24 Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh : First Timer’s Guide To Sight-seeing

Created by Colleen Sims | Updated : 2 April 2024 |

Ho Chi Minh is a modern vibrant city. We had a week and we absolutely loved our time here!  It’s a big city and there are a lot of things to see and do but we still managed to cover a lot of ground without getting too exhausted.

If you’re planning a visit to Ho Chi Minh for the first time then read on because we’ll share what we learned, what we loved and what places you shouldn’t miss.

Walking street at night in Ho Chi Minh with huge colourful dragon decorations for Tet

Table of Contents

Where To Start Exploring In Ho Chi Minh City?

Ho Chi Minh was a wonderful surprise.  We’d arrived from 3 months in India and expected a city much like Phnom Penh but instead if felt like Singapore or Kuala Lumpa.

We do recommend that first timers find accommodation in District One. Most of the iconic sights are in this part of town and it makes it easier to get around.

Top Tip : Download the ride-hailing app Grab to get around the city easily and efficiently.  The cars are neat and tidy and clean and offer excellent value for money.  We’ve used GRAB across Asia and always been happy with the service

Below we’ve listed all of the places that we really felt warranted a visit. You don’t need to visit them all and you can cherry pick your favourites from the list.

And if you’re wondering where to start exploring then we strongly recommend a GuruWalk city walking tour.  We learned so much from our guide.  He made many recommendations for where to visit (and where not) and a few great restaurant recommendations too.

If a walking tour isn’t your thing there is a hop-on-hop-off bus but many of the main attractions are in District One and this is a very walkable part of the city; but the reviews for the bus are great and you get a boat trip!

★★★★★

WALKING TOUR OF hO CHI mINH

  • We LOVE a Guruwalk! A great introduction to the city!
  • Excellent English speaking guides
  • Visit some of the iconic spots of downtown Saigon
Ho Chi Minh workers statue; you'll discover many pretty corners like this as you walk around the city

What Should You Not Miss in Ho Chi Minh?

If you only have a few days in Ho Chi Minh then there are a some places that we felt really showcased the city. Whatever your preferences or itinerary we suggest that you include at least a few of following :

  • Ben Than Market
  • Ben Nghe Street Food Market (we LOVED this night food tour)
  • Ho Chi Minh Square
  • Saigon Opera House (try to get tickets for the A O Bamboo Theatre)
  • Tao Dan Park
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Nguyen Hue Walking Street (We loved this at night)
  • Cau Ba Son Bridge at Night

How Can I Spend One Day in Ho Chi Minh City?

If you can only spare one day in the Ho Chi Minh then it is still really worth a visit.  Many of the iconic sites are close together in District One making it easy to see a great deal in 24 hours.    

Take a look at our One Day in Ho Chi Minh post for a sample itinerary.  Even with just one day, you won’t regret visiting.

Saigon waterfront area at night with traffic and sky-scrapper buildings lit up

24 Fabulous Things to Do In Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh is a capital city with a rich history with plenty to keep a visitor occupied.  Most folks will not be able to visit all of the places on our list, so have a read and decide which most interests you.

There are many more temples that the ones we listed but having spent 3 months in India and Sri Lanka we felt that we’d seen a lot of temples and were looking for something a little different.

1. Ba Thien Hau Temple

If you plan to head to Chinatown then do add this temple to you list of things to see whilst there. You’ll find it in the heart of Cho Lon on Nguyen Trai Street.  The temple was built by the Cantonese community and is dedicated to Thien Hau, the Chinese sea goddess.

The temple is often bustling with worshippers and visitors, especially during important festivals such as the Lunar New Year (Tet).  But don’t let that put you off from visiting; it’s a glorious little space.

2. Ben Nghe Street Food Market

This lively market is a paradise for foodies who like to try some local offerings (aka Gerry).  Visit to sample delicious yet affordable Vietnamese street food from one of the countless vendors within the market.

We felt this place is best visited at night and even more so with a guide!  It’s a great place to experience the local culinary scene and we felt it was a cross between Hawkers Stalls in Singapore and the Timeout Food Market in Lisbon.

dried seafood and prawns at the Ho Chi Minh market

3. Ben Thanh Market

A bustling market in central Ho Chi Minh City, and the perfect place for souvenirs, clothing, and local snacks.  You’ll probably walk by this building a number of times as you explore Ho Chi Minh.  It’s open day and night but at night the stalls spill out into the surrounding streets, rather than the main building.

