The 6 Best Free Experiences in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City | © jo.sau/Flickr
Dung Phan

Traveling to Ho Chi Minh City on a budget? Fortunately, the Vietnamese city has a surprising number of famous tourist attractions and activities that can be enjoyed for free. Check out our run-down of the best things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City without spending a dime.

The colonial-era architecture

Among the most popular attractions in HCMC, the Saigon Central Post Office and Notre-Dame Dame Basilica dominate Paris Commune Street. Both embody the striking architectural styles of the French colonial period. Saigon Notre Dame, a miniature of Notre Dame de Paris, features an elegant mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The Saigon Central Post Office, an expansive hall with prominent wrought iron beams and columns, always draws a crowd.

Saigon Central Post Office, 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam, +84 8 3822 1677
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, 1, Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam, +84 8 3822 0477

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

There is no better way to get a taste of local cuisine than exploring Ho Chi Minh City’s markets. While the popular Ben Thanh Market is known for being a little on the overpriced side, other local markets will give you an insight into a more authentic side of the city. Binh Tay Market is a good start, with its amazing food stalls and architecture, which is an exotic blend of French and Chinese styles. Xom Chieu Market is also worth a visit for its colourful fresh stalls and its food.

Binh Tay Market, 22 đường Trần Bình, phường 2, Quận 6, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Xom Chieu Market, Lê Quốc Hưng, phường 12, Quận 4, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Binh Tay Market

Local parks and open green spaces

In a city that could easily drive you crazy from the heat, the traffic, and the crowds, there’s always a need to get away from the concrete and head to tranquil green spaces. The popular Tao Dan Park is, of course, unmissable, but there are other smaller “secret gardens” that offer a chance to escape. Hoang Van Thu Park, a well-maintained oasis, is home to many different types of flora and perfect for a quiet relaxation.

Tao Dan Park, Trương Định, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Tao Dan Park

Tour the public library

Go and get lost in the General Sciences Library, a windowless 1960s three-story building with a large front yard and two other small rear courtyards. The current complex — a post-war reconstruction — was previously named “Maison Centrale de Saigon” (Saigon Central Prison), and was used to house the city’s overflow of prisoners.

HCMC’s General Sciences Library, 69 Lý Tự Trọng, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

HCMC’s General Sciences Library

Take a free walking tour

Saigon Free Walking Tours are guided by local students, and offer something more energetic, passionate and thought-provoking than dry facts. Travelers can enjoy hearing about the city in detail as they stroll through the city’s landmarks without a fixed itinerary. It’s fascinating to learn about local culture through a young local’s lens.

Appreciate Vietnam’s contemporary arts scene

Vietnam’s economic hub is also it’s arts capital, with several contemporary art galleries blossoming in recent years. Galleries are crucial to promoting local artists and are often responsible for organizing events outside of classic exhibits to bring the artistic community together. Take your pick and delve into a beautiful world of Vietnamese expression.

San Art Laboratory, 7 ward 19, 48 Mê Linh, Vietnam, +84 8 6294 7059

Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article