Best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City
War Remnants Museum - Ho Chi Minh City
10:00 am: The War Remnants Museum is a three-storey building that houses collections of artilleries, armories, aircrafts, unexploded ordinances, bombs, tanks, pictures, etc. It used to be called the “Exhibition House of US and Puppet Crimes”, and then renamed to “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression”, then finally “The War Remnants Museum” after the diplomatic relations with the US. I was amazed by how they have preserved and valued the history despite the horror and fright that it caused in their lives. As for them, the museum is a testament of how their elders fought for the future generation and for the young ones to value the life that they enjoy today -- it made them the proud Vietnamese of today.
Vietnam has had a rough go of things for the last 70 years. Get a sobering (if sometimes biased) view of what that has meant for the country's tens of millions of people.
Notre Dame Cathedral - Ho Chi Minh City
4:30 pm: The Cathedral was finished in 1880 and was established by French colonists following the conquest of Cochinchina and Saigon. It has two bell towers with a height of over 58 meters. According to several online articles, initially it was called Saigon Church but in 1959, Bishop Phan Van held a ceremony to install the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame made with granite from Rome. In 1962, after the Vatican anointed it as Saigon Chief Cathedral, it was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, a Catholic church and a core Cathedral of the city. We said a prayer of thanks for how wonderful the trip had been for us.
Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon, or officially, Ho Chi Minh City, is a bustling city. It is also a city of contrasts, old and new, rich and poor, modern and ancient, for better or for worse. It kind of sums up the essence of Vietnam. Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral. With its twin 40 m. Square spires dominating the central skyline, it was built in the late 1800's. A cool, quiet place to visit. We noticed that some of the stained glass windows have now been replaced, as all were damaged during the war. Walking the shady tree-lined boulevards it is hard to imagine that following over a century of French colonialism, Saigon was the scene of many battles during the American War. Ancient Buddhist pagodas filled with praying monks and wafting incense. Across the street from Notre Dame is the largest post office in Vietnam; architecturally exquisite, this grand building constructed in 1868 oozes with history. Ho Chi Minh, or 'Uncle Ho' gazes down from the far wall, watching that the mail is sorted correctly or that proper change is given.
I have to admit, I didn’t have high expectations for Vietnam. Actually, I guess I didn’t know what to expect. The first morning in Saigon I got up early to see the sun rise over the Saigon River from my room and start exploring the city a little more. My first stop was Saigon’s oldest and largest market, the Ben Thanh Market. It was interesting but a lot like all the other markets I had seen on this trip so I didn’t linger. Next stop was the 130-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral. The building’s distinctive red bricks were imported from Marseille and its twin bell towers dominated the Saigon skyline until well into the 60’s. From the cathedral, I walked down the street to the Reunification Palace. The site was a center of power in Vietnam for more than a century, most recently as the South Vietnamese Presidential Palace.
Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
We arrived at the tunnel past 11 in the morning after a 1-1/2 hour travel. At the entrance, we were oriented with the rules, the restricted areas, and of course our time limit. The tour allowed us to crawl around in the safer parts that are partially illuminated with low-powered lights. fter our actual underground experience, we were allowed to wander on our own for a short while. There were plenty of souvenir shops but I found the one near the shooting range as the most budget friendly. I bought a wooden carved flower vase and a small wooden pot with Cu Chi Tunnel engraving for my keeps.
