Ho Chi Minh City can be an overwhelming city, and that isn’t only because of the masses of traffic that fills the streets.
There is so much to do that will satisfy every traveler’s needs, be it nightlife, culture, art, cuisine or history.
There are masses of Ho Chi Minh attractions, and in a few cases, there is that much you can do, that a lot of visitors think they will be missing things to see in Saigon.
With that in mind, here are the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh
In This Guide
- Top Ten Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City
- 1. Pay a Visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral
- 2. War Remnants Museum
- 3. Scale the Bitexco Financial Tower
- 4. Reunification Palace
- 5. Stamp Your Visit on the Central Post Office
- 6. Jade Emperor Pagoda
- 7. Shopping in Ben Thanh Market
- 8. Take on a Show in the Saigon Opera House
- 9. Hit the Waterways of the Mekong Delta
- 10. Dragon Water Puppet Show
Top Ten Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Pay a Visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral
Although it might not be as large or elegant as the Cathedral in Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral is still one of the things to do in Saigon that every tourist should take the time out to do.
It is still a part of history and spans back to the middle of the French colonial heritage of Saigon. The only times you can visit daily are 8 am – 11 am, or late afternoon from 3 pm until 6 pm. If you arrive outside of these hours, you might find the gates locked.
There are two 40 meter high towers, and a large statue of the Virgin Mary that adorns the front lawn.
Photo opportunities here are from the side of the road where you can get the statue ant the cathedral in one shot.
Inside, there are plenty of stained glass windows, traditional wooden pews and plaid floor tiles giving a classic appearance.
2. War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum might not be the most appealing place to take children, but if they are the right age, they will understand that humanity at times isn’t all rosy. It is also a reminder to everyone who visits, just how bad the horrors of war are.
To many, they will have no real understanding of the Vietnam war as it happened so far away, but it is one of Ho Chi Minh city points of interest, that all visitors should pay a visit to.
The museum shows the struggles of the locals, and also it plays a massive role in the healing process for all of Vietnam.
Worldwide visitors can quickly see how the effects of this war changed the nation. Younger boys might like weapons, tanks, and planes, but now they will understand why and how they were used.
3. Scale the Bitexco Financial Tower
It stands alone and can be seen from all around. Kids will say that the Bitexco Financial Tower is one of the places to visit in Ho Minh Chi. It is tall, and it is modern, and more than just being offices, there is plenty to do there.
Any family can get a view of all the city from the Saigon Sky deck. This is located up on the 49th floor and gives a panoramic view of all the city. This is one place in Saigon that is always detailed in the cities travel guides.
If the family is feeling a little hungry after all this, there is no need to travel down to ground level as there is the Eon Café one floor up, this though can be a little expensive and is down to it being located in the financial tower.
4. Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is now a museum, although there are still times when it is used for meetings and events. It was the home of the South Vietnam president during the war.
You can tour around all of the rooms and see fine arts, and all manner of furnishings that are fit for royalty.
One of the most striking things to see in Ho Chi Minh City is the round dragon carpet. This is a red and gold masterpiece and is located on the second floor.
For kids, there are secret rooms and basements to explore, and it can be one of the best places to visit for a quick day trip and take a step back in time.
5. Stamp Your Visit on the Central Post Office
Although it might not sound like a trip for kids to visit, it can deliver up a unique look at a building which was designed by the person who designed the Eiffel Tower.
The Central Post Office sits across the street from the Cathedral, and these two are often combined during a visit to the area.
The Central post building is full of sweeping arches, and although very French, there is a large traditional Vietnamese portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging at the far end.
What is surprising is that it is still open to the public and a working post office, and still has the old style phone boxes sat against the wall.
6. Jade Emperor Pagoda
When you are looking at what to do in Ho Chi Minh City that is more traditional than having a French influence, you can pay a visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. This delivers unique insights into the Mahayanist branch of Buddhism.
This can be exciting for kids especially when they get to hear of the ‘God of the Heavens,’ and how some people can go on to meet the ‘God of Hell.’
Here the life in purgatory is detailed in all of its gruesome glory. A different hall shows the goddess of fertility who is surrounded, small children and women.
This is still a working shrine, so it does need a little respect when visiting.
7. Shopping in Ben Thanh Market
This is isn’t like night markets in some cities as it only opens regular hours. But Ben Thanh Market delivers up a shopping experience like no other.
It is, in fact, one of the most popular dining places for breakfast, so if you want to try real street food, then this is the place to head.
If you are stuck what to do in Ho Chi Minh City for half a day, then this could be a good start. It does take a short trip to get there from downtown, but it is worth it to beat the rush.
8. Take on a Show in the Saigon Opera House
The Saigon Opera House is located on Dong Khoi street, so you are not too far away from other attractions for an evening’s fun.
If nothing else, this street is the equivalent to Oxford St in London but in Ho Chi Minh City. It delivers a very different nighttime experience and is safer than Bui Vien Street where all the seedier locals and tourists hang out.
The show is performed and shows the traditional dance using bamboo. The opera house also has a very strong French influence, but the dances and shows are strictly Vietnamese.
9. Hit the Waterways of the Mekong Delta
Ho Chi Minh City has lots to do, but it is nice to get away from it all, and there is no better way to keep children interested than a boat trip on the Mekong Delta. Being at the side of the Saigon river, you can expect it to be a world of water.
There is a massive maze of other rivers, islands, swamps and floating villages and markets. It is a treasure trove and making this trip you never leave you thinking what to do in Saigon.
You can quickly see why boats are the primary means of transportation in Vietnam. Tours start in the heart of Ho Minh Chi before heading south so it will be a full day trip.
10. Dragon Water Puppet Show
For a quick evening show of around an hour, there is nothing as unique as the Dragon Water Puppet show.
This is located not far from the open area of Dan Park so it can be ideal where to take children after an early evening stroll.
What makes this show different is that the puppet shows are performed in a pool of water and tells folk tales along with operatic songs.
It is all in Vietnamese, but all the actions and the music are more than enough to give viewers an idea of what is happening.
These are a few of the things to do that are stand out attractions. However, there is much more than this to see and do for children and adults alike.
Ho Chi Minh City might have lots of cultures, and still, retain some of the old charms of years gone by.
However, there are plenty more attractions and things to do which are more up to date. These can satisfy any member of the family, and all of this is while staying in the borders of the city.
Travel outside, and there are very different adventures and places that the family can experience.
There is a whole new world of travel, and by the time you have finished, it will have really broadened the mind and delivered a very different outlook on life to your children.