Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, offers a variety of interesting sights. I have put together a selection of the most beautiful highlights here.
If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City should not be missing on the program. The largest city in the country is also known to many by the name of Saigon. This is what it was called until 1975. The new name has officially been in effect since then, but now both terms are used in parallel.
With more than 8 million inhabitants, Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam. Colonial architecture and modern buildings shape the cityscape in the center. You can visit the most important sights in two to three days. Since the city offers itself as a base for excursions and short trips of several days, you can also stay longer.
Accommodation tip for your stay in Ho Chi Minh City:
The Alagon Saigon Hotel & Spa offers beautiful rooms in a good location, a pool on the roof terrace and a free sauna. Here you can find the Hotel Hotellook. You can find further hotel tips in different price ranges as well as recommendations for tours at the end of the article.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): Sightseeing
The order of the places does not represent a rating
The basilica church was built between 1863 and 1880 in the Romanesque style. It bears witness to the French colonial history of Ho Chi Minh City. The church is quiet and there is a spacious forecourt. Since the Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most popular sights, a visit in the morning is recommended.
Old post office
Right next door is the city’s old main post office. It is one of Saigon’s most imposing colonial buildings and is still in operation. Sightseeing and sending your postcards can be stylishly combined here.
War Museum / War Remnants Museum
It is not far from the post office to the War Victims Museum, which documents the country’s terrible war years. It is the most visited museum in the city.
If you want to learn more about the historical background of the country, a visit is essential. More than 20,000 documents and exhibits are on display. In addition to war photographs, it also includes remains of bombs, tanks and airplanes.
Anyone visiting the museum with children should be prepared for the fact that, in addition to shocking photos, deformed fetuses will also be exhibited. The massive use of defoliants by the US Army, which poisoned the soil and water, resulted in a high number of miscarriages.
Reunification Palace / Independence Palace
The Independence Palace is one of Saigon’s landmarks. During the war there was the seat of the South Vietnamese government, which fought against communist North Vietnam with the support of the USA.
The telephones, printers and maps from the 1960s and 1970s bear witness to a bygone era.
On April 30, 1975, a tank of the Vietnamese People’s Army broke through the palace gates. Two tanks in the courtyard commemorate this day, which marked the end of the war. There is also an old helicopter on the roof.
The Saigon Opera House was built in 1897. Today it is THE address for admirers of classical music. Events such as opera performances or ballet shows still take place here. The building is only open to the public during events. However, you can always look at the outer facade.
Backpackerviertel Pham Ngu Lao Street/Bui Vienh Street
Guest houses, massage parlors, bars, restaurants and clubs dominate the backpacker district between Pham Ngu Lao Street and Bui Vienh Street, which also includes many small side streets.
In the evening, the popular nightlife street for tourists comes to life. If you don’t like loud music and crowded streets, you are wrong here.
Adresse: Backpackerstreet, Pham Ngu Lao
Cholon/China Town/District 5
History makes “Cholon”, as Saigon’s Chinese Quarter is called, a special place. Its roots go back to 1778. The area was destroyed and rebuilt twice.
Today China Town is a tourist magnet. You will find many Chinese restaurants, colorful buildings and Buddhist temples here. There is also the small Cholon Mosque, built in 1932, and the Catholic St. Xavier Church.
Adresse: China Town, District 5
Ben Thanh Market
As one of the most popular attractions in the city, the Ben Thanh Market is very well attended. There are t-shirts, spices, souvenirs and much more. In the meantime, the offers at some stands are aimed more at tourists than at locals.
Nevertheless, it can still be fun to plunge into the hustle and bustle there, get lost a little and be guided by the smell of the food stands.
Thien Hau Temple
It is considered one of the most important temples in Ho Chi Minh City, was built in 1706 and is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu.
Inside there are many corners with art paintings, small altars and sculptures to discover.
