken rice restaurants in Saigon include:
- Ba Cuong Broken Rice
Address: 263 Tran Quang Khai Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
- Nguyen Van Cu Broken Rice
Address: 74 Nguyen Van Cu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
- Phuc Loc Tho Broken Rice
Address: 236 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and many other branches.
Banh mi (Vietnamese bread)
Banh mi in Vietnam, both in general and in Saigon specifically, has been highly praised by international travelers. Saigon’s banh mi includes some famous types such as: banh mi with meat fillings, banh mi with fish cake, banh mi with roast pork, banh mi xiu mai (pork meatball sandwich), and more.
Here are some delicious banh mi places in Saigon:
- Nhu Lan Sandwich
Address: 50 Ham Nghi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
- Huynh Hoa Sandwich
Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
- Breadtalk Sandwich
Address: Breadtalk – 3rd Floor, Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Despite not being a coastal city, the people of Saigon have a particular fondness for snails. It’s a suitable dish for people to sit together for a while after a day of work. Many snail restaurants have sprung up in Saigon, and here are some good and affordable options for you to consider:
- Loan Snail shop – 166/1 Ly Thai To, Ward 1, District 3.
- Dao Snail shop – 212B/C79 Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1.
- Khanh Snail shop – 25/5 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
- To Snail shop – C128 Xom Chieu, Ward 15, District 4.
This is a popular dish in Saigon, often sold by street vendors on sidewalks to upscale restaurants. While the ingredients and flavors may vary slightly from place to place, there is a common recipe for creating various Rice noodle dishes, such as beef stew rice noodle, Nam Vang rice noodle, squid rice noodle,…
Notes When Visiting Ho Chi Minh City
- Take proactive measures to safeguard your personal belongings when in crowded areas and while navigating the streets, as incidents of theft can occur in this city.
- Avoid going out during rush hours, typically from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM, as the city often experiences traffic congestion.
- Check your route on a map to avoid one-way streets and car lanes if you’re traveling by motorbike, especially in the city center.
- Ho Chi Minh City has many interconnected narrow alleyways. It’s advisable not to enter these alleys unless you are familiar with the area and the route.
Another city near Ho Chi Minh City located in the Mekong Delta region is also very interesting: Can Tho, Vietnam: 13 Places to Visit & Things to Know
With its rich potential in history, culture, cuisine, and tourism, Ho Chi Minh city is a fascinating place to explore and a must-visit when you come to Vietnam. We hope that with the information we’ve provided, you will have a memorable visit to Ho Chi Minh city. We also offer day tours in Ho Chi Minh city, please contact our travel advisors if you have any requests.