Things to do in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Walk and Work with Cham in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam.

I visited Ho Chi Minh twice for two different reasons: first was for pleasure, year 2012 and the second was for business (Read: Work with Cham in Ho Chi Minh). And during those times I got to experience Ho Chi Minh, I learned so much about their culture, food and places to visit. In fact Ho Chi Minh, as of this writing is the foreign country I stayed the longest (for more than a month if you combined my two visits) So I compiled all the experiences during my stay. Here is the rundown of the things you can and should do in Saigon.

Visit the iconic Saigon Post Office
Located in the heart of HCM, this post office was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. 

Saigon Post Office
The iconic interior of Saigon Post Office
Address: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm (weekdays) | 7:00 am - 6:00 pm (weekends)

Say your prayers at the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica
Near the post office is the iconic Saigon Notre Dame Basilica. This was also constructed during the French colonialism.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

People flock this area to pray or just take photos
Address: 1, Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 5:00 am - 11:00 am & 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm (Monday- Saturday) | 5:30 am - 9:30 pm & 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm (Sunday)

Learn Vietnam's History at the Reunification Palace
Also known as the Independence Palace, this was once the presidential palace of Southern Vietnam. This was also the site of the end of Vietnam War.

Reunification Palace or Independence Palace
One of the rooms inside the Palace
Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: 20,000 VND
Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 11:00 am | 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Check out the gallery of War Remnants Museum
It contains exhibits about the American-Vietnam war and is said to be the most important museum in Saigon. 
War Remnants Museum
Preserved US Air Force fighter plane
Exhibit of Agent Orange aftermath room
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, 6, 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: 15,000 VND
Opening Hours: 7:30 am - 12:00 pm | 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Experience Cu Chi Tunnel
It takes around 3 1/2 hours travel time from the city centre. War zone area during the American-Vietnam War. It played an important role during the war because it is the host to barracks, medical facilities, storage rooms, classrooms, even a small movie theatre, ALL UNDERGROUND!

Hide and seek
One of the traps
Another trap
Address: ấp Phú Hiệp, xã Phú Mỹ Hưng, huyện Củ Chi, Hồ Chí Minh 733800, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: 90,000 VND
Opening Hours: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm

Witness the daily mass held by Cao Dai followers at Cao Dai Temple
Located near Cu Chi Tunnel. The temple is the headquarters of Caodaism, a religion with colorful mix of Buddhism, Christianity & Confusionism. Everyday at 12nn, the followers gather here & perform their ritual. Visitors attend the noon prayer session to witness the daily mass held by the Cao Dai followers. Visitors are only allowed at the second floor. 

Cao Dai  Temple

Cao Dai followers doing their daily ritual
Address: 63 Ð Hai Phong
Prayer Time: 5:30 am, 11:30 am, 5:30 pm & 11:30 pm

Ride a Boat at Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta is also far from the city centre, it will take you about 3 hours to travel. Wear a non la (traditional Vietnamese hat) while you're in a boat at the famous Mekong River. (will have a separate post soon)

River traffic

Feeling local with my Non la
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, 6, 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: 15,000 VND
Opening Hours: 7:30 am - 12:00 pm | 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Watch the Water Puppet Show
The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water which are hidden behind a screen where the puppeteers control them. Voice talents/orchestra are at the left side of the stage, they speak Vietnamese, so we didn't get to understand what they are saying but the puppets' actions were self explanatory.

Inside the Golden Water Puppet Show
Water Puppet on point
The show was really entertaining
The puppeteers and the orchestra
Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: US$7.50
Opening Hours: 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm and 7:45 pm | show last for 50 minutes

Walk along Ho Chi Minh City's People Committee 
One of the most important landmarks in Ho Chi Minh. The City Hall offers great photo opportunities. At night, people flock the area as the pedestrian street offers a lot of activities like street shows and hoverboard rentals.

City Hall and Ho Chi Minh Monument
Walking at night
Street performer
Hoverboard rental

Address: 86 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 11:00 pm

Go up the Saigon Sky Deck at Bitexco Tower
Bitexco Tower is a 68-story skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh making it the tallest building in Vietnam. It has an observation deck where tourists can get a glimpse of the entire Ho Chi Minh city in 360 degrees. 

Bitexco Tower
View from the Skydeck
Beautiful view
Silhouettes - Me, Beck and April
Having some dessert at the restaurant
Trio creme brûlée 
You can never go wrong with ice cream!

