Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. Given its size and history, it should be no surprise the city has many amazing attractions. Here are 6 attractions that you must visit in your Ho Chi Minh city tours.
One of the most famous museums in Vietnam is the War Remnants Museum, first opened to the public in 1975. The museum primarily focuses on the Vietnam War, however, some exhibits relate to the first Indochina War with French colonialists. It is a reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War, with many graphic photographs and American military equipment on display, which are the weapons were used by American troops against the Vietnamese at some point during the infamous war that lasted from 1945 until 1975.
The museum also includes a fascinating display of the work of war photographers, who lost their lives during the conflicts. After touring the countryside and the Cu Chi Tunnels, you’ll find these exhibits even more moving, but note that some of the exhibits are not suitable for small children.
The iconic Reunification Palace was once known as Independence Palace. This 1960s-style building, with its large, airy rooms and dated furnishings, made its name in global history when April 30, 1975, a tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate – thus signifying the end of the Vietnam War. The palace represents this historic event and the reunification of the country.
The Reunification Palace is a landmark not to be missed by any tourist spending time in Ho Chi Minh city tours. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the palace hides secret rooms, antique furniture and a command bunker within its eerie corridors. The Reunification Palace is still in use to host occasions including APEC summits and national events of significant importance.
3. Cu Chi Tunnels
About 60 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels have been a very popular tourist attraction. During the Vietnam war, this vast 250-kilometer plus a network of tunnels served a key role in combat operations, including as a base for Communist attacks against nearby Saigon. A visit usually includes the chance to crawl through part of the tunnel network, an experience which enhances your appreciation for the stamina and adaptability of the soldiers who lived here. The tunnels tell a fascinating and legendary tale of courage of Vietnamese Soldiers, despite all the struggles they have to endure in such a long time.
4. Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and Saigon Central Post Office
Another popular attraction, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral is a distinctive landmark in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Built from 1877 to around 1883, the cathedral was intended to be a place for the colonial missions to worship and a symbol of the power of the French colony. The exterior consists of red bricks from Marseille, and the clock between the two bell towers were built in Switzerland in 1887. Notable features of the interior include 56 squares of stained glass by Lorin from Chartres, France, the 12 pillars representing the 12 apostles, and one of Vietnam’s oldest organs. To see the interior, try visiting in the morning or attending a Sunday mass.
Across the street, the French colonial-style post office, completed in 1891, was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the French architect of the Eiffel Tower. Today, the post office is still in use and is a popular meeting place for locals.
Situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, bustling Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Visiting this market, tourists can find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much.
When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street-side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish, and meats. Being one of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
6. Saigon River
One of the drawbacks of taking Ho Chi Minh city tours by day is that the river can be smelly due to the waste that is disposed into the water, however the shorter city trips will also usually include a trip to the secret city canals where the locals live, thus giving you an authentic slice of real Vietnamese life. More popular are the longer day excursions on boats heading along the Saigon River to the Cu Chi tunnels along with a visit to the Mekong Delta.
A boat trip to the Mekong Delta offers a fascinating insight into village life. The trip usually incorporates a riverside market visit, a trip to a pagoda, a tour around handicraft centers and the chance to see colonial architecture, tropical jungle, and scenic smaller waterways. The Cu Chi tunnel tour delivers an opportunity for visitors to see the 250km underground network of tunnels which acted as a base for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
Tourists are invited to explore this warren in which guerrillas once hid and which were once crucial communication routes and hiding spots for injured soldiers, food, and ammunition. This tour will also include a visit to a fish farm, tourist village and an ancient house dating to 1890 in which the French Governor resided during the French War.
7. Bitexco Financial Tower
Six of the Bitexco Financial Tower floors have been given over to retail space although the main draw here is not shopping, rather the views. The public observation deck on the 49th floor is reached by using one of the tower’s 16 elevators which can reach any floor regardless of level within 35 seconds. The tower is also well-known for its Bitexco Vertical Run where competitors race from the ground floor lobby to the Sky Deck. The race covers 178 meters with the latest record standing at 4 minutes and 51 seconds – held by Germany’s Vertical World Circuit Champion Thomas Dold.
The Sky Deck delivers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city and the Saigon River. Visitors can also use one of the binocular stands to get a closer look. Great views are also enjoyed from the 50th and 51st-floor restaurants, particularly at night when the metropolis below glitters above. There are also local art exhibitions held on the Sky Deck, where you can also purchase souvenirs, including textiles and locally produced tea.
Interesting Tours to Ho Chi Minh City
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