  • Day Market : 6:00am to 6:00pm (stall holders start closing down around 5:00pm)
  • Night Market : 6:00pm to Midnight

This is a large market that reminded us very much of the Russian Market in Phnom Penh.  Do be prepared to bargain if you wish to buy.  It’s worth a visit even if you’re not shopping to soak up the local atmosphere.

4. Binh Tay Market

This market is outside District One in the heart of Chinatown; you’d only visit if you were making a trip out to Chinatown.  It’s known for its focus on Chinese and traditional medicinal goods as well as fresh produce, flowers and household items.

If you’re looking for a more authentic experience than the Ben Thanh Market, take a journey here as there are far fewer tourists.

5. Bitexco Financial Tower (Saigon Skydeck)

One of the tallest skyscrapers in Ho Chi Minh City, the Skydeck offers 360-degree views of the city. This iconic skyscraper even has its own helipad, which our walking tour guide told us was designed to represent a lotus flower opening.

You can purchase tickets online in advance to enjoy panoramic views of the city and there is also a cafe and bar at the top too.   

We had planned to book tickets but were advised to visit Cao Ba Son Bridge instead; we did and we loved and it was free but if you want the best view of the city then head to the Skydeck.

bitexco tower and skydeck in ho chi minh city

6. Book Street (Nguyen Van Binh Street)

Located in the heart of District 1, Book Street is a charming little quarter offering the perfect place to browse books and relax.

Not surprisingly, the street is lined with book stores and coffee shops so even if you’re not buying you can still order a coffee, find a corner to lose yourself with your literary favourite; it’s also a great place to watch the world go by.

7. Bui Vien Walking Street (and Pham Ngu Lao)

This is the area to head for if you’re looking for vibrant city nightlife.  It’s a very popular area for backpackers and has a large number of low-cost hotels and hostels, whilst still being in District One.

The street is lined with bars, restaurants and shops and at night there are street food vendors too.  It does get busy at night, it is a popular walking street for tourists

Top Tip : As you can imagine Bui Vien Street can get crowded and loud, especially late into the night and you should be vigilant for pick-pockets.

8. Cau Ba Son Bridge

During our walking tour, our guide recommended that we walk along the river and across the Cau Ba Son Bridge for the best free views of the city at night. 

The walk along the river from Nguyen Hue Walking Street is wonderful and busy at night and the views from the bridge are fabulous!  Well worth an evening stroll!

On the way back we stopped for a night cap and watched the evening cruises sail up and down the river.

Top Tip : We planned to walk across on one side of the road/bridge and then return on the other.  But the road doesn’t allow you to cross and we had to walk a fair distance before we could make it to the other side.  On reflection I’m not sure crossing over and the long walk was worth the effort.

Gerry looking out at Ho Chi Minh from Cau Ba Son Bridge

9. Cho Lon, Chinatown

This bustling district is home the City’s vibrant Chinese community, offering temples, markets and of course Chinese cuisine.    Take a GRAB out from the city centre and go explore the bustling streets and rich heritage of Ho Chi Minh City’s own Chinatown.

Dating back centuries to when Chinese traders settled here, Chinatown is definitely worth an hour or two of your time and has such a different vibe to District One.   

10. Cruising the Saigon River

This is a wonderfully relaxing way to see the city from a different perspective.  There are options for daytime or evening cruises available.

One of the least expensive ways to see the skyline from the river is to take one of the regular passenger ferries.  Hop off at a stop, explore a little and then take the return ferry back to Downtown.  Do make sure you check the schedule before jumping off!

11. Fito Museum

We like museums and galleries and if you have time, the Fito Museum is interesting; it’s also known as the Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine. Built in 1995, the museum is spread over four floors and incorporates reclaimed wood from old Vietnamese houses, creating a rather unique architectural experience too.

The museum showcases the history and practices of Vietnamese medicine and whilst it has many interesting exhibits you should note that it does cater more for a Vietnamese audience. 

12. Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

For generations, in rural Vietnam, villagers performed this art form during the rainy season.  Waist deep in water they brought legends and ancient stories to life. 

Water puppetry theatres exist across the country; we saw a very similar show in Hanoi.  If you’ve not been before then it’s worth an hour of your time to enjoy this charming traditional Golden Dragon Puppet show.

13.  Ho Chi Minh Square

There are several squares in Ho Chi Minh City, but maybe the most notable is at the start of Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

This square is an open space in the centre of District one with an impressive statue of Ho Chi Minh at it’s heart.  This is a busy area close to shopping malls and business centres, but the little park offers a quite corner to pause and watch the world pass by.

statue of Ho Chi Minh in the Ho Chi Minh square in downtown saigon

14.  Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most revered Buddhist temples in Ho Chi Minh City and dedicated to the Jade Emperor.  According to Vietnamese folklore, he was believed to have been the ruler of heaven and earth.

