Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon), Vietnam

21 Fantastic things to do in Saigon [2024]


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One of the most interesting things to see in Ho Chi Minh City, and also the scariest to experience, is the traffic here. If you are a first-timer, don’t be too worried. Use the power of your hand and walk confidently; the vehicles will find ways to avoid you. That’s my first piece of advice for you when traveling here.

And if you are looking for what to do in Saigon, keep scrolling through this post because you will find many interesting and cool activities in this city. 

Additionally, I have tried my best to gather information from Vietnamese sources and offer a brief history of each place. I hope it helps you gain more knowledge about these places and this lively city.

 ➡ Read more: Explore 12 hidden gems and unusual things to do in HCMC

Fun things to do in Saigon

1. Unwind on Bui Vien Street

Bui Vien Street is crowded at night

Loud music, a lively atmosphere, and colorful strobe light effects—those are the words I would use to describe Bui Vien Street, also known as Western Street or the International Intersection of Saigon.

In 1955, the street underwent a name change from Bao Ho Thoai to Bui Vien Street, honoring a Vietnamese Mandarin from the reign of King Tu Duc, who was the person to go to the US to attempt to establish diplomatic relations between the 2 countries.

Around 1950 or 1951, the street was burnt down due to a massive fire. Fortunately, it was later reconstructed by an investor.

Bui Vien Street officially became a walking street on July 15, 2015, making it the second walking street in Ho Chi Minh City after Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

Today, Bui Vien Street stands as the most vibrant place to visit in Saigon at night, filled with bars, pubs, and restaurants that draw hundreds of tourists and locals daily.

  • Address: Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 7 PM – 2 AM, Sat and Sun
  • Entrance ticket: No

 💡 Tips: 

  • Keep an eye on your belongings; this street is chock-full of people and is a great area for pickpockets to operate.
  • Prices are not cheap here. Make sure to check the price beforehand.

2. Wander around Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Nguyen Hue Walking Street – Ho Chi Minh Statue

This walking street has a completely different vibe from Bui Vien. There are no restaurants, bars, or pubs; instead, the street features local street vendors, street performances (singing and dancing), and a relaxing atmosphere.

This street was formerly a canal called Kinh Lon, also known as Cho Vai Canal (Cho Vai means the fabric market) because fabric trading was very bustling here. In 1887, the government decided to fill in the canal due to its heavy pollution. 

In 1955, the name ‘Nguyen Hue’ was given to this street by the government of the Republic of Vietnam. In 2015, Nguyen Hue Street was opened to the public as a walking street and became an ideal attraction in Saigon at night.

  • Address: Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 24/7 (better to visit at night)
  • Entrance ticket: No

3. Experience Saigon River Cruise

Saigon River Cruise – Source: ATC travel

Dining on a cruise along the Saigon River is one of the most romantic things to do in Ho Chi Minh City for couples. It allows you to unwind and soak in the stunning city lights along the riverbanks at night.

The cruise typically lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours, passing by the city’s significant landmarks, especially Landmark 81—the tallest skyscraper in Vietnam.

The price for this experience is also affordable, at only about 600,000 VND, and includes delectable food and live music.

Below are 2 of the best cruises to book with:

  • Saigon Princess Dining Cruise: Book now
  • Indochina Queen Dinner Cruise: Book now

 💡 Promo: Book via the links above and enter code DL6KGF to get 100.000 VND OFF

  • Pick-up and drop-off point: usually in District 1
  • Opening hours: around 7 PM – 9 PM
  • Ticket: about 600.000 VND

Read more: HCMC travel blog: Useful travel tips & guide for first-timers

4. Chill out at the Cafe Apartment Building – 42 Nguyen Hue St.

Source: Facebook Nghialee

This is a cool place to visit in Saigon where you can sip a drink, immerse yourself in the old charm, and view the city’s skyline from a cafe’s balcony.

This 9-story apartment was erected in the 1960s as a residence for government and military personnel.

