A Brief Guide of Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City
by Hello Vietnam Travel Nov 30, 2018
Traveling to Vietnam, the highest chance that you are not going to skip Ho Chi Minh City, the core dynamic economic center of the country. Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam consists of 19 districts and 5 sub-districts. Each territory has its own distinctions to be unique. Thus, Saigon is a place of exploring and cuisine. There are tons of things to participate during the day and what this city offers are exceptional. Whether you’re having a short trip or a long dwell, let’s discover the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City to throw into your bucket list.
10 Most Appealing Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Explore Cu Chi Tunnel
Cu Chi is one of the most attractive destinations for people who want to have an experience living the days. Vietnamese soldiers did in the wartime. It lies 70 km to the Northwest of the city. You will need a tour operator to take you there with a group of other travelers. Coming to Cu Chi, you will witness a massive tunnel system of 120 km used to cover daily basics and military hideouts. During the visit, you can walk through the narrow routes underground, watching the informative documentary film, or shooting guns with real bullets.
2. Cruise on Mekong River
Though this activity is not situated within the city, it’s not too far to reach; yet, it’s a worth trying excursion. If you have a few days to spend on the river, take a cruise ship along Mekong River departs from Saigon. This is the time when you can watch the life on the current across the largest river network in Asia.
You will also have a chance visiting the rustic villages with fruit orchards and immense rice fields, observing the bustling life on the floating markets, and tasting fresh local specialties. The cruise can take you all the way to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia if you have finished your Vietnam venture, or Siem Reap - the famous kingdom of the Angkor Wat.
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3. Take some Motorbike Tours
Motorbike rentals are popular around the tourist district. You can easily hire a scooter for a fair price to spend the day on it. Blending in the rush stream of people on the street, you will have a chance to share the traffic with citizens in Saigon. Ride your scooter to visit attractions around the city is an exciting activity every tourist should try. Plan your destinations with a smart route; you’ll be able to master the riding experience with running, stopping, parking and many more to encounter. Or you can sit in the back of a local motorbike tour and get your orientation fast. Just don’t forget to put on your helmet.
4. Taste Saigon Coffee
Needless to say, coffee is a national obsession since its introduction and has become one of the top countries with the largest coffee productions in the world. Coffee presents in every corner in Ho Chi Minh City; from the highest towel of prosperity to the alley of the off-screen life. Why don’t you have a sit somewhere near Notre Dame Cathedral and sip some roasted coffee brew watching the constant stream of people? Tell the lady you want a “ca phe sua da” for milk coffee or “ca phe da” for a mere dark coffee with sugar. That would be an unforgettable moment of your trip.
5. Experience Saigon Nightlife
Night time is when the city flips its other side of the recreational lifestyle. You can attend in the backpacker street having draft beer hanging out with locals sitting next to you. Or you can take part in a food crawl expedition to discover the hidden kitchens serving the best dinner and dessert if you are a food enthusiast. Either choice, you are making the most mesmerizing times for your Saigon journey.
As stated by the travel site Rough Guides, “When the sun goes down, the bustling energy of southern Vietnam's megalopolis transfers to its many clubs and bars”. Indeed, if you are thirsty for a chic experience of Saigon’s nightlife being vibrant with live-music venues, rooftop cocktails, street-side beers, backpacker pubs, and even casinos, let’s put yourself into this energetic atmosphere.
Many roof-top bars here, typically Chill Sky Bar and The View Rooftop Bar, draw tourists’ attention from modern designs to the possession of panoramic views over the light-up city. In addition, the U.K travel site also pointed out Saigon Acoustic Bar (District 3) as a perfect rendezvous for pop-rock cover bands, while District 1 has Carmen Bar providing an odd selection of Spanish flamenco played by skilled Vietnamese musicians. Besides, the plastic tables along the “Beer Street” called Bui Vien are a must for those who prefer a more low-key night out. Feel as if it has no beginning or end!
6. Street Food Daring
Ho Chi Minh City is a haven for street food culture that brings it up to the hammer. You will catch street vendor anywhere in the city selling some most amazing dishes in Vietnam the world-famous Banh Mi, Pho, broken rice to grilled rice paper pizza, fertilized duck eggs and much more waiting for you to find out. If you are a dare taker, proceed to a peddled ware and order the offer like a local, now you know one big authentic side of Saigon.
Once setting foot into this charming city, you cannot skip Banh Xeo, a typical example of spicy rice-flour pancake mixed with coconut milk and savory fillings; Hu Tieu Nam Vang, a cannot-overlook Pho’s cousin with the great taste of toppings like sliced pork shoulder, a whole pork chop, wonton dumplings, meatballs, shrimp, squid, and fish; or Bun Thit Nuong, vermicelli noodles owing a wonderful harmony of grilled pork, chopped leaf lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrot.
More noticeably, no trip to Saigon would be complete without a bowl of Com Tam (also called broken rice). Well prepared with a grilled pork chop (sườn) marinated in fish sauce, spices and lemongrass; a fried egg, sliced tomato, cucumber, and other aromatic ingredients adorning the edges, this best-loved dish is Saigon’s answer to the English breakfast ‘fry-up’. With a view to getting your teeth into mouth-watering dishes, why don’t you take a stroll around streets and stop at plain food stalls right there?
7. Wander around Local Markets
Existing in another dimension to the rest of the city with various choices all-kind goods, Saigon’s markets sharing their own unique appeals are worth a visit.
When comparing Ben Thanh, Binh Tay, Xom Chieu, or Hoa Hung markets in Ho Chi Minh City with the bulk of bazars in Southeast Asia, we can hardly find any differences between them because emblematic products for a tropical country are all reunited there. At first impression, those market meet the needs of housewives when supplying myriads of ingredients for daily cooking like eggs, meat, vegetables, or even seafood.
What is more, standing out from the great part of stalls selling relatively analogous items like postcards, clothes, handicrafts, and accessories; the endless rows of food vendors providing tasty Vietnamese street cuisines non-stop draw customers’ attention, including you. Perhaps, there is no more wonderful experience than riding a motorbike around this bustling city from the early morning and get a broader picture of Saigon’s nightlife at Ben Thanh Night Market or Ho Thi Ky Flower Market.
Note: To best appreciate, the earlier you visit, the better Saigon’s markets are. Why? Of course, Saigon’s markets are at their busiest in the morning which offers freshest and most colorful products.
8. Visit Religious Sites
For a dose of serenity, pay a visit to some of the pagodas and temples dated a few decades before now. The suggestions here include the Mariamman Temple, Tian Hou Pagoda, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda; or a bit further out of the city is the Cao Dai Temple and Vinh Trang pagoda in Tien Giang.
Though Vietnam is not a shopping paradise in term of trend catching, it’s a perfect place to purchase unique handcrafted items and manually made souvenirs. You can buy some conical leaf hats as gifts and traditional sweets to treat your friends when you are home.
10. Join a Cooking Class
If you are inspired by the culinary art of the local cuisine, you are welcomed in the cooking classes hosted by authentic chefs.
You will team with the cook to source ingredients in the market and bring them to the recipes. You will practice how to make spring rolls or noodles soups, and many more recipes to take home.
Hopefully, Top Mekong Cruises has given you some useful ideas on the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh. Coming to this bustling city, you also can feel that the natives are givers when do not need to take anything back for themselves. They even support others voluntarily and enthusiastically as if all are in a big family. For that reason, let’s be in harmony with friendly locals as well as our suggestions each time you set foot in this stay-awake city!