Discover the Best Attractions in Ho Chi Minh: A Traveler's Guide

Explore the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh and discover the top things to do, from visiting iconic landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum to immersing yourself in the local culture of Chinatown. Learn about practical travel information, including flights, accommodation, transportation, weather, and safety tips. Get inspired by additional attractions like Nguyen Hue Street and the Bitexco Financial Tower, and indulge in experiences such as Mekong Delta tours and Vietnamese cooking classes. With English widely spoken and a warm local welcome, Ho Chi Minh City is an ideal destination for an unforgettable adventure.

Image: Ultimate Guide: Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and a popular tourist destination. The city is known for its French colonial architecture, vibrant nightlife, and delicious street food.

Popular Tourist Attractions and Landmarks

  • Notre Dame Cathedral: This iconic cathedral is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built by the French in the 19th century and is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.
  • A photo of Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ben Thanh Market: This bustling market is a great place to find souvenirs, clothing, and local produce. It's also a great place to experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • A photo of Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City
  • War Remnants Museum: This museum documents the Vietnam War and its impact on the country. It's a sobering reminder of the conflict, but it's also an important place to learn about Vietnamese history.
  • A photo of the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Reunification Palace: This former presidential palace is now a museum that tells the story of the fall of Saigon in 1975. It's a fascinating place to learn about Vietnamese history and culture.
  • A photo of the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Cu Chi Tunnels: These underground tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They're a fascinating glimpse into life during the war and a must-visit for any history buff.
  • A photo of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Chinatown: This historic district is home to a large Chinese community. It's a great place to find Chinese food, souvenirs, and traditional Chinese medicine.
  • A photo of Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City
  • The Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta: These markets are a unique way to experience the local culture and see how people live in the Mekong Delta. You can take a boat tour to visit the markets and see the locals selling their goods.
  • A photo of the Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
    Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta

Best Time to Visit and Weather Conditions

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. The weather is warm and sunny during this time, with average temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit). The rainy season runs from May to November, and the weather can be hot and humid.

Local Customs, Etiquette, and Cultural Practices

Here are some important things to know about local customs, etiquette, and cultural practices in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • When greeting someone, it is customary to shake hands.
  • It is considered rude to point with your finger. Instead, use your whole hand or your thumb.
  • When eating, it is considered polite to use your right hand.
  • Do not show the soles of your feet to anyone. This is considered disrespectful.
  • Tipping is not expected in Ho Chi Minh City, but it is appreciated.
  • It is customary to haggle when shopping in markets.

Here are some additional tips for traveling to Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Learn some basic Vietnamese phrases. This will help you communicate with the locals and make your trip more enjoyable.
  • Be prepared for the heat and humidity. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing and bring a hat and sunscreen.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty theft. Don't leave your belongings unattended, and be careful when carrying cash.
  • Drink bottled water and avoid tap water.
  • Be respectful of local customs and cultures.

Flight Options and Prices

There are many airlines that offer flights to Ho Chi Minh City, including Vietnam Airlines, AirAsia, and Jetstar. Flights from major cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, typically start around \$500 round-trip. Flights from other parts of Asia, such as Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur, are often less expensive.

Local Transportation Options

There are a variety of local transportation options available in Ho Chi Minh City, including:

  • Taxis: Taxis are a convenient way to get around the city, but they can be expensive. The meter starts at \$2.70 and goes up by \$0.20 per kilometer.
  • A photo of a taxi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Taxi in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Motorbikes: Motorbikes are a popular way to get around the city, but they can be dangerous for inexperienced riders. You can rent a motorbike for around \$5 per day.
  • A photo of a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Grab: Grab is a ride-hailing app that is similar to Uber. It is a convenient and affordable way to get around the city.
  • Bus: Buses are a cheap way to get around the city, but they can be crowded and slow. The fare is \$0.40 for a short distance and \$0.70 for a long distance.
  • A photo of a bus in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Bus in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Train: The train is a more comfortable way to get around the city than the bus, but it is also more expensive. The fare is \$1 for a short distance and \$2 for a long distance.
  • A photo of a train in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Train in Ho Chi Minh City