After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the building became the residence of Ba Son shipyard workers, who were mostly poor. However, thanks to the opening of Nguyen Hue Walking Street in 2015, the land price in this area skyrocketed, and the residents here started to rent out their houses to business owners. 

Nowadays, the building houses plenty of cool cafes, clothing stores, and workshops, attracting a lot of people who come here to enjoy its timeless elegance.

  • Address: 42 Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: Most shops open at 9-10 am
  • Entrance ticket: No
  • Parking: 3.000 VND/ bike on the ground floor

5. Have a walk through Anh Sao Bridge

Starlight Bridge (Source: Travel Saigon)

Anh Sao Bridge (or Starlight Bridge in English) is one of the most beautiful pedestrian bridges in Vietnam. 

Constructed in 2009, the bridge spans 170 meters in length and 8.3 meters in width. Nowadays, it has become a great place for locals to take a night walk in Saigon.

The best time to visit this bridge is at night when it pours out water streams with colorful light effects. Additionally, there are numerous small LED lights on the bridge that look like stars in the universe, which explains its name, ‘Starlight Bridge.’

  • Address: Phu My Hung, District 7, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 24/7
  • Entrance ticket: free

6. Visit Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden was officially opened to the public in 1869. Today, it remains the largest zoo and botanical garden in Vietnam, and the zoo is one of the oldest functioning zoos in the world.

It accommodates nearly 600 animals of 125 species and more than 1800 plants and trees of 260 species. There are 4 areas to explore here: the animal conservation area, the plant conservation area, the orchid garden, and the amusement park.

 💡 Note: Sadly, some animals here are not well taken care of, which might sadden you if you are an animal lover.

  • Address: 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 7 AM – 5:30 PM, Weekend: 7 AM – 6 PM
  • Entrance ticket: 

Adult (above 130 cm): 60.000 VND

Child (100 – 130 cm): 40.000 VND

Child (below 100cm): free

Visit museums & historical attractions in Saigon

7. Admire Independence Palace

Independence Palace

Visiting the Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Convention Hall, is one of the best things to do in Saigon, where you can gain a lot of knowledge about Vietnam’s history.

The building was constructed in 1962 under the orders of Ngo Dinh Diem, the former president of the Republic of Vietnam (the former government of South Vietnam). However, Ngo Dinh Diem was later assassinated in November 1963 after a successful coup by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. There was no official investigation into his death, but people believed it was ordered by Duong Van Minh, the leader of the coup.

The palace then became the residence and workplace of Nguyen Van Thieu, the new president at that time, from 1967 to 1975. 

The Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, concluded at this palace when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates, marking the end of the American War.

  • Address: Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 8 AM – 3:30 PM, every day
  • Entrance ticket:

General admission tickets (includes the Exhibit and Palace):

Adults: 65.000 VND/person

Children: 15.000 VND/person

Palace admission tickets:

Adults: 40.000 VND/person

Children: 10.000 VND/person

8. Pay a visit to the War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum

This museum brought the most emotion to me during my HCMC trip because I got to see how badly war crimes affected my country. Even until today, the effects are still ongoing through generations.

In the mid-20th century, this place was once the headquarters of the Americans, housing the Office of Civilian Personnel (CPO) and the Supervisory Office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

After 1975, this building was chosen as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes. In 1995, after many name changes, it was renamed as the War Remnants Museum as it is known today.

The museum displays more than 1500 documents, artifacts, and films as evidence of crimes and the consequences of wars caused by invading forces harming Vietnam. In the yard, you can also see military equipment on display, such as an A-1 Skyraider attack bomber, a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, a BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter” bomb, and more.

For history lovers, this is absolutely a must-visit place of interest in Saigon that you can’t afford to miss.

 💡 Interesting fact: In 1791, Prince Nguyen Phuc Dam was born here when it was a small pagoda. He later ascended to the throne as King Minh Mang of the Nguyen Dynasty.