Constructed in 1909 by the city’s Cantonese community, the temple’s architecture reflects a blend of Chinese and Vietnamese influences.  This is a significant site for both Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists, seeking blessings for health, prosperity, and good fortune.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is an historical landmark that is often overlooked by many visitors making it a great place to visit if you are seeking one of the cities hidden gems.   

15.  Museum Of Fine Arts

Again we love a good Museum and this one houses a collection of Vietnamese and International art from the 17th century to the present day. It’s a great place to learn more about Vietnamese culture and artistic traditions.

It showcases art through various mediums including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. 

16.  Museum of Vietnamese History

The Museum of Vietnamese History is one of the most prominent museums in Vietnam dedicated to preserving and showcasing the country’s rich history.  Established in 1929 it occupies a colonial-era building that was once the residence of a French family.

The collections span from prehistoric times to the modern era and features a diverse range of artifacts, artworks, and archaeological findings.

This is a great place to visit for longer stays in Ho Chi Minh, and also offers educational programs, guided tours, and special events for visitors of all ages.

17. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Every visitor must take a stroll down Nguyen Hue Walking Street; we felt this was best explored at night when the area is awash with colour and noise and music and people.

This incredibly vibrant pedestrian promenade can be found in the heart of Ho Chi Minh’s District one and is popular with both locals and tourists alike.  At one end you’ll find Ho Chi Minh City Hall and at the other the Saigon River.

We were here during Tet and a brightly coloured dragon almost filled the middle of the entire street! Wandering down to the waterfront was one of our favourite night time activities, there was always something new to see and so many restaurants and cafés to choose from.

Top Tip : As with any busy city centre area be aware of your belongings and pick-pocketing is not unheard of.

the start of walking street at night ; one of our favourite things to do in Ho Chi Minh at night

18. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

This beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral was sadly closed for major renovation when we visited, even the façade was covered in scaffold. 

Our guide explained that the Cathedral is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City and a large percentage of the population are Catholic.  The building is a fine example of French colonial architecture with twin bell towers and stained glass windows, and in some ways looks out of place with its surroundings.

With its dominant position in the heart of Downtown Saigon it is worth paying a visit; especially as it’s opposite Saigon Post Office.

19. Opera House of Saigon (A O Bamboo Theatre)

The Saigon Opera House is another beautiful French colonial building that is still very much in use today. We visited the building during our walking tour and watched many couples pose for wedding photos in front of the glorious façade (very popular with locals). 

We returned for a second visit to see the famous A O Bamboo Theatre Show; performed nightly in the theatre (and well worth a ticket). Whilst most popular for the A O show, the Opera House hosts a variety of cultural performances, ballet and other musical events.  Check the Opera House timetable for upcoming events

20. People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City

The imposing headquarters of the Ho Chi Minh City government has a very distinctive facade. This isn’t really a tourist attraction and is not open to the public but is an interesting landmark to see from the outside. 

The People’s Committee is responsible for governing and managing the affairs of Vietnam’s largest city; the city council if you like.

We first walked here enroute to our Walking Tour.  It was early in the morning and we felt we could have been walking through any French city.  One side of the street is lined by this imposing building and the other, lined with expensive exclusive shops.  It’s a glorious neighbourhood to meander through.

Early morning walking beside the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City

21. Reunification Palace / Independence Palace

Formerly the residence of the South Vietnamese president, this palace is now more of a living museum. Now called the Reunification Palace, this historic building played a significant role in Vietnam’s modern history and was the site of the famous scene as Viet Cong tanks rolled into the gardens during the fall of Saigon from the US.

Whilst not strictly a museum, you can tour the opulent rooms and see remnants of the war.  There is also a rather nice café in the grounds if you’re in need of refreshments.

22.  Saigon Central Post Office

Another historic French colonial building in the heart of the city, designed by Alfred Foulhoux, although very often incorrectly credited as the work of Gustave Eiffel.

This now famous building is still a functioning post office and known for its intricate architecture and colourful red mailboxes.  It’s a great spot for sending postcards home and we also loved the clocks and maps that line the entrance.

Again we visited during our walking tour (you can see why it’s excellent value for money) and our guide told us a wonderful story of a young boy who started working here in 1948 and became the longest serving employee.  He eventually worked as a translator and letter writer long after his official retirement. 

