Ho Chi Minh City used to be known as Saigon although this was officially changed after Ho Chi Minh unified Vietnam following the Vietnam War. As such, Ho Chi Minh City is a place that is steeped in some of the most important modern history in the world, and you will find references to this on every street corner. If you want to learn more about the period of reunification in Vietnam, then you can visit monuments, museums and spots used during the Vietnam War like the Cu Chi Tunnels, but you will also find a vibrant modern side to the city at the same time.
Ho Chi Minh City is also one of the most dynamic spots in Vietnam, and you can see this through the cutting edge buildings and the exciting nightlife on offer here. If you want to sample some of the local delights, then the street food scene in the city is also one of the best in the country, and you can happily spend your days eating your way around Ho Chi Minh City. Here is the list of 10 best things don’t miss out in Ho Chi Minh city
1. Tour the War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is one of the most moving sights in Ho Chi Minh City and is dedicated to educating visitors about the atrocities of the Vietnam War.
This is one of the most popular museums in all of Vietnam and more than half a million visitors come here every year.
Some of the items on display include old military vehicles like Huey helicopters as well as attack bombers and M48 Patton tanks.
Inside you will also find personal memorabilia of victims of the war as well as old photographs.
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2. Visit the Central Office
A post office may not sound very exciting but the one in Ho Chi Minh City was designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame.
The building is designed in the Gothic style and dates from 1886 and is still one of the most famous monuments in the city.
Make sure that you go inside, as you will find a huge domed roof and grand walls which are adorned with maps from the colonial period.
There is also a requisite portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam.
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3. Tour Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace was the former home of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
The building is also steeped in history as this is also the spot where the North Vietnamese invaded in 1975 and Ho Chi Minh City surrendered.
The building looks much as it would have done in 1966 and you can take a free guided tour here which will fill you in on the cultural and historical significance of this monument to the Vietnam War.
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4. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral was built from 1877 and 1883 and sits in the heart of the city.
The cathedral is designed in the neo-Romanesque style and you can check out the towers here which soar to a height of 40 meters and are topped with impressive iron spires.
The cathedral got its name from the Virgin Mary and the inside is covered in devotional tablets and pretty stained glass windows.
Staff are on hand during the week to explain all the history of the cathedral to visitors.
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5. Travel to the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is made up of 39,000 square kilometers of waterways and this is also one of the most densely populated parts of Vietnam.
The center of the Mekong Delta is around four hours away from Ho Chi Minh City, and many visitors choose to visit as part of an organized tour.
Here you will find floating markets as well as schools and homes and this is one of the most unique sights in all of Vietnam.
6. Tour the Cu Chi Tunnels
The main draw in Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels which would have been used by the Vietcong guerillas at the time of the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels are made up of a series of underground chambers which stretch for 30 kilometers out of the city and you can now visit sections of the tunnels and crawl through the small spaces to experience the conditions of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War.
Note that this is not an ideal place to visit if you suffer from claustrophobia as the tunnels are very small indeed.
7. Admire the Cao Dai Temple
There are a number of Cao Dai temples in Vietnam although the one in Ho Chi Minh is said to be the most beautiful of its kind.
The temple took some 20 years to build and was finally completed in 1956. Inside you will find some ornate carved dragons but the real draw is the mix of religious statues here.
These include effigies of Christ, Brahman and Buddha, which reflect a range of faiths in one building.
8. Scale the Bitexco Financial Tower
The Bitexco Financial Tower was designed by Carlos Zapata and is made up of 68 storeys.
The building soars to a height of 262 meters and is meant to have been designed to resemble a lotus bulb.
On the 48th floor you will find the Saigon Skydeck and you can come here around sunset to take in the stunning vistas over the city.
There is also a rooftop bar if you want to relax with a drink as you take in the scenery below you
9. Browse in Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City and is a great place to come to shop and eat.
On a visit to the market you will find a range of street food vendors selling local snacks, as well as a dry area where you can pick up some souvenirs.
You can also shop for items like local textiles and ceramics although bear in mind that haggling is expected so don’t be afraid to bargain hard.
10. Visit Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay Market is located in the Cholon district of Ho Chi Minh City and you will find a large clock tower here as well as a central courtyard.
The market was built in the 1880s during the colonial period and you can go for a walk and try out the food stalls here.
These include local dishes like noodle soups or you can just stop by for a coffee.
If possible, try to come early in the morning to take in the bustling atmosphere.
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