Ho Chi Minh City

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At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.

Visit ho chi minh city

Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, to give it its full Vietnamese title, is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy, though not its administrative capital – an honour that rests with Hanoi. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride.

Once dearly called Diamond of the Far-East with the luxury level overriding that of Singapore, Hongkong or Bangkok, HCMC is now the most populated city in Vietnam. All the accoutrements of economic success – fine restaurants, flash hotels, glitzy bars and clubs, and shops selling imported luxury goods – are here, adding a glossy veneer to the city’s hotchpotch landscape of French stones of empire, venerable pagodas and austere, Soviet-style housing blocks.
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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a prominent history going back hundreds of years.
Dzung Nguyen
Vietnam Travel Specialist

Things to See and Do in Ho Chi Minh City


Visit War Remnants Museum

Formerly the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, the War Remnants Museum in HCMC first opened to the public in 1975. It is a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War and is consistently popular with Western tourists. Few museums anywhere convey the brutal effects of war on its civilian victims so powerfully. Many of the atrocities documented here were well-publicized but rarely do Westerners hear the victims of US military action tell their own stories. While some displays are one-sided, many of the most disturbing photographs illustrating US atrocities are from US sources, including those of the infamous My Lai Massacre.

Discover Cu Chi Tunnels

If the tenacious spirit of the Vietnamese can be symbolized by a place, few sites are more symbolic than Cu Chi tunnels. Located 75 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the tunnels are an elaborate underground network made up of 250 km of tunnels and chambers. Astoundingly, given their great length, the tunnels were dug with bare hands or very simple tools during the French occupation in the 1940s, and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Though small and very dark, the tunnels provided refuge and a defensive advantage over the American soldiers. They ate, slept, planned attacks, healed their sick and taught their young in the chambers of the Cu Chi tunnels. Some even wed and gave birth here.

Stop for a filter coffee

If there’s one thing the Vietnamese have indisputably nailed, it’s coffee. Believe it or not, Vietnam is the biggest coffee exporter in the world. Vietnamese coffee is excellent and it's inexpensive and available nearly everywhere. You can pick up a Vietnamese coffee – white or black, hot or cold in pretty much every HCMC restaurant or café. Black coffee with ice (ca phe da) is strong and sweet with an almost chocolate-like richness. Condensed milk can be added, gives you coffee milk ice, (or ca phe sua da) creating a miracle drink that balances the strength of the drip filter coffee with a rich, sweet finish.

Pass by Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral

Perhaps the most stand-out of the many traces left by French colonialists in the 1880s is the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral. Built between 1877 and 1883, with a try to recreate the feel of the cathedral of the same name in Paris, builders used French bricks and constructed huge Romanesque bell towers. A brick, neo-Romanesque church with 40m-high square towers tipped with iron spires, the Catholic cathedral is named after the Virgin Mary. Visitors can have a gander any time from 5.30am-5pm daily. Mass is 9.30am Sunday.

Dine at the Cuc Gach Quan

It comes as little surprise that the owner is an architect when you step into Cuc Gach Quan or depending on who you ask, "Brick", an old converted French villa. The decor is rustic and elegant at the same time, which is also true of the food. It's not easy exploring the local grub in a country like Vietnam. Sometimes it takes a place like Brick to highlight what the Vietnamese cuisine is all about-flavor in unusual places. With a menu the size of a hotel bible it is impossible not to find something that you would enjoy. Brick has all ways been an excellent first dinner in Saigon for friends and family.

Visit Reunification Palace

Just five minutes’ stroll north up Nam Ky Khoi Nghia from the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, a red flag billows proudly above the Reunification Palace. A whitewashed concrete edifice with all the charm of a municipal library, the palace occupies the site of the former Norodom Palace, a colonial mansion erected in 1871 to house the governor-general of Indochina. After the French left in 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem commandeered this extravagant monument as his presidential palace, but after sustaining extensive damage in a February 1962 assassination attempt by two disaffected Southern pilots, the place was condemned and pulled down.

Saigon Central Post Office

Right across the way from Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office is no ordinary place to buy stamps. Built between 1886 and 1891 by renowned architect Marie-Alfred Foulhoux (though often credited to Gustave Eiffel), the building is one of the country’s finest examples of French colonial architecture and one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Painted on the walls of its grand concourse are fascinating historic maps of South Vietnam, Saigon and Cholon, while a mosaic of Ho Chi Minh takes pride of place at the end of its barrel-vaulted hall. Note the magnificent tiled floor of the interior and the copious green-painted wrought iron.

Cho Lon (Binh Tay) Market

Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Lon is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown with roots dating back to 1778; it’s also a place of great historical and cultural importance. Cho Lon’s main market has a great clock tower and a central courtyard with gardens. During the Vietnam War, Cho Lon was a thriving black market for US soldiers trading in American Army issue supplies. This market sometimes disappoints tourists when compared to other markets in HCMC as the products are not that varied, but the main draw to Cho Lon is not to shop but to enjoy the authentic Chinese atmosphere that has existed here for hundreds of years. It’s a wonderful place to experience at night.

Ben Thanh Market

Centrally located, Ben Thanh and its surrounding streets comprise one of HCMC's liveliest areas. There’s much more beneath the pillbox-style clock tower of Ben Thanh Market than just the cattle and seafood pictured on its front wall. Everything that’s commonly eaten, worn or used by the Saigonese is piled high, and souvenir items can be found in equal abundance. Vendors are determined and prices usually higher than elsewhere, so bargain vigorously and ignore any 'Fixed Price' signs. The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day but all the same its well worth a look.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Set in the northeast corner of District 1, Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City, stuffed with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes. Built at the turn of the 20th century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practiced widely in Vietnam.