We took a tour through a section of the Cu Chi Tunnels and learnt how the brave men and women of Cu Chi built underground hospitals, kitchens and meeting rooms during their struggle.We spent the last afternoon in Vietnam shopping in the city’s main business district, and took a cyclo ride through the busy city streets to Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown district, Cholon
Thien Hau Temple - Ho Chi Minh City
Quán Ụt Ụt | Quan Ut Ut - Ho Chi Minh City
Quan Ut Ut opened only a few months ago and they are already making a name for themselves. It’s an American BBQ restaurant with a Vietnamese flair. They take bar food to a new level with their own craft beer and Premium Ale. Add a few beer munchies like the Just Bacon Plate, Shittake Bombs, or classic Buffalo wings and you just may have a party. You can try up some classic BBQ sides like green beans, southwest cornbread, corn on the cob, pink slaw, mac & cheese or seasoned fries to make a complete meal or enjoy American food with hot dogs and burgers that come loaded with fixings on a fresh baked bun with salad or French fries. Best in show: Start your meal off with the deep fried chicken skins. If going there in a group of 3 or 4, get the BBQ Sampler (rib tip, shoulder, smoked chicken, sausage, corn & okra). You can also choose the Full-rack of Cashew smoked Pork Ribs that are so good and the portion size should easily feed at least 3.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City
A part of the Marriott group of hotels, the Renaissance Saigon is wonderfully located beside the river and is close to all the major attractions of Ho Chi Minh City. I personally felt that the hotel did not live up to its reputation considering the fact that the rooms were run-down and tiny and the reception was slightly dismal. However, upon writing down my grievances, the manager immediately upgraded me and offered me complimentary WiFi and breakfast (all which I did not avail). Deluxe rooms come for about 150 USD for a night. Top Tip: Most five stars in HCMC are located around the riverside and gladly provide you a pick-up from the airport. If in case you do not have one, take a metered cab from a reputed company outside the airport (you will notice a queue for taxis) and the ride to the city which is around eight kilometres should cost you about 10 USD (210000 VND).
Đồng Khởi - Ho Chi Minh City
The Long at Times Square – 57-69F Dong Khoi Street, District 1 This restaurant gets its name from its very long design. Their inspiration comes from the sidewalk cafes fond in France and Italy. Best in Show: The Bubble Promotion – Buy a bottle of sparkling wine and get four bar snacks for free. Bar snacks to try include: Classic Tomato Bruschetta and Pandan Chicken. Then order yourself a freshly made Margarita Pizza and finish off the feast with one of their gelato. You might have a problem to choose which gelato, as their collection is huge.
Saffron - Ho Chi Minh City
Enjoy Mediterranean food at its finest at Saffron where they greet you with a glass of sparkling wine and they won’t charge you for it! Saffron takes its cooking inspiration from Middle Eastern, Northern Africa, Greek, Italian, French and Spanish cuisine. What you will notice first off is the amazing decor – make sure to look up at the ceiling as soon as you enter inside. This Mediterranean Bistro offers signature dishes whose portions are huge size for a single person. If you like the classics try their cheese plate or crostinis to start, Escargot with mushrooms for your main meal and Chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Best in Show: Twice Cooked Lamb – the lamb is braised and pressed with mashed potato puree. For dessert enjoy the walnut and honey baklava served with pistachio ice cream.
Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh City
3:30 pm; From Wikipedia: It was formerly known as Independence Palace and was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was also the site of the end of Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 1975 when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. We were not allowed to enter the palace during our visit because of a rumored bomb or something. We actually saw from afar the guards scanning the whole area to rule out the said rumor. Because of that we just made funny poses with the cyclos parked outside of the palace.
Hoa Tuc Restaurant - Ho Chi Minh City
Get ready for a romantic night out at Hoa Tuc. This contemporary Vietnamese cuisine restaurant is located at Hai Ba Trung which houses several other restaurants. The good thing about this restaurant is they offer some great vegetarian choices also. They have a cooking class as well. Best in show: Hoa Tuc Starter Platter (fresh spring rolls, fried spring rolls, fish cakes, and Hoa Tuc Salad). The fish cakes are out of this world! Make your main dish the Seafood fried rice with grilled eggplant on the side. For desert order the sticky rice fritters stuffed with black sesame seeds, red bean paste and coconut cream.
Saigon Post Office - Ho Chi Minh City
Just across the Notre Dame Cathedral is the Central Post Office. The design was said to be a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French Influences. Telephone booths and ATMs are housed in red/orange maple-toned wood enclosures that added elegance to the place. Souvenir items are available here and for me rightly priced. It was here that I bought my fridge magnets which I discovered were cheaper than the market price without the need to haggle.
Ho Chi Minh Post Office - Ho Chi Minh City
A few steps from the Cathedral is their post office, designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower. We then decided to have the Vietnam fried pancakes, locally known as Banh Xeo. We didn’t know that it would be in such huge servings that most of us failed to finish what we ordered. But, all the same, it was delicious!
Sài Gòn - Ho Chi Minh City
Tan Dinh Churches - Ho Chi Minh City
Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
People who've been to Ho Chi Minh City
Nancy & Joseph Gill
Sai Karthik Reddy