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Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

HO CHI MINH ATTRACTIONS

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is Vietnam’s commercial hub and a busy city with motorbikes honking in all directions. This developing metropolitan is famous for its exceptional Vietnamese cuisines, trendy cafes and sky bars, hidden charms, and the desired shopping destination. Since the French Colonial days to the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City has had a dark history; and a visit to it will allow you to learn more from the Vietnamese side of the story and how the locals fought for independence and liberation. With many things to do, here is our local guide on the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

1. Notre Dame Cathedral

Centrally situated and across from the Saigon Central Post Office, this landmark was designed by a French architect, J. Bourad, in the 1870s when it was the highest structure in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Due to its prime location, the Cathedral is one of the top attractions in the city. Directly in front of the Cathedral is an astonishing square decorated with flowers and the Statue of the Lady of Peace. This center square is a preferred destination for young locals to gather and meet up for some street foods and light snacks in the evening after the heat has cooled down. This top attraction in Ho Chi Minh City is also an ideal pre-wedding and graduation photoshoot location.

Note: The Notre Dame Cathedral is currently closed to visitors for renovation until the end of 2017. Outside visit is possible.

 

  • Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hours: 8 AM – 4 PM
  • Pricing: Free

2. Saigon Central Post Office

As one of the leading attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most beautiful and recognizable landmarks at the Cong Xa Paris Square. This building is still in superb condition despite constructed in the late 1800s. Within the Post Office, one of the oldest government working structures in the city, steel pillars support the arched and massively high ceilings. In the center of the vast space, there is a memorial picture of Ho Chi Minh. Besides the convenience of centrally located ATMs, telephone booths, and souvenir shops, this Post Office attracts visitors to utilize the traditional mailing method of mailing a postcard home from Vietnam.

 

  • Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hours: 7 AM – 6 PM
  • Pricing: Free

3. Independence Palace (Reunification Palace)

 Independence Palace, or Reunification Palace, is thought as a special symbol of the victory, peace, and territorial integrity of Vietnam, which has stayed in the mind of not only the locals but also the foreigners from generations to generations. Its historical significance helps the place become one of the most attractive sights for lots of the tourists who set foot to Ho Chi Minh City. Conceived as a replacement for Norodom Palace as well as designed by a talented architect, namely Ngo Viet Thu, the palace is vividly remembered as a marked end to the war. Though its design is noticeably a mixture of traditional ritual and modern architecture, what does mesmerize tourists is all of the historical events related to this building. Just spending a few minutes roaming around each room of the palace, visitors can be reminded of many important moments in the past. The pictures of historical wars seem to be lively presented in front of their eyes!

Check it now! 

 

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 11 AM and 1 PM to 4.30 PM every day
  • Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

4. Jade Emperor Pagoda

In his recent visit to Vietnam, the U.S President Obama was scheduled to drop by Jade Emperor Pagoda (chùa Ngọc Hoàng) at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, for the purpose of paying tribute to and admiring the cultural traditions of the country. Originally built at the beginning of the 20th century for the Chinese community, the pagoda still functions as a place of worship for both Taoists and Buddhists. The Jade Emperor, the King of Heaven, or the supreme Taoist God is the one who makes a decision on who’ll enter heaven and who’ll be sent to hell. Inside the pagoda, it is easy to see a carving of the ruler himself, surrounded by worshipping figures. Among all the places of worship in Saigon, the pagoda is indeed worthy of your attention for sure.

 

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM daily
  • Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5. Bitexco Financial Tower

Ranking among countless highlights of Ho Chi Minh City, it seems a pity for those, who love enjoying breathtaking views from above, to ignore Bitexco Financial Tower. With the height of 262 meters, the 68-storey tower is an ideal zone to see the whole scenery of the city from its Sky Deck. Inspired by the shape of the lotus – the traditional flower of Vietnam, Bitexco tower is truly a typical example for prominent design and innovation. Setting foot to here, guests are freely able to go shopping, enjoy drinking, spread eyes over the whole scene, etc.

 

  • Opening Hours: 9.30 AM to 9.30 PM every day
  • Address: 2 Hai Trieu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

6. Bui Vien Walking Street

Bui Vien Walking Street is also as known as the backpacker’s area, parallel to Pham Ngu Lao Street. Since July 2017, to promote tourism and give visitors an opportunity to experience the artistic and cultural side of Vietnam safely, the city has turned it into a walking street.

This street gets very lively and busy at night, especially on the holidays and weekends. Bui Vien is where you can expect to get cheap meals, beers, and meet other travelers from around the world. When walking around crowded places, do be mindful of your personal belongings.

 

Address: Bui Vien Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 6 PM – 3 AM
Pricing: Free

7. War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, with harrowing exhibits related to the horrors of war in this battle-worn nation. The museum primarily focuses on the Vietnam War, however some exhibits relate to the first Indochina War with French colonialists. It’s a good idea to start on the top floor and work your way down, so you cap off your experience with the lighter exhibits on the ground floor. Most of the displays are photographic images, and some of these are confronting – especially the graphic shots of child Agent Orange victims. Artifacts on display include a guillotine and the “tiger cages” used for Viet Cong prisoners. Many argue that the museum’s approach is biased, however the exhibits poignantly portray the brutality of war. The museum also includes a fascinating display on the work of war photographers, from both sides, who lost their lives during the conflicts. Period military vehicles and weapons are displayed in the museum’s courtyard. After touring the countryside and the Củ Chi Tunnels, you’ll find these exhibits even more moving, but note that some of the exhibits are not suitable for small children.

