Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is still the largest metropolis in Vietnam and a major commercial centre. The city buzzes with constant activity from colourful street markets, lively cafes and travellers paying respects at the War Remnants Museum. Ancient temples share space with modern skyscrapers, while fisherman reel in the daily catch from Saigon River winding through the city.
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Ben Thanh Market overflows with energy and entrepreneurs peddling everything from flowers to fish, tropical fruits, clothing and local sweets. For a modern shopping experience, you can walk a short distance to Saigon Square to pick up the latest fashions and electronics. It’s also worth a trip to Chinatown to purchase handicrafts and Chinese trinkets at Binh Tay Market.
Many cherished temples are in Ho Chi Minh City, including the 19th-century Thien Hau Temple adorned with elaborate porcelain dioramas and tributes to the Lady of the Sea. The Jade Emperor Pagoda, not far from Saigon Botanic Garden, honours a popular Taoist god.
You can enjoy the centuries-old art of Vietnamese water puppetry at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre, accompanied by traditional bamboo flutes and violins. For a deeper dive into the country’s culture, stop by the Museum of Vietnamese History to view artefacts from former Khmer and Cham civilisations.
Grand French colonial architecture is on full display at the Saigon Opera House on Le Loi Avenue, where you can also hear the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra. Nearby, you can visit Notre Dame Cathedral and Reunification Palace to admire the city’s historic architecture.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City
Motorbikes and three-wheeled cyclo taxis offer easy ways to get around in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly in dense urban centres. Standard taxicabs and city buses are readily available as well.