If you love to learn about different cultures and see the places where history was made, you will find lots of fascinating things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
It’s a vibrant metropolis, the biggest city in Vietnam, and it’s the home of over 8.1 million people. If you’re travelling around this incredible country, even though it is not the capital, Ho Chi Minh City is a unique must-see place.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN HO CHI MINH
Crawl along Cu Chi Tunnels
During the Vietnam War, the Vietcong (Vietnamese guerrilla soldiers) utilized a vast network of tunnels to navigate their way around the jungle and hide from the enemy. They often spent many days underground.
The most well-preserved examples of these tunnels are near Ho Chi Minh city and tourists are permitted to crawl through and experience the claustrophobia and intensity of those dark days.
Admire Cao Dai Temple
Cao Dai is a faith that is a combination of Islam, Christianity, and several other religions. It is a fine reflection of how it’s possible to embrace different denominations rather than fight against them.
The Cao Dai Temple is the headquarters of this harmonising faith and it is where most of its devotees come to worship.
It’s a gorgeous building that is decorated with rich, warm colours and ornate wall carvings. Every surface is beautified, from dragon sculpture columns to intricately patterned flooring. I loved learning about a religion I hadn’t heard of while enjoying the feast for the eyes that greeted me.
Visit War Remnants Museum
The Vietnam War is one that remains firmly in living memory and we should not allow it to be forgotten. The War Remnants Museum does an excellent job of explaining the how and why of this thirty-year conflict while displaying some impactful relics from the time.
As you explore the museum, you’ll find aircraft, tanks and weapons that were used during the war. You will also learn the disturbing truth about how evil human beings can sometimes be to each other. I left the museum with knowledge of gruesome jungle war tactics and sadness about the huge negative impact the Vietnam War had on millions of people.
Go up Bitexco Tower
The Bitexo Tower is the highest building in Ho Chi Minh City. This impressive cloud-kissing tower is a working office block as well as the location for a fun tourist attraction with a nerve-shredding sky terrace.
Sunset at the top of the tower is an awe-inspiring hour, you’ll need a great camera to capture the memories of a view that takes in the entire city and the Song Saigon River.
Tour the Reunification Palace
The more common name for this historic building is Independence Palace. It was where the President of South Vietnam lived during the war and, when the gates were destroyed by a tank during The Fall of Saigon, it was the location where the long war finally ended.
Rooms have been dressed to represent certain important eras in the history of Vietnam and the guided tours of the palace are super informative.
Shop at Ho Chi Minh’s Traditional markets
The traditional markets in Ho Chi Minh City are magical places packed full of shopping opportunities, delicious food and friendly people. It is here that you’ll see the true authentic Vietnam, people living their lives wondering why the foreigners find it so interesting.
Binh Tay Market is fabulous for enjoying a taste of local Buddhist life. Arrive early and you’ll be jostled by locals shopping for their daily supplies. Grab a strong coffee from the expert bean traders then watch the hubbub unfold and admire the exquisite Chinese style of architecture.
Shopping in undercover markets when the weather is humid can be exhausting so plan to stay for a few hours before tasting the plentiful street food. There’s usually an airy central square in which to cool off and eat your noodles and Banh Bao, the world class steamed buns with a shredded pork filling.
Be amazed at Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was designed and built when Vietnam was a French colony and it’s beautiful if slightly odd addition to the city.
As one of only a few Catholic churches still standing in Ho Chi Minh City it would be worth a visit even if it wasn’t a magnificent building that needs admiring.
The peachy stone brickwork glows in the sunshine and looks cheerful even on dull days. The inside is surprisingly simple when compared with the richly decorated bell towers and intricate frontage. Do go inside though! The 3D floor that runs down the central aisle is striking.
PLANNING YOUR PERFECT HO CHI MINH TRIP
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