 

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC

8. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Nguyen Hue Walking Street was officially opened in April 2015. The street stretches from the People’s Committee Building with the Ho Chi Minh Statue all the way to the Saigon River on Ton Duc Thang Street. This area becomes lively and busy at night, and it is an excellent place to hang out with many food stalls. We recommend one of the free attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

On weekdays, vehicles are allowed to go along Nguyen Hue Street, but from 6 PM to 1 AM on the weekends, all kinds of transportation are restricted. 

  • Address: Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hours: All day
  • Pricing: Free

9. Thien Hau Temple

Located in the Chinatown area (District 5) of Ho Chi Minh City and built back in the 19th century, Thien Hau Temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea.

 

From the outside, the pagoda honestly didn’t look amazing.
The entrance wall face was well weathered, rather unmaintained (but this did also give it an ancient feel), and it had almost a haunted feeling to look at.

 

However, as soon as you step inside, the beauty of the temple, mostly through the intricate details and carvings, is revealed.

 

One of my favorite parts of going to Thien Hau Pagoda in Saigon were the incredible sculpture reliefs carved on the upper roof section of the temple, depicting scenes of daily life.

 

They were colorful, but weathered, and had accumulated years and years of incense smoke, making the sculptures look ancient and dusted in black soot.

 

Another highlight were the giant coils of incense that burn slowly, hanging from the ceiling, and filling the temple and atmosphere with smoke.

 

Ho Chi Minh City has a very strong Chinese presence, and when you’re at Thien Hau Pagoda you’ll feel like you’re actually in China. The pagoda is well worth visiting when you’re in Cholon (Saigon’s Chinatown).

 

HOW TO GET THERE?
Thien Hau Temple (Chùa bà Thiên Hậu), 710 Nguyễn Trãi, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh,
Vietnam Open hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm daily
Entrance price: Free

 

By Taxi: The temple is located in Cholon, District 5. It’s easiest to get there by taxi.
By Bus:

  • From LaLuna Saigon walking to 01 Nguyen Trai Street
  • Take Bus No.11 on Nguyen Trai street, District 1
  • Go with bus No. 11 to Hung Vuong Plaza
  • Get off bus at Hung Vuong Plaza then Walk to Thien Hau Temple (Chùa bà Thiên Hậu).

10. Ben Thanh Market & Saigon Square

Arguably, Thien Hau Temple is one of the top religious attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. This serene Chinese temple is located in District 5 of Chinatown, and it’s possible to get here by bus or a taxi. We recommend visiting in the morning because you will be able to see locals praying, worshipping their Gods and the spirits. On the roof of the temple, many ceramic figurines illustrate a wide range of religious beliefs and folklore.

If you would like to take part in the cultural activity, at the back of the temple, you can buy spiral incense and make a wish by writing your wish on a piece of red paper. The locals will then help you attach the paper to the incense and hang it on the ceiling, and it will take about a week before it burns out.

  • Address: 710 Nguyen Trai, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hours: 7 AM – 6 PM
  • Pricing: Free

11. Cu Chi Tunnels

The best way to grasp the long and resounding history of Vietnam War is through some tours to Cu Chi Tunnels. 70km away from Northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the tunnels are considered the underground community, with a total length of 250 km of tunnels and chambers. The complex of tunnels was dug by bare hands and simple tools in the 1940s, and then largely expanded in the 1960s during the combat. Despite all the bombings in their city, the Cu Chi locals and guerrillas were still able to continue their daily lives underneath the soil, where they ate, slept, healed sick, and even planned and launched surprising attacks during the 1968 Tet Offensive. At present, the complex consists of 2 primary display sites at Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. While the Ben Duoc site includes part of the original tunnel system, the Ben Dinh site stands out as tunnel reconstructions. Cu Chi tunnels were preserved after the war and have been converted into an important war memorial complex.

 

  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM every day 
  • Address: Phu Hiep Hamlet, Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 

12. Cao Dai Temple

Saigon is an attracting city; and it is true. But, if you need a break physically, mentally and even spiritually from this city’s chaotic pace during your stay, there are many trip options out of the city to choose from. 90km outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh is known as a typical Vietnamese provincial city. But, what makes its name outstanding and noted is indeed a spectacular temple, which is the headquarters of the Cao Daism – a religion founded in 1926 combining Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, Geniism, and Taoism. In general, most of the Cao Dai temples are prominent and easy to notice by their bright colors and carved ornamentation. Yet, Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, or also called Holy See, is seemingly the most impressive one, built with a unique architectural style that truly reflects its blended traditions.

 

  • Opening Hours: Every day
  • Address: Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam