See and Do in Ho Chi Minh City
- Download our Ho Chi Minh City Schools Guide
Ho Chi Minh City is a loud, exciting and vibrant destination which may be a little overwhelming to a Western expat. From the city’s delicious street food, its bustling bars and energetic open-air night markets, to its more peaceful pagodas, temples, churches and parks, Ho Chi Minh City has something to suit any mood.
Expats will have plenty to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City. To make the most of their time here, expats should make an effort to visit local bars and clubs, move away from the traditional tourist spots and not miss an opportunity to try local delicacies and street food.
For those who are interested in the fascinating history and culture of Vietnam, there is no shortage of places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. From peaceful temples and churches to museums providing insights into the horrific war crimes committed during the Vietnam War, there are many opportunities to learn about this beautiful country.
Popular attractions in Ho Chi Minh City
Reunification Palace (Independence Palace)
This Ho Chi Minh City landmark is a symbol of the South Vietnamese government, which thousands of Vietnamese and Americans died trying to save in 1975. Learn about the country’s tumultuous past and the Vietnam War by walking through the halls of this building.
War Remnants Museum
This museum showcases artefacts that act as a stark reminder of the cruelty that took place during the Vietnam War. While the museum provides a somewhat biased account of the war, expats interested in military history can spend hours looking at the fascinating displays.
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
This cathedral serves as a reminder of Ho Chi Minh City’s French colonial past. The beautiful basilica dates back to 1887 and is located in the heart of the city. A visit to the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica provides a peaceful break from the hectic pace of life in Ho Chi Minh City.
Xa Loi Pagoda
The Xa Loi Pagoda, or Temple of the Buddha’s Relic, is the largest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City and can be found in District 3. Those interested in gaining insight into Vietnam’s Buddhist culture will find a visit to this beautiful temple worthwhile.
Cao Dai Temple
Visit this tranquil temple to learn about one of Vietnam’s modern religions, Caodaism, which combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. Visitors have the opportunity to watch the brightly dressed Cao Dai worshippers carry out their daily worship rituals.
Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck
A trip to this observation deck is a must for all expats living in Ho Chi Minh City. The Bitexco Financial Tower is an iconic structure that stands tall in the middle of the city centre and offers visitors the best view over the bustling city.
Cong Vien Van Hoa Park
This park provides a tranquil escape from Ho Chi Minh City’s hustle and bustle. Despite being located right in the heart of the city, the authorities have created a peaceful environment by making this a bicycle-free zone. Those who arrive early enough in the morning will have the opportunity to see the park full of tai chi practitioners. It also has a small sculpture garden which may be of interest to art lovers.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Expats who visit the gardens expecting to see a huge range of animals will be in for a disappointment, as the zoo is really in need of a facelift. However, it is still a great place to enjoy a stroll through a leafy park, see some beautiful plants, and simply escape the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
Van Thanh Park
Van Thanh Park is one of the most tranquil spots in Ho Chi Minh City. It is located on the banks of the Thi Nghe River and is a great place to relax. Try visiting in the morning before the tour groups begin to arrive.
Dai The Gioi Water Park
A visit to the Dai The Gioi Water Park is a great option for expats living in Ho Chi Minh City with children. It is also an ideal spot for anyone wanting to cool off after a day in the city’s heat. There are a number of fun slides and pools to keep the children entertained.