  • Address: Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City 700000, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM, every day
  • Entrance ticket: 

Adults: 40.000 VND

Senior (above 60 y.o), children (6-16 y.o), the disabled: 20.000 VND

Kids (below 6 y.o): free

9. Explore Saigon Central Post Office

Saigon Central Post Office

The original Saigon Post Office was constructed by the French and officially inaugurated in 1863. Designed by architect Gustave Eiffel, known for iconic structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the Long Bien Bridge (Hanoi), the post office operated as a central hub for postal services during the French colonial era.

In 1886, it underwent reconstruction on a larger scale under the design of architect Marie-Alfred Foulhoux, incorporating architectural styles such as Gothic, Renaissance, and French influences.

Today, the Saigon Central Post Office remains operational and is also a renowned tourist attraction in Saigon, where visitors can admire its charming architecture and purchase souvenirs.

  • Address: 02 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 7:30 AM – 6 PM; Sun: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Entrance ticket: Free

10. Check out the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

Another tourist attraction in Saigon where you can learn more about history is the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, located within the grounds of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden.

This place preserves and displays tens of thousands of precious artifacts collected from inside and outside Vietnam. 

The museum was inaugurated on January 1, 1929, under the name Pacha Đa Lagos Museum and officially opened to the public in 1958.

It underwent several name changes, and in 2013, it was renamed the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, as it is known today.

Currently, the museum is divided into two main parts:

Part 1: Covers the history of Vietnam from prehistoric times (about 500,000 years ago) until the end of the Nguyen Dynasty in 1945.

Part 2: Explores topics on the culture of southern Vietnam and some Asian countries, including Oc Eo Culture, Champa Culture, Cambodian sculpture, and more.

  • Address: 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: Tues – Sun: 8 AM–11:30 AM and 1 PM–5 PM, Monday: Closed
  • Entrance ticket: 

Adults: 30.000 VND

Seniors ( above 60 y.o), Children (6-16 y.o) and the disabled: 15.000 VND

Children (under 6 y.o): free

11. Discover the Cu Chi Tunnel


Cu Chi tunnels is a massive tunnel network that played a significant role in the victory of Vietnam in the American war.

The entire underground network spans hundreds of kilometers. Surprisingly, the tunnels were manually excavated by Viet Cong soldiers using primitive tools. The inner structure could accommodate thousands of soldiers and residents with facilities such as kitchens, hospitals, schools, theaters, armories, chambers, and command centers. More importantly, the Cu Chi tunnels are also where the Viet Cong hid their military strategy documents.

Several campaigns were launched by U.S. officials to search for and destroy the underground network. However, those attempts could not destroy most parts of the tunnel network, even the carpet bombing in 1969.

Nowadays, the Cu Chi Tunnel has become such a fascinating place in Saigon that many people want to pay a visit.

 💡 Note: There are two different tunnel display sites, Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh, both of which offer a similar experience overall. However, the tunnels in Ben Dinh were reconstructed to accommodate foreign tourists with larger spaces. Meanwhile, the tunnels in Ben Duoc remain intact.

  • Address: Phu Hiep, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 7 AM – 5 PM
  • Entrance ticket: 

Ben Duoc: 110.000 VND/person

Ben Dinh: 90.000 VND/person

12. Tour Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts

HCMC Museum of Fine Arts

This museum was founded in 1987 and commenced operations in 1991. 

It consists of three buildings, displaying works of painting, sculpture, and antiques, including highly valuable pieces such as the lacquer painting ‘North Central South Spring Garden’ by the famous artist Nguyen Gia Tri.

Initially, the building was the residence of Mr. Bui Bon Hoa, a wealthy Chinese businessman in Saigon in the early 20th century. The construction of the building was completed in 1934, showcasing a combination of architectural styles from both Asian (Chinese) and European (French) influences.

After 1975, he and his family left Saigon to settle in France and this building was taken over by the army.

In 1987, the building became the place to establish the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts. 