Airport Information

Ho Chi Minh City's main airport is Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN). The airport is located about 7 kilometers from the city center. There are a number of transportation options available to get from the airport to the city center, including:

  • Taxi: Taxis are a convenient way to get from the airport to the city center, but they can be expensive. The fare is around \$10-15.
  • Bus: Buses are a cheap way to get from the airport to the city center. The fare is \$0.40.
  • Grab: Grab is a ride-hailing app that is similar to Uber. It is a convenient and affordable way to get from the airport to the city center.
  • Train: The train is a more comfortable way to get from the airport to the city center than the bus, but it is also more expensive. The fare is \$1.50.

Public Transportation Maps and Routes

You can find maps and routes for the public transportation system in Ho Chi Minh City on the website of the Ho Chi Minh City Public Transport Corporation (http://www.hcmpc.com.vn/).

Types of Accommodations Available

There are a variety of accommodation options available in Ho Chi Minh City, to suit all budgets and preferences. Some of the most popular types of accommodations include:

  • Hotels: There are many hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxury accommodations. Some of the most popular hotels in the city include the Caravelle Hotel, the Rex Hotel, and the Sofitel Legend Metropole.
  • A photo of the Caravelle Hotel, a luxury hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Caravelle Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hostels: Hostels are a popular option for budget travelers. They offer shared dormitories and private rooms, and some hostels also have common areas where guests can socialize. Some of the most popular hostels in Ho Chi Minh City include the Mad Monkey Hostel, the Backpacker's Hostel, and the Chillax Hostel.
  • A photo of the Rex Hotel, a historic hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Vacation Rentals: Vacation rentals are a good option for travelers who want more space and privacy. There are many vacation rentals available in Ho Chi Minh City, ranging from apartments to villas. Some of the most popular vacation rental websites in Ho Chi Minh City include Airbnb, Booking.com, and Agoda.

Reviews and Ratings for Hotels and Accommodations

There are a number of websites where you can read reviews and ratings for hotels and accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of the most popular websites include TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Agoda.

If you are interested in visiting these tourist attractions, you may want to choose an accommodation that is located in the city center. This will make it easy for you to get around and explore the city. However, if you are on a budget, you may want to choose an accommodation that is located outside of the city center. This will save you money on accommodation, but it will also mean that you will need to take public transportation or taxis to get to the tourist attractions.

Traditional Dishes and Local Food Specialties

Vietnamese cuisine is a diverse and delicious blend of Chinese, French, and Southeast Asian influences. Some of the most popular traditional dishes and local food specialties in Ho Chi Minh City include:

  • Pho: A beef noodle soup that is considered Vietnam's national dish.
  • A photo of a bowl of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, with beef broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced beef.
    A bowl of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup
  • Banh mi: A baguette sandwich filled with meat, pickled vegetables, and herbs.
  • A photo of a banh mi sandwich, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, filled with meat, pickled vegetables, and herbs.
    A banh mi sandwich, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich
  • Bun cha: Grilled pork patties served with rice noodles, herbs, and a dipping sauce.
  • A photo of bun cha, a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork patties served with rice noodles, herbs, and a dipping sauce.
    Bun cha, a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork patties served with rice noodles, herbs, and a dipping sauce
  • Com tam: Broken rice served with grilled pork, shrimp, or chicken, and a fried egg.
  • A photo of com tam, a Vietnamese dish of broken rice served with grilled pork, shrimp, or chicken, and a fried egg.
    Com tam, a Vietnamese dish of broken rice served with grilled pork, shrimp, or chicken, and a fried egg
  • Goi cuon: Fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork, and vegetables.
  • A photo of goi cuon, a Vietnamese dish of fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork, and vegetables.
    Goi cuon, a Vietnamese dish of fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork, and vegetables
  • Cao lau: A noodle dish from the central Vietnamese city of Hue that is made with rice noodles, pork, and a spicy broth.
  • A photo of cao lau, a Vietnamese noodle dish from the central Vietnamese city of Hue, made with rice noodles, pork, and a spicy broth.
    Cao lau, a Vietnamese noodle dish from the central Vietnamese city of Hue
  • Hu tieu: A noodle soup that is often made with seafood.
  • A photo of hu tieu, a Vietnamese noodle soup, often made with seafood.
    Hu tieu, a Vietnamese noodle soup
  • Banh xeo: A crispy pancake made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric.
  • A photo of banh xeo, a Vietnamese crispy pancake made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric.
    Banh xeo, a Vietnamese crispy pancake made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric
  • Banh beo: Small rice cakes topped with shrimp, pork, and a fish sauce dipping sauce.
  • A photo of banh beo, a Vietnamese dish of small rice cakes topped with shrimp, pork, and a fish sauce dipping sauce.
    Banh beo, a Vietnamese dish of small rice cakes topped with shrimp, pork, and a fish sauce dipping sauce

