Fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon, this vibrant metropolis in southern Vietnam is a treasure trove of exciting activities and cultural gems just waiting to be explored. From landmarks and tasty street food to lively markets and rich history, Ho Chi Minh City offers a mix of adventures for every type of traveller. Keep reading to discover what I think some of the most fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh.

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14 fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh

1. Listen to live music at Acoustic Bar

This bar turned into my faveourite spot in Ho Chi Minh. Every night a number of live bands and singers take to the stage to sing their versions of popular international and Vietnamese songs. The musicians are all incredible, there is a drummer, bassist, electric guitarist and keyboardist. As a result, it gets very busy so if you want a seat arrive before the music starts at 21:00. The area also has many restaurants to grab a bite in beforehand.

Location: 6E1 H?m 6 Ngô Th?i Nhi?m, Võ Th? Sáu, Qu?n 3

2. Cafe Apartments

This is a really cool concept, it is an apartment block with lots of different cafes, boutiques and a small number of residential apartments fusing coffee, community and creativity. It was created as a response to the rapid urbanisation of Ho Chi Minh, entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to convert their upper floors into residential units and lower floors to cafes.

The entrance of the cafe apartments does not stand out, you would be forgiven if you walked straight past it. When you enter the building walk to the back and to the right will be a staircase. You can take a lift to different floor but the most fun way is climbing the stairs and seeing all the different cafes and artwork on the walls.

Exploring all the floors is one of the most fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh, Infact it was so fun I had to visit twice, the first time I went to Madam Quyên who served me the best bun cha I had in all of my time in Vietnam and a salted coffee. Located on the top floor the cafe looks out over the back of the building not out on to the square. On my second visit I went to %, I recommend it for the views because it overlooks the square but the coffee was not great. I also walked into the door of the balcony (someone give the cleaner a raise!) and just got weird looks from the staff (I guess that is understandable), it was just not my vibe.

entrance to cafe apartments ho chi minh
the entrance to the cafe apartments

3. War Remnants Museum

war remnants museum ho chi minh

Ok, I understand this seems like a heavy activity to include in a list titled fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh, but it is important to understand what this city has been through. Ho Chi Minh City endured immense suffering during the Vietnam War, and the war remnants museum effectively portrays both the magnitude of the damage inflicted and the resilience of the Vietnamese people. A visit to this museum is an emotional journey that provides profound insights into the brutal realities of the war.

As you wander through its exhibits, you will come face to face with photographs and narratives vividly depicting the horrors caused by chemical weapons like Agent Orange serving poignant reminders of the human cost of the conflict. Simultaneously, a strong emphasis is placed on the importance of peace, reconciliation, and the hope for a better future. It promotes a message of healing and understanding, urging visitors to learn from the past to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

4. Tao Dan Park

Tao Dan is a beautiful picturesque park in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city, district 1. Lined with sculptures, water features, greenery and a temple the park offers a place of tranquility away from the chaos.

That said, I did see a bald eagle, he was not wild but on a long lead but it was fascinating watching it look at small dogs and kids walking by! In other words eyeing them up for his next meal!

Location: Tr??ng ??nh, Ph??ng B?n Thành, Qu?n 1

5. Cu Chi Tunnels

cu chi tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels: 250km of strategic tunnels used as hideouts, communication routes, and supply chains during the Vietnam War. Admittedly, I was unsure about visiting Chu Chi tunnels, spending a day crawling through tunnels did not sound fun. Despite my initial lack of enthusiasm I am so glad I visited because it was such a fun thing to do in Ho Chi Minh.

To clarify, you will not spend the day crawling through tunnels, there is only one that can be crawled through. It is extremely small and not advisable for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia. Surprisingly, the Cu Chi tunnels have been expanded for visitors, originally they were even smaller in size. However, do not worry every 20m you have a chance to get out.

It is worth noting that only about 10% of the tour involves crawling through the tunnels, instead the majority most of the tour involves walking around the forest and learning about traps that the Viet Cong used and their living spaces.

We were also given tapioca, a rustic snack that is traditionally served with a peanut seasoning. Interestingly, this humble dish holds historical significance as it was a staple meal for the Viet Cong during the war.

I have linked the tour I went on below, it includes pick up from hotel. The tour guide was brilliant, he spent the majority of the journey teaching us fun facts about Ho Chi Minh and recommendations on where to go.

6. Ben Nghe Street Food Market

The variety and quality of food here is incredible with stalls ranging from Vietnamese, Thai, Indian to Western cuisine. The market is an ideal place to escape the city’s heat with air conditioning throughout the building.

Not only cool in temperature it is also cool on a visual level with vibrant murals and neon lights. Concerning the price, you can expect most dishes to cost between 90k-150k, a beer will set you back around 30k. Trust me, Vietnamese pancakes here, there is a large variety of fillings.

Trying all of the different Vietnamese food is one of the most fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh, especially if you are a foodie!