  • Address: 97A Pho Duc Chinh St., Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: every day, 8 am–5 pm
  • Entrance ticket: 

Adults: 30.000 VND

Children (below 6 y.o) and seniors (above 60 y.o): free

Admire cultural and religious places in HCMC

13. Take a selfie at Tan Dinh church

Tan Dinh Church- HCMC

Tan Dinh Church (officially named Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Tan Dinh) is a Roman Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City, inaugurated in 1876. This church, along with the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, are the two largest churches in the city. 

In 1957, the church was painted in pastel pink, a color it retains today, earning it the nickname “the Pink Church”.

  • Address: 289 Hai Ba Trung, Ward 8, District 3, HCMC, Vietnam 
  • Opening hours: 

Mon: closed

Tues – Sun: 6:30 AM–10:30 AM and 4:30 PM –8:30 PM

  • Entrance ticket: free

14. Visit Thien Hau Pagoda

Thien Hau Pagoda (Source: Travel Saigon)

Thien Hau Pagoda is known as one of the oldest places of worship for the Chinese community in Saigon, built in the 18th century. 

The pagoda venerates Thien Hau Goddess, also known as Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess who protects seafarers. She was a shamaness from Fujian, China, believed to have lived in the late 10th century. 

Thien Hau Goddess is not only worshipped in HCMC but also in many other cities such as Hung Yen (Vietnam), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Singapore, and more.

In 1993, Thien Hau Pagoda was recognized as a National Architectural and Artistic Monument.

  • Address: 710 Nguyen Trai St, Ward 11, District 5, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 8 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Entrance ticket: free

15. Make a trip to Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

Source: bi kip du lich tu tuc

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Saigon, built from 1877 to 1880. 

It was designed by architect J. Bourard, incorporating a modified Roman architectural style mixed with Gothic architecture. All materials used to construct the cathedral, from cement and steel to screws, were brought from France.

Originally named Saigon Cathedral, it was not until 1959 when the Statue of Our Lady of Peace was placed in front of the campus that the cathedral was renamed Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon.

 💡 Note: The cathedral is under maintenance (2023)

  • Address: 01 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Mass time at Notre Dame Cathedral

Weekday: 5:30 – 17:30

Sunday: 5:30 – 6:45 – 8:00 – 9:30 (English mass) – 16:00 -17:15 – 18:30

  • Entrance ticket: Free

16. Pay a visit to Jade Emperor Pagoda 

This is a Taoist pagoda founded by a Chinese merchant named Liu Daoyuan (劉道源, also known as Liu Ming or Liu Daoyuan) in the early 20th century. 

The main hall of the pagoda worships the Jade Emperor, Huyen Thien Bac De (Xuanwu), along with his heavenly soldiers and generals. Additionally, there are worships of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, and other gods in Chinese belief as well.

In 1982, Venerable Thich Vinh Khuong took over the shrine, and since then, it has belonged to the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha. In 1984, the Jade Emperor Pagoda was renamed “Phuoc Hai Tu” (Phuoc Hai Pagoda).

 💡 Interesting fact: U.S. President Barack Obama visited this pagoda during his state trip to Vietnam on May 22, 2016.

  • Address: 73 Mai Thị Lựu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: every day, 7 AM – 6 PM
  • Entrance ticket: Free

17. Enjoy the Water Puppet Show

Sketch 14: Regatta

The water puppet show, a traditional Vietnamese performance, has its origins in the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225). 

Originally, it served as a source of entertainment for rural communities, taking place in flooded rice paddies around the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. 

The show tells stories that originate from the daily lives of Vietnamese farmers and fishermen, as well as some Vietnamese tales and historical legends.

In HCMC, you can watch the show at The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater. Details are provided below:

  • Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
  • Show time: Daily Show at 06:30 PM
  • Entrance ticket: 300.000 VND

 💡 Note: The show is in Vietnamese only; no audio is provided. If you prefer to watch the show with English audio, you can head to Hanoi (Read my review in this post).

Explore the best places to shop in Saigon

18. Roam inside Landmark 81

Landmark 81 at night

Landmark 81 is the tallest skyscraper in Vietnam and the second tallest in Southeast Asia. Construction began in 2015, and it opened in 2018. 

