Chaos is the best word to describe Saigon, the old capital of Vietnam. It’s the sort of chaos I love and it’s the kind of chaos that makes sense and seems to work! As a common first stop in Vietnam for tourists, there is so much to see and do in the city that it can be difficult to settle on the best sights if you’re on a budget or time limit. Here are my recommendations on the Top 7 Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City!
War Remnants Museum
For anyone with an interest in the history of the Vietnamese War this is a must visit. There are extensive exhibits displaying weaponry, war statistics, and biological warfare as well as tanks, planes, bombs and much more. It’s an educational but slightly harrowing experience learning of the atrocities of war. The museum is incredibly pro-communist and is very one sided to blaming America, which is worth bearing in mind. Entrance is 15,000 VND ($0.66) and well worth it to spend an afternoon learning about the history of war in Vietnam.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Take a tour around the 500km network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnamese War. Half Day Tours include the opportunity to crawl through replicas of the tunnels used by the VC while learning more about the construction of the tunnels and the guerrilla warfare tactics utilized by the VC. Similar to the war remnants museum it’s a sobering experience, and while crawling through the tunnels you may find yourself feeling claustrophobic and incredibly hot due to the humidity.. Admission to the tunnels is 110,000 VND, you can organize a tour which will include transport and a tour guide for 100,000 VND.
Home of the South Vietnamese President during the Vietnam war, made even more iconic by the pictures of a North Vietnamese tank smashing through the gates during the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnamese War. The palace itself isn’t the most spectacular palace you’ll visit in Vietnam but well worth a visit to learn more about the war and some amazing stories of their beloved war heroes. The entrance fee is.20,000 VND.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is an imposing red brick building in front of a picturesque green which was built by French Colonists in 1880. It’s a beautiful building to admire from the outside, with two bell towers standing 58 meters tall on either side of the main entrance. These towers and the facade gives this building an uncanny resemblance to the actual Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Admission is free.
Saigon Central Post Office
Right next to Notre Dame Cathedral is the Old Saigon Central Post Office. The building was constructed from 1886-1891 when Vietnam was part of French Indochina, giving this building hints of French, Gothic and Renaissance aesthetic. Still an operational post office and one of the busiest in the country, this building has also become a popular tourist attraction in Saigon. The Post Office is free to enter, and is open from 6am-10pm everyday.
Saigon Fine Art Museum
For any art buffs this is a must visit spot in Saigon. The colonial style yellow and white buildings house a stunning art collection. The museum features contemporary art as well as pieces dating back to the 4th century from international artists as well as Vietnamese. Entrance fee is 10,000 VND.
Night out in Pham Ngu Lao
No visit to Saigon is complete without a chaotic night out in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Bui Vien is the classic backpacker street, with swathes of bars offering happy hour drink deals. Beers are as cheap as 10,000 VND ($0.50), and street performers and artists will come out at night and provide plenty of entertainment!