Address: 36 Hồ Tùng Mậu, Bến Nghé Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee: 200,000 VND
Opening Hours: 9:30 am - 9:30 pm

Try the Vietnamese Coffee in a quaint cafe
Being influenced by the French culture, Vietnamese made their own name when it comes to coffee. And even if I'm not a coffee drinker I didn't miss the chance of trying their famous coffee and indeed it's good! I tried it in one of the quaint cafes in the city.

La Rotonde Cafe
This pretty cafe is so instagrammble! Thanks, GF for the shot
Not only a cafe, La Rotonde also serves lunch and dinner
Vietnamese Coffee
Third floor of the restaurant
Trio date with April and Beck before leaving Ho Chi Minh

Address: 77 Hàm Nghi, Nguyễn Thái Bình, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

Eat Pho and Spring Rolls
You haven't entirely visited Vietnam if you haven't tried their Pho and Spring Rolls. Pho is a widely known Vietnamese noodle soup consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. Vietnamese Spring Rolls are rice paper rolled dim sum. These two are my favorite Vietnamese dishes. Never ever leave Vietnam without trying this two delicacies.

Authentic Vietnamese Pho
Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls. YUUUUUM!!!
Uyen toured us around HCM and brought us to the cheap but tasty spring rolls

Or eat street foods
Trying one or a couple of street foods is also a must for travelers. 

Street vendors can be seen almost everywhere in HCM
Mama buying street food
French bread or Bhan Mi can also be seen selling at the streets

Dare to eat any exotic dishes
Wasn't able to try them but this one is an ultimate fear factor challenge for the brave souls.

Alive coconut worm
Crispy scorpions

Shop till you drop at Ben Thanh Market and other stores
Really enjoyed shopping in Ho Chi Minh, especially the knock off brands like North Face, Samsonite, Superdry, Cath Kidston, Kipling (and the list goes on…) aside from that, a never ending selection of souvenir items can also be bought at the famous Ben Thanh Market. Other shops like Saigon Square, Russian Market, Taka Plaza are good alternatives for shopping for clothes and bags. 

Ben Thanh Market
Inside Bhen Thanh Market you can buy tons of souvenirs, knock offs and food
Night Market beside Ben Thanh Market
Lots of souvenir items can be bought here
Knock off North Face Jackets
Knock Off Superdry
Address: Le Loi, Ben Thanh, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 6:00 am - 4:00 pm | 4:00 pm - 12:00 mn

Just a short walk from Ben Thanh is Saigon Square
Address: 7 Tôn Đức Thắng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1 Bến Nghé Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm

Unwind at Bui Vien
After a tiring day, head over at Bui Vien to unwind and drink. It's a busy backpackers lane especially at night which gets really rowdy. Tourists from different parts of the world party all night.

Streets of Bui Vien
Busy at night
Making the most of our last night! l-r: Beck, me, April, Don, Alvin and Oliver
Mojitos and Jack Coke
Street performer
Ride a Motorcycle
You seriously need to try this. In Vietnam, there are more motorcycles than cars. They find riding motorcycles more convenient as compared to riding a car. It saves gas, time and parking plus it's cheaper than cars too! Just a warning though, be extra vigilant when walking the streets. 

Tourists can rent motorcycles to go around the city - no need for a driver's license as long as you have your passport with you.

Tip: If you are planning to rent a motorcycle, ask your hotel reception or travel agency about it. Don't rely on street peddlers as they are most likely to scam you.

Motorcyle, anyone?

Lots of it!
Tried riding it too (wore my helmet afterwards, don't worry!)

Ride a Cyclo
Another iconic mode of transportation is the cyclo. Although this transportation is used for tour sightseeing. Locals don't use this anymore. 

Another Tip: Ask your hotel reception or travel agency when renting one. Same as the motorcycles - do not rely on street peddlers to avoid getting scammed like what happened to my friend. 


Watch a performance at Siagon Opera House
I didn't get to watch any, but they say that watching a performance inside is an experience. 

Saigon Opera House
Address: 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

It was indeed a fun and educational experience going around Ho Chi Minh. To be able to do all these things, you have to allot at least 5 full days. And after doing all these activities in Ho Chi Minh you'll definitely MISS SAIGON!

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  1. Wow. I am looking forward of visiting Vietnam. My family is planning to have a 5days trip there. And I am try to look for cheap flights already. :D Thank you for your post :D

    from Myxilog with Love

  2. Wow! So intriguing visuals and so well written. I am on a world tour trip from best education consultants in pakistan and I eagerly can not wait to visit the places you have mentioned above. Thank you.


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