Being designated as The Pearl of Far East, Saigon has long been the center of culture, economy, and politics of Vietnam. Traveling to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), tourists and travelers will be able to observe dozens of skyscrapers and many busy luxury malls. But it doesn’t mean Saigon lacks old but solemn villas and traditional markets which have existed for hundreds of years. Saigon also consists of many “specialties” such as sightseeing along rivers by motor-boat, shopping at Ben Thanh traditional market, enjoying the sunset on Can Gio beach, etc.
The modern city is shined by the dawn. Credit: _wi_ng_
Saigon has 2 distinct seasons: Rain season starts in May and lasts until November; Dry seasons occupies the rest of year. In the rain season, you really should bring your umbrellas or raincoats because Saigon is famous for sudden rains. And the rain could repeat immediately right after it stops, which is so unpredictable. In the dry season, Saigon is vitalized by warm sunshine. It is estimated that there are 270 hours of sunshine per month and the average temperature is 27 Celsius degrees. Sometime the tempo might reach 40 degrees but it is absolutely not too blazing comparing to the other places.
The most common vehicle in Saigon is motorbikes. Tourists can use motorbikes to move around and visit popular places as well as other public transport such as bicycles, taxi, and bus – the cheapest one. It only costs 5000 VND per one bus tour. However, there is one thing that tourists need to pay attention, is the rush hour. The density of vehicle is really dense during these hours and traffic jam may appear. Rush hours are usually 7 am – 8 am and 4 pm – 6 pm.
The famous places of Saigon
With a particular developing history, Saigon is a very wide city with the population of 8 million. In order to make sure you won’t get lost in this city, we recommend some remarkable points that you might want to visit first.
This area is located in the center of Saigon so that it is one of the busiest areas here. There are plenty of hotels and high-class restaurants around the riverside from which you can observe the river and enjoy the peaceful ambiance here. You can also take a trip along the river by a ship or motor-boat and trust me, you would never want to miss the sunset and a romantic dinner on the river, literally.
The Riverside and its amazing landscape. Credit: krullmaja
Nguyen Hue Street, District 1
This road stays in the center area. Along 2 walking sides of it, there are many hotels with good quality, high-class restaurants with plentiful menus that you’ll never run out of choices, etc. But existing with the modernity, Nguyen Hue street also contains many ancient features with old Western classic style. The nature around Nguyen Hue street is also wonderful with green trees and many types of flower and it will be especially fantastic during Tet holiday because flowers are displayed adequately within 7 – 10 days. For your information, if you follow the south-east direction of Nguyen Hue street, you will meet Ton Duc Thang street which is right next to the riverside.
Ben Thanh Market
This market was built in the 19th century. It has witnessed the whole history of Saigon with many incidents. The market construction has 4 gates, each gate leads to one direction and the main road to the center. Visiting Ben Thanh market, tourists will have many opportunities to observe and possess various kinds of souvenir, clothes and hand-made products.
Ben Thanh is a symbol that has represented Saigon for a long time. Credit: toranomei
Opening times: 7 am – 7 pm every day.
Address: Located in the middle of Phan Boi Chau street, Phan Chu Trinh street, Le Thanh Ton street and Quach Thi Trang square.
The Western Quarter
The western quarter includes Pham Ngu Lao street, De Tham street and some other streets nearby the center of district 1. This place was honor by the famous tourism magazine Lonely Planet and it has always been on the top of the recommended list when visiting Saigon. The structure of buildings is so ancient but solemn and noble. With the public traffic system of this place, it is very convenient to perceive the western quarter intimately.
The Chinese Quarter
This is the busiest commercial point of Saigon with countless valuable products of various stores and market such as Binh Tay market, Kim Bien market, Soai Kinh Lam cloths market, etc. As its name, Chinese people mostly live here and they participate in the development of this place. The most special aspect here is the gastronomy. All dishes here are the excellent combination of Chinese style and Vietnamese style and that makes the food here unique.
