A Quick Guide to Ho Chi Minh

To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t know what to expect of this city. While I was planning on what to do and what to see in Ho Chi Minh, I was constantly a little overwhelmed by its sheer size! I was also a lot more worried about the “hectic” adjective a lot of travel bloggers liked to tack on as a descriptor, worrying I’d be in a concrete jungle lost in a sea of motorbikes, clinging to my purse in fear. However, I was totally wrong. While, yes, there is a certain craziness about HCM, it’s also got a ton of charm, probably best reflected in its architecture. In fact, most of the bigger sites can be found within District 1, which is very easy to do all by foot. If I had had more time, I would have loved to venture out to the other districts where a lot of the more traditional, pre-French Colonial structures are, but I really only had my feet to take me around and a full day for all of it. To make your list searching easier, I thought I’d outline some of the places to see.

WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM 

What to See in Ho Chi Minh | There She Goes Again

Technically in District 3, the War Remnants Musuem was the farthest place to walk to from Bui Ven. Give yourself enough time to wander through (unfortunately, we did not give ourselves enough time) because it’s a lot to take in, and it’s a more somber experience. It’s divided into different parts with a recommended order, and you can see the varying effects the war had on Vietnam. Of course, take it with a grain of salt because there’s never just one side to a war story, but it’s worth the experience. Just make sure you do your own research so you have a rounded understanding of both sides of the story (Crash Courses has a good video that lays down the basics). 15,000 VND Entrance, 7:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.| 28 Võ Văn Tần

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF SAIGON

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Built in the mid-1800s after France took over the city, it’s official name is Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception. Its bricks were imported from France, and it was considered the loveliest cathedral among the French colonies. It’s an excellent starting point to explore the area. Entrance is free, and it’s open 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. | Bến Nghé

SAIGON CENTRAL POST OFFICE

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Literally right next door to the Cathedral is the Post Office, built in the later 1800’s. It’s a mixture of French, Renaissance, and Gothic architecture. Inside is spacious and lovely, and it’s still functioning! Free entrance, open 6:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. | 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé

SAIGON OPERA HOUSE

What to See in Ho Chi Minh | There She Goes Again

A few blocks down and past the swanky hotels (Hyatt, Continental), you’ll find the Opera house nestled in the midst. This is also probably the fanciest part of Ho Chi Minh because it’s also where I stumbled across the big name brand stores. Built in at the turn of the twentieth century, its majestic style is similar to Le Petit Palais found in France. Entrance is free, opening hours vary. Your best bet to view is to go to the other side of the road and see it in full. It’s absolutely stunning in person. | 7 Lam Son Square

The Ho Chi Minh City Supreme People’s Court

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There’s not a lot of information out there on this building. According to this Google search, it’s in the beginning stages of restoration. It’s hard to not walk by at some point, and with its bright yellow and blue color scheme, you’re not going to miss it. | 131 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa

CITY HALL

city-hall

At the front end of Nguyen Hue street is HCMC’s City Hall (or known as the People’s Committee Hall). It’s a massive structure with a plaza in front of it for viewing. It’s an awesome meeting point, and it’s nice to hang out and eat some Banh Mi with friends. | Lê Thánh Tôn

NGUYEN HUE STREET

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This seems to be the main street of Ho Chi Minh City. I was there on Tet and it was flooded with people in their best outfits taking photos with the flowers. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Walk along the whole thing and enjoy the colors and cheerful crowds. Head up to 42 Nguyen Hue Street (an old looking building with a sketchy entrance) and find Saigon Oi, a delicious coffee shop, for a lovely view of the whole street! | Nguyễn Huệ

BITEXCO TOWER

What to See in Ho Chi Minh | There She Goes Again

This is the place to go if you want a landscape view of Ho Chi Minh! You can go to the observation deck on the 49th floor or go up to the 52nd floor and eat or grab a drink at EON 51. Observation Deck: 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (ticket sales end at 8:45 p.m.), 200,000 VND, EON 51 Menu, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. | Tòa nhà tài chính Bitexco, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé

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Words and Photographs by Samantha

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