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Things to do in Ho Chi Minh

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    Ho Chi Minh, the financial capital of Vietnam, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City is named after the founder/ father of Vietnam.

    The city is packed with attractions, sights, and activities, and in this travel blog, I will show you some of the top ones.

    Without further delay, here are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:

    1. Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

    Perhaps the most striking building in the whole city, Opera house has to be on list of every architecture lover. Saigon Opera, also known as the Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh City, was built in 1897 by a French architect Ferret Eugene.

    As a visitor you cannot take a tour of the inside, and the only way to get inside the building is buying a ticket to watch a performance.

    2. Jade Emperor Pagoda

    One of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is the magnificent Jade Emperor Pagoda. Also known as Tortoise Pagoda, it was built in the year 1909.

    Inside the pagoda you will find the statue of the Jade Emperor and an idol of Kim Hua, the Taoist goddess of fertility.

    While you are there, lookout for the pond in courtyard with tortoise. The fragrance of incense and the prayer here have a very calming effect on the mind.

    3. Bitexco Financial Tower

    What’s better place to see the city of Ho Chi Minh than to be on the top of Bitexco Financial Tower. The 68-storied building at 262-meter or 859-foot of height stands tallest in Vietnam.

    The ground floor of the Financial Tower houses a shopping center, which you can give a skip and the rest of the floors of the financial tower are being used as offices. Though entry to the tourist is not allowed all the way up to the top of the Bitexco tower but you can still go unrestricted to the 49th floor.

    Head to Sky Deck bar and restaurant for the excellent views of the city and of the Saigon River.

    You can visit Skydeck anytime between 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. The Skydeck has an entrance fee of 200,000 VND, but good thing is it is full cover. Another place to have a great view of the Ho Chi Minh City from the Bitexco Financial Tower is the Eon Cafe on the 50th floor.

    Watch out for the overpriced menu which can make your wallet really light should decide to indulge. If you are a couple, soaking in the views of the city is surely one of the best romantic things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

    You can get yourself a coffee (about 120,000 VND) which though expensive provides a good excuse to stay there and enjoy sweeping view over the city. The Eon cafe remains open from 11:30 am to 11 pm.

    How to get to Bitexco Financial Tower: Bitexco Financial Tower is located in the city center and you can easily walk to it or grab a moto-taxi from nearby.

    4. Ben Thanh Market

    Another one of the top things to do in Ho Chin Minh city is the Ben Thanh Market. If you are a foodie I will recommend you to add Ben Thanh market to your bucket list.

    Ben Thanh Market is what keep the city running, well sort of. Ben Thanh, built in 1870, is a huge centralized market frequented by tourists. and locals alike. This local market is my pick for best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

    There are large number of stalls selling everything from inexpensive souvenirs to local handicrafts, books and household items. Be ready to haggle tough, in this bustling market.

    And if you are hungry check out the cheap street food located right in the central location of the market.

    5. Binh Tay Market

    The Binh Tay Market feels more local than its counterpart Ben Thanh market. So, no wonder it is on top of my Ho Chi Minh attractions guide.

    In-fact, in Binh Tay Market you will hardly see any tourists. Though most of the stuff, including the food. It is also almost similar, you will feel that Binh Tay Market is cheaper in comparison.

    Binh Tay Market is located in the Cholon, the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City. The Binh Tay Market timings are from 6 in the morning to 7 in the evening.

    There is also wet market outside Binh Tay Market, which remains open from 5 am to 9 pm. Do yourself a favor and add Binh Tay Market to your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh.

    The outdoor wet market is a must for all the food lovers. With its local vibes, Binh Tay will feel little different from other regular Ho Chi Minh City attractions.

    How to get to Binh Tay Market: You need to get to Cholon, which is located in District 5. Either grab a taxi which takes around 15 minutes to reach there from the Ben Thanh market. Ben Thanh market to Binh Tay Market taxi fare is around 120,000 VND.

    6. Reunification Palace

    One of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam is the Reunification Palace. Also known as Independence palace, it is a historic landmark in the heart of the Ho Chi Minh City. The palace was the brainchild of the architect Ngô Viết Thụ.

    Independence Palace which was once a center of a political revolution stands calmly welcoming its visitors. The palace became a symbol of freedom and victory for the South Vietnam as the palace fell and so did the South to the North.

    One of the most incredible things to do in Ho Chi Minh, the Reunification palace should not be missed.

    The victory marked the end of the gruesome American War. As Vietnamese call it, it was an American war imposed by the outsider and not a Vietnam War. Perspectives, huh?

    As dramatic as it was North Vietnamese tanks crashed the gate of the palace, marking the victory of the North. Today, in the palace ground you can still see two of these tanks. While you are in this five-story building, check out the highlight of the tour – the tunnel, the bunker basement, which functioned as a communication hub.

    The highlight of the Reunification Palace is the circular dragon carpet which can be seen on the 2nd floor of the building. The circular red carpet has beautiful dragon embrodied on to it in the center.

    The Vietnamese dragon represents the yang, a symbol for prosperity and the life itself. Next, head out to the basement of the Reunification Palace to see the control rooms, offices and the bunkers used during the Vietnam War.

    Reunification palace opening hours: 7:30 am – 11 am; 1 pm – 4 pm daily.

    The palace sometimes closes for official event, so make sure to check ahead of time before you visit. Reunification palace entrance fee: 30,000 Dong.

    How to get to The Reunification Palace: The palace is conveniently located in the central area of District 1 and you can easily get here by motorbike taxi or by walk.

    All in all, Reunification palace is among the best tourist attractions in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh. Hope, you now know where to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

    7. War Remnants Museum

    Among the best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City is the War Remnants Museum. Words can’t capture the feeling, the emotions and eventually the anger you’d be flooded with when you come to the war remnants museum. I’d say shocking is a very mild word to what you might experience.

