The Top 10 Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City
Feb 13 , 2012
Amongst the chaotic, motorcycle filled streets of this Asian urban jungle lies all sorts of cultural treasures. Rich in history, beauty, shopping, abuzz with activity and with amazing food to boot there are so many things to see and do in the Vietnamese metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam but not its capital, it bustles with activity 24-hours a day. Formerly known as Saigon during French rule, after the communist takeover the city was renamed in 1976. A city scarred from years of conflict as the capital of the south of what became the segregated country of Vietnam, rich in history and abuzz with activity there are so many things to do in Ho Chi Minh City that you will never get bored.
Củ Chi Tunnels – A day trip from HCMC, the area of Củ Chi is made up of 121km of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. Visitors can crawl through sections of the tunnel, which amazingly have been widened to accommodate the larger-sized western tourist, which will make you wonder how small they were once you are crawling on your hands and knees. With secret entrances and a whole city underground the tunnels are quite fascinating. As well as historical information there are some insane booby traps and a shooting range where you can fire an AK-47 or a M16 should you be so inclined.
War Remnants Museum – One of the best museum’s in Vietnam but keep in mind it was previously called The Museum for American War Crimes so it is unapologetically biased and incredibly confronting but regardless, it is an extremely powerful exhibition. A graphic section on Agent Orange, the effects of napalm and other chemical bombs, and sprays will stay with you for days while the Requiem Exhibition is a fantastically poignant display of the work of some of the 135 war photographers from both sides who were killed during the conflict and how they captured a moment in history.
Water Puppets – Though traditionally from the nation’s north, water puppet theaters are also a very popular outing for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City.
Pho Binh – For something a little unique, visit this unassuming city soup shop to pick up some delicious pho, the national dish, in what was also once the secret headquarters of the Viet Cong.
Mekong Delta – Where the mighty Mekong meets the sea, take a trip through the estuaries of the Mekong Delta. An agricultural heartland, producing fish, sugar cane, fruit, and is considered the nation’s rice bowl, producing half of Vietnam’s rice.
A visit to Bến Thành – Experience the fun and stress of the city markets, fight the crowds, eat delicious food, and bargain for some souvenirs.
Navigate the Streets – The sheer amount of motorbikes in Vietnam will blow your mind, navigating the streets and crossing the roads while bikes whizz around you is a not to be missed.
Reunification Palace – You can tour the inside of the formerly named Independence Palace, home of the President and headquarters of the South Vietnamese government. The splendidly designed building has attractive interiors but is perhaps known now for being the site of the end of the war when a North Vietnam tank famously crashed through its gates.
The Post Office – An architectural relic of the French Colonial days this beautiful building still operates and stands near another impressive façade, the Notre Dame Cathedral.
After an awesome day exploring, stop into one of the local bars for a relaxing beer or cocktail.