Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), 21+ Top Things To Do: Full Guide

In this ultimate guide to Ho Chi Minh City, we give you the top things to do (known and lesser known spots), how to get there and go around, where to stay and eat, prices, and all the trips you can take.
In this ultimate guide to Ho Chi Minh City, we give you the top things to do (known and lesser known spots), how to get there and go around, where to stay and eat, prices, and all the trips you can take.
Statue of Ho Chi Minh at Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Statue of Ho Chi Minh at Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Statue of Ho Chi Minh at Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), 21+ Top Things To Do: Full Guide

In this ultimate guide to Ho Chi Minh City, we give you the top things to do (known and lesser known spots), how to get there and go around, where to stay and eat, prices, and all the trips you can take.
In this ultimate guide to Ho Chi Minh City, we give you the top things to do (known and lesser known spots), how to get there and go around, where to stay and eat, prices, and all the trips you can take.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Arijana and Matej - Shipped Away
Hi! We're Arijana & Matej

Welcome & thank you for reading our blog. :) We love what we do and put a lot of work in our free articles. So if you find them helpful, please consider supporting us.

Arijana and Matej - Shipped Away
Hi! We're Arijana & Matej

Welcome & thank you for reading our blog. :) We love what we do and put a lot of work in our free articles. So if you find them helpful, please consider supporting us.

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links, so anytime you book something through them, we can earn a small commission with no extra cost to you.

About Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), also known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s financial hub and a modern counterpart to the capital city Hanoi.

Situated north of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City is a great starting point for many day trips and excursions, either to Mekong Delta or the southern coastal beach destinations like Vung Tau, Mui Ne, and a bit further up, Nha Trang. It’s well connected to all these destinations by either minibus (called limousine in Vietnam), regular buses, sleeper buses, and on the line towards the north, by train.

Ho Chi Minh City is a great starting point for many travelers, and it’s where most people fly to when first coming to Vietnam. It’s also the place we flew into on our first visit to Vietnam a few years ago.

A good thing to know is that Saigon is used interchangeably as the name for Ho Chi Minh City and is still the name for the old historical downtown part of the city.

Although some Vietnamese won’t accept Saigon as the name, natives of the city and most ex-pats stick to it.

But don’t worry, because nobody will care if you use either of the terms as a traveler! So have fun and use whichever sounds better to you. 🙂

Saigon Skydeck and city at sunset, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Traveling to Vietnam soon?
Vietnam e-Visa 2022: How to enter Vietnam (Full Guide)

Often, travelers don’t pay much attention to Ho Chi Minh City and only stay for a night or two. But hopefully, by reading this blog, you will find that it’s definitely worth your time as we give you an extensive list of the best things this bustling metropolis has to offer!

Interested in digital nomad life in one of Vietnam’s fascinating cities?

Read our article: Vietnam’s Top Places For Digital Nomads And Expats.

Soma Saigon cafe, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Did you know?

We explored Vietnam for more than 1 year and a half
and wrote 29 and counting detailed articles.

Did you know?
We explored Vietnam for more than 1 year and a half and wrote 29 and counting detailed articles.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Tips

Let’s start off with some useful travel tips for visiting Ho Chi Minh City.

Location (districts): When talking about locations within Ho Chi Minh City, it’s worth noting that the city is split into Districts, and you will mostly stay in and explore central District 1.

Transport: The easiest and cheapest way to go around the city is by using the Grab app for easy booking of cars/motorbikes with a pre-calculated price.

Internet, calls: The easiest way to stay connected on your trip to Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam is to get an affordable local SIM card, either at the airport or in one of the supermarkets or phone stores. You can also buy an affordable Vietnam eSIM online through Airalo or Holafly.

Currency: The currency used in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong, abbreviated as VND, and 1 USD is around 24.000 Vietnamese Dong.

Tours, activities, tickets: There are plenty of options for booking tours online and in many tour agency offices across the city, but the biggest selection of trusted ones is found on GetYourGuide, Viator, and Klook.

Insurance: We recommend both Heymondo (5% off for our readers) and SafetyWing (which we personally use at the moment).

Laundry: We recommend Wash & Dry 85 Giặt Sấy Laundry near Bui Vien Street.

Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon Travel Map

Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

The proximity to Mekong Delta, and the fact that it’s a modern, developed city but still with a rich history gives Ho Chi Minh City plenty of things to do.