    The museum narrates the Northern Vietnam’s perspective of the American War, and let me tell you it is not very pretty. On display inside the museum are mainly photographs depicting the atrocities of the war. This includes massacres at My Lai and My Khe, and the infamous Agent Orange, to name a few.

    Undoubtedly, visiting War Remnants Museum is among the most interesting things to do in Ho Chi Minh.

    The museum was opened in 1975 and on the ground outside the main building you will find several American armored vehicles on exhibition. There is a cafe inside the compound but it’s bit on the higher side.

    8. Cathedral of Notre Dame

    Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful example of French colonial architecture. Notre Damne, a historical site, has an ornate facade with two towers on the side (40 meters each). Have a look out in front lawn where there is also a statue of the Virgin Mary.

    Also, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is a popular place for wedding among young Vietnamese couples.

    Cathedral of Notre Dame Opening Hours: 8 am – 11 am; 3 pm – 6 pm. On weekdays only.

    How to reach the Cathedral of Notre Dame: The church is located on Dong Khoi street, right next to the Old Post Office.

    9. Old Post office

    Wondering where to visit in Ho Chi Minh? There are so many old architectural heritage buildings in Ho Chi Minh. 

    Another must visit site in Ho Chim Minh icty is the old Post office. The heritage building of the Central Post Office reminds you of finest examples of French colonial architecture.

    Constructed back in the 19th century, Central Post Office is truly an icon of Ho Chi Minh. Interestingly, what adds more to the authenticity to the building is the person who designed it.

    You might be surprised to know that the Post Office was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same person who designed the Eiffel Tower. One more reason to add this historical building to your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh.

    As the post office is still functional, you can simply walk in and send a postcard back home! Once inside, check out the beautiful murals depicting world maps on the walls.

    Opening hours: Weekdays: 7 am – 7 pm, Saturday: 7 am – 6 pm; Sunday: 8 am – 6 pm
    Entrance Fee: Free

    How to get to Central Post office: The heritage building is located right across the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

    10. Water Puppet Show

    Watching a Water Puppet Show (múa rối nước in Vietnamese), which has its origin in the north of Vietnam, is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh. The show has deep cultural value to the local people, as it has been entertaining Vietnamese since the 11th century.

    The water puppet show usually revolves around life in rural Vietnam, folktales, and cultural values. The show plays for about an hour and is accompanied with music played over traditional instruments.

    Where to watch Water Puppet Show: Golden Dragon Water Puppet theater is one of the best. I will suggest you to buy the tickets for the puppet show a day before as they usually get sold out fast.

    Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show Opening hours: 2 shows daily at – 5 pm and 6:30 pm. and you can go to the ticket office to buy your ticket from 8:30 am – 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm – 7:30 pm

    Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show Entrance fee: 160,000 VND.

    How to get to Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show: It is located a short walk away from Independence Palace.

    11. Fine Arts Museum

    Opened to public in the year 1991, Fine Arts Museum is the center-point to understand the arts and culture of the city.

    The Fine Arts Museum building was residential building belonging to a wealthy Chinese, Mr. Hoa. The museum is painted in beautiful hues of yellow and white, resembling French and Chinese architectural styles.

    What to see in Fine Arts Museum: The Highlights of the Fine Arts Museum include exquisitely sandstone sculptures and ceramics excavated from Óc Eo, a Khmer site, from the time of the Funan Kingdom. On the 3rd floor of the Fine Arts Museum, you will find the collection from 7th century to all the way up to 20th century.

    Head to the the 2nd floor to check out the cool art works, paintings and sculptures, composed by Vietnamese and artists from other regions. Some of the top artists whose work are on display include: Nguyen Gia Tri, Trinh Cung, Diep Minh Chau, and Do Quang Em.

    Fine Arts Museum Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm; Monday closed.
    Fine Arts Museum Entrance fee: 10,000 VND adult; 3000 VND child.
    How to get to Fine Arts Museum: The Fine Arts Museum is located very close to Ben Thanh Market.

    12. Museum of Vietnamese History

    The museum showcases the rich history of Vietnam through ages. The items on display range from pre-historic era to all the way to 20th century. The museum was founded by Auguste Delaval in the year 1926. The Collection includes pottery, porcelain and sculptures dating back to 2000 BC, the bronze age.

    Artifacts from Metal Age up to 179 BC include traces from Dong Son, Northern Vietnam and the Sa Huynh culture, Central Vietnam. Bronze sculptures from two of the most influencing dynasties of Vietnam – Tran and Ho Dynasties (13th-15th Century) and the Champa Kingdom, are worth looking.

    Undoubtedly, Museum of Vietnamese History is one of the most incredible things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Interestingly, the Museum of Vietnamese History also includes sculptures and stone reliefs from Angkor Wat of Cambodia. But the highlight of the museum remains the ancient mummy which is surprisingly well preserved. The mummy was unearthed in District 5!

    If you haven’t catch up the water puppet show yet, you can also see it in Museum of Vietnamese History. Though you have to pay an extra entrance fee of 35k VND to watch the show. 

    Museum of Vietnamese History is located just next doors to the city Zoo, and is a popular place among domestic tourists.

    Museum of Vietnamese History Opening hours: 8 AM – 12 PM. 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM. Remains closed on first Mondays.

    Museum of Vietnamese History Entrance Fee: 15,000 VND; 40,000 VND camera fee.

    13. Thien Hau Temple

    Thien Hau Temple is situated in Cholon, District 5, which is also known as the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City. Dedicated to Thien Hau (Sea Goddess), the Thien Hau Temple was constructed somewhere in the 19th century.

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