Best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh city
Saigon is a relatively young city in comparison to 4000 years of Vietnam history. With only 300 years old, the city boasts a wide range of architectures and historical relics thanks to its rich past. It was once the capital of Cocochine under the French occupation, and then served as the capital of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War when Vietnam was governed by two states in the North and the South.
Although the city was damaged throughout the wars, and changed dramatically from the fast urbanization from the 1980s, many of its gems still survive and attract millions of visitors every year. Now the official name of the city is Ho Chi Minh city, yet “Saigon” is still used in informal and friendly talks by its local citizens. Street food can be found in every nook and corner, this is such a paradise for food lovers. Many beautiful hotels, restaurants and themed cafes make Saigon an ideal destination for your Vietnam luxury vacations. In this list, we name the best places to see in Ho Chi Minh city so you can consider them in your travel plans.
1. Saigon Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral
Center to Catholicism in the South Vietnam, the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica is probably one of the most majestic church in Vietnam. It is said that in order to build this complex, the French transported most of the materials from France to Vietnam. The brick-covered building since then has long been an icon for colonial Saigon. Although it has gone through some renovations, the key features are kept. One of the most romantic moments you may have during your visit in Vietnam is witnessing couples posing for their wedding photos in front of the church, and its neighbor building, the Central Post Office.
2. Saigon Central Post Office
Usually praised as one of the most beautiful Post Offices, the building is a treasure of Saigon and has not changed much over nearly 140 years. The meticulously detailed facade is a nice blend of European and Asian styles, creating a harmonious and lyrical composition. In this Post, you may look for an old gentleman who is probably the last public writer in Vietnam, who helps people write and translate letters for many decades. The gentleman is friendly to talk to, and he loves to tell visitors so many
of his interesting life stories. He is such a living history of Saigon.
3. Independence Palace
The palace was built in 1963 and was used by three presidents of South Vietnam as the homes and office until 1975 when the Northern forces overtook the palace and put an end to the Republic of Vietnam. In the beautiful garden, an aircraft that attempted to destroy the building and the tanks that crashed the gate and gave ways to Communist victors to overtook the palace are displayed. Beside its historical significance, the construction is also acclaimed as a beautiful piece of art. Styled after
Modernism, the palace is a great example of the 60s architecture. The interior brings people back in time as if they are living their 1960s good old days again. We highly recommend this for your Ho Chi Minh tours.
4. War Museum
The Vietnam War is still a very controversial topic in the world, and historians are still arguing on how some lost and the others won. In this museum, you have a chance to see the war in the point of view from the Vietnamese government. It covers many topics from the Orange Agent, torture of war criminals to the consequence of the war decades after, and how Vietnamese are living now under new era. Regardless of what you think about the wars, it is time to pay tribute to those who died and
suffered from it, and to realize wars are what we do not need. This is definitely one of the best places to see in Ho Chi Minh.
5. China Town
In the 17th century, the Ming dynasty collapsed and mainland China was governed by the Ching minority. Those who found themselves loyal to the collapsed dynasty left China and headed for many surrounding countries, including Vietnam. They came to South Vietnam and settled here ever since. Together with the Vietnamese, they helped to build Saigon city. Now many of their architectures still exist and are so beautiful to visit. Plus the Chinese food can be found everywhere in the area. Both cultural and foody, the town is perfect for your Ho Chi Minh tours.
6. Cu Chi Tunnels
One of the best places to visit near Ho Chi Minh, Cu Chi Tunnels are located to the North of the city and it takes about 2 hours to get there. It is a greatly interesting journey to discover the harsh past of the
Communist soldiers. The location was a strategic spot to plan surprise attacks to Saigon capital, therefore housed thousands of Communists underground. They lived and fought underground under extreme conditions. They invented so many smart strategies to distract their enemies’ attention and to survive, also to effectively scare those who approached. Whether you agree with them or not, we all have to appreciate and admire their efforts.
Other places to visit near Ho Chi Minh:
- Mekong Delta is a refreshing escape from the big city. Its diverse ecosystem together with the abundance of tropical fruit provide you a great adventure into one of the most fertile land of the world.
- Cao Dai Temple is interesting for those who love cultural topics. A relatively young religion of Vietnam, Caodai was founded in 1923 and was a combination of Buddism, Taoism, Confucianism,
Christianity, among others. The religion played a very active role in modern history of Vietnam and has so many details to learn.
- Mui Ne beach is a nice choice for your Vietnam luxury vacations. A sunny sandy beach just some hours from Saigon with lots of seafood and local cuisines to enjoy.