Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest and most chaotic city. I love the chaos here, though you need to be careful (and patient) when walking across the street! Motorbikes, bicycles, cars, and rickshaws go wherever and whenever they please and lots of street stands and market spill into the traffic lanes. It’s a city with a billion things happening at once. There is a lot of information here about the war, from the War Remnants Museum to the Cu Chi Tunnels. There’s a great historical museum here, though the English translation leaves a lot to be desired. The city has a lot to offer: wonderful shops, fantastic nightlife, and delicious food. After Hoi An, it is my second favorite city in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Visit the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
2. See the Cao Dai Holy See Temple
3. Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
4. Ascend the Saigon Skydeck
5. Visit the War Remnants Museum
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Get lost in Chinatown
Chinatown is a hive of activity; it is a maze of temples, restaurants, jade ornaments, and medicine shops. Aside from the sprawling Binh Tay Market, you’ll find some fascinating temples in the area including the Chinese Chua Quan Am Temple and Cha Tam, which is a Catholic cathedral.
2. Admire the Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is an imposing red brick building built between 1877 and 1883. The two towers in the front of the cathedral rise above visitors at nearly 58 meters tall while the neon-lit statue of the Virgin Mary is also an arresting site.
3. See the Emperor Jade Pagoda
Emperor Jade is one of the most impressive pagodas in Vietnam. The intricate carvings and depictions of deities including Emperor Jade himself.
4. Shop at the Ben Thanh Market
Though the market is crowded and rife with pickpockets, it is the ideal place to pick up a bargain or try some traditional (and inexpensive) Vietnamese food. It’s an ideal shopping place.
5. Escape to Can Gio Island
The Can Gio Island is popular with tourists and Ho Chi Minh locals as a way to escape the chaos of the city. The beaches here aren’t mind-blowing like they are in Thailand but it’s a cool place to relax and one of Vietnam’s better islands. The island’s monkey sanctuary and mangroves are great for wildlife fans.
6. Unwind in Twenty-Three September Park
In the hours just preceding and just after the working day, this park is packed with people exercising and playing games. Watch a Tai Chi class, play a game of badminton, or chat with one of the many students who hang out in the area.