So read on to learn about all the top things to do on your visit to Ho Chi Minh City.

Arijana Tkalcec in the famous street of Cho Lon - China town, Ho Chi Minh City

1. Explore downtown District 1’s landmarks

Head to the central part of District 1, the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City, and explore a vast amount of historical buildings and markets and find delicious food, among other things.

Nguyen Hue Walking street

No visit to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without a stroll through Nguyen Hue Walking Street, conveniently located in the center of downtown District 1.

Its area is surrounded by important buildings like the Opera House, the People’s Committee of HCMC, and the funky Cafe Apartments building. And it’s also a stone’s throw away from the Ben Thanh market and the Saigon Skydeck.

Statue of Ho Chi Minh at Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Opera House

The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as The Opera House is right next to Nguyen Hue Walking Street, and was built in 1897 by French colonists to serve as an opera house for Westerners.

The architecture of the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House was inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris and was completely designed by the French, and all the decor and furnishing were also brought from France.

Opera House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City

The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City building next to Nguyen Hue Walking Street is the seat of the Ho Chi Minh City government.

It’s really hard to miss as it’s right behind the statue of Ho Chi Minh.

People's Committee Building in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ben Thanh Market

The Ben Thanh Market is the go-to spot for any tourist visiting Ho Chi Minh City. This day & night market is great for souvenirs, clothes, and grabbing a snack.

But make sure to haggle quite a bit because the prices are highly inflated, as in any market geared towards tourists. So, a fair price will often be as low as 70% of the first asking price.

Busy street at Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We only did a short visit to the Ben Thanh Market, as it wasn’t as interesting to us. And we definitely like the more “local” markets anyway, except if we’re specifically searching for some souvenirs (very rarely 😀).

But we did find a great tour on Klook that takes you to the local markets in Ho Chi Minh City instead.

Inside of the busy Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Saigon’s post office

Saigon’s post office is one of the most known landmarks and most important historical buildings in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We were the most excited about the post office because of meeting Vietnam’s last public letter writer and translator, Duong Van Ngo.

Duong Van Ngo, the last public letter writer at Saigon Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

He was born on 3. March 1930 and has been working in the post office since he was 17 years old for 74 years until his forced retirement in 2021. 

Duong Van Ngo was able to retire in 1990, but he loved his job so much that he could get a spot at a table in the post office, where he continued to come from Monday to Friday for additional 31 years. 

Duong Van Ngo, the last public letter writer at Saigon Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is the oldest church in Ho Chi Minh City, built in 1880 with all the building materials imported from France. Its famous red brick exterior has retained its beautiful color through the years.

In the last few years, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Saigon has been through many renovations, so if you visit at the “wrong” time, you might see scaffolding around it.

During our visit, just one part was under renovation, but as of August 2022, it had scaffolding all around it. Nonetheless, it’s still worth visiting, and it’s right across from the Post Office of Saigon anyways.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Sri Mariamman Temple

The Sri Mariamman Temple, located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, was built by the Tamil community as a place of worship for the Hindu deity Mariamman.

We passed by it after our visit to the Ben Thanh Market, and even though we didn’t go inside, we loved observing the beautiful details outside of it.

2. Get 360 city views at Saigon Skydeck

Saigon’s Skydeck is a glass-enclosed observation deck on the 49th floor of the 262-meter-high Bitexco tower building inspired by the lotus, the national flower of Vietnam.

It’s an unmissable attraction as it offers excellent 360 views of Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon Skydeck at sunset, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The best time to visit the Saigon Skydeck at Bitexco tower is anytime during its opening hours (10 am to 8 pm), but for a unique experience, stay until sunset to observe the city’s night mode.

View from Saigon Skydeck towards Thao Dien, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The ticket price for visiting the Saigon Skydeck at Bitexco tower is $9 per person, which includes a visit to the Ao Dai Museum of traditional women’s clothing on the same floor.

Although the windows of the observation room can be a bit dirty, or at least they were on our visit, you can still get a really good view of the city. 

Note for photographers: the windows reflect EVERYTHING, so unless you have some trick up your sleeve, you can’t really avoid it. 

