18 Must-Visit Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

The Cao Dai's followers | © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr
The Cao Dai's followers | © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr
Photo of Dung Phan
28 May 2017

Ho Chi Minh City may be full of traffic, crowded and hot. But there’s much more to it than these generalisations. Being patient with the Vietnamese city will lead you to temples, French colonial architecture and serene neighbourhoods, far from the chaos. Here are 20 must-visit attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon River

The Saigon River, with its constantly running ferries, river taxis, and motor-canoes, offers one of the most tempting invitations to the city’s sunset charms. And there is no better place than a seat at The Deck for a sunset cocktail.

Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts

Museum
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Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts
Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts | © Jon-Eric Melsæter

You can get a glimpse of what the local art scene looks like and what local artists are up to at HCMC Museum of Fine Arts. This dauntingly huge complex with an appealing mix of French and Chinese architectural styles was owned by a Chinese-born businessman who was known as one of the city’s richest men at the time it was constructed.

Gia Long Palace

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Gia Long Palace
Gia Long Palace | © Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên/WikiCommons

There is no dearth of inspiration in this scenic area for those with historical sensibilities as the building itself offers an interesting insight into many political events that shaped the history of this city.

Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine

Museum, Building
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The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine
The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine | © Anthony Tong Lee/Flickr

To remind yourself that this is indeed Vietnam, not France, head to the first private traditional Vietnamese medical museum. The six-storey building features traditional architecture and a tremendous collection of Vietnamese potions and remedies dating back to the Stone Age.

Bitexco Financial Tower

The city is brimming with skyscrapers, but for the most impressive building, there is only one you need to know: Bitexco.

Bitexco Financial Tower | © Bitexco/Wiki Commons

Southern Vietnam Women Museum

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A fun photo op
A fun photo op | © Mike Cogh / Flickr

It would be a shame to get to know Vietnamese history without acknowledging the role of the Vietnamese woman. So make sure you visit the Southern Vietnam Women Museum, a lesser-known museum which is dedicated to their contribution to the war and post-war developments.

Cafe-apartments

The cafe-apartments at No.42 Nguyen Hue St or No. 14 Ton That Dam St are a fine example of the antithesis of planned and efficient architecture. Originally serving as a residence of high-ranking government officials, they are now home to retro-style coffee shops, co-working offices, fashion boutiques and tattoo studios.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Memorial, Museum
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Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels | © Carrie Kellenberger/Flickr
You can’t leave Ho Chi Minh City without visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels, the extensive networks of underground tunnels which housed communication bases, equipment and food storage and a field hospital during the Vietnam War.

Saigon Opera House and A O Show Saigon

Nothing makes your visit to Saigon Opera House more worthwhile than enjoying a one-hour performance of A O Show Saigon. It offers an intriguing mix of experiences combining the French architectural gem and a spectacular fusion of temporary dance, circus and Vietnamese music which features a typical element of Vietnamese rural life: bamboo.

A O Show | © Courtesy of Lune Production

Cholon – Saigon’s Chinatown

The proximity to China explains why Vietnamese culture has deep-rooted ties to the country, and to get an idea of its influence, make your way to Cholon – Saigon’s Chinatown. You might need roughly half a day to tour around the area, from Binh Tay market, Cha Tam Church to the popular Thien Hau Pagoda and Quan Am Pagoda.

Can Gio

Have a relaxing day out by taking a trip to Can Gio, a coastal suburban district which boasts mangrove forests and various wild animals. It’s a chilled-out hideaway for relaxing and escaping from the chaos in the city.

Can Gio Forest | © Comupload/Wiki Commons

The Venerable Thich Quang Duc Monument

Set amid a maze of scooters, cars, and buses, the Venerable Thich Quang Duc Monument could easily be missed but will offer you the chance of momentary self-reflection and inner peace.

Binh Quoi Village

Another wonderfully peaceful alternative on the weekend for both tourists and locals is the Binh Quoi Village. Replicating the Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region of yesteryear, the green village offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in green grasslands, and enjoy small cottages and fish ponds shaded by coconut trees.

Bamboo Waterwheel | © Roderick Divilbiss/ Wiki Commons