Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

As Vietnam’s largest city, it’s no surprise that Ho Chi Minh City boasts an abundance of cultural and historical highlights. With a population of nine million and a whopping seven million motorbikes (yes, you read that right), the city is bursting with activity in every nook and cranny. It’s an utter delight for the senses. There’s no shortage of food to be tasted, history to be learnt and city views to drool over – it would take a lifetime to run out of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. However, most of us only have a matter of days to spend there, so read on to discover the experiences that will make your trip to this metropolis one to remember…

  1. Try the Local Cuisine 
  2. Take a Saigon River Cruise
  3. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels
  4. Spend the Evening in a Rooftop Bar
  5. Wander Down Book Street

Try the Local Cuisine

While Vietnam’s cuisine has its own delicious history, modern Vietnamese food has been influenced by a cuisine that you may be more familiar with. When French colonists arrived in Vietnam, they brought over ingredients that had never before been used in the East – and you can bet baguettes were among them. The Vietnamese put their own spin on this iconic loaf of bread, resulting in one of the most famous dishes in Vietnam – banh mi. In Ho Chi Minh City, banh mis are almost as populous as the city’s motorbikes, with the sandwich sold on practically every street corner. The fillings truly showcase the French and Vietnamese fusion; vegetables and herbs from the East, and grilled meat and pâté from the West. Costing around 15-35000 VND, a banh mi will set you back just £1 – eating your way around the streets really is one of the most deliciously affordable things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.


Take a Saigon River Cruise

Adopting the old name of the city, the Saigon River is the perfect place to witness the city’s knockout views by boat while feasting on delicious food and drink. Dinner cruises are an immensely popular thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City, and for good reason; while the busy streets and city noise are certainly endearing, we all need a moment of calm to reset. With most tours departing just before sunset from either Bach Dang Wharf or Saigon Port, there really is no better way to while away the evening hours than drinking in the bright city lights (and cocktails!) from a distance.


Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels

The tunnels of Cu Chi offer one of the most unique experiences not just in Ho Chi Minh City, but in the whole of Asia. Located just under 30 miles from the city centre, the tunnels allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of city life – although they are not for the faint of heart. Visitors are invited to crawl through safe sections of the 75-mile-long complex, experiencing the reality of many soldiers during the Vietnam War (albeit the tourist version, with widened tunnels and lights to guide the way). If the thought of being underground makes you squirm, fear not; there are plenty of sites to see above ground too, including booby traps and an army tank. To top it off, you’ll have the chance to fire a real machine gun in a shooting range. It’s certainly a day you’ll never forget (and we’re not sure your ringing ears will ever let you).


Spend the Evening in a Rooftop Bar

Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam, and there’s no better way to take in the vast urban landscape than by rising high above it all. The city is awash with bars, some of which are perched at the top of the tallest buildings, with panoramic views of the amalgamated architecture. From the French inspired Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Bitexco Financial Tower, the buildings are far flung from anything seen across the rest of Vietnam. The appeal doesn’t end there either – Ho Chi Minh City is renowned for its vibrant and dynamic nightlife, making these rooftop bars memorable for more than just the views. If an elegant evening is to your taste, Social Club Saigon is just the place with its artisan cocktails, luxurious interior and rooftop infinity pool. And over at Glow Rooftop Lounge you’ll have no problem feeling young and vibrant, with the comfy seats and cool bar allowing you to greet the sunset in style. We recommend getting there with enough time to grab a drink and relax at your table – you won’t want to miss the twilight views.


Wander Down Book Street

Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City is the charming Nguyen Van Binh Book Street, which attracts tourists and locals alike with its social atmosphere. It’s a paradise for book lovers, with more than 20 bookshops piled high with novels in both English and Vietnamese. Lanterns, flowers, lights and statues make for a scenic stroll down this street, and there’s a scattering of cosy coffee shops where you can relax and read your new book. Be warned: this book lover’s haven is a little hard to find – sandwiched between the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Hai Ba Trung Street – but we guarantee that leaving with a new book, postcard and photos of this fascinating street will make it worth the search.


Header Image by Gemma Cagnacci
Written by Evie Buller