Arijana Tkalcec looking out from the Saigon Skydeck in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

3. Visit the Cafe apartments building

The Cafe Apartments building on Nguyen Hue Walking Street houses countless cute cafes and other businesses supposedly operating without a proper license, as it’s a residential building not meant to be used for commercial purposes.

View of the Cafe Apartments Building from Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The businesses in the Cafe Apartments building have been threatened with eviction, and we hope that doesn’t actually end up happening because it’s such an iconic spot in Ho Chi Minh City.

We checked out the cute The Letter Cafe with a great balcony overlooking Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

Arijana Tkalcec in front of Cafe Apartments Building, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

4. See the War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum is a must-visit when you’re in Ho Chi Minh City. Although you should keep in mind that the things you will see inside can scar you for life, as most images are quite disturbing, and we struggled to cope with them at some points.

War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

You might then ask why we recommend it as a must-visit in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s because it’s a great reminder of the brutality of any war and why nobody should ever support anything like it, no matter which side you support.

War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The War Remnants Museum has three floors and the time needed to visit it is about an hour. We stayed for about two hours as we wanted to know more about it, and midway we had to sit down to calm ourselves, as we were horrified.

We knew a lot about the horrible history of the war before visiting. But it gets very real when you visit and see the actual images.

You can visit the War Remnants Museum by yourself or join one of the city tours that also visit it.

Many of the tours that visit the museum combine it with a visit to Cu Chi Tunnels, and in some city tours, you can choose between the Independence Palace or the War Remnants Museum. Both are good options for learning more about history.

5. See the Independence Palace

The Independence Palace or Reunification Palace is a historical landmark of Ho Chi Minh City, as it was first the grounds of independence from the French and later the scene of the end of Vietnam’s war during the Fall of Saigon.

It is now a museum and tourist destination where you can learn plenty about the history of the palace and the city.

The opening hours of the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City are daily from 8 am to 4:30 pm, and the ticket costs 40.000 VND ($1.7) for general admission or 65.000 VND ($2.8) for both the admission and access to the exhibit.

Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

You can visit the Independence Palace by yourself or as part of a city tour.

6. See the Pink Church

Tan Dinh Church, or the so-called Pink Church, is located in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City and has been quite famous amongst tourists since it got its signature pink color in 1957.

Arijana Tkalcec in front of the Pink Church in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Pink Church is also the second largest church in Ho Chi Minh City, right after the famous Notre Dame Basilica of District 1.

Visiting tip: Keep in mind that this is a Catholic church, which means there will be a mass on Sunday morning. At that time, visitors can’t visit the church, and you’ll only be able to see it from the outside (we made that mistake).

If you want to grab a cup of coffee or something to eat, then make sure to check out the Cong cafe right across the street from the Pink Church. It offers excellent views of the church, the busy street and they make great coffee. We loved it there.

Arijana Tkalcec at Cong Caphe next to the Pink Church, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

7. Visit the Saigon Japantown

Back in the 90s, many Japanese ex-pats came to Saigon, and bit by bit, a small Japanese town was born. You can find many Japanese restaurants, bars, massage parlors, and other businesses within these few alleys.

8. Visit Cho Lon – Chinatown

Cho Lon, which means “big market” once a separate city, is the original Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City, and the biggest Chinatown in the world.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Lon is famous for its wide variety of restaurants, bustling market, and many temples.

You can visit and explore Cho Lon on one of the below tours:

Arijana Tkalcec in the famous street of Cho Lon - China town, Ho Chi Minh City

Check out Thien Hau Temple in Cho Lon

In the dead center of Cho Lon is the Thien Hau Temple, a Chinese-style Buddhist temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, built in 1760 by the first Cantonese settlers.

Though it is a beautiful temple, we didn’t spend much time here or enjoy it as much. It was way too crowded with people with personal photographers, so lights were flashing left and right, and it wasn’t what we expected at first.

The temple is also famous for the pink paper prayer slips with names of donators who supported it displayed on a wall inside.

Pink donation notes at Thien Hau Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

9. Embark on a Mekong Delta day trip

The Mekong Delta is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City and a must-do thing when visiting the area.

You can visit floating markets and do tours on a bike, boat, or foot. And there are also opportunities for kayaking and fishing trips.

Cai Rang Mekong Delta Floating Market Aerial View, Can Tho, Vietnam

Most tours to the Mekong from Ho Chi Minh City visit the My Tho and Ben Tre river islands.

10. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels

One of the most popular things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, a network of underground tunnels used by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War to fight the US troops.

The tunnels were used as hiding spots, weapons caches, living spaces, and hospitals. These tunnels stretched over 120 kilometers and had hundreds of entrances in villages around Cu Chi District.

Due to its horrible history, we wouldn’t necessarily like to list the Cu Chi Tunnels as a must-visit site in Vietnam. Still, we can understand the appeal because of its historical importance, much like the War Remnants Museum.

11. Join a Food Tour

Ho Chi Minh City has an abundance of unique dishes to offer any visitor, and one of the best ways to explore the fantastic Vietnamese cuisine is to go on a food tour.

The tour will take you to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and introduce you to some of the most popular dishes and the culture behind them.

Another fantastic thing we noticed is that you can also find specialized Vegan/Vegetarian food tours in Ho Chi Minh City, which we think is terrific because Vietnam is heaven for vegans/vegetarians.

12. Join a Vietnamese cooking class

We keep going on and on about the wonderful Vietnamese food, so if you’d like to learn how to make some, joining a cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City is the way to go.

Although Hanoi and Hoi An are the places with some of the most famous cooking classes, don’t think for a second that Ho Chi Minh City’s ones are less worthy!

13. Explore the coffee culture

Make sure to explore the incredible coffee culture of Vietnam in the countless Ho Chi Minh City cafes and restaurants. The sheer number of cool cafes in Ho Chi Minh City will leave you in awe.

You will be glad to know that you can have your coffee in more ways than you can imagine. You can go simple and order the classical Vietnamese coffee or go super “local” and have the world-famous egg coffee.

Some cafes we recommend:

  • The Letter Cafe at Cafe Apartments Building (great view of Nguyen Hue Walking Street)
  • Soma Saigon in Thao Dien, D2 (nice outdoor and indoor seating, great for working)
  • Cong Caphe at the Pink Church or any other location (great coffee, many options)
  • Cafe Cô Ba – Đồng Khởi (great drinks, amazing view of the riverside from the top)
Cat painting at Soma Saigon cafe, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

14. See the Buu Long Pagoda in District 9

Visit the Buu Long Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 9, a fascinating pagoda more similar to those found in other southeast Asian countries. Its architecture is comprised of architectural elements from Thailand, Myanmar, and of course, Vietnam itself.

Located in District 9, Buu Long Pagoda is not on the main tourist route in Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s totally worth visiting. It’s gorgeous, and the temple grounds are full of greenery, and if you climb up the top of the tower, you get a great panoramic view.

Visiting Buu Long Pagoda in Saigon in Vietnam

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any tours online that visit the Buu Long Pagoda.

Though it’s not that hard to visit on your own, as you can just book a Grab car/taxi to take you there.

Watch our YouTube video: Buu Long Pagoda

[ ALSO READ ]

Visiting Buu Long Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Buu Long Pagoda (Visiting Guide)

15. Have fun at Artinus 3D Museum

There are many 3D museums worldwide, and among them all, the Artinus 3D Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is also absolutely worth a visit. We had a lot of fun, even as adults going around and snapping fantastic photos.

The Artinus 3D Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is quite big, so we suggest giving yourself at least 1.5 to 2 hours to explore it.

It’s an excellent place for anyone, but especially wonderful for families.

2022 UPDATE: As of the end of October 2022, it seems like the Artinus 3D museum in Ho Chi Minh City is closed. We saw google reviews saying that it’s either being demolished or renovated. We will update this article soon with up-to-date-info (as soon as they respond to messages).

Arijana Tkalcec with King Kong at Artinus 3D Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Opening hours: Artinus 3D Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm.

Tickets

Ticket: The Artinus 3D Museum entrance ticket costs 200.000 VND ($8) on weekdays and 250.000 VND ($10) on weekends.

16. Take a ride in a cyclo

Many people think that the cyclo is just a thing made up for tourists to be driven in, but it’s a significant part of Vietnamese history, that was used for a long time as a means of transport.

If you want to explore this bustling city differently, try jumping into a cyclo.

We found some cool tours online where you can go around the city’s attractions on a cyclo. And some of them you can also customize completely to your liking

17. Go for a dinner cruise on the Saigon river

Lately, one of the most popular activities in Ho Chi Minh City is to take a dinner cruise on the Saigon River. It’s an excellent opportunity to see both sides of the city: modern and traditional, while enjoying delicious food and drinks.

