Photo: Burning incense at a Cholon pagoda.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Ho Chi Minh City.


Saigon's must-see places of worship

Saigon has no shortage of places of worship; some of these temples, pagodas, and churches are among the oldest sites in the city while others are worth a stop for a quick shot of local culture. If you have time to spare, when you’re not running off to Cu Chi or the Mekong, here are some of the city’s must-see places of ... Read more about Saigon's must-see places of worship .

Jade Emperor Pagoda
73 Mai Thi Luu, District 3

Saigon is a city filled with places of worship, and while many of these spots are nothing particularly special in terms of architectural or historical significance, the Jade Emperor Pagoda, built in 1909 by the Cantonese, is an ... Read more about Jade Emperor Pagoda .

Thien Hau Pagoda
710 D Nguyen Trai, District 5

Many of Ho Chi Minh City's older and more atmospheric pagodas can be found in Cholon and one of the best places to start your pagoda hopping is with one of the city's most popular, Thien Hau ... Read more about Thien Hau Pagoda .

Giac Lam Pagoda
118 Lac Long Quan St, Tan Binh District

If you're weary of small pagodas which are being chocked out by surrounding buildings, and don't mind a bit of a trip from downtown, Saigon’s oldest place of worship, Giac Lam pagoda, may ... Read more about Giac Lam Pagoda .

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 3, Saigon

If you could use some adventure in your pagoda life, it might be time for a visit to a pagoda where something is going on: Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City's District ... Read more about Vinh Nghiem Pagoda .

Tomb of Le Van Duyet
By the corner of Dinh Tien Hoang and Phan Dang Luu, Binh Thanh District

Situated on the corner of the busy intersection of Dinh Tien Hoang and Phan Dang Luu in Binh Thanh district, the Tomb of Le Van Duyet is an oasis away from the outside noise. ... Read more about Tomb of Le Van Duyet .

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Saigon for museum-goers

HCMC has a fair share of museums giving the city’s, and the Vietnamese government’s, side of its historical story. Here are a handful of museums you’ll find around town which are worth a ... Read more about Saigon for museum-goers .

Reunification Palace
135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

The Reunification Palaceis one of the holy triumvirate of attractions in Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown District 1. Just like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office, it sits as a time capsule of the city’s turbulent ... Read more about Reunification Palace .

War Remnants Museum
28 Vo Van Tan St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 930 5587

Just few blocks from the entrance to the Reunification Palace, Saigon’s War Remnants Museum offers a narrative of the war from the North Vietnamese ... Read more about War Remnants Museum .

Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum
97A Pho Duc Chinh
T: (08) 3829 4441

Just on the other side of the Troung Tran Nguyen Han roundabout from Ben Thanh market, behind the bus centre down Pho Duc Chinh, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum sits in a flamboyantly yellow colonial ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum .

Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
65 Ly Tu Trong, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 3829 8250

While some of Saigon’s more popular museums can draw big crowds, a few museums around town that are worth at least a quick stop seem to fall to the wayside. The Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, housed in a fine example of French colonial building prowess, is one such oft-overlooked ... Read more about Museum of Ho Chi Minh City .

Ho Chi Minh Museum
1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, District 4
T: (08) 3825 574

Ho Chi Minh, affectionately referred to as Uncle Ho, spent his life fighting for Vietnamese independence and, for this, he is still the country’s most celebrated ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh Museum .

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Public parks and zoos

Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1
T: (08) 829 3728

Established in 1864, making it one of the oldest zoos in world, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the best and largest recreational areas in Saigon. Known as Thao Cam Vien locally, it is home to more than 500 animals of more than 100 species and more than 1,800 trees and plants of more than 250 species. This creates a great setting for an afternoon stroll, however there are some areas ... Read more about Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden .

Parks in Saigon

To outsiders, Saigon is a sprawling, concrete metropolis, but the city does have its share of green spaces scattered about that are very popular with locals. If you happen to be in the mood for a shaded sit, or a quiet stroll, here are a few parks to enjoy free of charge in Ho Chi Minh ... Read more about Parks in Saigon .

Turtle Lake or Ho Con Rua
Intersection of Pham Ngoc Thach and Vo Van Tan, Ho Chi Minh City

Nestled inside a traffic roundabout at Pham Ngoc Thach and Vo Van Tan, distinctive Ho Con Rua or Turtle Lake is a popular destination for young Saigonese looking to escape the heat and grab some tasty street snacks. While the location is serene enough, the history behind the area is filled with ... Read more about Turtle Lake or Ho Con Rua .

