12 Must-See Places in Ho Chi Minh City
Rich with art, architecture, and centuries of history - both military and cultural - Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s finance behemoth and a cosmopolitan destination that stays true to its regional roots. It is also still referred to by its colonial name Saigon. From galleries to gardens and museums to markets, there’s something of interest for every kind of traveller. We’ve put together a list of 12 places to see in Ho Chi Minh city that you absolutely shouldn’t miss.
Central Post Office, Quan 1
Among the most iconic destinations of HCMC, the Central Post Office is a grand Gothic structure that dates back to the French colonization of Vietnam. Although it continues to retain its function as a post office, it is also a popular cultural attraction, playing host to thousands of visitors each day. For the complete experience, be sure to mail a postcard home!
Address: 02 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Timings: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Quan 1
The fingerprints of French influence are all over HCMC, and nowhere so pronounced as the grand Notre Dame Cathedral. Built with materials imported from France, the Romanesque church with its two bell towers stands tall over its immediate surroundings. Pay a visit in the evenings for mass or walk in just to admire the stunning architecture throughout the day.
Address: 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Timings: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Independence Palace, Quan 1
For a tangible representation of HCMC’s storied and complex history, look no further than the Independence Palace, also called Reunification Palace. Serving as the headquarters of South Vietnam’s government in the mid-20th century, it was the site where the Vietnam War was declared over when North Vietnamese forces stormed the building. Today, the building is home to a beautifully presented museum of Vietnamese history.
Address: 135 Đ. Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
War Remnants Museum, Quan 3
If military history is your cup of tea, then this stop is an absolute must. The museum houses a series of themed rooms relating to specific battles, weaponry, or other features of the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. Visitors are invited to take in the objects and images with very little contextualisation, allowing them to experience rather than simply read about, the history.
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Timings: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Entry fee: 40,000 VND (approx USD 1.7)
Ben Thanh Market, Quan 1
Located in the heart of HCMC, the Ben Thanh Market is a vibrant potpourri of Vietnamese offerings. From household goods and groceries to handicrafts and souvenirs for tourists, a walk through the space reveals a wide array of shopping opportunities. Don’t forget to stop and sample street food delicacies sold at stalls and carts throughout.
Address: Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Book Street, Quan 1
Calling all bibliophiles! Book Street is a pedestrian-only road just behind the cathedral that’s built around a love of all things books. The street is lined with a series of bookstores, offering books in both Vietnamese as well as other languages, as well as several cafes with outdoor seating. It’s perfect for a leisurely evening out followed by a quick coffee with the sunset.
Address: Đường Nguyễn Văn Bình, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
The History Museum of HCMC, Quan 1
Stretching from prehistoric to the Metal Age to the ruling Vietnamese dynasties of the last millennium, this museum covers the broad strokes of history as far back as it goes. With over 200,000 exhibits curated over a decade, the museum is a truly spectacular showcase that can consume viewers for several hours.
Address: 2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays.
Entry fee: 30,000 VND (approx USD 1.3)
People’s Committee Building, Quan 1
The official City Hall of HCMC, this building has a storied history. Originally built by the French, it has since housed several iterations of governing bodies, including the People’s Committee currently. Visitors aren’t allowed entry, but are welcome to take it in from outdoors; visit after dark for the added magic of its beautiful lighting.
Address: Số 86 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 710212, Vietnam
Timings: The viewing street outside is open to the public 24x7.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Ben Nghe
As Vietnam’s largest zoo and botanical garden, this place has a long legacy of protecting and preserving indigenous flora and fauna. With hundreds of species of mammals, plants, and other life forms, documented and on display, there’s always plenty to see year-round. Walking tours are available for visitors with prior booking, and an assortment of fun activities and rides can take up the day.
Address: 2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Timings: 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Ho Chi Minh Square, Quan 1
Dominated by a towering statue of its namesake, this landmark’s very location perfectly expresses its importance; hemmed in by City Hall on one side and a French colonial hotel that gained fame during the Vietnam War on the other, it’s impossible to ignore the distance Vietnam has since come. Dotted with greenery and benches that invite relaxation, it’s a perfect evening destination to take in the architecture and the live music that’s often on.
Address: 110 Đ. Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: The square is open 24x7.
Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, Quan 10
With its unusual focus on traditional medicinal and healing practices, this museum offers a distinctive perspective on Vietnamese culture. Across two buildings are over 3000 objects dating as far back as the Stone Age, along with guides who demonstrate and explain their use and significance. Time your visit right to catch the hour-long documentary that’s screened every day.
Address: 41 Hoàng Dư Khương, Phường 12, Quận 10, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Entry fee: 120,000 VND (approx USD 5.1)
The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Thao Dien
Housed in a sprawling warehouse-inspired building in District 2, the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre was established to showcase and celebrate the little-known contemporary art culture in Vietnam. Exhibitions are typically of Vietnamese artists from the last few decades and curated to allow even novice art lovers to fully appreciate the craft. Start or finish your trip with a stop at their fusion Asian restaurant, Caay Delicious.
Address: 165 Nguyễn Văn Hưởng, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Timings: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday, closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Entry fee: 80,000 VND (approx USD 3.4)