7 Unmissable things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

7 Unmissable things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a turbulent but vibrant past. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s commercial centre and there is much to do in this bustling city at the heart of South East Asia. There are many sombre but truly fascinating historical sightseeing opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding regions. Ho Chi Minh City is often the starting point of the Mekong river cruises so linger a while and make the most of this busting city.
Here are our 7 unmissable things to do in Ho Chi Minh City to ensure you cover the fascinating locations this city has to offer.

Central Post Office & Notre Dame Cathedral 

The perfect way to orient yourself in Ho Chi Minh City is to start with a visit to the city’s most iconic sites. The old Saigon Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral are the perfect locations to soak up the architectural masterpieces of this city. The Gothic-styled Saigon Central Post Office began its life in 1886 and was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It remains one of the country's most celebrated French colonial structures. Wander beneath the long, domed roof and past the French-inspired colonial maps flanking a portrait of Ho Chi Minh. It still operates as a post office today so you can even send a postcard home if you like. Across the road, the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists, is equally impressive. It is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. The name Notre Dame was given much later in 1959 after the addition of the Virgin Mary statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’. Locals claim the statue was seen to shed tears in October 2005, and while the Catholic Church of Vietnam have not affirmed this, many still flock to this statue in hope of witnessing a miracle.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Reunification Palace

Home of the President of South Vietnam during the "American War", this is the site where the North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates on the morning of 30 April 1975, resulting in Saigon's surrender. The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975. You can explore the rooms, bunkers and landscaped gardens, including two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace. 
Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum opened in 1975 and documents the shocking brutality of the Vietnam War and, although criticised for its alleged propagandist tone, it remains one of the most visited museums in the country. Retired military vehicles dominate the entrance while inside, there is a harrowing selection of exhibits. It is a confronting but perhaps necessary part of Ho Chi Minh’s history to explore.
War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Cu Chi Tunnels

A short 30km drive from Ho Chi Minh City through rice paddies and villages takes you to the Cu Chi tunnels. Learn about the intricate underground network of tunnels and hear incredible tales of how the residents fought and survived here. The tunnels were built by hand and used as operational headquarters by Vietcong guerrillas in 1968. They were instrumental in numerous military campaigns and played a key role in defeating American forces. A guided tour allows you to explore the tunnels (you can crawl through one if you are game!) and gain a detailed account of their history.
Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

Saigon street food tour

For a change of pace and a lighter tone, hit the streets and explore Ho Chi Minh City’s famous Vietnamese street food scene – the most famous of this is pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup – pronounced FUH). You can even do this from the back seat of a Vespa, an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in the city. 
Ho Chi Minh City street food

Take a refreshing coffee break

Since its introduction to Vietnam by French colonists in the 19th century, coffee has become a national obsession. The high humidity and heat means, iced coffee, locally called "ca phe sua da", is most popular. It is brewed with a dark roast using a single metal French drip filter and served with sweet condensed milk poured over ice. It’s the perfect balance of strong and sweet, and so refreshing on a humid day.
Vietnamese iced coffee

Haggle for a bargain in the markets

There isn't much you can't buy in the markets here, and although haggling is a Vietnamese art form requiring practice, it's still easy enough to pick up a bargain. District 1's Ben Thanh Market is the most famous market in Ho Chi Minh City with more than 3,000 stalls. For a lesser-known alternative, District 1's Tan Dinh specialises in silks and clothing material.
Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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