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15 Best & Unique Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for First-timers

To have a perfect Vietnam experience, you can’t miss your tour of the highlight of Vietnam- Saigon.

As the formal capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly named Saigon) witness the variation of the era through the Vietnam War and shows its vitality with modern marvels. 

Note the following 15 best and unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you are a first-timer. 

Top 1. Visit the Reunification Palace depicted on the 200000 VND Note

Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening Time: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

When you get the 200,000 VND on hand, you may notice the image. It’s an iconic historical Saigon attraction of Vietnam- the Reunification Palace.

Formerly known as the Independence Palace, the Reunification Palace was designed by Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ and constructed between 1962 and 1966.

The building served as the official residence and workplace of President Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnamese president) during the Vietnam War.

On April 1975, the palace marked a historical point when a North Vietnamese (won) tank crashed through its gates, marking the end of the Vietnam War.

To get into the Reunification Palace, visitors can get a glimpse into Vietnam’s history and politics and the style and atmosphere of the 1970s- a combination of modernist design elements and traditional Vietnamese features.

You’ll visit many rooms opening to the public including the President’s office, banquet halls, communication facilities, and the sprawling gardens. 

Reunification Palace

Top 2. Have a Drink at A Rooftop Bar to See the Skyline of the Tallest Tower in Vietnam

Landmark 81 Address: Vinhomes Central Park, 208 Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh Street, Ward 22, Bình Thạnh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Opening Time: 9:30 am – 9:30 pm

In your Vietnam tourism 2023 of Saigon, it must be a cool thing to have a drink at a rooftop bar to admire a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.

Surpassed the Bitexco Financial Tower, Landmark 81 completed in 2018, is the tallest tower in Saigon, Vietnam, and even Indochina.

The tower stands at approximately 461.2 meters (1,513 feet) tall and is the best site to meet the city’s skyline.

You can have a drink at the luxurious and renowned rooftop bar-“Layla – Eatery & Bar”.

The bar is located on the 75th floor of Landmark 81. Standing on the bank of Saigon Dong Nai River, you can obtain an aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City’s skyline, including iconic landmarks such as Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and Saigon Opera House.

And guests at Layla - Eatery & Bar can indulge in a diverse selection of cocktails, premium wines, and other beverages, along with a delectable menu of international and Vietnamese cuisine.

Landmark 81

Top 3. Mail Vietnamese postcards to your friends at Central Post Office

Address: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening Time: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

The Central Post Office is one of the most popular Vietnam attractions and famous landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City.

It was completely constructed in 1891 when Vietnam was still under French colonial rule. You must never know the architecture was designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel, the same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Visitors can view the blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and French styles, and observe its grand arched windows, high ceilings, a large clock on the front, and the spacious hall.

You may mail Vietnamese postcards to your family and friends with the characteristic card. Various types of postcards are supplied for you, including landscapes and landmarks, cultural and historical sites, traditional Vietnamese art, street scenes and markets, food and cuisine, cute and quirky designs, festivals and celebrations, and personalized postcards.

It will really be a remarkable thing for Saigon tour that lasts forever, as the memory, the souvenir.

The interior of the Central Post Office

Top 4. Watch the Amazing Water Puppet Show Close to Vietnamese Mythical Stories and Legends

Recommendation: Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Opening Time: 5:00 pm – 7:45 pm

The water puppet show is a traditional Vietnamese art form, where puppeteers perform with wooden puppets on a water stage.

Pace into the mythical stories told in the amazing puppet show with live traditional music, and you can have an immersion enjoyment and acknowledgment of Vietnamese culture. 

Among plenty of specific stories in the theater, "The Legend of the Golden Turtle" is a popular Vietnamese folktale telling the story of a magnificent turtle living in a lake. The story highlights themes of kindness, humility, and the importance of using power wisely. Receive the blessing from this water puppet show.

The ticket prices of shows at the theater range from around 200,000 VND to 400,000 VND (approximately $9 to $18) and are slightly lower for children. Remember to check the show times and make reservations in advance!

Water Puppet Shoe in Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater

Top 5. Join a Fantasy Vietnamese Cooking Class with a Local Market Tour

For a complete immersion into local life and to discover the diverse culinary heritage of Vietnam, consider joining a fascinating Vietnamese cooking class that includes a guided Vietnam food tour of the vibrant local market.

With the guidance of the local people arranged by the cooking class, you’ll have a unique local market experience to buy your cooking ingredient and learn about Vietnamese cuisine culture.

Along your way, you can view the local life of Vietnam, meet the local people, and also learn about Vietnamese cuisine with the introduction of your guide.

After your market tour, you’ll have a hands-on experience learning cooking techniques and preparing your Vietnamese dish, such as pho (noodle soup), spring rolls, banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), and various stir-fried dishes.

