Ho Chi Minh City, often still called Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and for many the first point of contact with Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is chaotic, loud, hot and just a little crazy.
If it’s your first time in Ho Chi Minh City, then you may be overwhelmed and need a few tips about sights, interesting places or just about things that are fun and that you should definitely try. Saigon is huge and the sights are spread all over the city and its districts.
Saigon: Tips, Sights and Must-Sees – Everything You Can Do In Ho Chi Minh City
Find out what you can do in Ho Chi Minh City and what there is to see in this in-depth article. With these tips about Saigon, nothing should stand in the way of an exciting stay.
1. Ben Thanh Market
The Ben Thanh Market is one of the landmarks of Ho Chi Minh City. Thousands of visitors come to the market every day, strolling, browsing and buying. Here you can buy almost anything your heart desires. Clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, groceries or the popular Vietnamese coffee. But don’t forget to bargain with prices!
Inside the Ben Thanh Market, there is hustle and bustle and there is always something going on. You can also try one or the other Vietnamese delicacy there. When all the shops in Ben Thanh Market close around 6 p.m., various stalls for the night market are slowly set up outside the door. It is definitely worth strolling over there as well, but not before 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., as not everything else is set up yet.
2. Saigon Skydeck
Not far from Ben Thanh Market is the Bitexco Financial Tower, on which the Saigon Skydeck is also located. On the 49th floor, you will find the Skydeck with a 360-degree view of Ho Chi Minh City. We love viewpoints and if you do too, then you shouldn’t miss this one.
The ticket price for the Saigon Skydeck is currently 200,000 VND, which is the equivalent of around € 8. If you can do without the Skydeck, you can go to the café or bar on the 50th – 52nd floors. You can also order something there and don’t have to pay an entrance fee.
You can also buy tickets online in advance and save yourself the queuing at the entrance at busy times.
3. War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum (roughly translated as War Remnants Museum) shows the wars in which Vietnam was involved in the recent past. Particular attention is paid to the war with the Americans, in which weapons of mass destruction such as napalm were also used.
For those interested in this topic, definitely worth a visit. Outside in front of the building, you will also find numerous vehicles such as tanks or jets that were used in the war. The museum is open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and from 1.20 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. The entrance fee is VND 15,000 (€ 0.60).
4. Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi tunnels are located about 70 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. There are many excursions from Ho Chi Minh City to the tunnel system. Originally the tunnels were 200 kilometers long, but most of them have crumbled from time to time.
The tunnels were used by the Viet Cong to hide during the war. There were even schools and offices underground. Today you can visit a 90-meter long section of tunnel in memory of the war and get an idea of what it must have been like back then.
A day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City often starts at 4-5 USD plus entry to the tunnels of 90,000 VND. Be sure to look around at several travel agencies and compare prices or book your tour online in advance. Indeed, inflated prices are often offered.
5. Jade Emperor Pagoda
The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most important Taoist temples in Ho Chi Minh City. In the temple, you will find many different statues of numerous gods, Buddhist statues and of course some of the eponymous jade emperors.
Next to the main building, there is a small pool with many turtles and inside you can look at different rooms, shrines and altars. Very impressive and the atmosphere is very calm and relaxing despite the sometimes high number of visitors. The pagoda is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and does not cost any admission. Donations for the pagoda are always welcome.
6. Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon stands in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. The cathedral is another landmark of the city and was built as early as 1883. The two bell towers are 58 meters high and the cathedral was built using materials imported from France.
In 1962 the cathedral was officially designated a basilica by the Pope and has been called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica ever since. Today it is not only a church but also a major tourist attraction. There is no entry fee to enter the cathedral, but you have to pay attention to the opening times. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Services are also held regularly on Sundays if you are interested.
7. Reunification Palace
In addition to being a museum today, the Reunification Palace is still used for government meetings and events. This is also the place where the end of the Vietnam War was decided.
The palace is one of the most visited attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. You can see many of the rooms inside, which are still furnished with the original chairs and tables. The basement with some control rooms etc. is also worth seeing.
Entry is VND 30,000 per person. The Reunification Palace is open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
You can also explore the Reunification Palace in combination with the Notre Dame Cathedral, the War Remnants Museum and Binh Tay Market on a day tour in Ho Chi Minh City.
8. Mariamman Temple
As in many Asian cities such as Bangkok or Singapore, you will also find a Hindu Mariamman temple in Ho Chi Minh City. In the temple, you will find images of many Hindu gods.
The Mariamman Temple is near the Ben Thanh Market. It was built at the end of the 19th century in honor of the Hindu deity of strength – Mariamman. Today it serves as a temple for the not-so-large Hindu community of Ho Chi Minh City. It is open to visitors daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
9. City Hall (The Former Town Hall)
Another magnificent French colonial building is the former Ho Chi Minh City City Hall. The imposing building was built in 1906 and is now the seat of the Vietnamese People’s Committee.
In front of the Town Hall there is a statue of Ho Chi Minh and a huge square that leads you down to the river. During the day, however, you will not find any shady spots on the square and it is relatively empty. As soon as the sun goes down, however, the city comes to life here too.
In addition to a few salespeople and many visitors, you will also find a few students here in the evening who like to chat with a few tourists to improve their English. In addition, the former town hall is beautifully illuminated and is, therefore, an impressive photo backdrop.
10. Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay Market is also in Chinatown and is similar to Ben Thanh Market, but much less touristy. You not only notice this in the prices, but also in the visitors, who are mostly locals here.
In the market, you can find all kinds of goods from groceries to clothing. But not only the market itself but also the side streets are a real experience. Countless people cavort here and despite the crowds, scooters are still squeezing through there. The pure chaos, but well worth seeing. If you are visiting Chinatown, this market should not be missed.