Klook.com
Saigon Skydeck and waterfront at sunset, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

18. Visit one of Ho Chi Minh City’s many parks

There are a lot of interesting parks in Ho Chi Minh City that are great for exercising and strolling around. And if you go in the early morning or late afternoon, you will see countless Vietnamese getting their daily exercise in. 

And sometimes sports are done on the sidewalks as well, as, for example, we’ve seen older ladies playing badminton right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral just before sunrise.

Morning exercise in a park in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Also, right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral is the Công viên 30/4 park, where we saw these pretty squirrels that a lady was feeding some fruit and nuts.

Squirrel in a park, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

19. Visit Landmark 81, the highest building in HCMC

Landmark 81 is the highest building in Ho Chi Minh City and an icon of the city that has added a lot of height to its skyline.

Landmark 81 was the highest building in South East Asia until 2022, when it was overtaken by the Merdeka 118 building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Landmark 81 aerial view, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

There is an observatory in the Landmark 81 building that you can visit and get a great view of Ho Chi Minh City from the 25th, 26th, and 27th floors.

Landmark 81 Building, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

20. Party on Bui Vien Street – Backpacker Street

Partying in Bui Vien Street is one of the top things to do (if that’s something you like). It’s super busy, exciting, and loud, so if that’s your cup of tea, definitely hit Bui Vien Street on a night out.

21. Ride the Saigon Waterbus

One of the newest additions to the transportation infrastructure and tourism attractions in Ho Chi Minh City is the Saigon Waterbus.

It’s a river bus with spectacular views and 11 stops along the Saigon river on a 1-hour round-trip costing 30K VND ($1.3).

The best time to go on the Saigon waterbus is early morning or late afternoon.

You can buy a ticket for the Saigon Waterbus at the Saigon Waterbus Station on the riverbank, just a few minutes away from the Nguyen Hue Walking Street.


Also, you can book the tickets online on their website https://saigonwaterbus.com or download their app, but it seems it’s currently only available in Vietnamese. But if you use Google Translate on the website to translate it, you should be able to book it.

Saigon Skydeck and waterfront at sunset, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Trips from Ho Chi Minh City

Besides the trips to Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City is also great for trips to nearby places like Vung Tau, Can Gio Mangrove, and Cat Tien National Park.

Go on a day trip to Vung Tau

Another excellent option for a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, only 100km or 2 hours away by speed ferry, is the coastal city of Vung Tau, known for its beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and laid-back atmosphere.

Vung Tau is especially popular amongst Vietnamese, and it can get pretty crowded during weekends and especially holidays.

The most popular way to get to Vung Tau from Ho Chi Minh City is by speed ferry in 2 hours for about $15 one way or by shared limousine for about $10 one way.

And from Vung Tau, you can extend your trip to the amazing Con Dao Island in about 4 hours by highspeed ferry for about $35 one way or $70 return.

Go on a day trip to Can Gio Mangrove – Vam Sat Mangrove Forest

Not far from Ho Chi Minh City is the Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere, also known as the “green lungs of Ho Chi Minh City,” where you can enjoy a short trek through the mangroves, have lunch and learn about flora and fauna.

Go on a day trip to Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is a great place to visit if you want to escape the busy city life. The park has many different areas worth exploring and offers a wide range of visitor activities, such as hiking, bird watching, and cycling.

If you want to visit Cat Tien National Park but don’t have much time on your hands, taking a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City might be the best option for you.

We only managed to find one tour on Viator and one on Klook, and it’s possible that the tours are not running during parts of the year when it’s too rainy. (check before booking)

Tours:

Klook.com

More things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

There’s so much to do in Ho Chi Minh City, and it’s hard to cover it all, but here are some more things that deserve mentioning!

Kites flying at Thu Thiem New Urban Area

We randomly stumbled upon a new location at the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, where towards the sunset, you can see hundreds of kites filling the sky.

Kite flying at Thu Thiem, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
There’s lots of kites usually, but as we were focused on filming for YouTube we, unfortunately, forgot to take a better photo. Sorry!

The best time for flying kites in Ho Chi Minh City is between February, right after Tet – Vietnamese New Year, and June, when the wind conditions are at their best.

