On my first visit to Ho Chi Minh City, I wasn’t really sure what to do with my time and spent my time wandering around, visiting the famous Ben Than Market as it was across the road from my hotel and taking a stroll down to the waterfront. In the evening I watched the locals practice various different sports/dance classes in the nearby park which was great fun, but I couldn’t help feeling that I hadn’t seen all that Ho Chi Minh City had to offer and wondered if this was other people’s first impression too?
More than a stopover…
As Ho Chi Minh City is often the first or last stop of many people’s Vietnam holiday it seems a shame to miss out on what it has to offer as it may well be a highlight of your trip! Since then I’ve discovered that there is definitely much more to see and do here, mainly centred around the city’s historic past but there are also plenty of opportunities to experience current local Vietnamese life. So here are my top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City…
Culture and history
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Ho Chi Minh City on your Vietnam trip, you could head to the war remnants museum which exhibits various US military transport and other artefacts from the Vietnam War. The majestic Saigon Opera House (also known as the Municipal Theatre) is a perfect example of French Colonial architecture in Vietnam and is great place to visit for an evening performance. Another interesting site to visit on your Vietnam tour is the Reunification Palace, the former South Vietnam presidential palace which has been left pretty much untouched since the end of the Vietnam War.
Dine like the locals
To experience local sights, sounds and smells, you could arrange a ride on a cyclo through downtown HCMC to soak up the atmosphere from a local perspective (instead of being on a giant tour bus!). We have recently introduced at great new vintage vespa scooter experience whereby you can whizz round the back streets of HCMC after dark, stopping off to sample delicious street food and soaking up local life! It’s definitely a different way to experience this amazing city and is sure to be a highlight of your Vietnam trip.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Just outside of HCMC is the famous Cu Chi Tunnels site which I visited and found extremely moving. We offer a half day tour here as part of our Mekong Delta tour where you will learn how these intricate underground tunnels were used for survival during the Vietnam War. You could also spend 2 or 3 days soaking up local Vietnamese life on the Mekong Delta, the backbone of the economy in southern Vietnam.