These are some remarkable places of Saigon. However, 300-year history has even created more special locations, and I’m sure that these particular places below can never be ignored.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
This construction is really eye-catching. Credit: littledudeworldtravels
Located on the main street of the city, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
of Saigon nowadays are becoming the symbol of Saigon. The structure of the Cathedral is famous for the outstanding western combination of Roman’s and Gothic’s. With 2 biggest couple of bell, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is the most important religious sanctuary of Saigon and the greatest pride of people here. Additionally, the landscape around the Cathedral is also spectacular for people who love nature and photography.
Address: 01st Paris commune street, Ben Nghe block, District 1.
Opening times for visiting: 8:30 am – 10 am in the morning and 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm in the afternoon. This routine is available from Monday to Friday.
Ritual times: 5:30 am in the morning and 5 pm in the afternoon, lasts from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday the rituals are organized at 5:30 am, 6:30 am 7:30 am, 9:30 am (for foreigners) 4 pm, 5 pm and 6:30 pm.
The Independent Palace
This construction was built based on many regulations of Feng-Shui with the eastern destination but it is very modern. Visiting here, tourists can observe many historical items as well as the shreds of evidence of historical development. The knowledge of Vietnamese old regime is also available and really useful for getting Vietnamese cultures.
Address: 135th Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe neighborhood, District 1.
Opening times: 7:30 am – 11 am in the morning and 1 pm – 4 pm in the afternoon. Available every day
Ticket price: Adult: 30,000 VND per person, 15,000 VND per college student and 3,000 VND per younger student. Group of 20 or more gets a discount of 30%.
Parking zones: Gate of Independent Palace or parking lot of Tao Dan park on Huyen Tran Cong Chua street.
Binh Tay Market (Big Market)
As mentioned above, Binh Tay Market lies inside the Chinese Quarter and its style has particular Chinese influence. This is the resource of providing cargo for other provinces around Vietnam. There are various kinds of items which are displayed here: Dried foods, Fresh foods, Drinks, Tobacco, Cloths, Footwears, Toys, etc.
Opening times: 7 am – 6 pm every day
Address: 57A Thap Muoi, Neighborhood 12, District 6
Can Gio is 50 km away from Saigon’s center. This place has both the forest and the beach so its beauty is really unique. The seafood gastronomy system here is also copious and the taste would never be confused with the other places’. Besides, there are many appealing visiting spots such as Vam Sac mangrove forest (where the biodiversity is totally different), the Monkeys Island, resorts and the beach, etc.
The mangrove ecosystem of Can Gio. Credit: demi_hougn
Transporting: You can catch the bus from Ben Thanh market to go to Nha Be. The bus stops right next to Binh Khanh ferry station. Use the ferry to get to Can Gio. Once you are in Can Gio, just use the bus and explore all corners of this heaven but don’t forget to ask around about the bus stops so you won’t miss any special spots.
You can also use motorbike if you want to explore on your own. From Nguyen Van Linh avenue, district 7, turn right, get to Huynh Tan Phat street and then you just need to go straight through this road until you see the Binh Khanh ferry station. The ferry carries not only people but also vehicles like motorbike so move yours into the ferry, wait until it stops and starts your own journey.
Suoi Tien Tourist Village
Located in the North-East Saigon, 19 km far away from the center city, Suoi Tien is an entertaining place which attracts many tourists in Saigon. This place also contains historical values and cultural features which are inspired by the lore of Vietnam, ancient heritage, and the living ideas of Eastern people.
Opening times: 8 am – 5:30 pm from Monday to Friday, 8 am – 6 pm from Saturday to Sunday and 6:30 am to 10 pm only available during the Tet holiday.
Entry price: 60,000 VND per adult, 30,000 VND per kid.
Games fee: 5,000 VND – 40,000 VND per turn, depends on each game.
Address: 120th Hanoi Avenue, Tan Phu neighborhood, District 9. Moving ways from Ben Thanh market: Bus number 19 or driving the motorbike through Thu Thiem tunnel and follow Hanoi Avenue until reaching the destination.