And we heard that there are even more spots in HCMC where you can see kites fly, but the Thu Thiem spot is the most famous one.

Shop for sustainable and organic products at Thao Dien

While in Thao Dien, you can visit the Lại Đây Refill Station, a zero waste and refill shop, where you can refill shampoo and shower gel, buy bamboo toothbrushes, and more.

And in Thao Dien, we also found this excellent spot called 32 Trần Ngọc Diện, which also houses the Purr Nature shop (previously Green Around the Corner), where you can find many sustainable products like soap bars, natural deodorant, and similar.

Eco Friendly Products found in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

And while you’re there, you can also check out The Snap Cafe, offering delicious homemade desserts, ice cream, amazing burgers, and salads.

Other zero-waste/organic shops in Thao Dien:

Best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is in the dry season, between November and April when the weather is the most pleasant, and the best month to visit is February, with the lowest rainfall and humidity levels and not-so-high temperatures.

The rainy (monsoon) season in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) falls between May and November, with the wettest month being September. During this time, flooding of the streets is also possible.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

The best place to stay during your visit to Ho Chi Minh City is in District 1, where you will find most tourist attractions and city highlights like Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, and War Remnants Museum.

For backpackers, the most famous place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City is definitely on or around Bui Vien street, the famous walking street lined with bars, eateries, and shops. It’s incredibly alive at night when it becomes the go-to party spot in the city.

Luxury accommodation in District 1

Mid-range accommodation in District 1

Budget accommodation in District 1

Hotels near Bui Vien Street

Before you book a hotel/hostel near or right on Bui Vien Street, be aware that the street is very loud during the evenings and far into the night, till like 3 or even 4 am, due to the many nightclubs and partying.

But it’s a great place to stay if you want to be close to the action.

For families, we recommend booking something near Bui Vien Street but tucked into a smaller alley, so it’s not that crazy loud.

Here are our top picks (best-reviewed and best-price):

Where to eat in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City offers plenty of food for all tastes because it’s a melting pot of cultures. So, whether you’re in the mood for delicious local Vietnamese cuisine or something more international, you will have no problem finding it.

Some places we visited and loved:

  • Ngân Sài Gòn (old, well-known bakery with amazing Banh Mi & Banh Bao, also in vegan version + other delicious pastries and snacks)
  • Al Sham Saigon (Syrian, Lebanese, Middle Eastern food – delicious)
  • Saigon Bagel (amazing bagels, as well as other brunch dishes and delicious desserts)
  • Filthy Vegan (western vegan food, lots of burgers, hot dogs)
  • Soma Saigon in Thao Dien (buddha bowls, brunch, and bites)
  • Veggie Saigon (Vietnamese & Thai vegan food)
  • Prem Bistro and Cafe (vegetarian/vegan food, great vibe)

In addition, we want to outline a few places in Ho Chi Minh City that you should go to for specific cuisines, like the Japanese Alley or Cho Lon – China Town.

Japanese food – District 1’s Japan town

Japanese alley in Ho Chi Minh City is, of course, home to many Japanese restaurants. So that’s your best bet for finding the best and most popular Japanese restaurants.

The small streets of District 1’s Japan town offer many options, including one of the city’s most renowned ramen shops.

Decorations at Japanese Alley of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Chinese food – Cho Lon

Ho Chi Minh City’s China Town is the best place for authentic Chinese cuisine and Vietnamese-Chinese fusion dishes.

International food – District 1 and District 2

The best international restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City can be found in District 1 (downtown) and District 2, especially in Thao Dien, the “ex-pat area.”

When we were in Ho Chi Minh City, we stayed in District 1, and it was super easy to find all kinds of international restaurants like Syrian, Thai, and more.

Vegetarian and vegan food – District 1 and District 2

Although you can find countless veggie restaurants all over Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend District 1 and District 2 as the perfect spots for the best vegetarian and vegan food.

Some of the veggie restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City that we can recommend are Veggie Saigon, Filthy Vegan, Prem Bistro and Cafe, and Pizza 4P’s (best pizza in Vietnam – also found in Hanoi, Da Nang, Nha Trang, + more).

Greenery and decorations at the terrace of Prem Bistro, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

How to get to Ho Chi Minh City

The best way to get to Ho Chi Minh City is to fly into the Tan Son Nhat airport or reach it from other Vietnamese destinations by train or bus.

