Vietnam’s largest city in terms of population is Ho Chi Minh. Prior to being annexed by Vietnam, this city was known as Prey Nokor and then as Saigon. 12 million people call this metropolis home, making it Vietnam’s most populous metropolitan area.
There are many historical and cultural attractions in this hot and vibrant city for your enjoyment. Its sleek buildings, traditional French architecture, and excellent Chinese and French food make it the ideal getaway location.
Therefore, it is crucial that you check off all the sights to see in Ho Chi Minh City while you’re there.
Best Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City
Check out our list of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City for more suggestions on where to go and what to do.
1. Cathedral of Notre Dame
The red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral, a remarkable example of Neo-Romanesque architecture, is a recognizable landmark in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. With iron spires on top, the twin square towers stand over 60 meters above the city.
The cathedral was constructed between 1877 and 1883 with the intention of serving as both a place of prayer for the colonial missionaries and a representation of the dominance of the French colony.
The two bell towers’ clock, which is made of red Marseille bricks, was constructed in Switzerland in 1887.
2. Vietnamese Opera House
The exquisite Saigon Opera House, also known as The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, is eye candy for architecture enthusiasts, particularly admirers of the French colonial style. It is located at the beginning of the famed tree-lined Le Loi Avenue.
French architect Eugene Ferret constructed it as Opera de Saigon in 1897 to amuse French colonists. Its eye-catching front is reminiscent of the Petit Palais, which was also constructed in Paris that same year.
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Following 1956, the structure served as the Lower House Assembly’s office before being transformed back into a theater in 1975, following the fall of Saigon. You must buy a ticket to a show in order to see the theater’s interior.
3. Palace of Reunification
The historical events that took place at the Reunification Palace, formerly known as Independence Palace, are more important than any pomp and circumstance.
In fact, this 1960s-style structure with its roomy, light-filled interiors and worn-out furnishings appears to have remained unchanged since the Vietnam War’s end on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese army tank plowed through the iron gates here. For the inhabitants, the palace stands for both this momentous occasion and the nation’s reunion.
4. Market at Ben Thanh and Saigon Square
Even if simply to see the crowded stalls and market bustle, tourists nearly always stop at the steamy and busy Ben Thanh Market. Everything from regional specialties, fish, flowers, and tropical fruits to shoes, clothing, vibrant confectionery, and souvenirs are stacked high on the kiosks. Make sure any valuables are safe and hidden because pickpockets are infamous in the markets.
After taking it all in, take a three-minute walk to Saigon Square for a slightly less hectic shopping experience with the added benefit of air conditioning.
5. Vietnamese History Museum
The Museum of Vietnamese History, located on the grounds of the botanic gardens, reveals the development of the nation’s culture from the Bronze Age through the early 20th century.
The displays feature relics from past ethnic groups in Vietnam, such as the Dong Son, Funan, Khmer, and Cham civilizations, and are arranged chronologically. The sculptures made of stone and bronze, artifacts from Angkor Wat, and the well-preserved mummy are all particularly fascinating.
Every hour (except during lunch) a water puppet show is presented in the museum’s small theater for an additional cost.
6. CU CHI TRENCHES
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a must-see half-day trip and one of the top tours for tourists to the city, located around 60 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. The Viet Cong’s military operations throughout the Vietnam War were centered on this extensive 250-kilometer-plus network of tunnels.
The painfully small tunnels served as hospitals, communication hubs, supply routes, hiding spots, and even residential spaces for soldiers.
A typical tour includes the opportunity to crawl into a portion of the tunnel system, which heightens your understanding of the fortitude and adaptation of the men who lived here.
7. The Museum of War Relics
One of Vietnam’s most well-liked museums is the War Remnants Museum, which features horrifying displays about the atrocities of war in this country that has had its share of combat. Although part of the museum’s displays are related to the first Indochina War with French colonialists, the Vietnam War is the museum’s main area of attention.
It’s a good idea to start on the top floor and work your way down so you may finish with the lower floor’s more casual exhibits.
8. Mekong Delta Woman paddling along Mekong Delta
A common day trip that feels like a world away from busy Ho Chi Minh City is cruising through the verdant maze of palm-fringed channels, rivers, and islands of the Mekong Delta. It provides an intriguing look into the way of life of those who rely on this perilous waterway for their survival.
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About 40,000 square kilometers in size, the delta provides 90% of the nation’s exports and more than half of the nation’s grain. It is renowned for its floating marketplaces, which typically take place in the morning.
9. Water Puppet Theater Golden Dragon
For families with small children and anybody who likes levity in traditional entertainment, the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is ideal. More than a thousand years ago, in remote Red River Delta communities, water puppetry found its beginnings in Vietnam.
A peek into the culture of the nation is provided by the engaging 50-minute program. Although it is delivered in Vietnamese, the power of the puppet characters—both human and animal—overrides the language barrier.
10. The Jade Emperor Pagoda
A few blocks from the Botanical Gardens is the striking Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chua Phuoc Hai), which was constructed in the early 20th century. In the dimly lighted inside of the temple, you’ll find numerous depictions of both Buddhist and Taoist deities.
The temple was constructed in honor of the Taoist god Ngoc Hoang, also known as the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven.
Ho Chi Minh City, still frequently referred to by its former name of Saigon, is a clamorous, chaotic sensory extravaganza. The sweltering air is thick with exhaust fumes and exotic smells as motorbikes honk in a wave across congested intersections and residents squat on street corners eating steaming hot bowls of Pho (noodle soup).
Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam and its commercial center is a location where the ancient and the new stand in stark contrast to one another.
Temples are scattered among the skyscrapers and fashionable stores, inhabitants fish in the lazy Saigon River with bamboo fishing rods, and in some areas of the city, the magnificent French colonial architecture and broad, tree-lined avenues give it an almost European atmosphere.