Ho Chi Minh City, previously Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam and a thriving mix of tradition and new. Visitors to this city, for example, will find both elegant shopping malls and old-fashioned markets crammed with stalls selling a dizzying array of local handicrafts and tantalizing street food.
Ho Chi Minh City also has a large number of pagodas and temples, as well as historical sites such as the Cu Chi tunnels, which were used by Viet Cong guerrillas to keep moving around under the metropolitan area during the Tet Offensive (though they are located in a rural region far from the center and are not listed here). Other less well-known but similarly intriguing tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City:
1. War Remnants Museum
This museum provides Westerners with a different perspective on the Vietnam War than they are likely used to hearing and seeing. The War Remnants Museum, which first opened its doors in 1975, was originally known as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes. In 1990, the title was changed to the Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression, and in 1995, it was eventually changed to its current name. The majority of the displays in this museum are about the Vietnam War, but there are also some about the First Indochina War. Outside are displayed US military cars, artillery pieces, and infantry weapons.
2. Independence Palace
This property, designed by architect Ngo Viet Thu, was once the home and workplace of South Vietnam’s President. A North Vietnamese tank crashed through the main gate in 1975, essentially ending the contentious Vietnam War. Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, is now a historic landmark that appears to be frozen in time. In fact, two of the tanks used in the original takeover of power are still on the basis of evidence, and a replica helicopter can be discovered on the building’s roof. Furthermore, the halls have been maintained in their late 1960s and early 1970s style.
3. Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, located in District 1, is possibly the most prominent landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. It is also one of the most visible, with two tall bell towers. The cathedral was built between 1863 and 1880 on the site of a former Vietnamese pagoda. The red brick Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral’s materials were all imported from France. For many years, it was recognized as the Saigon Church, but in 1962, it was enhanced to the status of basilica. Its company was renamed to Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica at the time, and it also became the country’s main cathedral.
4. Saigon Central Post Office
The Saigon Central Post Office is not only a beautiful structure, but it is also one of Ho Chi Minh’s oldest. Gustave Eiffel designed this structure, which began construction in 1886. This grand building’s concourse features several painted maps, as well as a mosaic of the country’s former president, Ho Chi Minh, at the far end of the large hall. This construction is an actual working post office and is free to visit. It has a graceful coffered ceiling ceiling, a gorgeous tiled floor, and old-fashioned phone booths. The Saigon Central Post Office also has businesses where visitors can buy greeting cards and other souvenirs.
5. Ben Thanh Market
The Ben Thanh Market has a huge number of stalls where tourists can buy cheap souvenirs and local handicrafts. This bustling market, however, isn’t just for tourists. It is also where the locals go to get their daily necessities, such as produce, coffee, and clothing. However, in order to get the best deals, visitors should compare prices and bargain with vendors before purchasing items.
The Ben Thanh Market, which was built in 1870, is also a great place to try some of Vietnam’s famous street foods. The indoor stalls in Ben Thanh Market close at night, but the surrounding area comes alive as restaurant chains and open air stalls selling a variety of goods open for the evening crowd.
6. Dong Khoi Street
Dong Khoi Street is the place to go for the best retail and restaurants experiences in Saigon. Elegant old colonial tower blocks, high-end boutique shops, popular brand stores, delightful cafes and restaurants, and luxury hotels line this street. The Opera House, the Saigon Central Post Office, and the Notre Dame Cathedral are among the more well-known constructions on this street.
The well-known Givral Café, a popular fixture in the area since the 1950s, is also on Dong Khoi Street, but it is not the original structure. During the Vietnam War, that building was a popular meeting place for international journalists, photographers, and writers. It was demolished in 2010.
7. Bitexco Financial Tower
When the 68-story, 262-meter (859-foot) high Bitexco Financial Tower was finished in 2010, it became Vietnam’s tallest building. Today, its Sky Deck, located on the 49th floor, is a popular tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, offering visitors amazing 360-degree views of the city and the Saigon River.
The Bitexco Financial Tower has two restaurants on the 50th and 51st floors, both of which offer spectacular views of the surrounding area. Furthermore, this skyscraper is well-known for hosting the Bitexco Vertical Run, in which competitors race from the lobby to the Sky Deck. Another distinguishing feature? The helipad on this tower is not on the roof, as it is on most other buildings. Instead, its helipad 52nd floor is supported by cantilevers.
8. Jade Emperor Pagoda
This small pagoda, built by Vietnam’s Cantonese community in 1909, is one of the city’s most interesting sites. It is also recognised as the Tortoise Pagoda because there is a turtle-filled pond in the temple’s backyard. The Jade Emperor Pagoda houses some fascinating items, such as a statue of the Jade Emperor and an idol of the fertility goddess, Kim Hua. This is a working temple as well as a popular tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, so it is usually bustling with activity and the air is filled with the fragrance of burning candles.
9. Saigon Opera House
This elegant structure, also known as the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, was intended by French architect Ferret Eugene and completed in 1897. So it’s not surprising that the Saigon Opera House is similar to the Petit Palace in Paris, which was built the same year. This 800-seat structure provided entertainment for French colonists from its inception until 1955. Nevertheless, the Vietnam government has started using the structure for its Lower House of Assembly in 1956. It wasn’t until 1975 that the beautiful structure was repurposed for its original purpose.
10. Binh Tay Market
The Binh Tay Market, like the Ben Thanh Market, has a little bit of everything, including fresh produce and local handicrafts. The Binh Tay Market is located in Saigon’s Chinatown and serves as a distribution hub for many of the city’s clothing and food items, so visitors may discover that some of the items available in the market’s hundreds of stalls are only available to wholesalers. Visitors who arrive early in the morning at the Binh Tay Market may be able to peruse the fresh food items available in the outdoor “wet market,” such as fish and produce. The Binh Tay Market also has a food court where visitors can sample local delicacies and street food.