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Saigon Sky Deck Observatory
36 Ho Tung Mau St, District 1
T: (08) 3822 7802

As soon as you hit the ground in Saigon you can’t help but notice the large building that anchors the city’s skyline. Bitexco Financial Tower stands at 68 storeys, or 262 metres high, and was designed to look like a lotus flower sprouting out of the city and in an abstract way it kind of ... Read more about Saigon Sky Deck Observatory .

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Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is one of Saigon’s icons and forms the heart of downtown District 1, bustling with activity from early morning until late at ... Read more about Ben Thanh Market .

Binh Tay Market
57A Thap Moui, District 6

If you’re going to visit Ho Chi Minh City your visit will not be complete without visiting a local market and Binh Tay is the largest traditional market in the ... Read more about Binh Tay Market .

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General activities

Things to do in Cholon

Most travellers visiting Saigon stick only to themain points of interest in the city’s downtown District 1, but just a short taxi ride outside of District 1 lays one of HCMC’s most interesting areas: Cholon, or Chinatown. If you’re in Saigon, and have the time to spare, spending a day in Cholon is ... Read more about Things to do in Cholon .

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Notre Dame Cathedral
Nguyen Du St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

While Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist country, Ho Chi Minh City happens to be home to a large Catholic community and where better to find them than at the spectacular Notre Dame ... Read more about Notre Dame Cathedral .

Cha Tam Church
25 Hoc Lac St, District 5
T: (08) 3856 0274

This pastel-yellow and white, slender church is worth combining with a trip to Cholon as it had a small but important role to play in Vietnam's wartime history. Following a coup on November 1, 1963, President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother fled their palace through a tunnel network and eventually sought safety here. They spent the night hidden within the church's grounds, but after efforts ... Read more about Cha Tam Church .

Cho Quan Church
120 Tran Binh Trong, District 5

Cho Quan Church, located off a busy intersection in Saigon's Cholon district, is one of the oldest and largest churches in Ho Chi Minh City. While the existing church, built by one Father Nicolas Ham who is now buried under the foundation, is more than a century old, it was built on the site of two earlier churches destroyed in wars—with the original being constructed in 1720. The ... Read more about Cho Quan Church .

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Cholon Mosque
641 Nguyen Trai, District 5

Serving Cholon's Muslim community, the Cholon Mosque is a small place of worship built by Muslims from South India in 1932. With its blue gates, pastel details and white walls the mosque stands in quiet contrast to the surrounding busy area. A pool in the courtyard is used for ablutions, and prayers are held several times a day. While Ho Chi Minh City once had a vibrant Muslim community, ... Read more about Cholon Mosque .

Saigon Central Mosque
66 Dong Du, District 1

Located in the heart of the city, the blue and white Saigon Central Mosque is a quiet oasis is the busy business district of Saigon. Constructed in the 1930s by South Indian Muslims, the mosque is one of around a dozen that serve the city's Muslims and it stands on the site of an earlier mosque. Home to four minarets, tall spires typical of Indo-Islamic mosques, they're not used for the call ... Read more about Saigon Central Mosque .

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Shopping in Saigon

Saigon offers plenty of great reasons to visit: every corner you turn on the street can lead you to great food, there are some cool pagodas and theme parks, and it’s a great spot to start a new adventure into other parts of the country. Decent shopping can also be done in my city — here’s a round up of the key spots for a spot of mainstream market shopping for things like clothes, watches, ... Read more about Shopping in Saigon .

Custom made shoes in Saigon
97 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
T: (08) 3829 5453

Finding shoes that fit a Westerners feet in Saigon can be a tough proposition. We’ve covered shopping for shoes in Vietnams’ commercial capital, mentioning some spots where you can find bigger shoes, but the town also has cobblers who can make you a shiny new pair of tailor-made ... Read more about Custom made shoes in Saigon .

Shopping for shoes in Saigon

Shoes are among the most difficult thing I have managed to find during the fair amount of shopping I have done during my time in HCMC — those of us from the Western world have big feet, much bigger than your average local’s. If you’re on the lookout for a pair of shoes in Saigon, here are a few places you can ... Read more about Shopping for shoes in Saigon .

Saigon Flea Market

Saigon is a city where you can shop till you drop; plenty of markets, stores and boutiques are eager to help you part with your cash. Many of these places however have become a little too focused on tourists and visiting them may give you little in the way of a cultural experience. Add that to the fact that many places basically sell the same copies of popular Western brands and things can get ... Read more about Saigon Flea Market .