Location: 134 ?. Nam K? Kh?i Ngh?a, B?n Nghé, Qu?n 1

7. Little Japan

Down an alley in the midst of the crazy traffic of Ho Chi Minh is a quiet series of alleyways that immediately transports you to Japan. These alleyways offer visitors a glimpse of Japan, particularly the cuisine, so if you have even wanted to treat yourself to authentic Japanese cuisine, including sushi, ramen, yakatori, and teppanyaki then you will really enjoy this small corner of Ho Chi Minh.

I preferred visiting Little Japan during the day, walking the narrow paths provided some peace, but during the night it really changes. It essentially is a red light district and is a completely different vibe. Do not let this put you off because the daytime is a much better experience that resulted in me hungry for a trip to Japan.

Location: 8A ?. Thái V?n Lung, B?n Nghé, Qu?n 1

8. Eat all the Banh Mi’s

Writing off a banh mi as a regular sandwich would be a big mistake. Banh Mi’s are bursting with flavour, filled with a variety of juicy meats, fresh herbs, crunchy cucumber and carrots in a perfectly crispy baguette.

They are very affordable, usually costing 20 – 30k from stalls which offer the tastiest version compared to cafes/restaurants. Also, there is truly nothing quite like sitting on a tiny stool by the side of the street watching the world go by savouring one of these bad boys. Although I have yet to come across a gluten-free version, I remain hopeful.

Banh mi’s taste different from each stall due to meat, sauces, and herbs uses. Eating as many banh mi’s as humanly possible is a fun thing to do in Ho Chi Minh.

9. Enjoy the coffee culture

The coffee in Vietnam is next level, there is such a passion for coffee here. Coffee is deeply rooted in Vietnams social fabric and is a part of everyday life there. In Ho Chi Minh there is a large number of cafes to taste local and international coffee. The Vietnamese just know how to coffee, with bold and sweet flavours there is something to suit everyone. Also, there are many Starbucks but I encourage you to try local coffee shops or Vietnamese coffee chains such as Phuc Long or Highlands.

  • Traditional Vietnamese coffee – very strong and sweetened with condensed milk
  • Egg coffee – egg yolk, condensed milk and sugar. Some taste like custard while others can taste of merengue.
  • Salted coffee – made with a phin filter, heavy cream, condensed milk and salt *my personal favourite*
  • Coconut coffee – basically a coconut slushy served with an espresso that you pour over it. coconut cream, sweet condensed milk and lots of ice

A special shout out to Nomad Cold Brew Coffee who serve unique and creative drinks that are similar to cocktails. As well as delicious drinks, they provide chess boards if you feel like getting competitive with your travel companions.

10. Chinatown

Vietnams largest Chinatown is located in Cholon in district 5. Cholon showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese community in Vietnam. Admire the Chinese-style buildings, visit historic clan houses, and explore the narrow alleyways that are brimming with character and charm.

Fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh Chinatown

  • Binh Tay Market – immerse yourself in local market culture in this bustling market full of fresh produce and local snacks to clothing, textiles, and souvenirs.
  • Thien Hau Pagoda – ancient temple built in 1760 and old dedicated to the goddess of the sea. It is a place of worship along as a tourist attraction that offers a place of solace and escape from the city
  • Luong Nhu Hoc aka lantern street – over 100 shops & stalls selling lanterns during the full moon festival
  • Street food – Chinatowns are renowned for their delicious street food and this one is no different. Try traditional roasted duck, dumplings, kungfu noodles, dim-sum and back chicken with Chinese herbs

Location: Ch? L?n, ph??ng 11, District 5

11. Skydeck at Bitexco Financial Tower

Vietnams tallest building at 262m high and 68 floors, it promises breathtaking views of the districts in Ho Chi Minh. During your visit you will be able to use interactive boards that explain the buildings you are seeing, I found this extremely helpful. I have been to some observation decks and felt a bit clueless of the buildings in the distance.

I would recommend visiting during sunset, where you will see the city in threes different scenes.

Location: 2 ?. H?i Tri?u, B?n Nghé, Qu?n 1

12. Sai Gon Central Post Office

Ho Chi Minh City post office is not your typical post office, it combines history, stunning French colonial architecture, and practical services. When you walk through its doors, you will be transported back to a time where communication was slower, and hand-written letters were a frequent occurrence.

While you are there, be sure to take the opportunity to post a postcard home to your family and friends, no only is it one of the most fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh, it also preserves the charm of traditional mail in the digital age.

Location: 2 Công xã Paris, B?n Nghé, Qu?n 1

ho chi minh post office

13. Bui Vien Street

Also referred to as the walking street and backpacker street, this vibrant and bustling area is a hub of activity. Primarily frequented by Western tourists, the street offers a wide range of budget-friendly accommodation options, as well as a diverse selection of food and beverages.

Consequently, while you may not encounter many locals, it serves as an excellent meeting point for socialising with fellow backpackers. I recommend doing a pub crawl for the ultimate fun night in Ho Chi Minh.

14. Visit a speakeasy

telephone bar ho chi minh

To say this bar does not blend into its surroundings is an understatement, looking like it has been picked up from London and randomly placed in Ho Chi Minh is the Telephone bar.

