Location: 1,760km south of Ha Noi (1¾ hours by plane from Ha Noi, Singapore, 1 hour by plane from Bangkok, and 2¾ hours by plane from Hong Kong).

Introduction: Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is now Viet Nam’s most populous city and the economic powerhouse in Viet Nam. Saigon is the name of a fantastic river flowing through the city. This river gave birth to the Saigon – Cho Lon Port and the most buoyant riverside city in South East Asia as early as the 18th century.

Today Ho Chi Minh City, with a population of over 10 million, is the largest city in Viet Nam and one of the three biggest municipalities in the country (the others being Ha Noi and Hai Phong). The huge numbers of people and their obvious industriousness, street stalls and modern high-rise buildings create a dynamic urban area full of color and atmosphere.

Ho Chi Minh City is a focus of several unique and convenient travel lines with high class facilities and diverse tourist products, worthy of its reputation as a leading tourist center of the region and the whole country.

Highlights: landmark buildings (Notre Dame Cathedral, the City Hall, the Municipal Theatre, Reunification Palace, Town square, etc.), old pagodas (Thien Hau, Giac Lam, Ngoc Hoang etc.), traditional markets (Binh Tay, Ben Thanh, etc.), shopping centres, museums (History Museum, War Ramnants Museum, Fito Museum of Traditional Medicine), Cu Chi Tunnels, Skydeck’s Bitexco Tower, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve.

Facilities & services: an international and domestic airport, international standard hotels, exhibition halls, art galleries, conference centers, international banks, shopping areas, hopon-hopoff city-tour bus, stylish restaurants, theatres, nightclubs, bars, and cafes.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Built between 1877 and 1883, Notre Dame Cathedral is located right in the heart of the city. Its neo-Romanesque style and two 40-metre-high square steeples make it a central landmark. Visitors can attend mass held three times on weekdays and Saturdays and six times on Sundays. HCMC’s post office overlooks the square in front of the church.

Photo: Internet

City Hall

Standing at the end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard, the People’s Committee building is the city hall of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called the Hotel de Ville. In French style, the building is modeled on Paris’ own Hotel de Ville and was completed in 1908. Facing toward Saigon River, the building is notable for its ornate facade and elegant interior lit with crystal chandeliers. The small park in front has a memorial statue of Ho Chi Minh. Nowadays the building is used for the city administration in daily working and meeting occasions

Municipal theatre

Municipal theatre is in Dong Khoi Street just opposite Caravelle Hotel. It was built at the turn of the century and later renovated in the 1940s. The 3-story building has a seating capacity of 1800. It was built in French architectural style of which the materials were mainly transported from France. A group of French artists was in charge of interior decoration with patterns similar to those in France’s late 19th century opera houses. The theatre finished with spacious ventilation and state-of-the-art sound and light systems. In front of the theatre is a park where young people like to sit around. The theatre often offers different programs such as concert, drama, and ballet. The performance is typically at 8pm. It also has rooms for meetings, conferences, ceremonies, workshops, and other gatherings.

Independence Palace

One of the most fascinating sights in HCMC is Independence Palace” (Dinh Doc Lap). Considered as the power symbol of the “South Viet Nam” government, the building witnessed every historical events happening to the Saigon Government until “the Fall of Saigon” on April 30, 1975. In a short period, it was renamed as “Reunification Palace” to engrave the unforgettable victory of the resistance to unify the country. In addition to historic value, the Reunification Palace is famed for its architecture, which is unique in Viet Nam. Located in the heart of downtown Saigon, the building was built on a area of 12ha, surrounded by immense walls and high trees in its gardens, the palace’s main building is modern architecture of the 1960’s style.

Town Square

It is the most crowded roundabout in HCMC with such famous landmarks as the City Hall, the Municipal Theatre, the Continental Hotel, and the Rex Hotel. Dong Khoi Street, and Nguyen Hue Walking Street, where much of the city’s life takes place, such as a myriad of shops, stalls, and vendors selling all sorts of goods spread out on the sidewalks for browsing and bargaining.

Photo: Internet

Thien Hau Temple

Dating back to the early 19th century, the temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, who protects fishermen, sailors, merchants and other seafarers. Though there are guardians to either side of the entrance, it is said that the real protectors of the pagoda are the two land turtles living here. The temple’s interior courtyard with intricate ceramic friezes is worth seeing with beautiful ceramic figurines and antiques, commemorating the arrival of the first Chinese immigrants from Canton. On the 23rd day of the 3rd lunar month, the biggest ceremony is held in Thien Hau temple to her honour. People pray to her for happiness, prosperity, and solidarity.

Giac Lam Pagoda

Built in 1744, Giac Lam, the oldest pagoda in HCMC, reflects the architectural style of pagodas in southern Viet Nam. The pagoda impresses visitors with remarkable 98 carved wooden pillars, gilded descriptions in old Vietnamese characters, and 113 Buddha statues made from jackfruit wood. The Buddha statues of Giac Lam pagoda are famous for their fine sculpture. On the left of the pagoda’s main gate is a seven-story tower built in 1994 in which each level is reserved to worship a Buddha and the top level for the sacred relics of the Sakyamuni Buddha. Giac Lam pagoda is acknowledged as Nation Heritage.