Saigon's The Crescent

Sometimes the noise and grind from the constant busyness of Saigon can get you in a funk. Even if you’re only in the city for a few days, a quick break can help you keep your sanity. For a break from the city, I like to take a trip out to District 7’s Phu My Hung area to hang out at the Crescent, a pedestrian-friendly complex of apartments, restaurants, and shopping built along the bend of a ... Read more about Saigon's The Crescent .

Saigon tailors

When I travel I pack light. This helps me breeze through airports and carry fewer pieces of luggage up the stairs in my elevator-less hostel. But packing light has its drawbacks, and sometimes I don’t have room for all the outfits I may need, say for a fun night out or a fancy dinner. That’s why I love living in Saigon, because a seemingly endless number of tailor shops are eager to help meet ... Read more about Saigon tailors .

Saigon market shopping etiquette

Shopping and bargaining in markets is one of my favourite pastimes in Saigon. Here are my pointers for hunting down good deals and to make sure you don’t offend ... Read more about Saigon market shopping etiquette .

Weekend markets

When you think of shopping in Ho Chi Minh City, heading to places like Ben Thanh Market and Vincom might first spring to mind. However, a few flea markets now give up and coming designers their chance to shine and are worth a browse for those looking to unearth something a bit ... Read more about Weekend markets .

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Day trips

Vung Tau day trip
1A Tran Phu, Vung Tau

Southern Vietnam’s coastal city of Vung Tau makes for an interesting, easy and cheap daytrip from Saigon — go by hydrofoil, see the sights, have a splash at the beach and enjoy the food. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do ... Read more about Vung Tau day trip .

Saigon Day Tour

A quick walk through Saigon’s backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao will lead you past several locations selling tours. While most feature longer tours to popular areas around the city, like tours of the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels, most also sell a generic five-hour day-tour of Ho Chi Minh City. If you find yourself considering one of these tours here’s what you can ... Read more about Saigon Day Tour .

Touring a Saigon lacquer factory
664 Vo Van Kiet, District 5
T: (08) 3923 1166

If you find yourself shopping in Saigon, a walk through any market or mall will inevitably lead you, sooner or later, past a souvenir stand selling lacquer art. Lacquer can be very impressive to look at but the process of making it is also quite interesting. If you have time to spare while visiting the city, taking a tour of a lacquer factory can be an educational way to spend an hour or ... Read more about Touring a Saigon lacquer factory .

Mekong Delta Day Tour

If you take a stroll through Saigon’s backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao you’ll notice that the landscape is full of travel agents. They are everywhere. Although they all offer tours that will take you throughout Vietnam, their specialties are trips to the Cu Chi Tunnels and tours of the Mekong Delta. ... Read more about Mekong Delta Day Tour .

Saigon’s Monkey Island
T: (08) 3874 3069

Roughly 60km from the centre of Saigon — a beautiful two-hour trip by motorbike and ferry away — sits Can Gio, an island formed where the Saigon River hits the sea. ... Read more about Saigon’s Monkey Island .

Cu Chi Cricket Farm
Ben Do 2 Block, Tan Phu Ward, Cu Chi County
T: (08) 3796 1753

A trip to Ho Chi Minh City isn’t complete without a quick visit to the Cu Chi district, where the city’s big buildings melt away and morph into rural countryside. While the area is most famous for its tunnels and war history, Cu Chi has something else worth a visit: a Cu Chi cricket farm. A stop here will show you the process, and give you a taste, of the popular culinary ... Read more about Cu Chi Cricket Farm .

Cu Chi Tunnels day tour
246-248 De Tham, District 1
T: (08) 3838 9597

As one of the most popular daytrips from HCMC, finding a way to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels is as easy as a walking through the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker district. Almost every travel agent in Saigon offers a one-day tour of the tunnels but some are light on the details. If you’re considering a Cu Chi Tunnels tour, here’s what you can ... Read more about Cu Chi Tunnels day tour .

The Cao Dai Holy See at Tay Ninh

Tay Ninh province sits to the northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and is bordered by Cambodia to the west and north, with its eastern border formed by the Saigon River as it empties out of Dai Tieng lake. As with pretty much all the surrounds, the landscape is primarily flat farmland with just the occasional hillock here and there. The exception is Nui Ba Den which reaches almost 1,000m and sits around ... Read more about The Cao Dai Holy See at Tay Ninh .

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Interesting buildings

Saigon Central Post Office
2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1

Just across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral, and a short walk from the Reunification Palace, the Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most recognisable landmarks in ... Read more about Saigon Central Post Office .