The National Museum of History (Vietnam Historical Museum)
This museum was built in 1929 with its first name was Blanchard de la Brosse Museum. Visiting the museum, tourists can observe and learn about thousands of historical things such as ancient agricultural tools, primitive weapons, etc. The museum even contains about 25.000 books and documents which can provide with endless knowledge about archaeology, history, and museology.
Opening times: 8 am – 11:30 am in the morning and 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm in the afternoon, available from Tuesday to Sunday
Entry price: 15,000 VND per person.
Address: 2nd Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe neighborhood, District 1 (Next to a zoo names Thao Cam Vien)
War Remnants Museum
Tourists may sincerely perceive many fierce wars in Vietnamese past, to see how miserable wars bring to humanity so that people know how precious piece is. There are many pieces of evidence like airplanes, canons, tanks, some execution tools, human cages of war prisons, etc. Besides, there are also rooms that display documents and pieces of evidence about specific wars such as The war in South-west border, Protecting campaign for the northern border and some recent issues like the sovereignty of Truong Sa, intrigues of Vietnam’s enemies, etc.
Many war instruments are displayed here. Credit: bhaschker
Opening times: 7:30 am to 12 pm in the morning and 1:30 pm to 5 pm in the afternoon every day.
Entry price: 15,000 VND per person.
Address: 28th Vo Van Tan Street, District 3.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels are 70 kilometers far away from city center in the North-west. This place was created in order to serve Cu Chi people’s strategy during 30 years fighting in many fierce wars. The whole incredible structure makes today generation really surprised and admired with hundreds of tunnels digging deep down the ground and their functions. Cu Chi tunnels were home of many people but they were also a maze for the enemy with thousands of deadly traps among the tunnels. The total length is about 200 kilometers and the whole tunnels were divided into two spots:
Ben Duoc tunnels: this place was the headquarter of Saigon – Gia Dinh. It is now preserved in Phu Hiep village, Phu My Hung commune, Cu Chi District. Transportation: Bus number 13, start from Ben Thanh market to Cu Chi station and then catch a bus number 79 from Cu Chi station to Ben Duoc.
Ben Dinh tunnels: This place was the headquarter of Cu Chi. It is now preserved in Ben Dinh village, Nhuan Duc commune, Cu Chi District. Transportation: First catch a bus number 4 from Ben Thanh market to An Suong station. Then use a bus number 122 from An Suong station to An Nhon Tay. It is the destination of Ben Dinh tunnels.
Who knows that under this small hole is an extremely complex tunnels system? Credit: little.wolff
- The total time of moving and visiting Cu Chi tunnels is about half of a day if you use a tour with guides.
- Entry price: 100,000 VND per person. There are free Vietnamese tea and free Vietnamese cassava.
- Other moving ways: Motorbike. Follow the lead for bus above. It is easy to ask people around if you miss the destination :D.
- Taxi: the way to the tunnels costs about 600,000 VND – 700,000 VND per one way. Tourists can use a tour to get a better price of taxi or coach.
- Tourists should bring sports shoes in order to move more easily through different terrains.
A Cruise along Saigon River
The river with charming curves and 37 kilometers length is one of the most romantic landscapes in Saigon. Take a trip along the river, tourists would see almost all particular aspects of Saigon living style. From the city to the modest countryside, from the civilized people to the wild nature. And it would be extremely wonderful if you see the sunset or have a peaceful delicious dinner when floating on the river. Besides having a cruise, tourist can also use rental canoes to explore this friendly ground and its nature.
The price for a trip along Saigon river is 80,000 VND per trip and above depends on the quality of the tour.
That was all about the appealing spots in Saigon that you would not want to miss when you visit here. Now is some details about Saigon’s Gastronomy. It has been formed and advanced for hundreds of years. With the advantage of people who come from many provinces around Vietnam, Saigon’s gastronomy is so diversified and plentiful but still keeps the particular style of Southern Vietnam. Oversea gastronomy especially Western recently also has some influences and that makes the food here unique with countless combinations. So what do tourists eat in Saigon?
