Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Take a day trip to visit the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's agricultural heartland. You'll explore the region by boat and see what everyday life is like for the farmers who produce rice and tropical fruit. Plus, you can enjoy fresh Vietnamese food at a local restaurant or from a boat-rowing vendor.
Amphawa floating market at sunset
Cu Chi Tunnels
An underground system of more 120km, the Cu Chi Tunnels were originally used by Vietnamese soldiers during their various wars. Today, they form part of a war museum that gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like for soldiers. You can crawl around sections of the tunnels, taste the food that the fighters would have eaten, and even fire an M16 rifle.
Entrance to one of the Cu Chi Tunels
From the outside, the Reunification Palace looks like a time capsule from the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, it's actually an important Ho Chi Minh landmark. This was where the presidents of South Vietnam lived until the end of the Vietnam War, and where the North and South reunited into one Vietnam. It's a must-see for anyone interested in history.
Reunification Palace (also known as Independence Palace)
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Built in 1909 by the Chinese community, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh, and a must-visit if you want to learn more about Taoism. The Jade Emperor is a major figure in Taoist theology, and this spectacular temple built in his honour is beautifully decorated with statues and elaborate carvings. The locals still use it to this day.
Jade Emperor Pagoda Taoist Temple
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is better known as the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. This red Romanesque building was built by the French in the mid-1800s, and is one place you should definitely have on your itinerary when you visit Ho Chi Minh. Worshippers attend mass regularly and some locals believe that a statue of Mary here shed tears in 2005.
Aerial view of Notre Dame Cathedral
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
Before you leave Ho Chi Minh, be sure to pay a visit to Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda. Here, locals make offerings to a life-sized figure of a sacred horse before departing on a journey. This small Taoist temple has intricate ornamentation and is also home to brass ritual items and weapons.
Incense coils burning at Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
Central Post Office
One of the most beautiful places in Ho Chi Minh is also one of its most functional. Constructed in the late 1800s, the Central Post Office was designed by Gustave Eiffel (who also engineered his namesake tower in Paris). It's still being used as a post office today, so be sure to send a letter or a postcard from here during your visit.
Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City
War Remnants Museum
Vietnam's struggle for independence and unification has not been without bloodshed. The War Remnants Museum is a sobering reminder of the country's wars with the French and the Americans. There are weapons, photographs, dioramas, and other artefacts such as a guillotine. The museum has been running since 1975 and is one of the most visited museums in the country.
US Air Force F-5A at the War Remnants Museum
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who played a key role in the country's history. Because of this, they renamed the city (previously Saigon) after him in 1975. You can find out more about him by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Museum; it's located inside Dragon Wharf, the former customs house that combines French and Vietnamese styles.
Ho Chi Minh Museum with Nha Rong wharf and Saigon River
Fine Arts Museum
To see great examples of Vietnamese arts and culture, visit the Fine Arts Museum. It's housed in a French Colonial mansion that once belonged to the richest man in Saigon. The museum's collection includes oil, silk, and lacquer paintings as well as ceramics and sculptures. Relics from the 7th to 17th centuries are also exhibited in this museum.
Apart from its struggles for independence, Vietnam has a rich history that can be traced back to the prehistoric period. You can learn more about this by going to the Museum of Vietnamese History; find it inside the grounds of the Botanic Gardens. Go on a guided tour to find out more about the cultural evolution of Vietnam.
The HCMC museum is dedicated to Ho Chi Minh City, housed in an elegant, Neoclassical building built in 1885 and formerly known as the Gia Long Palace. It takes visitors on a journey of the city's history through archaeological relics, old city maps, and ceramics. The Vietnamese revolution against the French as well as images from the Vietnam War are also displayed on the upper floor of the museum.
Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine
Did you know that Vietnam has a medical tradition that spans thousands of years? You can learn more about this in the Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, also known as the FITO Museum. It houses ingredients, scrolls, and other artefacts that practitioners used to cure illnesses and promote the wellbeing of their patients.
If you want to see contemporary Vietnamese art, the San Art gallery is for you. This not-for-profit organisation was initiated by artists to exchange knowledge and showcase their work. You can see musical pieces, poetry, and installations as well as contemporary visual art. They also have an excellent reading room with a wide selection of art books.