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Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

Back of the Bike Tours
T: 906 711 309

In a few weeks, my parents and brother are visiting Saigon, and Vietnam as a whole, for the first time. As I’m being a good daughter and helping with them plan their trip, I thought it would be a good idea for them to go on a tour of the city. ... Read more about Back of the Bike Tours .

Vietnam Vespa Adventures
169a De Tham St, D.1, Pham Ngu Lao, Saigon
T: (012) 2299 3585

For many travellers, Saigon is a short stop on a long itinerary with many stops in Vietnam. While you can walk around, or hire a cyclo to cruise you about, it’s hard to see the city without a little ... Read more about Vietnam Vespa Adventures .

Saigon Walking Tour

I’m a walker. When I travel, if there is any reasonable chance for me to walk to my destination, I will. When I walk I feel like I get a better feel for a city, and I see the everyday life that I would miss from the back seat of a taxi. My love of walking is one of the many reasons I enjoy Saigon, as all of the city’s top attractions are within easy walking distance. Here’s a suggested ... Read more about Saigon Walking Tour .

Cu Chi Tunnel in a half-day

The Cu Chi tunnels are a site worth seeing if you are visiting Saigon. However, since they are roughly 70km round trip from the city centre, visiting them on a tour can take the majority of a day. When time in the city is limited they may seem unreachable, but fear not: you can get there and back and still have half a day to ... Read more about Cu Chi Tunnel in a half-day .

Historic Vietnam tours
T: (0128) 579 4800

Ho Chi Minh City is a city on the go and can feel like it’s constantly looking forward. With new developments springing up almost daily, it’s hard to take stock of what the city used to look like. Tim Doling, a writer and local historian who has been in Vietnam since 1990 and worked with the Ministry of Culture and Information, looks to shed light on the city’s past through his ... Read more about Historic Vietnam tours .

A weekend in Saigon

What with the ever-growing options for budget flights in Southeast Asia, with a bit of planning and a bit of cash, there's no real reason why you can't jet off to another city for a weekend, and where better than ... Read more about A weekend in Saigon .

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A O Show Saigon
7 Lam Son Square, District 1
T: (08) 6281 6893

Vietnamese “cultural” shows, whether a traditional water puppet show or a song and dance performance, can sometimes be disappointing. However, the A O Show Saigon offers something new and completely different — it’s worth checking ... Read more about A O Show Saigon .

Saigon Opera House
7 Lam Son Square, District 1
T: (08) 3823 7419

A fine example of turn of the century French colonial architecture, the Saigon Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, makes for decent picture on a stop during a tour of the city, or for a cultural experience for those interested in seeing a ... Read more about Saigon Opera House .

Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre
55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St., D.1
T: (08) 3827-2653

Once you arrive in Saigon, especially in the Pham Ngu Lao area, you are bombarded with pamphlets and advertisements for various tourist activities in the city. Among the claims of seeing the country’s beauty, the best proclamation, and maybe the most outlandish, is that you “haven’t really been to Vietnam until you’ve seen a water puppet show”. This is what the folks at the Golden ... Read more about Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre .

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Art galleries or venues

Ho Chi Minh City's Dong Khoi art galleries

Art is sold almost everywhere in Saigon, but much of what you will find is paint-by-the-number reproductions. If you want to see quality original pieces by local artists, there are a few places to go besides the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum; to see the latest and greatest in local art, take a walk down Dong ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh City's Dong Khoi art galleries .

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Festivals and events

Saigon's Reunification Day

Everyone knows that travelling to Saigon during Tet can be a bit of a headache, with many restaurants and shops closed and transportation is limited. Tet, however, isn’t Vietnam’s only celebrated holiday that can throw you for a loop: Reunification Day on April 30 (followed a day later by May Day on May 1) marks the rejoining of North and South Vietnam under one government. Like a major ... Read more about Saigon's Reunification Day .

Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Tet Trung Thu, occurs on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar year. Preparation for the celebration starts early and every year, about a month before the Mid-Autumn Festival begins, colourful shops pop up selling the traditional gift of mooncakes, which are small pastries with various delicious fillings. Here’s a quick rundown on mooncakes in Ho Chi Minh ... Read more about Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes .

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Historic attractions

22 Ly Tu Trong
22 Ly Tu Trong, Ho Chi Minh City

Set on the northeast corner of the busy intersection of Ly Tu Trong and Dong Khoi sits a nondescript five-storey building that houses a historic past as well as a new wave of cafes, lounges and retail ... Read more about 22 Ly Tu Trong .

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Ho Chi Minh City? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.

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