7 Things You Should not Miss while in Ho Chi Minh City
ABROADER November 10, 2022 6 minute read
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Wondering what you can do on a visit to Vietnam’s metropolis and sleepless city? Wonder no more, here are the top not-to-be-missed activities on a trip to Ho Chi Minh City – a hot, noisy, dynamic city that rarely sleeps, with a complex history and plenty of cultures to soak up. Combine this with the good-value prices of everything from lodgings to lunch. There’s never been a better time to explore this South Vietnamese gem. Here are 7 ways to make the most of a visit.
Hit the spa
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is awash with spas, offering the chance to relax and unwind far from the madding crowd while still being slap-bang in the city center. Unlike in most other developed countries, you can easily spend a day pampering yourself without breaking the bank.
Services offered by spas here in Ho Chi Minh City are varied, from beauty care to traditional massage therapy and beyond. Indulge yourself in a rare chance of a superior spa service at an affordable price or venture for a new experience of traditional massage therapy, all are in your hand.
Haggle over the price
One of the biggest and most touristy markets of Ho Chi Minh City is the Ben Thanh market. Head over there to grab cheap street food and pick up a range of souvenirs. There are all sorts of souvenirs, coffee, tea, clothing, kitchen utensils, and so on. They can make you dizzy just walking around the area. At night, the market turns into a vibrant, busy, and exciting place. It is filled with a diversity of street food choices from grilled seafood to Vietnamese soups to desserts.
However since Ben Thanh market is a tourist destination, you are sure to be charged prices higher than usual. Therefore you should make sure to bring your haggling game and skills to the table and negotiate heavily on price. Here’s our guide on how to successfully bargain in Vietnam.
Maybe you are already exhausted from the city’s hustle and bustle life. So how about heading to a more low-key and historical site?
An excursion to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels makes for an eye-opening tour. Used by the Vietnamese during the war with America, these immense networks of underground tunnels enabled whole villages to stay safe, plus meant Vietnamese guerrilla fighters could take the enemy by surprise.
Visitors can crawl their way through a 100m stretch of tunnel and watch their tour guide demonstrate with ghoulish pleasure the ingenious traps the Vietnamese used to kill or maim US soldiers. Costing from $20 for a half-day tour (8 am-2 pm or 1-7 pm), this trip includes return transfers plus entry to the tunnels.
Enjoy a show
Enter into a magical world of wooden puppets diving and splashing across a water stage at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre. This traditional form of Vietnamese entertainment includes narration and musical accompaniment from musicians and singers seated on either side of the stage. There are daily 50-minute performances at 5 pm and 6.30 pm with tickets costing 230,000VND (£8) at the door.
Another very unique and interesting show to go to in Ho Chi Minh City is the À Ố Show. The name ‘À Ố’ derives from ‘Làng Phố’, which means ‘village and city. The show depicts the charming beauty and cultural richness of Vietnamese life in the countryside, in contrast with the nation’s racing urbanization. The show combines bamboo cirque, acrobatic acts, contemporary dance, and theatrical visual art. The live music echoes Vietnamese Southern work songs. All in all, this beautiful blend of genres creates a unique stage language, which well captures the essence of Vietnam’s fascinating culture.
Start your day with a cup of coffee
If there’s one thing the Vietnamese have indisputably nailed, it’s coffee. You can pick up a Vietnamese coffee – white or black, hot or cold – in pretty much every HCMC restaurant or café.
Why is it so good? Vietnamese coffee is often stronger and more aromatic than your usual Starbucks coffee. And when served white, it’s made with condensed milk, creating a miracle drink that balances the strength of the drip filter coffee with a rich, sweet finish.
Learn about the city’s history
A visit to the War Remnants Museum is a sobering experience – but an important one. Containing exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War with the French colonialists, it features photographs, military vehicles, and various weapons.
It’s rare to see the horrors of war displayed so starkly. Graphic photographs depict the effects of the USA’s chemical weapons – Agent Orange, napalm, and phosphorus bombs. Entry costs 15,000VND (50p) and the museum is open daily from 7.30 am-6 pm.
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Experience a touch of Paris
Scattered around Ho Chi Minh City are architectural sites built or influenced by the French. Perhaps the most stand-out of the many traces left by French colonialists in the 1880s is the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, both a few feet away from each other.
Trying to recreate the feel of the cathedral of the same name in Paris, builders used French bricks and constructed a Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City. Have a gander any time from 5.30 am-5 pm daily. Visit the Central Post Office for Instagram-worthy pictures in front of the bright yellow building and go inside to discover a world of postcards, souvenirs, and paintings.
So that’s what you should not miss while in Ho Chi Minh City. And how to go to Ho Chi Minh City? Apply for our customized program right here:
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