Looking for something to do in Ho Chi Minh City? Well, you’ll find it pretty easy! It’s a city of contrasts, with the old mixing with the new in this wonderful melting pot of a place. It offers visitors a plethora of things to do; from its coffee shops, markets, cheap food and drink to its buzzing atmosphere – alive with the sounds of motorbikes (there are around 10 million in the city!) However, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best places to visit in HCMC to help you out!
War Remnants Museum
Displays the brutal results of war on its civilian, including well publicized atrocities, that many westerners rarely hear about. The displays feature victims telling their stories of US military action. Many of the information about these atrocities are from US sources, including the infamous My Lai Massacre. This is a very important site to visit in HCMC if you wish to understand its history and how it came to be the place it is today.
Giac Lam Pagoda
The Buddhist temples has aspects of both Taoism and Confucianism in its design and Gives a great insight into Chinese influence on religion in Vietnam.
A window into the 1960s this historic government building has a solemn atmosphere as you walk around its quiet halls. Once home to the offices of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam war, it was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and has some very interesting Architectural features.
Jade Emperor Pagoda
This Taoist pagoda was built by Vietnam’s Chinese community in 1909. It is also known as ‘Fuhai Temple’ – Sea of Luck Temple. This is a spectacular temple full of with beautiful statues depicting the gods and heroes of Taoist belief.
Fine Arts Museum
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts covers three buildings featuring Vietnamese silk paintings, sculptures and lacquer painting, as well as traditional woodcut paintings. It used to be the Villa home of the ‘Hua’ family but became a museum in 1987.
This street is just a short walk from the Fine Arts Museum. The art and antiques stores along this street are full of fun curios, but beware of fakes!
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
The built in 1902 the temple is dedicated to Quan Cong as well as several other guardians to happiness and wealth. The temple is full of beautiful features including brass lanterns and coiled incense hanging from the roof beams as well as fine woodcarvings.
Built in 1926 museum home to a collection of artefacts from across Vietnams history, from the Dong son civilisation to the modern Vietnam. For those interested in Vietnamese history the museum is definitely worth a visit.
Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay is the main market in the Cho Lon district of HCMC. This area is part of HCMC’s China town, which covers almost half of an entire district of the city. The market is a bustling lively place and expect to have a warm welcome when You got eat at one of the markets many street food vendors! It is also home to a fantastic outdoor Wet Market where you can buy fresh local seafood.
Notre- Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Completed in 1883, Notre Dame Cathedral lies right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s government quarter. It still contains some of its original stained glass and with its 40m-high square towers the cathedral is a striking contrast to other styles you will see in HCMC.
Imagine yourself walking through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam and a wave of people with food in their hands comes towards you. Suddenly you are surrounded by all sorts of smells and flavors! Just the thought of that makes you hungry, right? So let’s explore the wonders of Vietnamese food together.
Some might say that Vietnamese food is like any other in Southeast Asia, nothing special. What they don’t know is how wrong they really are! Vietnamese food is neither bland nor boring.
The combination of fresh herbs and spices makes the food not only colourful, but also full of flavor. Although it might differ from region to region, there is always something that makes Vietnamese cuisine unique. The aroma, the taste of sweet and sour, and the hint of fish sauce are all combined and perfectly balanced. It is all about yin and yang, in every meal providing beneficial input to your body!
China influences heavily the food in the north. That means a lot of stir-fries and noodle-based soups. Then towards the southern part the flavors become more and more tropical, almost blending with Thai cuisine. But it is hard not to talk about the French influence in Vietnam cuisine.
One example would be the bánh mì which is basically a crispy/fluffy baguette filled with seasoned pork and vegetables like cucumbers, cilantro and pickled carrots. Some say you can find the best bánh mì in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
When you walk through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, you are definitely going to find Phở. Pho is made of a smooth broth with vermicelli rice noodles and meat, topped with the freshest herbs you can find. It is a very popular street food in Vietnam and probably the most known Vietnamese food in the world. Surprisingly, is usually eaten as a breakfast!
If you are a pork fan, then bún mọc is for you. In it you can find pork sausage, fried pork meatballs, pork ribs and pork belly with a light mushroom broth and garnish with fresh herbs. That is a lot of pork and all in one bowl!
If you have more of an adventurous side, you can try the coconut worms in fish sauce and chili slices, usually eaten alive while drinking! One bite of these fellas pops salty and spicy flavors into your mouth. But be careful with their mandibles because these little worms may bite while you are trying to eat them!
Another daring option would be the balut, a fertilized bird embryo, usually duck. The Vietnamese believe that the balut is very nutritious and restorative for pregnant women.
But enough about meat!
Don’t be afraid to visit Vietnam if you are vegetarian. Vegetarian restaurants are really common in Vietnam, as there is a large Buddhist population. It means that being a vegetarian is not a big deal. And even if the restaurant is not specifically vegetarian, you can still find or ask for vegetarian options.
It is important to know the Vietnamese word for vegetarian (chay) and that would get you through. You can make any Vietnamese dish into a vegetarian dish like phở chay, bánh xèo chay, hủ tiếu chay, cà ri chay, and so on. Or say “Tôi ăn chay”, which means “I’m vegetarian”. Another option is to say that you don’t eat pork “Tôi không ăn thịt heo” or beef “Tôi không ăn thịt bò“.
There are a variety of vegetarian dishes you can get, like sticky rice (xôi). Most of the xoi are vegetarian and found in the food stands on the streets. Đậu sốt cà chua is a fried yellow tofu with tomato paste and onions. You can accompany your dậu sốt cà chua with some fried water spinach and garlic (rau muống xào tỏi) or some bok choy with shitake mushrooms (cải xào nấm).
Drinks are on me! A common drink is the Vietnamese iced coffee or cà phê đá made with freshly brewed dark roast Vietnamese-grown coffee and condensed milk. But if you go to Hanoi, you might come across the egg coffee (cà phê trứng) which includes egg yolk. Sugarcane (nước mía or mía đá) is a really popular drink during the hot summers. Kumquat juice is often added to the sugarcane to balance the sweetness.
Vietnam has its own brewery called Sabeco, which is Vietnam’s leading beer producer. They produce not only the classic Saigon Beer, but also Vietnam’s favorite 333. Bia hơi is a draft beer popular among the locals. It can be found in small bars and on street corners. It’s brewed daily and each bar gets a fresh batch delivered everyday! Going to the stronger liquor is the rượu đế, rice wine, made out of cooked glutinous rice.
Enjoy these delicacies and join us!