Everything's Travel Guide to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City used to be known as Saigon although this was officially changed after Ho Chi Minh unified Vietnam following the Vietnam War. As such, Ho Chi Minh City is a place that is steeped in some of the most important modern history in the world, and you will find references to this on every street corner. If you want to learn more about the period of reunification in Vietnam, then you can visit monuments, museums and spots used during the Vietnam War like the Cu Chi Tunnels, but you will also find a vibrant modern side to the city at the same time.

  Tuesday, 18/02/2020, 11:26

Ho Chi Minh City used to be known as Saigon although this was officially changed after Ho Chi Minh unified Vietnam following the Vietnam War. As such, Ho Chi Minh City is a place that is steeped in some of the most important modern history in the world, and you will find references to this on every street corner. If you want to learn more about the period of reunification in Vietnam, then you can visit monuments, museums and spots used during the Vietnam War like the Cu Chi Tunnels, but you will also find a vibrant modern side to the city at the same time.

Despite its historic and cultural significance, Ho Chi Minh City is also one of the most dynamic spots in Vietnam, and you can see this through the cutting edge buildings and the exciting nightlife on offer here. If you want to sample some of the local delights, then the street food scene in the city is also one of the best in the country, and you can happily spend your days eating your way around Ho Chi Minh City, or join a dedicated food tour.



Square: 2.061,04 km²
Population: 8.993.082 people (2019)
City:  Ho Chi Minh





OVERVIEW



Ho Chi Minh is the City of celebrations and one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam. If you are planning to visit Vietnam, then you should make yourself aware of what to expect from the city before embarking. Vietnam is a small country that is so diverse in cultural activities, a fusion of modern and old that can captivate your holiday plans. To make your tour a pleasant experience, take your Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide from Holiday To Indochina, one of the experienced travel professionals in Vietnam.

Visiting Ho Chi Minh City is an absolute “must do” on your wish list when you plan a tour to Vietnam.  After the war, Saigon christened as Ho Chi Minh City, as a token of respect to famous freedom fighter and founder father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh.  Today, you will find the city transformed to a modern, trendy city meeting all expectations of a tourist. It is not surprising that Ho Chi Minh City has been able to draw visitors from all over the world.


Best time to visit

The best time to visit Vietnam would be during the months of April to November as the climate would be pleasant and warm for your Ho Chi Minh tour packages. However, if you want to experience the cold season, the best season will be November to April.  During this season, the weather will be dry cold. The weather usually in this country is pleasant throughout the year. However, Vietnam also experiences excess rainfalls in few months.

Things to do when you are in Ho Chi Minh

When you are on tours in Ho Chi Minh, there are many sightseeing places and sights which are worth to visit and very much enjoyable. Whether you are on honeymoon or family trips, these areas are perfect to suit the needs of any family. You can visit markets, tunnels, cultural tour, museums, palaces, and others to see and admire.


Visit the Giac Lam Pagoda





Giac Lam Pagoda

Giac Lam Pagoda has the claim to fame of being the oldest temple in Ho Chi Minh City and dates from 1744. T

he pagoda is set in a pretty garden and the name of the temple actually means ‘Feel the Woods Temple’. At the entrance of the temple you will find a graceful Bodhi tree which is sacred in Buddhism and was actually a present from a visiting monk from Sri Lanka in 1953.

You can walk around the grounds and admire the picturesque architecture here and take in the serene atmosphere at the same time.

Tour the War Remnants Museum




War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum is one of the most moving sights in Ho Chi Minh City and is dedicated to educating visitors about the atrocities of the Vietnam War.

This is one of the most popular museums in all of Vietnam and more than half a million visitors come here every year.

Some of the items on display include old military vehicles like Huey helicopters as well as attack bombers and M48 Patton tanks.

Inside you will also find personal memorabilia of victims of the war as well as old photographs.

Suggested tour: VIP City Highlights: War Remnants Museum & Ben Thanh Market

Take a Bonsai River Cruise




Ho Chi Minh River

If you want to take in the city from the vantage point of the water, then head for a Bonsai River Cruise.

Here you will get the chance to join a boat ride that includes dinner and takes you back to the days of elegant cruise dining.

The boat is actually a traditional dragon boat that dates from the 19th century and they serve a buffet dinner complete with live music.


Visit the Central Office





Central Post Office

A post office may not sound very exciting but the one in Ho Chi Minh City was designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame.

The building is designed in the Gothic style and dates from 1886 and is still one of the most famous monuments in the city.

Make sure that you go inside, as you will find a huge domed roof and grand walls which are adorned with maps from the colonial period.

There is also a requisite portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam.


Tour Reunification Palace




Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace was the former home of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

The building is also steeped in history as this is also the spot where the North Vietnamese invaded in 1975 and Ho Chi Minh City surrendered.

The building looks much as it would have done in 1966 and you can take a free guided tour here which will fill you in on the cultural and historical significance of this monument to the Vietnam War.


Grab a coffee in Tao Dan Park




Tao Dan Park

Vietnam is known for its delicious coffee so it stands to reason that it has a strong cafe culture.

The signature brew here is known as ca phe sua da which is an iced coffee made of a dark roast which is mixed with condensed milk and served over ice.