Photo: Internet

Ngoc Hoang Pagoda

Built in 1909 by Cantonese and being one of the most colourful and beautiful pagodas in HCMC, Ngoc Hoang Pagoda boasts grotesque statues of phantasmal divinities and heroes representing different characters from Buddhist and Taoist philosophies. There is a set of about 100 statues made from cardboard that depicts a meeting of genies with the Jade Emperor. During his recent official visit to Viet Nam, US President Barack Obama visited this pagoda. 

Photo: Internet

Binh Tay Market

Built in 1928, Binh Tay Market is considered the biggest wholesale market in southern Viet Nam dealing in a wide variety of goods made by the Chinese community and products from the Mekong Delta. Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the market, to socialize themselves with the locals.

Ben Thanh Market

Built in 1914 and known to the French as the Halles Centrales, the market, last renovated in 1986, is located right in the heart of the city where everything can be found, from vegetables and fish to branded goods and local handicrafts. Here, you also 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. 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.

Photo: Internet

History Museum

In 1929 this museum was built within the boundaries of Zoological and Botanical Garden to serve as “Musee blandchard de la Bross” and later became the “National Museum of Viet Nam” with a collection of ancient art from several Asian countries. In 1975 the Museum was renamed “History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City”. The museum now displays an excellent collection of artifacts representing the evolution of Vietnamese people and featuring the characteristics of its culture. The artifacts are divided into 2 groups: the Viet Nam’s history from the first human vestiges (some 300,000 years ago) until the establishment of Vietnamese Communist Party (in 1930); and the second group is represented the cultures of the southern provinces such as the Oc Eo culture, the Cham art, the culture of Ben Nghe-Saigon area, the ethnic groups in Viet Nam, the collection of Buddha statues in Asia and an ancient ceramics from Asian countries.

War Remnants Museum

Established in September 1975, the museum was formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, then changed as the War Remnants Museum. The museum keeps things remained from the War such as tools of torture, photographs of atrocities committed during the 20th century and, in particular, the Viet Nam War. At the front yard of the museum there is a small collection of military hardware and, most interestingly, the mobile guillotine used by the French colonists to dispense justice throughout the country before World War II.

Photo: Internet

Fito Museum of Traditional Medicine

Opend in 2007, Fito Museum impresses with its striking sculptural interiors made of wood. There are 6 floors with a total of 18 rooms, covering an area of 600 sq.m. Firstly a documentary film introduces the overview of history of medicine in Viet Nam. Then the sightseeing starts from the upper floor, gradually going down to the lower floors. The museum has nearly 3,000 precious items, some of which are artifacts from the Neolithic period to the present day. Exhibits include tools used to prepare medicine, knives, mortars and pestles, documents and objects of a traditional pharmacy. A small shop with a variety of traditional medicines for common ailments is sold on the ground floor. It is truly a worth-visiting place for those who appreciate the uniqueness of Vietnamese traditional medicine.

Cu Chi tunnels

About 70km from downtown HCM city, Cu Chi used to be a bitter battle ground for many years during the Viet Nam War. Visitors should not miss this intricate network of over 200km of tunnels at Ben Duoc or Ben Dinh. The digging of the tunnels began in 1946 during the anti-French resistance and continued until the end of the Viet Nam War in 1975. Pleasant eye-catching sights on the way to Cu Chi are green rice paddies, peasants at work and children riding aimlessly on water buffaloes.

Photo: Internet

Skydeck’s Bitexco Tower

Opened in 2010, Bitexco Tower boasts Viet Nam’s one of tallest towers at the height of 262m. This building can be seen from many places in the city and has become a new icon of dynamic Saigon. Ride one of the fast lift to Skydeck at the 49th floor where visitors can admire 360-degree view of Saigon. It’s amazing to get definitely superb views of both the urban and rural parts of Saigon, the French architecture against the old Vietnamese buildings, as well as major landmarks, such as Ben Thanh Market, Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Independence Palace. The view is more marvelous at sunset with all lights shimmering.

Can Gio Biosphere Reserve

Recognized by UNESCO in 2000, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve is located in the coastal district, 60km southeast of the centre of HCMC. Formed by alluvium from estuaries of Dong Nai River, this brackish low-lying land covers an area of 75,740 hectares including creeks, marshes and waters strongly influenced by semi-diurnal tides (2 main cycles per day).

Regarded as the city’s “green lung”, the mangrove forest in Can Gio is home to the highest diversity of mangrove species, invertebrates, fish and shellfish species. This sensitive ecosystem is easily damaged by any very small impact. In the heart of the forest, it is worth visiting a historic site that recreates the life of aqua commandos with plaster figures, wooden houses on stilts, diagrams of major battles,etc.

In 2021, Can Gio has been approved by the authorities to become an urban centre of entertainment, tourism and commerce featuring a 2,870-hectare sea reclamation project. Luxury villas, apartments, golf course, marinas, themed parks, etc will be sprouted. A big sea dike construction to separate Ganh Rai Bay from the sea has been mentioned nowadays. These matters will cause negative effects on the sustainability of the mangrove environment that needs to be conserved here.