There are countless buses coming in and out of Ho Chi Minh City from the Mekong Delta, Vung Tau, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Dak Lak, and other locations further north.

And you can, of course, reach Ho Chi Minh City by train from all cities on the north-south line, like Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, and Nha Trang.

Flying into Ho Chi Minh City is also easy from most Vietnamese cities and other countries, as there are plenty of flights coming from Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali, Manila, and many others. And it actually has many more direct flights coming in than Hanoi.

How to get around Ho Chi Minh City

The best way to get around Ho Chi Minh City’s many districts is by using Grab (like Uber) to book a car or a motorbike pickup.

The best way to get around District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City is to walk, as many attractions are not too far from one another. We highly recommend walking around as you will experience the city in much more detail.

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Ho Chi Minh City on a tour

Although you can explore the whole city on your own, we recommend joining a tour if you’re on a short visit, so you can take in as much as possible of the city.

Luckily there are established and trusted tour companies operating many types of tours in HCMC, from the jeep, cyclo, car, motorbike, or even boat tours.

Ho Chi Minh City on a motorbike

You can, of course, also explore Ho Chi Minh City by motorbike yourself, but we don’t recommend it to first-timers, especially if you haven’t driven a motorbike before. We only rented a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City when we needed it to run some errands (camera gear shopping, etc.) and to visit the Buu Long Pagoda.

HCMC Hidden bike rental tip: Whenever we wanted to rent from a “well-known” bike rental shop, especially some on the main tourist streets, it was much more expensive, and they wanted to keep your passport/id no matter what (never agree to that!).

We found it a much more straightforward experience when renting from smaller, more local bike rental shops. You can find them by typing “Cho Thue Xe May” into Google/Google Maps.

One that we rented from that had bikes in great condition was Cho Thuê Xe Máy Sài Gòn, which we can highly recommend.

Matej Span on a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

How many days in Ho Chi Minh City is enough?

You should plan to spend 2 to 3 days to see all of Ho Chi Minh City’s highlights, visit Cu Chi Tunnels, and then make a day trip to Mekong Delta.

Prices in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is modern and enormous (the biggest city in Vietnam), so the prices can be higher compared to a smaller town, but it all depends on the places you visit.

Most tickets for attractions are quite affordable, and eating out is also reasonable, especially if you eat street food or in local restaurants.

AccommodationFoodTransport
Hotel: $20 – $50 / nightInexpensive meal: $1 – $2.5Taxi 1km: $1 – $2
Hostel: $5 – $10 / nightMid-range meal: $5 – $10Motorbike rental: $5 – $10
Ho Chi Minh City budget overview

Is Ho Chi Minh City safe?

Ho Chi Minh City is a very safe destination in Vietnam, and you will have no problems exploring this wonderful city.

The only (single) thing anyone said about safety in Ho Chi Minh City was the fact that you shouldn’t walk around or stand by the side of the road with your phone right there in the open, as it’s supposedly common for phone snatching thieves to drive by on a motorbike and grab it.

This was quite surprising, as nobody ever told us this about any other place in Vietnam. But still, we think it’s not explicitly connected to Ho Chi Minh City, as much as it is a normal thing that can happen anywhere (especially in a big city like HCMC).

So other than that, you should be just fine. 🙂

Health Insurance

Nonetheless, we never advise traveling anywhere outside your country without valid travel insurance.

We recommend the following for Vietnam:

Is Ho Chi Minh City worth visiting?

Vietnam’s biggest city, Ho Chi Minh City, is definitely worth visiting because of its many fantastic attractions and historical buildings, tasty food, and all the day trip possibilities like Mekong Delta and Vung Tau.

We hope we gave you enough information to inspire your visit to Ho Chi Minh City. If you have any questions or remarks, or if we missed out on anything, please leave a comment, and we’ll be happy to help! 🙂

Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

We thrive while slow-traveling and focus on experiences, meeting locals, and immersing ourselves in the cultures we stumble upon. And we want to share this all with you.

So if you like our work, and would like to support us, you can tip us a coffee.

Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

We thrive while slow-traveling and focus on experiences, meeting locals, and immersing ourselves in the cultures we stumble upon. And we want to share this all with you.

So if you like our work, and would like to support us, you can tip us a coffee.

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