9 Awesome things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Travel Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

9 Awesome things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh (HCMC), popularly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest city. Let this city’s quirky coffee places, amazing motorbikes and classic French architecture welcome you into its bustling metropolis. Most of HCMC’s attractions revolve around the fragments of the Historical Vietnam War alongside its mesmerizing modern skyscrapers and shopping centers. Indeed a seamless fusion between the old and the new Vietnam.

Here are 9 of the best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City for first time travelers:

 

1. Saigon Opera House

With its iconic French colonial architecture, this structure was certified as one of Vietnam’s National Relic in 2012. From the pictures posted outside the theatre, you will notice the building’s curvy interiors.  But for one to able to take photos inside the opera house, you have to buy a ticket to one of its shows. I suggest the most famous one to date, the A O, a Vietnamese rendition of Cirque Du Soleil.

 

 

2. Notre Dame Cathedral

It is hard to miss the Notre Dame Cathedral as it is located in the center of District 1, the city’s business district. The Cathedral is another relic of French colonial times as evident in its architecture. According to the locals, its remarkable red bricks were imported directly from Marseilles, France.

 

A picturesque place for shoots!

 

3. Central Post Office

This is definitely the most beautiful post office I have been to! Designed by no other than Gustave Eiffel (yup, the architect of the Eiffel Tower!). The building looks like an early European train station with its intricate ironworks, high ceilings and patterned floor tiles. A large picture of Ho Chi Minh also rests at the end of the corridor.

Opening hours: 8am – 5:30pm
Entrance fee: Free

 

 

4. War Remnants Museum


War Remnants Museum documented the effects of the war between the US and Vietnam.


Outside of the museum, you will be greeted by fighter/bomber aircrafts, tanks, US armored vehicles and infantry weapons.

Inside the museum is an installation of the most disturbing photos I have ever seen.  Pictures of children affected by US bombing, dismembered body parts, victims of Agent Orange, infant cadavers in jars – the gore just went on and on. To be honest, I stopped looking at some of the exhibits as it was too much for me to take. We left the museum with a heavy heart after seeing all those horrifying images.  🙁

 

5. Handicapped Handicrafts

This store is a part of the Cu Chi Tunnels tour. As the name suggests, the lacquer paintings and handicrafts were made by handicapped people, most of them were war victims. The materials to make the art piece can be egg shells or mother of pearl. The shop we visited used egg shells to make their paintings.

 

Lacquer painting is an ancient Vietnamese art which uses a resin extracted from the cây sơn tree as a varnish or coating on the painting.

 

Cracked egg shells are manually layed piece by piece into an artwork with a use of a tweezer.

 

One of my best purchases is this egg shell painting of a woman wearing a traditional Vietnamese dress. (Aside from postcards, I also collect paintings from my travels.)  It was a bit pricey but the quality of the artwork was great and also, a part of the sales will benefit the handicapped, primarily those who suffer “Agent Orange”.

 

6. Cu Chi Tunnels

Your Vietnam trip will not be complete without visiting the world-famous Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels played a vital role for the Viet Congs to be able to defeat the US in the Vietnam War.  As part of the tour, you will be able to see the different booby traps that the Viet Cong’s created.

In addition, adrenaline junkies can also try to shoot AK-42 and M30 guns at the Cu Chi Tunnel Shooting Range.

 

Imagine the body structure of the Viet Congs as they fitted themselves inside this tiny sniper hole!

 

A must-do pose for all tourists! 🙂

Tourists can only enter a portion of the tunnel and you will have a choice between the shorter and the longer route. The shorter route takes about 5 minutes to finish while the longer one will take you almost 10 minutes. These tunnels were already modified to have a wider space for tourists, but the tunnels are still small (yes, you need to crawl) and it is a little hard to breathe inside. So if you have claustrophobia, I suggest you stay behind.


7. Mekong River Delta Tour

We booked the Mekong River Delta Tour through the hotel we were staying in (White Lotus Hotel).

From Unicorn Island, you will be taken to a Bee farm on Thoi Son Island.

Here are the BEES!

 

They sell bottles of honey and this royal jelly product which they say is good for the health and improves skin’s elasticity (they sold me into this skincare product so I bought 2 bottles :p)

 

In the next part of the tour, you will board a small boat and navigate through a narrow canal along Mekong Delta. The boat paddler will provide you a non la (traditional Vietnamese hat). It gets really warm so put the hat to good use.

This was an exciting part for me – National Geographic feels!

 

Lunch was served in a local restaurant nearby which had the best Vietnamese dishes – crispy elephant ear fish, fried spring rolls, fresh shrimp spring rolls and a lot more! You can also borrow a bike to explore the area or opt to take a nap in one of the hammocks.

Yummy elephant ear fish!

 

The last part of the tour was a visit to the Native Coconut Candy Factory. Our tour guide showed us how a coconut candy was created – you can grate some coconuts too!

 

8. Ben Thanh Market


The best place to taste Vietnam’s street food and to shop for souvenirs! Your bargaining skills will be handy in Ben Thanh – try chopping the suggested price up to 50% off while bargaining along the way with the sellers.

 

9. Saigon Square

There are two Saigon Square buildings in HCMC, Saigon Square 1 and 3 (Saigon Square 2 closed down already). I suggest you go to Saigon Sqaure 1, the one nearest to Ben Thanh market.

Saigon Square 1: 77 – 89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia road, district 1, HCMC

Saigon Square 3: 17E9 – 181 – 183 – 185 Hai Ba Trung street, district 1, HCMC

 


Our Vietnam itinerary was jam-packed visiting tourist attractions – tiring but fun! I would definitely go back to Vietnam to see more of its countryside, Hanoi you’re on my list!

Cảm ơn bạn Vietnam!

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02 Comments

  1. Elaine

    Nice clip Jan!
    And thanks for the infos, too 😊!
    I’m going to Vietnam ds June > this really excites me 👍🏻☺️😍

    January 12, 2017 Reply
    • wanderjan

      Hi Elaine! 🙂 you’re very much welcome! Don’t forget to try Vietnamese street food – they’re really good! Check my previous post for my best food finds in HCMC! 🙂

      January 13, 2017 Reply

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WanderJan

WanderJan is a travel blogger who shares her personal adventures from tips, guides, photos and food reviews down to the must-buy products and must-try activities. Follow her in her quest for once-in-a-lifetime experiences as she gets lost in the most fascinating places in the world.