Ho Chi Minh City, formally known as Saigon, is located in the south of Vietnam and is the biggest city in Vietnam. This impressive city was the former capital of the French protectorate of Cochinchina from 1862 to1954 and the former capital of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975. Due to this, it has so much history and things to do and learn about. There are many museums to visit as well as huge markets, fancy malls, delicious food, small cafes and great nightlife. This city has it all. Coming to a city like this can be overwhelming and you might not know what to do. So to help you, we have created a list of 10 unique things to do while you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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❥Also Read: Top 10 things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam
10 unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Tan Dinh Church (Pink Church)
This beautiful pink church is off the beaten track and not many people know about it. This is a Catholic church that is located on Hai Ba Trung road in district 3.
For us, this is the most beautiful church here in Ho Chi Minh City. Its unique pink colour and extreme detailing make it magnificent.
Not many people visit this church, so there’s seldom a crowd of tourists around. While we were here the gates were closed so we aren’t sure if you will be able to go inside but it’s still a beautiful thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
2. The Cafe Apartments
Are you a foodie or a coffee/tea addict? Then this place is perfect for you.
This is one of the most unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh city and it’s gaining popularity quickly. The shop owners decided to turn an old apartment block into this cafe paradise. You can choose between 8 floors of cafes where you can have a drink or eat something.
There is everything here, from dessert bars, steaks, vegetarian meals, coffee and so much more. This isn’t the cheapest place in the city to find food or have a drink, but it’s a unique experience that you shouldn’t miss out on.
The Cafe Apartments’ opening hours are from 08:00 to 21:00.
3. Ben Thanh Market
This is possibly the best market in Ho Chi Minh City for finding souvenirs, clothes, coffee, and so much more.
This market is in district 1 of the city, and you should definitely add this to your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh. Get ready to shop until you drop around this vast market.
Don’t be scared to negotiate with the sellers to get the best deals. If you think that something is too expensive, then walk away. You will find someone else selling the same thing you want for cheaper.
One other great thing about this market is that it’s close to an amazing food market (See next point).
Ben Thanh Market’s opening hours are from 07:00 to 20:00
4. Ben Thanh Street Food Market (Permanently Closed)
This food market is a 2-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market and is the food equivalent of Ben Thanh Market.
There are so many little foods stands packed into this market. All the food stands sell different food from all around Vietnam and abroad.
It’s the perfect place for you to try some new dishes while in the city.
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5. Saigon Skydeck
This one-of-a-kind building is located in district 1, and it’s only a 10-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market. It doesn’t just look beautiful from the outside, but it has an incredible view deck.
You can buy tickets to go up to the Skydeck for 200 000 Dong to enjoy the 360° view from the 49th floor. This is something that many people overlook or just don’t know about it.
There’s also a cafe, restaurant, and bar you can go to. You can find them on floors 50 to 52. Getting into the cafe, restaurant and bar are free, but you must order something.
Saigon Skydeck is open from 12:00 to 20:00 daily.
6. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
If you are looking for a breathtaking Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City, then look no further. This Cathedral opened in April of 1880 and is modelled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in France.
It’s an iconic attraction in the city. The architecture is spectacular and lots of work has recently been done on it to make it perfect.
Whilst you are here, don’t forget to cross the road and visit the Saigon Central Post Office. The Cathedral is open every day from 06:00 to 20:00.
7. Saigon Central Post Office
This is another iconic attraction in Ho Chi Minh, City. The construction of this Post office started in 1886 and was completed in 1891. It has classic elements of Gothic, Renaissance and French colonial designs.
Walking inside this building is like walking into an old European train station. The architecture is beautiful and a sight to behold.
It’s amazing that they still use the building to this day as a post office. This is the perfect place to send a postcard home. You can visit here from 07:30 to 17:00 from Monday to Saturday.
8. Bui Vien/ Phạm Ngũ Lão street (Backpackers street)
If you are looking for a good night out, then backpackers street is where you want to be. This street has many restaurants, bars, and small shops.
During the day this street isn’t very busy, and having lunch here is perfect. Most of the restaurants have very similar menus and prices.
At night this place really comes alive. It’s a nice street to find some food, and drinks and meet new people.
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9. Independence Palace
This independence palace might still be stuck in the 1970s. It’s rich in history, and this is the place where the North Vietnamese tank crashed through the front gate on the 30th of April 1975. This was the end of the Vietnam war.
The original two tanks that were used on that day are parked outside the building. It cost 40 000 Dong to enter, and there are also guided tours you can go on, to learn more about this historical site. The opening hours are from 08:00 to 15:30.
There are so many museums in the city that you can visit, but the Independence Palace was the best for us. Other museums you can visit include Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, and the Fine Arts Museum. Vietnam is full of history and Ho Chi Minh City is the place to go to learn about its incredible history.
10. Do a cooking class
Vietnamese food is unique, and like nothing, we have eaten before. Most of the food in Vietnam tastes delicious. Learning to cook some of these dishes while using their techniques is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There are so many different cooking classes in the city that you can choose from. Pick a class based on the dishes you like and what to learn how to cook. Our tip is to look for a place with good reviews. You can also ask the reception at your hotel to recommend a place for you.
Book a cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City here:
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Is Ho Chi Minh City worth visiting?
Yes, it is if you enjoy visiting cities. This city is so much fun to wander around, and you will stumble on something to do all over the place.
If you enjoy history and you want to learn more about Vietnam’s history then Ho Chi Minh city is where you want to be. This city has some of the best museums in the country.
If museums aren’t your thing, then there are still so many things to do. This city has amazing restaurants, cafes and a very vibrant nightlife.
What is Ho Chi Minh city known for?
Ho Chi Minh city is known for multiple things. Its the largest city in Vietnam and is the business and financial hub of the country.
It also has an extensive history dating back around 200 years which is fascinating. This history is shown by the many museums in the city as well as many old buildings with a colonial architecture built by former French rulers.
Do Vietnamese prefer Saigon or Ho Chi Minh?
Vietnamese generally prefer to call the city Saigon. This is due to various reasons. The main reason is that Saigon is just shorter and more conveniently to say.
For some locals in the city, it can be more of a political matter. Either way, you can use them interchangeably and won’t cause offence to anyone.
Is Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi better?
These two major cities are in complete contrast to each other.
Hanoi is traditional whereas Ho Chi Minh city is more western. Both cities offer many things to do and see.
Hanoi has more traditional dishes and most attractions are in the town and you can walk to them. Ho Chi Minh City has traditional dishes as well as new-age Vietnamese food and more western food. Attractions are further apart but getting between them is easy.
Ho Chi Minh city is dominated by skyscrapers, rooftop bars and restaurants. Generally, Hanoi is cheaper and better for backpackers but both cities are must-visits.
If you cannot visit both then there is a lot to consider before deciding. Our tip is to see what you want to see and do and then decide which city looks more attractive to you.