Identifiable by the two red telephone boxes outside, walking through these telephone boxes is the start of a fun experience in Ho Chi Minh. Once you step in the box another door automatically opens inviting you into a sophisticated bar reminiscent of the 1920s. Inside it is dark with an air of mystery, I felt like I needed to whisper.

Adding to the mystery, there are no menus but instead bespoke cocktails, aka you ask for it and they make it. I can confirm the cocktails are exceptional albeit expensive. For example a whiskey sour cost an eye watering 428,000 VND. However, I think it is worth it as it is one of the best speakeasys’ I visited in Ho Chi Minh!

Location: 41 Nguy?n V?n Tráng, Ph??ng Ph?m Ng? Lão, Qu?n 1

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh?

These two cities are very different, Hanoi is located in the north and Ho Chi Minh is located in the south. Ho Chi Minh larger and much more modern than Hanoi, it has more western influence, as you walk around you will see many big western brands that you do not see much of in Hanoi.
Hanoi has a well preserved old quarter with narrow streets and colonial style building, it cant be denied that it is much more traditional than Ho Chi Minh which is more fast paced and cosmopolitan. Both cities offer a differing culinary scenes; Hanoi is renowned for its street food culture, with dishes like pho and bun cha being local favourites. HCMC offers a broader range of international cuisine options but has many delicious Vietnamese eateries.

Both cities have their own unique charm and attractions, making them worth exploring during your visit to Vietnam.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

Pham Ngu Lao

area in district 1, cheaper accommodation

Recommended Hotels

Lestar Hotel 1
The White Guest House
Meow Hotel & Cafe
Mayfair Suites-WMC
Saigon Amigo Hotel

District 3

less touristy, close to city centre, experience local life

Recommended Hotels

Maison Royale
Hoang Lan Hotel
Daisy Hotel
Mai House Saigon Hotel
SILA Urban Living
EMM Hotel Saigon

How many days is enough in Ho Chi Minh

4 days in Ho Chi Minh will give you time to visit the historical sites and museums, wander the busy streets and parks, enjoy the nightlife, visit the markets and also take a day trip to Cu Chi tunnels. However, if you have 5 days you could extend your trip to the Mekong Delta, this will give you a glimpse into rural life.

Visa Requirements

Vietnam offers a 90 day E-Visa to all countries and territories. Simply fill out the application for on the official website, pay the $25 fee and receive your e-visa in 3 – 15 working days. Then, upon arrival you will be required to present a printed copy to immigration. If you decide you want to stay longer you can extend your e-visa for another 90 days. However, this will require you to leave Vietnam via air or approved land border. I did this twice (Lao Bao Border Check Point) and it is the easiest way.

You can read about my experience doing a visa run in Vietnam here.

Best time to visit Ho Chi Minh

The southern region, where Ho Chi Minh City is located, has a tropical climate with two main seasons: dry season (December to April) and wet season (May to November). Therefore, the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City, is during the dry season. During this period the weather is relatively cooler from north-eastern winds resulting in less humidity, making it comfortable for exploration. The temperatures also peak in April with highs of 35°C.

The wet season brings frequent rain showers, occasional flooding and high humidity. The rain showers are typically short-lived and do not impact sightseeing. Another positive to the wet season is that it creates lush greenery and fewer crowds, making it a good time to find deals on accommodations and flights.

Cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh’s airport is Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the biggest airport in Vietnam. Vietnam Airlines is the country’s flagship carrier offering affordable fairs and high quality service, you can read about my experience with Vietnam Airlines during my flight from Bangkok to Hanoi here. They offer direct flights from a range of EU and American destinations. Additionally, other airlines flying to Ho Chi Minh from EU are Air France, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar & Turkish Airlines. Ho Chi MInh is also well serviced by Asian airlines, my favourite are Singapore Airlines, VietJetAir and Scoot.

Getting Around

The easiest and quickest way to get around is by bike. The easiest way is by downloading the app grab, which is similar to Uber, when the bike arrives you will be given a helmet then you just hop on the back and hold on. However, if you are not comfortable on the back of a bike you can also get a taxi from grab but it will take a bit longer in traffic.

Alternatively, Ho Chi Minh has an extensive bus network, it is affordable and is a good option if you want to observe local culture. There are 3 bus types which can be differentiated by their colour; blue, green (air conditioned) and yellow (route is between airport). You will need to flag the bus down at stops and pay in cash to the bus assistant or driver. Fares range from 6,000VND to 40,000 VND depending on route and distance,

Despite the large size of Ho Chi Minh, the central area where many of the tourist attractions are located is compact and walkable. Therefore, during times of heavy traffic walking can be the quickest option.

Day trips from Ho Chi Minh

Maybe you have more time in Ho Chi Minh or just want a break from the city, day trips are a brilliant way to learn more about a country and enhance your travel experience by covering multiple destinations within a shorter period. When I travel I like to try and visit one more place, although this is not always feasible it is worth checking out nearby trips and activities. Sometimes people dismiss day trips because they think there wont be enough time to experience it all in just a few hours but I think it is worse to never see it.

Enjoy your visit to Ho Chi Minh 🙂