The biggest city in Vietnam
, Ho Chi Minh is fast-paced, fun and full of life. Just walking these streets is an adventure: dodging motorbikes as you cross the road, visiting ancient temples and pagodas, and trying unique street food at bustling night markets. Memories of the Vietnam War linger on in the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels, but there’s another side to Ho Chi Minh too, one of shopping and nightlife. It doesn’t get more "Vietnam" than this, so check out our Ho Chi Minh City hotels.
Originally a small fishing village where Khmer people lived, Ho Chi Minh was colonised by Vietnamese settlers in the early 17th century. In 1859 it was conquered by France and Spain, resulting in a number of Western-style buildings. After the Vietnam War ended, Saigon (as the city was then known) was merged with two nearby districts and renamed after the famous Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in 1975.
Things to do
History buffs will have plenty to do in Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll find a collection of artefacts from the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum: tanks and aircraft outside, photos and anti-war posters inside, as well as a guillotine and the tiger cages used to keep Viet Cong prisoners. You can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, 250kms of underground tunnels that the Vietnamese dug with simple tools during the French occupation and expanded during the Vietnam War. Reunification Palace is the place where the first Communist tanks in Saigon crashed through the iron gates in 1975, and it’s a symbol of the city’s fall. Other incredible buildings to buildings to visit include the City Hall, the Opera House or Municipal Theatre, City Post Office, The Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of South Eastern-Armed Forces, the Museum of Fine Art and the beautiful and Gothic-inspired Notre Dame Cathedral.
Want to do something a little less serious? Suio Tien Theme Park is a Buddhist-themed amusement park with water slides and rides, a zoo, gardens, big dragon statues and a man-made beach with the face of an Emperor carved into a cliff. Dam Sen Water Park is another great spot for family fun, with waterslides and a massive wave-making pool.
After dark, check out Ho Chi Minh city’s bars (karaoke time?), discos and even live music spots.
Shopping and dining
When it’s shopping time, Ho Chi Minh City has both malls like the Vincom Centre and Diamond Department Store, fashion boutiques with local fabrics, and arts and crafts markets. If you want something a bit more upmarket, head to District One right in the city centre for designer boutiques and streets lined with trees and bars. The dining is what you’d expect from Vietnam as a whole – delicious and mostly cheap, with everything from fancy rooftop restaurants boasting sweeping city views to markets with street food and pho which can be enjoyed at the local Com Binh Dan for a dollar! Take a trip down Pham Ngu Lao Street to find many bars and cafes, and mingle with other travellers.
Getting here and around
Take a look at one of our cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh City
to get here for less. Once you get here, there are stacks of ways to get around the city. Do as the locals do and hire a motorcycle or scooter. You can also rent a car, catch the bus or tram, take a taxi or – if you’re happy to go at a leisurely pace, ride a bicycle. Check out our Ho Chi Minh City accommodation with us and get ready for the ride of your life.
Image credit Aleksandr Zykov
under Creative Commons