Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
There is a side of Ho Chi Minh City to suit every interest and traveller type. Here's a list of the most interesting things to do in the city.
For History Buffs
The majority of historical attractions are located in a compact and easily walkable area in the heart of District 1. Must-sees include the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace, the "Emperor Jade pagoda**, and the Central Post Office building. For many visitors with an interest in history though, the star attraction is a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a 150-mile long underground maze used as a temporary place of refuge by locals during the war.
For Bargain Hunters
The city markets are packed with bargains and unique goods waiting to be discovered. At Ben Thanh market you'll find souvenirs, local food products, clothes and accessories. For a less touristy but more intense experience, head to Chinatown, which is home to the biggest and busiest markets in the city. This is a good place to grab traditional handicrafts like lacquerware or silk clothing, as well as spices and beautiful fabrics at very reasonable prices. Browse through vintage goods at the city's flea markets, such as the one set up on the 2nd Saturday of every month in Phu My Hung (District 7), which sells clothing, home décor items, memorabilia, jewellery, artwork and antiques.
A visit to Ho Chi Minh City can easily turn into a mouth-watering gastronomic adventure. Like in other Asian countries, eating out is a national pastime in Vietnam. Restaurants, small eateries and street vendors sell their goods from before dawn to late at night, and the choices are so vast that your only problem will be deciding what and where to eat. Here you will discover that Vietnamese food is much more than just pho: there's a vast array of sweet and sour soups, rice dishes, Chinese-inspired stir-fried noodle options, seafood dishes, and the ubiquitous hotpot, not to mention simple but delicious snacks and treats like banh mi (stuffed baguettes), fresh spring rolls, che (coconut milk and tapioca pearl pudding), ice cream, bowls of fruit and yoghurt ... the list goes on.
For Nightlife Lovers
As the sun goes down over the city, the best place to be is the sky deck observatory at the futuristic-looking Bitexco tower, which stands over 800 feet tall and offers the best panoramic views of this huge South East Asian metropolis. The City has its fair share of rooftop bars, where you can get the evening started with the cocktail of your choice. Especially recommended are Chill Skybar and Glow. If you are more into live music, Ho Chi Minh City will not disappoint you. Here you can choose among top-class jazz bars (Sax'n'Art), cosy venues featuring Latin rhythms (Maxim's), and bars that hold acoustic open mic nights (Acoustic Bar, Broma, and Saigon Outcast). If that sounds too mellow, clubs like Kingdom Beer Club, The Cube, Lush, and Cargo are right up your street.
For Coffee Lovers
To put it simply, coffee lovers will feel right at home in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese coffee is thick, strong, and chocolatey, and it definitely provides that caffeine boost that you need after a few hours of sightseeing around the city. The local cafe culture means that coffee shops are on virtually every block, and many are open around the clock. You can choose among independent coffee shops, local chains like Trung Nguyen (the Vietnamese version of Starbucks) or basic and unassuming street stalls. Just grab a seat, enjoy your coffee, and watch city life go by.