My guide on Ho Chi Minh will be my last Vietnam blog post! If you haven’t seen it already, here’s a video I made to recap our amazing month in this beautiful country.
Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s most-visited city. It’s located in the South and is considered the country’s financial centre. Furthermore, it’s also significant for containing many important landmarks and attractions.
How to Get to Ho Chi Minh
You can fly from any major city to Ho Chi Minh. Use 12GoAsia to book your tickets if you prefer taking the bus or train! We flew from Da Nang City.
Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh
Choosing where to stay in Ho Chi Minh can be tricky. This is because it’s made up of 24 districts. This Vietnam Online website is a great resource that breaks down each district. Give it a read to see which district suits you best!
We stayed in District 1, because it’s considered the most central district. It has many cultural attractions, shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. This district caters more to tourists. With this in mind, remember that this is the most expensive district. However, it has something to offer for everyone. We stayed at this beautiful Airbnb apartment that was probably one of our favourite places we stayed in. It’s bright, spacious, clean, and in an awesome location. Above all, it’s affordable!
Here’s a $38 Canadian discount for Airbnb if you’re booking for the first time!
How to Get Around
If you’re staying in District 1, walking is your best bet. This is due to the fact that everything we visited was within 15-20 minutes by foot. If the heat gets too much, then use a Grab car. It’s quite cheap for this service there. Since we had friends outside District 1, so we had sometimes occasionally had rides. Nevertheless, use Grab if you’re exploring other districts.
Top 8 Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh
All the attractions listed are located in District 1, except the skyline spot and Sala Park.
1. Visit the Independence Palace
Hours: 7:30 am – 11 am, 1-4 pm
Entrance Fee: 40,000 VND
The Independence Place is an important major landmark, because the Vietnam War ended here in 1975. There are several rooms throughout the palace. One of the most interesting rooms is located in the basement. This is where the command bunker was located. It still contains old, intact strategy maps and ratio equipment.
This landmark once served as a meeting place for the Central Command. The Palace was also where they made important decisions during the Vietnam War.
Go to the fourth floor to see some lovely views of the palace grounds. You can also see the old US UH-1 helicopter. Before the palace was overtaken, this rooftop helipad was used to evacuate government staff during the war. This is cordoned off, so you won’t be able to actually walk onto the roof. However, you can take photos.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
This is officially known as the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception. Being built in the late 1800’s, it’s a beautiful European-style building to check out.
3. Saigon Central Post Office
Hours: 7 am – 7 pm
Entrance Fee: Free
The Saigon Central Post Office was built during the late 19th Century. You can see its French influences in the architecture. It’s just across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral, so you can visit both at the same time.
4. See the Ho Chi Minh Skyline
Our local friends took us to this spot to photograph the Ho Chi Minh skyline at night. They describe this place as the “perfect date spot.” The small road here is lined with food vendors. There’s plenty of plastic tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy the view. We drank coconuts and were able to get city photos from across the river! There’s no official name, but the locals call it “On Top of Thu Thiem Tunnel.” Type in “Thu Thiem Church” on Google Maps to find the exact spot! You’ll just have to pay a small fee for parking if you bike here.
5. Visit the World of Heineken
Hours: 3 pm – 9:30 pm
Entrance Fee: 250,000 VND (This includes a full interactive tour, 2 glasses of beer, 1 mineral water bottle, and 1 personalized Heineken bottle).
Alex and I aren’t huge beer drinkers, but our friend got us heavily discounted tickets. He had been several times before and said it was a fun place to visit. The World of Heineken is a fun and interactive place to learn about this popular beer’s history. Whether you’re a beer lover or not, this tour is fun for everyone.
You get to experience the tour through virtual reality, a 4D movie brew ride, a DJ room, and a Samsung video wall. At the end of the tour, you get to enjoy a glass of beer meanwhile sitting in one of Vietnam’s largest Heineken bars. Furthermore, there’s also a beautiful 360-view of Ho Chi Minh City during sunset! This was so much fun and I highly recommend it! Finally, you get to go home with a personalized bottle of Heineken!
6. Bu Vien Walking Street
Think of Bu Vien Walking Street as the Khao San Road of Vietnam. Bu Vien Street is Ho Chi Minh’s “backpacker area”. As a result, this is where you can find many hostels, hotels, bars, nightlife, shopping and parties. There are loads of places to choose from if you’re hungry!
7. Sala Park
Hours: 4 am – 11:30 pm
Entrance Fee: Free
This is a really pretty neighbourhood to take a stroll.
8. Walk Around Ben Nghe, District 1
This District 1 neighbourhood is filled with coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls, and the Opera House. This place comes alive at night, so it’s a beautiful district to explore. Don’t be afraid to visit the many shops there!
What to Eat
Banh Mi Huynh Hoa – District 1
Hours: 2:30 pm – 11 pm
Price of 1 Banh Mi: 40,000 VND
This is undoubtedly one the most famous banh mi stalls in Ho Chi Minh. Therefore, you’ll always find a HUGE line out of the shop. This stall was located across our Airbnb. Consequently, we found ourselves eating Banh Mi from here several times. They serve one large baguette filled with grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables. It is DELICIOUS. Remember, be slightly aggressive when you order as there’s two lines you can order from.
The Lunch Lady (Nguyen Thi Thanh) – District 1
Hours: 11 am – 3 pm
Speaking of famous food stalls, the legendary Lunch Lady is undeniably the most well-known in the city. It’s been long famous among locals in that neighbourhood. It became even more popular with foreigners after the late Anthony Bourdain featured it on his show ‘No Reservations.’ You’ll see many tourists and locals visiting this lunch stall.
She specializes in Vietnamese noodles. The restaurant only serves one type a day and a different dish every day. It lives up to the hype and did NOT disappoint. Take a Grab Car! Try to go earlier, because once the entire pot of noodle soup is gone, that’s it (closed for the day!)
Ben Thanh Food Market – District 1
Hours: 9 am – 12 am
Ben Thanh Food Market is a trendy food hall with Vietnamese street food for hipsters. This is a fun place to get some food. However, you won’t really find the most authentic food here.
Trung Nguyen Legend
Hours: 6:30 am – 10:30 pm
Ho Chi Minh has an abundance of coffee shops all over the city. This was undoubtedly one was one of my favourites. It’s a large chain, so you’ll find them everywhere. It’s definitely more on the expensive side. However, their locally grown Vietnamese coffee is absolutely delicious!
Mr. Wish – District 1
Hours: 24 Hours
Mr. Wish offers a large variety of drinks and desserts. Stop here for their delicious bubble tea, regular tea, or mango shaved ice!
Eat a Vietnamese “Donut”
Watch for anyone selling these small, round Vietnamese “donuts.” They’re crispy, fried, slightly-sweetened “donuts” with mashed mung bean inside!