20+ awesome free things to do in ho chi minh city, vietnam


I used lớn live in Saigon for two years & this city always fascinates me for many reasons. Founded in 1698, Saigon or Hochiminh city is the largest thành phố in Vietnam. There are two main seasons in Saigon: wet season (from May to lớn November) và dry season (from December to April). The average temperature is 27°C and the hottest can reach 40°C but this is not too often.

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Public transportation in Saigon

You can either go by bus, taxi or motorbike taxi. Bus is the cheapest transportation, which costs 5,000 VND per trip. The taxi rates depend on different companies, the average rate is between 13,000 VND khổng lồ 17,000 VND per KM và 9,000 VND khổng lồ 11,000 VND for commencement rate (the first 0.7 KM).

The motorbike xe taxi (or “Xe Ôm” in Vietnamese) costs dependently on the distance. Where do you find these motorbike taxis? Usually if you see a guy sitting around the intersection corners with 2 helmets hanging on his motorbike, that’s him! Make sure you tell him exactly where you want khổng lồ go, ask him the price and negotiate for a better deal.

The currency in Vietnam is Vietnamese Dong or Đồng. The conversion rate varies daily and you have to check this to lớn make sure you get the best rate for your money. Khổng lồ keep it simple, 1 USD is approximately 22,000 VND at this time (Jan 2017).

Top Tourist Attractions and Things To do in Saigon

#1. Saigon Central Post Office (Bưu điện trung trung khu Sài Gòn)

Saigon Central Post Office, constructed between 1886-1891 and designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, as well as Gustave Eiffel (the French civil engineer who was best known for Eiffel Tower), is a post office in the downtown Ho chi Minh City, near Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, the city’s cathedral. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century.


Saigon Central Post Office | Image source: Pixabay


A closer look (2015 new look)


View from the inside

#2. Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica (Nhà cúng Đức Bà)

Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet). It’s very close lớn the Central Post Office that you can see it from here.


Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica (Nhà cúng Đức Bà) | Image source: giothanhle.com

Here are some more pictures taken by my iPhone.


View of Notre-Dame Basilica from Nguyen Du st


You can see many young couples take photos around this place.


This is me standing next khổng lồ the pedestrian crossing.


#3. Independence Palace or Reunification Palace ( Dinh Độc Lập)

Independence palace was the home and workplace of the President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This is within short walking distance from the two places above. The construction was begun in 1962 và completed in 1966.

The Independence Palace is a unique architectural work by Architect Ngo Viet Thu. The structure of this building reflects many key conceptual themes and principles of Eastern philosophy as well as the harmonious combination of the Eastern & Western styles.


Dinh Độc Lập


Independence Palace| View from inside lớn the front gate

#4. War Remnants Museum (Bảo tàng triệu chứng tích Chiến tranh)

The War Museum primarily contains exhibits relating to lớn the Vietnam War, but also includes many exhibits relating khổng lồ the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists such as photographs, weapons & other objects. To lớn many people, this is an interesting but also very sad place khổng lồ visit.


War Remnants Museum | Image Source: Flickr

#5. Museum of Vietnamese History (Bảo tàng lịch sử Việt Nam)

Formerly known as the Musée Blanchard de la Brosse, built by Auguste Delaval in 1926, and The National Museum of Viet phái mạnh in không đúng Gon, it received its current name in 1979. It is a museum showcasing Vietnam’s history with exhibits from all periods. It should not be confused with the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi. This museum is located right next khổng lồ the Saigon Zoo so it’s a great idea lớn visit both places in one trip.

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Museum of Vietnamese History | Image source: Ivivu.com

#6. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens (Thảo cố kỉnh Viên sài Gòn)

Established in 1865 and located next to The National Museum of Viet nam giới in không nên Gon, The Saigon Zoo và Botanical Garden is Vietnam’s largest zoo & botanical garden. This zoo is the trang chủ to over a hundred species of mammals, reptiles and birds, as well as many rare orchids và ornamental plants.


Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens Front Gate

#7. Cu bỏ ra tunnels ( Địa Đạo Củ Chi)

The tunnels of Củ bỏ ra are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ chi district of Ho chi Minh City(Saigon). Cu đưa ra is about 40 km northwest of Saigon. The Cu bỏ ra Tunnels are an elaborate underground community made up of 250 km of tunnels và chambers below the city which was being used during the Vietnam – USA war.

You can get there either by taxi or bus. For buses, you need lớn catch bus number 13 at Bến Thành Station (near Bến Thành Market) khổng lồ Cu đưa ra station, then catch bus number 79 at Cu chi station lớn Bến Dược.

#8. Ben Thanh Market (Chợ Bến Thành)

Ben Thanh market is a big marketplace in the downtown area of Saigon. The market is considered one of symbols of this city. Many things are avalable for sale such as local handicrafts, souvenirs, clothes, bags, as well as local cuisine. The best way to lớn get to lớn this market is khổng lồ ask people on the street. Almost everyone knows where it is.

I’ve been khổng lồ this market many times. It’s a good place to lớn walk around và look at things. But if you want lớn buy something, make sure to bargain because usually you can get 50% off the asking price. I learnt this from my personal experience, the hard way.


Ben Thanh Market | Image source: Flickr


Ben Thanh Market | Inside view | Image source: Flickr

Address: On Lê Lợi st, near the big roundabout intersection of Lê Lợi st, Lê Lai st, trần Hưng Đạo st, Hàm Nghi st, công trường Quách Thị Trang st, Bến Thành ward, District 1, Hochiminh city.Open hours: It’s best to visit during working hours.Entrance price: Free

#9. Dam Sen Water Park ( công viên Nước Đầm Sen)

Dam Sen Water Park is part of the larger Dam Sen Park complex. With more than 30 water games, this water park is an ideal place to lớn go have fun and enjoy the water in a hot day. Dam Sen in Vietnamese means Lotus Lake.

When visiting Dam Sen Water Park, I suggest you to visit Dam Sen Cultural Park (Công viên văn hóa truyền thống Đầm Sen) too, which is right next to lớn the water park. This cultural park is an amusement park which has an area of 50 hectares, of which 20% comprises lakes và 60% trees & gardens.


Dam Sen Cultural Park | View from Lotus Lake | Image source: vnanet.vn

#10. Phu My Hung and Starlight Bridge

Phu My Hung is considered to be a rich area of Saigon. Located in District 7 and only 6km south from Saigon downtown, this area will make you feel completely different from other parts of Saigon. Buildings và things around are more organised. There is less traffic, more quite và you will feel like that you just get out of Vietnam and wander in some Western country city.

Along with Phu My Hung shopping and restaurants areas, there is Starlight Bridge (Cầu Ánh Sao). This bridge spans across the lake with a waterfall cascading down, illuminated by rainbow color flashing lights lượt thích in the picture below. The flashing light is not on every night. When I was there with a friend, they didn’t turn it on so it was very dark. In a normal night, you will find many young couples on a date on this bridge và it’s said to be one of the most lãng mạn places for dating in Saigon.

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Starlight Bridge | Image source: 10s.vn

Things lớn Keep In Mind Before You Go

Saigon is a busy city. As any other busy cities in the world there’s always the dark side. Just make sure you watch the traffic when crossing the roads, keep your belongings safe, be aware of pocket stealers & don’t go to places that you’re not sure by yourself at night, especially if you’re a woman. Some of the tourist attractions above might close between 12pm -1pm for lunch break so it’s better khổng lồ visit before or after this period. Most people you meet in Saigon are very helpful and friendly.

Here are some numbers you need to keep handy:

• Firefighters: 114

• Police: 113

• Ambulance: 115

It’s always good lớn carry around a dictionary if you don’t speak Vietnamese và say hi to lớn me if you see me on the street. Have fun travelling!