HCMC Fine Arts Museum

Established in 1987, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum is set inside an exquisite French colonial villa, housing city’s most important collection of art by Vietnamese artists on three floors. The first floor hosts rotating exhibits of contemporary art and the second floor features sketches, paintings and statues, many of which focus on resistance to colonial rulers. The third floor shows older works from Vietnam's history.

Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh City

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the dry season starting from November to late March, when temperatures range between 21°C and 34°C with low humidity. It’s also the driest time for the rest of Vietnam too.

April to May can be very sticky with temperatures reaching 39°C (102°F). Showers are frequent from May to October but with intermittent sunshine, but it’s worth considering for good value hotels.
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Festivals, Events and Seasonal Reasons to Visit

  • 01

    The Vietnam Lunar New Year: Known as Tet, tends to fall in late January or early February. Across Vietnam homes are decorated with strings of lights and flags. Gifts are given and homes are filled with flowers and small potted trees.
  • 02

    Vietnam Independence Day: The 2nd September each year marks the Vietnam Declaration of Independence from France in 1945. Saigon is decked in thousands of Vietnam flags as locals enjoy the public holiday. An impressive firework display is set off over the city.
  • 03

    Can Gio Mangrove Forest: An UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve located just 40 kilometers outside of Ho Chi Minh City. Alive with monkeys, gibbons, crocodiles and other tropical forest life. The wetland enchants visitors with its lush leafy palms and fresh air. Glimpse local life along the river at a nearby fishing hamlet and see why the fertile Mekong Delta region has enchanted centuries of travelers with its captivating colors, sounds and aromas.

Suggested Itineraries

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in HCMC, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists. Alternatively, if you would like to include a visit to HCMC on a bespoke touring itinerary to Vietnam, do not hesitate to contact us.
Vietnam Adventure Tour: Kayaking, Hiking & Cycling

Hanoi - Halong Bay - Sapa - Mu Cang Chai - Phong Nha National Park - Hue - Da Lat - Nha Trang - Cai Be - Ho Chi Minh City
Cruise Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap

Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be - Chau Doc - Phnom Penh - Kratie - Kampong Cham - Siem Reap

Cruises in Ho Chi Minh City

RV Mekong Navigator Cruise
With a design reminiscent of the French Colonial–era manor homes that once lined the streets of Old Saigon, the all-suite Mekong Navigator features a sophisticated and comfortable ambience.
RV Jayavarman Cruise
Received its fame by the legendary God King of ancient Cambodia, King Jayavarman VII, this Luxury Mekong Delta Cruise combines French colonial style with an aura of the Far East. Peacefully meandering along the Mekong, you will feel at once completely at home yet exhilarated by your journey along one of Asia’s most scenic rivers.<br>
RV Mekong Adventurer Cruise
Newly launched and limited to only sixty guests, the RV Mekong Adventurer Cruise sets the benchmark for luxury adventure cruising on the Mekong Delta River. The Mekong Adventurer is uniquely engineered and built to navigate these waters almost without restriction, taking you further than many comparable ships.
RV Mekong Prestige II Cruise
One of the state-of-the art brand new cruisers on the Mekong and operated by a French-Vietnamese joint venture, Mekong Prestige II Cruise is designed with fashionable combination between imposing elegance and regional Khmer accent. The luxury Mekong Delta cruise operates between HCMC and Siem Reap via Cai Be, Chau Doc, Phnom Penh.<br>
RV Jahan Cruise
RV Jahan Cruise is the latest member among the Mekong River Boat Collection and a sibling of the famous Jayavarman. It was launched in 2012 and designed as a luxury Mekong Delta cruise with a boutique style enjoying distinguishing British Indian colonial theme with large balcony staterooms.
RV Mekong Pandaw
RV Mekong Pandaw is one of the best luxury Mekong Delta cruises that float from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia. With this you will see the best of Indochina, from the French colonial cities of Saigon and Phnom Penh to the World Heritage Site of Angkor with its amazing Khmer temples.
Aqua Mekong Cruise
Coming into use since 2014, Aqua Mekong Cruise is a Luxury Mekong Delta Cruise with an intimate, exclusive feel. The vessel with spacious and indulgent cabins, yet intimate enough to feel entirely elite, will absolutely bring tourists relaxed time and comfortable services.<br>

Ideas for Experiencing Ho Chi Minh City

Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and which use the best local guides.
Discover Cu Chi Tunnels
Get a comprehensive look at Vietnam-American war history. Follow your guide on a tour from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels to wander through jungles echoing with history. Learn how Cu Chi’s residents found ingenious ways to survive and other incredible stories of wartime resilience.
Cruise to Can Gio Mangrove Forest
Reconnect with nature in the eco-adventure Can Gio Mangrove Forest Tour, exploring the lush jungle surroundings of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Alive with monkeys, gibbons, crocodiles and other tropical forest life, the wetland enchants visitors with its lush leafy palm and fresh air. Glimpse local life along the river at a nearby fishing hamlet and see why the fertile Mekong Delta region has enchanted centuries of travelers with its captivating colors, sound and aromas.