Popular Restaurants and Street Food Markets

There are many great restaurants and street food markets in Ho Chi Minh City where you can try traditional Vietnamese dishes and local food specialties. Some of the most popular restaurants include:

  • Pho 2000: A popular chain restaurant that serves up delicious pho.
  • A photo of Pho 2000, a popular chain restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that serves up delicious pho.
    Pho 2000, a popular chain restaurant that serves up delicious pho
  • Banh Mi Huynh Hoa: A famous banh mi shop that has been in business for over 60 years.
  • A photo of Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, a famous banh mi shop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that has been in business for over 60 years.
    Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, a famous banh mi shop that has been in business for over 60 years
  • Ngon Restaurant: A Michelin-starred restaurant that serves modern Vietnamese cuisine.
  • A photo of Ngon Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that serves modern Vietnamese cuisine.
    Ngon Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves modern Vietnamese cuisine
  • The Deck Saigon: A rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the city.
  • A photo of The Deck Saigon, a rooftop restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with stunning views of the city.
    The Deck Saigon, a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the city
  • Cuc Gach Quan: A popular restaurant that serves food from the Mekong Delta region.

Some of the most popular street food markets in Ho Chi Minh City include:

  • Ben Thanh Market: A bustling market where you can find all sorts of food, from traditional Vietnamese dishes to international cuisine.
  • Nguyen Hue Walking Street: A pedestrian street that is lined with restaurants and food stalls.
  • Bui Vien Walking Street: A popular backpacker area with a wide variety of street food options.

Dietary Restrictions or Considerations

If you have any dietary restrictions or considerations, there are still plenty of places to eat in Ho Chi Minh City. Many restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan options, and there are also a number of gluten-free restaurants. If you are lactose intolerant, you can find many dishes that are made with coconut milk instead of dairy milk. And if you are Muslim, there are a few restaurants that serve halal food.

Here are some additional tips for eating in Ho Chi Minh City with dietary restrictions:

  • Ask about the ingredients: When ordering food, be sure to ask about the ingredients. This is especially important if you have allergies or intolerances.
  • Be aware of local dishes: Some traditional Vietnamese dishes may contain ingredients that you are not familiar with. Do some research before you go so that you know what to expect.
  • Be flexible: If you are unable to find a restaurant that meets your dietary needs, don't be afraid to ask the staff if they can make adjustments to a dish. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions.
  • Pack snacks: If you are worried about finding food that you can eat, it is a good idea to pack some snacks with you. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that you have something to eat if you get hungry.

Day Trips and Excursions

There are many great day trips and excursions that you can take from Ho Chi Minh City. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cu Chi Tunnels: These underground tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. You can take a guided tour of the tunnels and learn about their history.
  • A photo of a group of tourists taking a guided tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    A group of tourists taking a guided tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • Mekong Delta: This vast delta is home to floating markets, traditional villages, and lush green scenery. You can take a boat tour of the delta or visit one of the many villages.
  • Chau Doc: This town is located on the Mekong River and is known for its Khmer culture. You can visit the Chau Doc Pagoda or take a boat trip to the floating markets.
  • A photo of a woman wearing a traditional Khmer dress walking through the streets of Chau Doc in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    A woman wearing a traditional Khmer dress walking through the streets of Chau Doc in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • Da Lat: This mountain town is known for its French colonial architecture, cool weather, and beautiful scenery. You can visit the Da Lat Flower Gardens or take a hike in the Lang Biang Highlands.
  • A photo of a view of the Da Lat Flower Gardens in Da Lat, Vietnam.
    A view of the Da Lat Flower Gardens in Da Lat, Vietnam.
  • Nha Trang: This beach town is known for its white sand beaches, clear blue water, and delicious seafood. You can go swimming, sunbathing, or surfing.

