Ho Chi Minh is one of the most evocative and popular tourist cities of the entire Vietnam. A visit here sparks the senses. Despite the clamor, the city is rich in dynamic and modern beauty, with attractions for every kind of traveler.
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City first opened to the public in 1975. Once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, it's a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War. Graphic photographs and American military equipment are on display. There's a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft. You can also see a conventional bomb that weighs at 6,800kg. American troops had used these weapons against the Vietnamese between 1945 and 1975.
Reunification Palace was the base of Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem until his death in 1963. It made its name in global history in 1975. A tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Today, it's a must-visit for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975. You can see two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. Reunification Palace was the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochin-China. It has lush gardens, secret rooms, antique furniture, and a command bunker. It's still in use to host important occasions in Ho Chi Minh, including APEC summits.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
The Ho Chi Minh City Museum in Saigon is always worthy of attention for many visitors. Of course, it was built to help visitors get a better understanding of the nation’s history of war from a local point of view as well as take a close glance at a real American fighter jet. In addition, the museum also brings you a great chance to spread your eyes over collections of cultural treasures, folk art and pre-historic artifacts.
Established in 1975, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Gia Long Palace, or Revolutionary Museum is a singularly amazing and exquisite building. It leaves tourists from one admiration to another by a lot of the archaeological artifacts from various war periods in Vietnam, ceramics, old maps of the city, as well as displays of traditional marriages of the ethnic minorities. But, it seems to be a pity to overlook the most outstanding items in the museum’s collection. These include two wooden river boats which were used in the 13th century. Moreover, the building is also beautified with a calm and beautiful garden that is a popular site for wedding photographs.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Here, you’ll find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much. The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day but all the same its well worth a look. When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish and meats. One of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
Mariamman Hindu Temple is a sacred Hindu Temple dedicated to the goddess of the Rain ‘Mariamman’. This temple was built in the late 19th century by traders coming from India and has been well preserved. This complex is the only Hindu temple in Saigon and is believed to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to its visitors.
The outer wall of the Temple has a collection of interesting statues of different gods and goddesses like Mariamman, Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesha. The main hall of the complex (The Rajagopuram) stands twelve metres tall and inside you find a well maintained statue of Mariamman flanked by her protectors ‘Maduraiveeran’ and ‘Pechiamman’.
Bui Vien Walking Street
Bui Vien Street is the main street of the so called ‘backpackers area’ of Ho Chi Minh City. Here you find a wide variety of inexpensive restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and hotels/hostels. While being seated at one of the places you can soak up the local lifestyle and culture. You can shop, dine and party on Bui Vien Street.
The total “backpackers area” consist of roughly four streets and some small interconnecting alleys. To have dinner here is very affordable and will cost you around VND 100-200.000 (US$ 4-8), for this amount you will have a decent meal including a drink. The options vary from Vietnamese, Indian, Italian to Chinese and Western.
Especially, on Bui Vien street you also find many bars that offer drinks with a view of the busy city life. Depending on the location you can have a beer for VND 10.000 to VND 80.000 (US$ 0.5-3). Besides this there are many souvenir shops that sell affordable gifts ranging from paintings, statues to clothing and bags. As this is the heart of the city centre it can easily be reached by foot or taxi and almost all locals in here speak English. It gets busiest from early evening, around 18:00, with the many bars and pubs popular until 02:00 or even later.