French colonial Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Asia City Break Travel Ideas Vietnam

Wandering in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

A heaving metropolis thronged with motorbikes and dotted with historic sites, Ho Chi Minh City positively vibrates with energy. From the elegant French architecture of historic Saigon to the bustling stalls of Ben Thanh market, experience the fusion of tradition and modernity in one frenetic and fascinating city. 

With almost 13 million residents, Ho Chi Minh City is the economic heart of Vietnam and the hub of the southern region. Thriving commerce and a rich intersection of cultural influences make this the essential starting point for Vietnam tours. Explore a few of the elaborate Buddhist temples and you’ll soon be hooked on the sights, sounds and smells of HCMC. 

Ho Chi Minh City motorbike traffic Vietnam

Past and future collide in HCMC

Listen to the calls of street food stalls competing to sell the best banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) in town. Absorb the memory-filled streets of old Saigon among the faded colonial architecture. Pay homage at the Jade Emperor’s Pagoda, an incense-scented temple full of statues of divinities.

Enjoy a cocktail with panoramic views from the sky deck of the Bitexco Tower. At the end of the day, cool down with a bia hoi (draft beer) at a pavement stall and swap stories with the locals. This combination of past and present, east and west is a powerful element of Ho Chi Minh City holidays.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Many visitors to Vietnam are interested in learning more about the Vietnam War (or the American War as the locals call it) and Ho Chi Minh City holidays are the perfect opportunity to do this. A visit to the War Remnants Museum is an eloquent way to understand this tragic conflict.

Museum of War Remnants gates Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Just outside the city you can experience the claustrophobia of the Cu Chi tunnels, where Viet Cong soldiers lived and fought during the war.

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Discover a dynamic, cosmopolitan metropolis drawing together the old and the new Vietnam. Take an insider’s look at Saigon on a classic Vespa tour, zipping through the streets and seeing local life.  

Have an artistic adventure at the Fine Arts Museum followed by touring contemporary art galleries in HCMC. Explore the Chinese Quarter with its colourful temples such as the Chaozhou Assembly Hall and the pale blue Cho Lon Mosque.

There are so many things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and it’s the perfect place to find your feet after long flights to Vietnam. For a complete change of pace choose a resort for Vietnam beach holidays.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a massive metropolis with several distinct areas, meaning the part of the city you choose to stay in will have a big impact on your experience. 

Most of the tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City are located in and around District 1, the city’s central business district. District 1 is busy, chaotic and fast-paced, making it an exciting place to stay but definitely not for everyone. 

Around District 1, you’ll find most hotels near the Nguyen Hue walking street (an upmarket and shopping-focused area) and cheaper hotels and other accommodation around the backpacker street of Bui Vien. 

If you’re staying in Ho Chi Minh City for a longer period of time , you’ll probably prefer staying a little further away from District 1. Most of the best Airbnb apartments in Ho Chi Minh City can be found in the districts surrounding the center of the city:

  • Binh Thanh District. Located directly beside District 1, this is a heavily populated area with lots of options for eating and shopping. It’s also where you’ll find Landmark 81, the tallest building in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
  • District 2. This more international focused area is a quieter part of town with a variety of good restaurants, cafes and bars. Viewing apartments for rent in Thao Dien (a laid back, residential part of District 2) is a good example if you’re staying long term.
  • District 4. District 4 is a bustling area located right next to District 1. Accommodation in this area is much cheaper than in District 1, making it a good option if you’re on a tight budget but want to be as close to the city as possible. 

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