You can choose various VIetnam food tour to explore Vietnamese cuisine with an exemple here:

Top 6. Stroll along Nguyen Hue Street and stop at quaint coffee shops in “Café Apartment”

Café Apartment Address: 42 Nguyễn Huệ Street, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening Time: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm

Nguyen Hue Street is a hot site for both locals and tourists that deserves to visit. The street is a prominent and bustling pedestrian street located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City (District 1), Vietnam.

Located in the center of Saigon, the street stretches from the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building (also known as the City Hall) to the Saigon River.

Leisurely stroll along Nguyen Hue Street, you’ll find various shops, cafes, and restaurants to experience the city’s urban lifestyle. You can also witness the stunning and beautiful statue of Ho Chi Minh. 

Stop at the internet-famous site of Café Apartment, the once-abandoned old building.

After hanging over the first-floor bookstore, you can visit the rest floors to view café in different styles. Sitting on the floor with a cup of café, you can enjoy a wonderful and exciting time in Saigon with the admiration of the sunset and Nguyen Hue Street.

The Café Apartment

Top 7. Haggle in Saigon’s best & most authentic market-Binh Tay Market

Address: 57A Thap Moui Street, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening Time: from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

If you want a slice of the authentic daily life of Saigon, Binh Tay Market must be a great site to provide you with the best and most authentic experience.

You can regard it as the traditional market in your own country where you can buy the most local things.

Built by the French in the 1880s, Binh Tay Market is located right in the center of the largest Chinatown in Vietnam and serves the local Chinese population of the city with a wide range of the finest fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry, meat, and seafood from across the country.

And in the busiest wholesale market, you’ll see many stalls in the narrow aisles with various goods- textiles, fabrics, handicrafts, souvenirs, electronics, and more. The ideal place to buy gifts for your family and friends! Moreover, you may meet vendors not only from all over Vietnam but from neighboring countries.

Brilliant and local atmosphere to immerse yourself in Saigon!

Binh Tay Market

Top 8. Learn about the Devastating Effects of Agent Orange at the War Remnants Museum

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening Time: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Vietnam War is often the scar for Vietnam, the whole world.

Formerly known as the "Museum of American War Crimes", the War Remnants Museum records the history and evil of the Vietnam War, including the use of a chemical weapon like Agent Orange, the effects of napalm bombing, and the brutalities of the conflict. 

Get into the museum to learn about the devastating effects of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange was a herbicide and defoliant used by the United States military as part of its chemical warfare strategy during the Vietnam War.

Through the vast collection of relative photographs, artifacts, and information, Visitors often leave a somber understanding of the lasting impact of war and the importance of promoting and treasuring peace and reconciliation.

War Remnants Museum

Top 9. Bui Vien Street is the Heaven of Nightlife in Saigon to Party until Early Morning

Located in District 1 (the central district) within walking distance of many popular Vietnam attractions, it’s a nice choice to tour the street after your daily time for the nearby attractions visit. Enjoy one of the best things to do in Saigon at night for optimal nightlife in Bui Vien Street to party until early morning.

Various activities are provided for your heavenly nightlife in Saigon. You can have a street food exploration to try some authentic Vietnamese food like Pho, Banh Mi, Goi Cuon, etc.

Find various vendors to taste Vietnamese drinks like traditional Vietnamese coffee of Ca Phe Trung, and specific tropical fruit smoothies. Cool down the city’s hot and humid while you are shopping for unique gifts there!

You may enjoy the lively atmosphere in the themed bars and nightclubs with live music, dancing, and entertainment.

Or you can choose to have a people-watching to observe the vibrant local life in Vietnam with a seat and engagement of a “Bia Hoi” experience on the roadside. The different experience of nightlife!

Top 10. Taste of Local Meaty & Juicy Vietnamese Baguette and Pho

If you ask “What is the famous food of Vietnam?” to find where and what to eat on Google. The Vietnamese baguette (Banh Mi) and Pho must occupy the list of the top 2.

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of clear broth, flat rice noodles, and tender slices of meat. The flavorful and aromatic dish is typically garnished with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, lime, and chili peppers.

There are two main types- Pho Bo (beef pho) and Pho Ga (chicken pho). You can enjoy your pho in the well-known Pho Hoa Pasteur and Pho Le.

Banh Mi is a delicious Vietnamese baguette or sandwich that has gained popularity worldwide. With the fusion of French and Vietnamese culinary influences, Banh Mi has mouthwatering flavors and textures.

