Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam. If you are visiting Vietnam you just cannot skip Saigon, for you get to see the harmony in the confusion. I encountered the high-spirited living in District 1. The laid-back lives and open spaces in District 7. Came face to face with Vietnamese culture in District 5. Here’s my ultimate Ho Chi Minh City travel guide!
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City:
I stayed in the Backpackers area in District 1, the place is chaotic and filled with tourists. Bus # 152 takes you from the airport to the city centre, walk or take a taxi from thereon. The good part is that District 1 is in the heart of the city. So you can simply walk to the major places of interest. A dorm room would cost you around $ 7- $ 10. A private room can cost anywhere between $ 10- $ 20.
Pham Ngu Lao Street is a hub for hostels, with a new hostel coming up every month! It is the main street in the district, however, the hostels are located in some extremely narrow alleys. Since all of these hostels promise the same amenities and services you might have a hard time picking one out of the lot.
Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel
373/6 Pham Ngu Lao, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 3920 9235
A glimpse of Ho Chi Minh City
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Visit the War remnant museum to get insights into the war with both French and Americans. The museum displays exhibition rooms on history, statistics and the weaponry used during the war. You will be forced to think how in a short span of time this country has recovered from the horrors of the war. One can easily spend about 2 hours at the museum, which is worth the entrance fee of 30000 d.
- Gaze at the marvellous architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office. Built by Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel tower fame, Saigon’s Central Post Office is one of the most acclaimed buildings in the country. Once you enter you are greeted by groups of other tourists praising the Gothic-style architecture, French colonial maps and a portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Right across the post office stands the Notre Dame Cathedral basking in the beauty of Romanesque architecture, apart from the usual tourist buses I was lucky enough to spot a number of newlyweds having a photo shoot outside the Cathedral.
- A visit to the Mekong delta and the surrounding Islands is a must when in Saigon. There are a number of tour companies that take you to see places around the Mekong Delta, you can take a day tour or a 1 night 2 days tour. The day tours range from $ 10 – $ 15 and include transport, English speaking guide and an authentic Vietnamese meal. I recommend watching the floating market of Cai Be then tasting some snake wine and visiting the fruit market of Vin Long to indulge in the tropical treasure of the country. Note that the traditional meal isn’t vegan, do specify that when booking a tour.
- Crawl through the Cu Chi tunnels. You can either book a tour or just take a city bus by yourself. It is located a bit on the outskirts of Saigon, these tunnels showcase the Viet Cong method of warfare and it is very interesting to know how they survived during the American War. Avoid the tour under the tunnels if you are claustrophobic.
- Shopping can be a task in Saigon if you have not mastered the art of bargaining. And if you do go shopping, you’ll be a pro at it by the end of the shopping trip! There are a number of markets to choose from- Ben Than is the most visited by the tourists, probably because of the close proximity to the backpackers’ area is a nice place to shop for souvenirs, eat Vietnamese street food and hone your haggling skills. If you want to escape the heat, you can visit the night market. Word of caution: Be careful with your belongings, the streets are filled with pickpockets.
- Get carried away in the crazy Nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City, I would simply compare it to the Baga Beach area in Goa or the Khao San road of Bangkok. A number of Karaoke bars, uptown clubs or just bars on the streets.
- Sip an Iced Coffee and watch the chaotic life of the city go by. This sure was one of my favourite things to do during early evenings, the Vietnamese coffee took my heart away and was a sure way to battle the heat and humidity. More on the coffee culture of Vietnam will come in the next post.
Those are just some of the things that I did during my 5 days stay in Saigon. There is so much one can see and explore in this high-octane city and if not then just take a book and sip some addictive Vietnamese Coffee. If you enjoyed this Ho Chi Minh City travel guide you must also read about the tourist scams in Vietnam. Have you travelled to Saigon? What did you like the most? I would love to know about it! And if you plan to travel, feel free to ask for suggestions and help.