One of the best places to try this is at Tan Tao Park and if you get there in the morning you can go for a walk and pick up a cup from a street stall.

Tour the History Museum




Vietnamese History Museum

The History Museum is located in a beautiful botanical garden and dates from 1929. The museum would have started off as a French colonial villa which has now been turned into a museum and you will find artifacts here which date back 4,000 years.

Many of the pieces originate from the Bronze Age and there are also items from the Cham and Khmer kingdoms.

These include collections of weaponry as well as art pieces and gifts that would have been offered to Ho Chi Minh by visiting dignitaries.


 Visit Notre Dame Cathedral




Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral was built from 1877 and 1883 and sits in the heart of the city.

The cathedral is designed in the neo-Romanesque style and you can check out the towers here which soar to a height of 40 meters and are topped with impressive iron spires.

The cathedral got its name from the Virgin Mary and the inside is covered in devotional tablets and pretty stained glass windows.

Staff are on hand during the week to explain all the history of the cathedral to visitors.


Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels




Cu Chi Tunnels Entrance

The main draw in Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels which would have been used by the Vietcong guerillas at the time of the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels are made up of a series of underground chambers which stretch for 30 kilometers out of the city and you can now visit sections of the tunnels and crawl through the small spaces to experience the conditions of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War.

Note that this is not an ideal place to visit if you suffer from claustrophobia as the tunnels are very small indeed.


Admire the Cao Dai Temple




Cao Dai Temple

There are a number of Cao Dai temples in Vietnam although the one in Ho Chi Minh is said to be the most beautiful of its kind.

The temple took some 20 years to build and was finally completed in 1956. Inside you will find some ornate carved dragons but the real draw is the mix of religious statues here.

These include effigies of Christ, Brahman and Buddha, which reflect a range of faiths in one building.


Have breakfast at Binh Tay Market




Binh Tay Market

Binh Tay Market is located in the Cholon district of Ho Chi Minh City and you will find a large clock tower here as well as a central courtyard.

The market was built in the 1880s during the colonial period and you can go for a walk and try out the food stalls here.

These include local dishes like noodle soups or you can just stop by for a coffee.

If possible, try to come early in the morning to take in the bustling atmosphere.


Scale the Bitexco Financial Tower





Bitexco Financial Tower

The Bitexco Financial Tower was designed by Carlos Zapata and is made up of 68 storeys.

The building soars to a height of 262 meters and is meant to have been designed to resemble a lotus bulb.

On the 48th floor you will find the Saigon Skydeck and you can come here around sunset to take in the stunning vistas over the city.

There is also a rooftop bar if you want to relax with a drink as you take in the scenery below you.


Admire the Phoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda




Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda

One of the prettiest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City is the Phoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda which is a riot of color and comes in a range of red, gold, yellow and gold hues.

The temple dates from 1902 and is covered in brass ritual ornaments as well as antique weapons.

Also make sure that you check out the intricate woodcarvings around the altars, walls and columns, as well as the large and aromatic incense coils.

You will also find colorful hanging lanterns here and the walls are lined with ceramic tiles that tell the stories of local legends.


 
Tour the Ho Chi Minh City Museum





Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The Ho Chi Minh Museum was built in 1885, although at this time it would have been known as Gia Long Palace, and then as the Revolutionary Museum.

This is widely said to be the grandest building in the city and this is the place to come to learn all about the culture and history of Ho Chi Minh City.

Just some of the collections on show include ceramics, ancient maps of the city, and marriage costumes that belong to the various ethnic groups in Vietnam.

As you would expect, there are also galleries dedicated to the history of the Vietnam War.

Browse in Ben Thanh Market





Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City and is a great place to come to shop and eat.

On a visit to the market you will find a range of street food vendors selling local snacks, as well as a dry area where you can pick up some souvenirs.

You can also shop for items like local textiles and ceramics although bear in mind that haggling is expected so don’t be afraid to bargain hard.


Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda




Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is dedicated to the Taoist god known as the King of Heaven or Ngoc Hoang.

As you would expect from the name, this is one of the fanciest temples in Ho Chi Minh City and you will find statues of deities here as well as large coils of smoking incense.

The walls are lined with elaborate woodcarvings and the roof is also a work of art in its own right.

If you look up, you will find rooftop statues which show scenes from Buddhist and Taoist legends.

Grab a sandwich at Banh Mi Huynh Hao




Banh Mi Sandwich

Banh mi is probably the most famous of all of Vietnam’s foodstuff as well as being one of the best loved sandwiches in the world.

Banh mi is made from crusty baguette which is then slicked with pate and then topped with chilies and coriander.

This hole in the wall joint is nothing fancy and there are no tables and chairs, but you will recognize it before you see it thanks to the long line of patrons queuing up for one of the best sandwiches in the city.


Giac Vien Pagoda





Giac Vien Pagoda

Giac Vien Pagoda is not the best known temple in Ho Chi Minh City, but it has also not been restored in the way that many others in the city have been, which means that it retains a lot of its traditional charm.

The temple is located near to the Dam Sen Lake and was founded in the 1700s.

Local legend claims that the Emperor Gia Long who died in 1819 used to worship here and this is a great place to get a glimpse of the Vietnam of old.


 

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