Traditionally, the filling with various ingredients includes thinly sliced grilled or roasted meat, with vegetarian and vegan versions available. Layered with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint, and pickled vegetables like carrots Daikon Radish, and cucumber, you can be served with a zesty and crunchy taste. Shops such as Banh Mi Huynh Hoa and Banh Mi Thuy are recommended.

Or you can choose to go on your street food tour, you can find both delicious Pho and Banh Mi even anywhere with other top local snacks exploration.

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa

Top 11. Strike a Pose in Front of the Enchanting “Pink Church” like a Castle

Address: 289 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ward8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening Time:
Monday to Saturday: 5:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Sunday: 5:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Saigon owns a “Pink Church”- the Tan Dinh Church. Officially known as "Đức Bà Tân Định" or "Tân Định Parish Church", Tan Dinh Church is a beautiful and historic Catholic church located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 

The Romanesque and Gothic architecture completed in 1876, featured a distinct pink façade with intricate detailing and beautiful stained glass windows.

Step inside the church, and you can witness the full pink in almost any corner- you’ll see high ceilings with intricate arches, walls adorned with religious artwork, statues of saints, and colorful stained glass windows.

Tan Dinh Church has been a place of worship, solace, and celebration for generations of Catholics in Ho Chi Minh City. And such a romantic church with the color pink that may really make you feel like staying in Disney or Barbie World! Strike a pose and take a picture to record the wondrous castle-like “pink church” in Saigon!

The interior of Tan Dinh Church

Top 12. Take an Old-school Vespa Tour Cross around Ho Chi Minh’s Bustling Streets

To explore the city of Ho Chi Minh City, taking an old-school Vespa is a wonderful way.

This Vespa is the classic and iconic Vespa scooter. With the entertainment of freedom on an old-school Vespa, you can cross around Ho Chi Minh’s bustling streets easily and immersive feel the local daily life as a Vietnam resident.

With the tour guide about Ho Chi Minh City, you can visit the popular Ho Chi Minh’s bustling streets like the street in the article just mentioned- Bui Vien Street, and other streets like Dong Khoi Street.

Top 13. Spoil Yourself with a Traditional Medical Vietnamese Spa

Enjoying a traditional medical Vietnamese spa after a day or several days of traveling is a gorgeous thing!

The spa is dedicated to promoting wellness, balancing energies, and providing holistic healing experiences.

There are some common treatments you might meet- herbal medicine, acupuncture and acupressure, cupping therapy, moxibustion, Vietnamese massage, and medicinal baths and saunas.

Choose a reputable spa with experienced practitioners to ensure safe and effective treatments. Traditional Medical Vietnamese Spas shops such as Hoang Yen Spa in District 1 and Sen Spa in District 3 are recommended.

Traditional Medical Vietnamese Spa

Top 14. Crawl around One of the Underground Wonders in the Global- Cu Chi Tunnels

Address: 122 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Phu My Hung, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening Time: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive network of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War, is a famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh City and it’s one of the top 10 attractions to do in Vietnam.

The Cu Chi Tunnels were initially used by the Viet Cong, the communist guerrilla fighters, as a hiding place, communication route, supply route, and living quarters during the war. They were strategically designed to provide shelter and protection from bombings and ground attacks.

Explore the tunnels, you can gain insights into the harsh time and ingenious tactics of the Viet Cong. Crawl through narrow sections of the tunnels, experience the dark and cramped conditions firsthand, and see examples of the traps and obstacles.

So if you are interested in Vietnam War, never miss the Cu Chi Tunnels. And Indochina Tour recommends you take a Cu Chi Tunnels tour for around 5 to 6 hours.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Top 15. Get off the beaten path to take a sampan to the floating market in Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta is not far from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a brilliant choice to take a sampan to the floating market and floating village in Mekong Delta. 

In the early morning, you’ll get up to tour the well-known Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho with the company of bright sunrise shining on the sparkling water.

Having a relaxing tour in Can Tho and cruise through the floating market, you’ll see local vendors selling fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, and other goods from their boats. Communicate with friendly people and buy specific objects.

Apart from the floating market, there are a great many floating villages scattered throughout the Mekong Delta.

You can start a Mekong River Cruise and try a homestay in a floating market to experience the daily life on the water and engage in fishing with fishermen.

“Floating” in Mekong Delta is a really fantastic thing for visitors to adventure the featured culture!


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the must-see city in Vietnam for first-timers with sufficient cultural or natural landmarks, ancient or modern trails, etc.

After reading the 15 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, you must obtain what things to do in Saigon in 2023. And we IndochinaTour, a professional travel agency, is glad to plan your Vietnam tour with all your preferences and popular things. 

Moreover, with a Saigon travel guide, you can fully dive into a local experience like a local resident to leave an unforgettable memory of the city!

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