What to do in Ho Chi Minh City; A Guide to Vietnam’s Biggest City

While lacking the raw authenticity of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City is the cosmopolitan and financial heart of Vietnam, featuring towering skyscrapers, insane traffic and great food. The city also contains many famous attractions, and probably the most active and lively nightlife anywhere in Vietnam.

towering skyscrapers Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City’s skyline.

First among the attractions are the Cu Chi tunnels. The vast subterranean network was created by the Vietcong during the Indochina wars, and part of your visit here lets you traverse a section of the tunnels. This is not for the claustrophobic, as the tunnels are extremely narrow, truly making you appreciate what it must have been like to live down there for days at a time. The guided tour will also demonstrate a wide array of traps used by the Vietcong against American forces, as well as give your guests the chance to fire a number of firearms at the gun range.

Cu Chi tunnels
An entrance into the claustrophobic Cu Chi Tunnels.

The second most famous attraction is probably the War Remnants Museum. The museum has some fascinating exhibits relating to the Vietnam War, and the floor dedicated to the on-going consequences of chemical warfare, namely the infamous “Agent Orange” is particularly eye opening and heart-breaking.

Over at Ben Thanh market, pretty much anything you could think of is being sold, and across the street is an amazing food market, with cuisines from all over the world on offer. The city also has arguably the best nightlife in Vietnam, centred on the so called “backpacker street” of Bui Vien.

Ben Thanh market
Ben Thanh market, one of Vietnam’s largest.

As the capital of the French Colony in the area, Ho Chi Minh also features a large amount of fantastic colonial architecture. Prime examples of this include the Central Post Office, Opera House and of course Notre Dame Cathedral. Named for its larger brother in Paris, the cathedral looks like a miniature version of its more famous Parisian counterpart.

Another stunning example of colonial architecture is Reunification Palace. Formerly the French governor’s residence, then renamed Independence Palace following South Vietnamese Independence, and finally receiving its current name after the end of the Vietnam War and the reunification of North and South.

Bitexco Financial Tower
The classy sky bar high up in Bitexco Financial Towers offers some stunning views with your meal or drink.

For a panoramic view of the sprawling city, plan a trip over to Bitexco Financial Tower and let your guests enjoy a drink in the bar/restaurant at the top floor. While the drinks are expensive here, catering mostly to upper class residents and business travellers, the view of the city is enough to make it worth it, especially at sunset, as the natural light fades and the city explodes with streetlights. Another great place to be for sunset and evening is near the Starlight Bridge. At night this otherwise ordinary bridge lights up in all the colours of the rainbow, and makes for a stunning back for your dinner or evening drinks.

On the upscale side of things, head to Dong Khoi street. Lined with fancy boutique shops, this is the foremost shopping location in all of Vietnam, and any brand you can think of can be found here, making it a must-see for shopping tours. The city also has a vibrant and thriving art scene, with art galleries on every block and a fantastic Fine Arts Museum.

While there are certainly more activities to get up to in the massive city, these are what we consider to be the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

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