Fine Arts Museum
Located on three floors in a French colonial villa, the Fine Arts Museum offers a diverse repertoire of exhibits. You will find contemporary art on the first floor, paintings, statues and drawings on the second. Many of them address the resistance against the colonial rulers. The third floor is reserved for Vietnam’s earlier art history. A highlight of the art museum is the antique elevator, which is still in operation.
Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck
The skyscraper rises 265.5 meters into the sky of Saigon. Inside there are shops, a cinema and offices as well as bars, restaurants and cafes.
It is the tallest building in the city and has a total of 68 floors, the viewing platform is on the 42nd floor.
From there you have a beautiful 360-degree panoramic view of the city in a bird’s eye view, but only through the window.
Dam Sen Water and Amusement Park
30 water attractions, a pool with artificial waves and a large boomerang slide have made the aqua park particularly popular with families with children.
Those who prefer the dry to the water can take a ride on the water rail or visit the multimedia show on offer. 70 species of birds and 30 different animals live in the tropical gardens, which are made for a walk.
Jade Emperor Pagode
The Buddhist temple is dedicated to the supreme Taoist god Ngoc Hoang and was built in 1909. Obama has already been here and maybe you will visit the spectacular structure soon. Inside you see elaborate decorations, altars and statues inspired by Buddhist mythology.
In the Vietnamese History Museum you will get extensive insights into the history of the country. The exhibition begins with the Dong Son culture from the Bronze Age and extends to contemporary Vietnamese culture. The highlights include the well-preserved mummy of a woman who died in 1869, relics from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, jewelry and finds from archaeological excavations.
Old City Hall / Ho Chi Minh City Hall
The old town hall is a magnificent colonial building. It was built in early 1900 and served as the seat of the People’s Committee. The pastel yellow facade with columns and reliefs as well as the town hall tower bear witness to the colonial heritage of the city. If you are interested in colonial architecture, you should pay a visit to the former town hall.
No joke – road traffic is a major attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. One don’t want to end. A never-ending stream of motorbikes flows almost around the clock over the city’s main routes. Crossing the street becomes an experience.
My tip: choose a nice one at an intersection, take a seat with a view of the street and order a cold beer. And then just look at what is going by.
The Rex Hotel
During the Vietnam War, the Rex Hotel was a place an important place. Journalists and correspondents from all over the world gathered here every day to hear what the US military said about the situation at the front.
Today you can have a cocktail on the roof terrace and read about this historic place in the travel guide – or just relax from sightseeing.
Adresse: 141 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe, District 1
Hotels & Touren
Finally, a few quick tips for your stay in Hoi An.
Hotels & Accommodation:
- Inexpensive but good: The Tribee Bana Heritage Hostel is one of the most popular hostels in Hoi An. Central location and clean beds in the dormitory from 5 euros a night ( Hotellook ). The Cococha Hostel is similarly cheap and top-rated. The young crowd also enjoys a pool in the hostel garden ( Hotellook ).
- More comfort: The popular Hoi An Odyssey Hotel offers chic rooms in a quiet location with a pool. From 40 euros you can stay in this beautiful boutique hotel ( Hotellook ). The popular Laluna Hoi An Riverside Hotel & Spa offers a great location right on the river within sight of the old town. Of course there is also a pool. The rooms with balconies are particularly nice ( Hotellook ).
- Pretty chic: The luxurious Hoi An Silk Marina Resort & Spa is located directly on the river and has a huge pool. Great facility ( Hotellook ). From the Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa it is 5 minutes by shuttle to the old town of Hoi An, but you live right on the beach. 5-star hotel with a nice pool ( Hotellook ).
Tours and excursions:
Popular among Hoi An visitors is a cooking course with a visit to the market, as well as the evening street food tour through the old town of Hoi An, the excursion to My Son (World Heritage Site), and the jeep tour to Hue.
During the bike tour through rural Vietnam, you cycle around the islands and villages of the river delta and enjoy lunch with a local family.
In addition, a trip to the spectacular Golden Bridge in the Ba Na Mountains is currently very popular.(Get Your Guide Link)