Mam Hotpot (Lau Mam)
The best Mam (usually fish sauces, Vietnamese specialty) hotpot has to be in western provinces like Can Tho, Vinh Long, An Giang, to be honest. But it is completely possible to enjoy a Mam hotpot with a good appetite right in Saigon. The most important part of not only Mam hotpot but also all kinds of hot pot is the consommé (bouillon). It has to be made by the best nuoc mam and spices have to be added precisely and carefully. Mam hotpot in Saigon often has some additional vegetables so it is unique but still delicious.
Ordinary appearance, extraordinary taste. Credit: linalam1
Some famous addresses of Mam hotpot: Mam hotpot Nam Bo, 94AB Cao Thang street, Neighborhood 4, District 3. Price per a pot oscillates from 160,000 VND – 240,000 VND; Mam hotpot An la khen (eat then praise), 11th Ho Bieu Chanh street, Neighborhood 12, Phu Nhuan District. Price per a pot oscillates from 210,000 VND – 300,000 VND.
Like Mam hotpot, the most important part of bun (1 kind of Vietnamese fermenting noodle, unique) mam is consommé. It has not to be too sweet nor salty, not too spicy nor insipid. The taste of mam is also essential. Bun also needs to be settled carefully. Except for some fish slices, roast pork and seafood, a bold of bun mam is totally complete with some additional tastes of raw vegetables. Some restaurants even use tamarind for mam, which makes the taste so special and unforgettable.
Some famous addresses of Bun mam: Bun mam Huynh Lam (handed down from Bac Lieu ancestors), 37A Go Dau, Tan Phu District. Price for a bold is only 28,000 VND; Bun mam 444th – 369th Le Quang Dinh, Neighborhood 5, Binh Thach district, open from 9 am – 9 pm every day except only some special occasions of moon calendar, price for a bold is 35,000 VND; Bun mam 528th Phan Van Tri Street, Go Vap district, price per bold is 30,000 VND.
The origin of these kinds of noodle didn’t come from Saigon. However, it has become a particular feature recently. These dishes are very easy to eat and they are also very popular especially to the people who like the sweet taste of Hu Tieu’s consommé. Hu Tieu can be found in every corner around Saigon with the price is only 20,000 VND per bold.
Nam Vang noodle is not just tasty but also nutrient. Credit: khmerfoodie_md
Some famous Hu Tieu addresses: Hu Tieu restaurants along Mac Thi Buoi street (District 1); fish – chicken Hu Tieu restaurants, Ton That Dam street (District 1); Golden Hu Tieu restaurants, Hai Thuong Lan Ong street (District 5); Hu Tieu 46/102th Vo Van Tan street (District 3).
Trang Bang Girdle-cake (Banh trang Trang Bang)
Trang Bang girdle-cake was originated from Tay Ninh. It contains many kinds of ingredients and with some little changes, its taste can be wholly new. People usually use this dish with some meats such as boiled pork, boiled beef. Vegetables and nuoc mam are also unmissable while enjoying Trang Bang girdle-cake. The price of it is also cheap and reasonable.
Some famous addresses: you can try it in Hoang Ty stores – restaurants system, 74th Truong Quoc Dung, Phu Nhuan District; Trang Bang girdle-cake 411th – 413th Nguyen Tri Phuong, District 10.
Cu Chi beef (Bo To Cu Chi)
A soft and sweet slice of beef rolled with fresh vegetables and girdle-cake is one of the most special dishes in Saigon. Using with sour-sweet nuoc mam which is exquisitely made, Cu Chi beef has always been the first choices while enjoying Saigon gastronomy. Nowadays, there are many restaurants with Cu Chi beef on the menus, but none is comparable to the original one in Cu Chi District.
This dish can satisfy every sense of taste. Credit thanhbeo3010
Some famous address: Bo to Xuan Dao, on the right side of Cu Chi overpass, Cu Chi District; Bo to Hong Dao, on the left side of the 22nd main way.
Bun Bo Hue
This dish is a specialty from Hue, which is really popular not only in Vietnam but also overseas nations. The taste of Bun Bo Hue is particular thanks to Mam Ruoc (a type of nuoc mam but it is made from tiny shrimp instead of fish). Totally different with Mam tom), an additional spice of Hue people used on Bun Bo.
Its look is already irresistible. Credit: vivian.t.t.v
Tourists can easily enjoy this modest but wonderful dish in at everywhere around Saigon. The price per bold is only 20,000. Some famous address which might interest you: Bun bo Thanh Noi Hue, 47A Tran Cao Van, District 3 (near Turtle lake – Con Rua lake); Bun Dong Ba, 110A Nguyen Du, Ben Thanh neighborhood, District 1.
Elongatus Hot pot (Ca Keo Hot pot)
This hot pot has a type of sour taste that can never be confused with the other hot pots. This dish is used with many different vegetables so it is a great natural nutritious source. Ca Keo Hotpot perfumes a particular smell that can calm everyone’s mind.
Some famous addresses for Ca Keo hotpot: 4th Nguyen Thi Dieu, Neighborhood 6, District 3; hotpot restaurants along Su Thien Chieu street.
Nam Vang noodle (Hu Tieu Nam Vang)
Western Vietnamese Crepe (Banh Xeo Nam Bo)
Western Vietnamese crepe is a golden layer of crepe rolled with shrimps, pork, beansprout and some additional ingredients depending on the makers. This dish of western people is often used with eggs, sour – sweet nuoc mam and fresh vegetables right from the garden. In some restaurant, there are often mushrooms added to the crepe in order to diversify the taste of the dish.
Famous Addresses: 46A Dinh Cong Trang, District 1; Muong Xiem crepe, 190 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Neighborhood 6, District 3; An la nghien, 74 Suong Nguyet Anh, Ben Thanh neighborhood, District 1.
Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon)
The ingredients of Saigon spring rolls are never changeable: vegetables, bun, shrimp, pork and some layers of girdle-cake to wrap the ingredients. However, the main essential part is nuoc mam using with spring rolls. Saigon people often use black soy sauce added with some peanuts. Spring rolls are a modest street food, it is very common. Nevertheless, CNN has rated spring roll as one of 50 best dishes around the world. The price per one is incredibly cheap: only 3,000 VND and it is sold all over street sides of Saigon.
Popular addresses: Street sides of Le Van Tam park, bigC supermarket, Coopmart supermarket, etc.
It is a common name because there are various seafood dishes. Enjoying them with friends and family is also a way to discover the natural underwater world where there are countless edible species with thousands of cooking way. The spices using with these dishes are plentiful as well such as garlic, pepper, onion, butter, cheese and different vegetables.
Some popular addresses:
- Oc Dao 2 – 132nd Nguyen Thai Hoc, District 1
- Quang Anh shellfish restaurant, 189th To Hien Thanh, Ward 3, District 10
- Oc so 9, 23rd Nguyen Van Giai, Da Kao Neighborhood, District 1;
- Ms. Hong’s Shellfish (Oc co Hong), Alley 177 on road 3/2, District 10
- Viet Shellfish, 237/50th Tran Van Dang, Ward 11, District 3.
Che dishes (Sweet Soup)
Western Che dishes are plentiful. The ingredients are often natural vegetables, fruits, and jelly. It could warm the whole body during the cold seasons with hot Che dishes. It could also relieve the heat of the sun with cold Che dishes. In summary, whatever type of Che it is, all of them are worth trying.
Che Thap Cam – The legend of all Che dishes in Vietnam – which should be tried first. Credit: chedesserts
Some famous Che places: Che Ky Dong, 153/7th Ky Dong, neighborhood 9, District 3; Ha Ki che, 140th Chau Van Liem, District 5; Che Nam Bo, 16/1A Dinh Tien Hoang, Ka Dao neighborhood, District 1.
That was some about Saigon gastronomy. Now let us introduce to you about the night activities. Your trip to Saigon would be so much more fantastic with wandering during the night and enjoying some interesting activities here.