Museums, Galleries, and Historical Sites

Ho Chi Minh City is home to many museums, galleries, and historical sites. Here are a few suggestions:

  • War Remnants Museum: This museum documents the Vietnam War and its impact on the country.
  • Reunification Palace: This former presidential palace is now a museum that tells the story of the fall of Saigon in 1975.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral: This iconic cathedral is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Ben Thanh Market: This bustling market is a great place to find souvenirs, clothing, and local produce.
  • Museum of Vietnamese History: This museum tells the story of Vietnam from its earliest beginnings to the present day.
  • Saigon Opera House: This beautiful opera house is a popular venue for performances and events.
  • Musee de l'Histoire de la Ville de Ho Chi Minh: This museum tells the story of Ho Chi Minh City from its founding to the present day.

Outdoor Activities

Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cycling: Cycling is a great way to explore the city and see the sights. There are many bike rental shops in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Hiking: There are several hiking trails in and around Ho Chi Minh City. The most popular trail is the one that leads to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
  • Kayaking: Kayaking is a great way to explore the Mekong Delta. There are many kayaking tours available in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Swimming: There are many public swimming pools and beaches in Ho Chi Minh City. The most popular beach is the one in Nha Trang.
  • Massage: Vietnamese massages are known for being very relaxing. There are many massage parlors in Ho Chi Minh City.

Events, Festivals, and Cultural Celebrations

Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant city with a rich cultural history. There are many events, festivals, and cultural celebrations that take place throughout the year. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year): This is the most important holiday in Vietnam and is celebrated in late January or early February.
  • A photo of a family celebrating Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    A family celebrating Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • Ho Chi Minh's Birthday: This holiday is celebrated on May 19th and commemorates the birth of Ho Chi Minh, the founder of Vietnam.
  • International Jazz Festival: This festival takes place in June and features performances by international jazz musicians.
  • Saigon Flower Festival: This festival takes place in July and features a variety of flowers and plants.
  • Reunification Day: This holiday is celebrated on April 30th and commemorates the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Ho Chi Minh Travel Tips

  • Visas: Citizens of most countries can obtain a visa on arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. The visa fee is usually around USD25.
  • Currency: The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND). The exchange rate is approximately VND23,000 to USD1.
  • Transportation: Ho Chi Minh City has a good public transportation system, including buses, taxis, and motorbike taxis. The bus system is the cheapest option, but it can be crowded and slow. Taxis are more expensive, but they are more comfortable and efficient. Motorbike taxis are the most popular form of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City, but they can be dangerous.
  • Safety: Ho Chi Minh City is generally a safe city, but it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty theft.
  • Culture: Vietnam has a rich culture that is influenced by Chinese, French, and American cultures. Be respectful of local customs and traditions.
  • Language: The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. English is not widely spoken, but you should be able to find people who can speak English in tourist areas.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but it is appreciated.
  • Accommodation: There are a variety of accommodation options available in Ho Chi Minh City, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
  • Food: Vietnamese food is delicious and affordable. You can find a wide variety of Vietnamese food to eat, as well as international cuisine.
  • Shopping: Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts. You can find a wide variety of products, from traditional handicrafts to clothing and electronics.

Here are some tips on internet access and mobile network availability in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Internet access: There are many internet cafes in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also find free Wi-Fi in many hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Mobile network availability: The two main mobile networks in Vietnam are Vinaphone and Mobifone. Both networks have good coverage in Ho Chi Minh City. You can buy a SIM card at any convenience store or mobile phone shop.