Designed by Atkins, a British company known for its work on various skyscrapers worldwide, Landmark 81 draws inspiration from traditional bamboo bundles, symbolizing strength and solidarity in Vietnamese culture.

The building houses hotels and conference facilities, luxury apartments, high-end retail spaces, restaurants, bars, and a multi-story observation deck. 

Its observation deck is located from the 79th to the 81st floor, making it the highest observation deck in Vietnam.

  • Address: 720A Dien Bien Phu St., Vinhomes Tan Cang, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Vietnam Opening hours: every day, 8:30 am–11 pm
  • Entrance ticket: It’s free to get inside the mall
  • Observation deck ticket: 

Mon-Fri: Adult: 300.000 VND; Children/seniors (above 60 y.o)/the disabled: 150.000 VND

Sat-Sun: Adult: 500.000 VND, Children/seniors (above 60 y.o)/the disabled: 250.000 VND

19. Check out the Bitexco Financial Tower

Another place to enjoy the view of Saigon’s skyline is the Saigon Skydeck, located on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower. 

This tower was officially opened in 2010 and is the second-tallest tower in HCMC. It’s also the first and only tower in Vietnam with a non-rooftop helipad nestled on the 52nd floor, extending 22 meters from the building. 

When visiting this tower, you can explore the Saigon Skydeck, indulge in a shopping spree at the Icon 68 mall, or savor delicious foods at numerous restaurants.

  • Address: 2 Hai Trieu Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • Opening hours:

Mon-Sat: 8 AM–11 PM

Sun: 9:30 AM – 11 PM

  • Entrance ticket (access to the mall): Free

For Saigon Skydeck

  • Entrance ticket: 

Adults: 240.000 VND

Children (4-12 y.o), seniors (over 60 y.o), the disabled: 120.000 VND

Children under 4 y.o: free

  • Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM (last entry at 8:45 PM)
  • Book tickets: Click here (enter code DL6KGF to get 100.000 VND OFF)

20. Browse Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is one of the most-visited attractions in Saigon, offering a variety of items such as souvenirs, food, and clothing.

The first Ben Thanh market was situated on the bank of the Saigon River. After many years in operation, the market ran down and faced the possibility of collapse. Therefore, locals decided to destroy it in 1911. 

In 1912, the French built a new, larger-scale market at the location of the present Ben Thanh Market.

Today, Ben Thanh Market remains bustling, attracting numerous visitors daily. During the daytime, you can come here to shop for a wide range of items.

In the evening, after 6 pm, the market transforms into a night market where you can enjoy delectable local food. 

 💡 Tip: Overcharging tourists is common here, so be sure to haggle and aim for at least a 50% reduction in price.

  • Address: Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Opening hours:

Day Market: every day, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Night Market: every day, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Entrance ticket: Free

21. Shop around An Dong Market

Looking for a cheaper place to shop in Ho Chi Minh City? Head to An Dong Market. 

This market was established in 1951 and is one of the oldest markets in the city.

It is also one of the largest markets in Saigon, spanning approximately 25,000 m2. The market houses 2,702 stalls, offering a variety of products such as clothing, accessories, food, handicrafts, etc.

Items in this market are said to be offered at more affordable prices compared to other markets in Saigon, making it a good place to shop.

 💡 Tip: Same as Ben Thanh Market, you still need to bargain for the price.

  • Address: 36 An Duong Vuong Street, Ward 9, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City 700000, Vietnam.
  • Opening hours: every day, 6 AM –6 PM 
  • Entrance ticket: Free

Above is the list of the most famous places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City with a brief introduction about the places, their addresses, entrance fees, as well as opening hours.

So have you decided which places in Saigon to visit? Share your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading!




(1) Comment

  1. This is a useful article. I am impressed with Cu Chi Tunnel, it is an amazing historical site, showing the creativity and perseverance of the Vietnamese people in building complex tunnel systems to fight against enemy troops. I will recommend my friends to visit this place if they have the opportunity to come to Vietnam.
    Thank you!

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