The bar is one of the most popular entertaining places in Saigon. Some famous bars in Saigon are Sahara Bar, 227th Pham Ngu Lao street, District 1; Go2 Ba, 187th De Tham, District 1; Vasco Bar, 16D Cao Ba Quat; Saigon Saigon Bar, 19th Lam Son.
In Saigon, there are many crowded markets and busy malls. Products here are so diversified, from the modest one to luxury one, etc. They all are available in Saigon. So except some markets that we have introduced above, there is some more shopping place that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Saigon Square 1 and 2; Taka Plaza
These are the most popular malls, especially for women. Their strong points are quality clothes, authorized sneakers, luxury bags, and even something modest. Saigon square and Taka plaza are often very busy, especially during the weekends. Surely you will find more than one stuff that interests you. Here are the addresses of these 3 places: Saigon Square 1, Nam Ki Khoi Nghia crossroad, Le Loi (near Hoang Thanh restaurant), District 1; Saigon Square 2, 7th – 9th Ton Duc Thang Street, Ben Nghe neighborhood, District 1; Taka plaza, 102th Nam Ki Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe neighborhood, District 1.
Saigon Square 1 is usually slightly busy. Credit: joobeob
- Useful tips:
- People in Saigon are friendly and enthusiastic, you can ask for their help almost every category, especially about the price while shopping.
- Don’t mind paying while shopping, of course.
- You should not forget your cell phone, specifically google map 😀
Nowadays, photography is becoming more and more important. It is like a kind of food for human’s spiritual and material life. Here are some beautiful ideal spots for taking selfies, natural photos or art photos.
Best places to take photos
Nguyen Hue Waking Street
This is not just an ideal place for chatting and walking, it is also an endless inspiration for the desires of art. Surfing facebook of Saigon’s teenagers, you’ll see countless incredibly beautiful photos which the teenagers have taken around Nguyen Hue walking street. And I am certain those pictures will surprise you.
30th/4 Park & City Post Office
30th/4 park is one of the best choices for photos because of its location in the city center. Space is wide with many fantastic spots, the ancient brick walls of the church nearby, etc. There are also many cafeterias which are so suitable for selfies, especially during the weekends, there are often doves around this place and they are really friendly and approachable. Beside the park is the post office with the old structure of 20th century, also is a popular spot for photography devotees.
The City Post Office is such an ideal place for photography. Credit: paxieness
The view and the landscape here is so spectacular and amazing and it has inspired not only music videos but even some famous tv series and movies. The background of Mong bridge is Bitexco skyscraper – the symbol of the city.
Anh Sao bridge & Phu My Hung area
Anh Sap bridge stays across Ban Nguyet lake, the structure of the bridge makes it look really solemn. Moreover, the bridge forbids all vehicles so it is really convenient for taking photos without any concern about accidents 😀 The landscape is so romantic and poetic, it would perfectly suit the couples. Buildings around are all the western style, not to mention the plentiful nature around the bridge.
Anh Sao bridge – a paradise for photographers. Credit: bich.kat8x
Phu My Hung area is also a good choice for photography devotees with lines of trees along the wide road. The grass carpet plus radiant flowers have been making countless great albums.
Stone Lake (Da Lake)
Stone lake which is located in Thu Duc district is one of the most famous lakes in Vietnam that every Saigon person knows about it. The landscape here is so natural and wild with many imposing stone cliffs. It would be a perfect place and all pictures which are taken here will be beautiful in every aspect of the lake. Not the mention the blue pure water of the lake. Such an ideal spot.
Station 3A is an area of District 1, inside 3A alley, Ton Duc Thang street. This is a combined system of studios, restaurants, cafeterias, etc. And the most remarkable thing here is the graffiti art on all over the walls here. We’re certain you will get most stylish photos while being in Station 3A area.
Be creative with creative arts at this station. Credit: summer.sangria
Those above were all the guides we have for you but they are not all about Saigon. The rest are lying on your hands. Explore and experience them. Have a good day!