COVID forced him to stay at home where he remained at home with his family until he died at 93 a year ago.  Apparently, he was a much loved resident and known affectionately as Uncle by locals.

maps and clocks line the walls in the old Saigon Central Post Office

23. Toa Dan Park

Toa Dan Park is a glorious 10 hectare green space in the heart of the city.  It’s a popular spot in the early morning as locals gather for exercise and it is also a wonderful space to explore.

I love city parks, I love the feeling of space in the city and this park is glorious.  When we visited the paths were lined with row upon row of yellow and red flowers and ribbons for Tet.  Just Fabulous.

This is a popular park for locals and it feels lush, cool and shady with specimen trees, walking paths, and lots of spaces for relaxation and recreation.  It’s tranquil and perfect for a relaxing stroll, picnic on a bench or just a spot of people watching.

24. War Remnants Museum

You cannot visit Vietnam or Saigon without finding some reference to War; both Independence from the French and the subsequent war with the US.

This sobering museum documents both Vietnam Wars through photographs, artifacts, and exhibits,  and offering insight into the country’s turbulent history.  It’s simple but extremely effective with displays showing the horrors or war.

Just as we did in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, it’s impossible not to be moved and upset by the awfulness of what man can do to their fellow man.  But, if you wish to understand modern Vietnam you should visit this museum.

Where to Avoid : Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, is the largest of the kind in Vietnam. Established in 1864, it’s one of the oldest continuously operating zoos in the world and is home to over 125 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds.

The botanical gardens have a wide variety of plants and trees, including many rare and exotic species. There are also bonsai gardens, orchid gardens, and lakes.  However, you cannot visit the gardens without visiting the Zoo.  And the Zoo does not have the best reputation.

It is important to note that the Saigon Zoo has been strongly criticized by some animal rights groups for the conditions of the animal enclosures. If you are planning to visit, it is important to be aware of those concerns.  I would also recommend that you read some of the reviews which also collaborate these concerns.

We decided not to visit; there is so much else to see and do it wasn’t even a question.  But do read the reviews and you can make an informed decision about your own choice.

Toa Dan Park park decked out in red and yellow  plants for tet in Ho Chi Minh

Where To Eat And Drink In Ho Chi Minh

It would be fool-hardy to try and suggest where you’ll find your favourite food because HCM is absolutely chocked full of amazing eateries and we’re limited often by Gluten Free options BUT there are a couple of stand-out places that we loved.

  • Hum : Amazing, Incredible, Delicious. It felt like a Michelin Star restaurant. Just go!
  • Be An : Simple restaurant in Walking Street but the food was really really fabulous
  • Rau Oi : Really lovely vegan restaurant we stumbled upon and returned a few times

For coffee you’ll be spoilt for choice but we did love Propaganda and the ever popular Cong Caphe. If you’ve not discovered Vietnamese coffee then take a look at my post about The Best Cafes in Hanoi. I walk through the different coffee choices which are relevant for all coffee across Vietnam!

lotus free crisps with poppy seeds from Hum Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh

Best Areas To Stay In Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh is huge.  We were very confused when we started searching but in the end opted for District One and we felt it was a good choice.  It’s very close to all the action, easy to get around and so much choice as far as cafes and restaurants.

Top Tip : Vietnam is not immune to fake reviews. Do cross-check hotel reviews on different platforms and also read the lowest scores to see if there are any patterns of complaints.

District 1 is a very popular area for tourists although we never found it ‘fake’ or overly touristy. Here are a few pros and cons to help you decide:

District One Pros:

  • Central Location: District 1 is in the heart of the action and within walking distance of many of the city’s major attractions.  It’s a great choice for exploring on foot.
  • Abundant Amenities: There are so many hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. You’ll find something to suit all budgets and tastes; we almost found the choice overwhelming.
  • Lively Atmosphere: The area certainly has a buzz.  It’s quieter in the early morning but as the day rolls on it gets busier.  It’s a great place to people-watch and soak up the city’s atmosphere, especially at night.
  • Good Transport: The area is well-connected by taxis, ride-hailing apps, and buses, making it easy to get around the city. The new metro is said to be nearing completion (as of March 2024) which will provide even better public transport options.  To be honest we walked and used GRAB; this was all we needed.

District One Cons:

  • Higher Prices: As with most touristy areas, prices can be a little higher compared to other areas but not noticeably so.  And there are choices for all budgets.
  • Crowds: It’s busy here.  We visited just before Tet and in the days leading up to the New Year is was especially busy. 
  • Noisy: District one can be noisy, especially at night but Vietnam is also.  If you’re a light sleeper, this might be a concern but I am a light sleeper and I slept well.

★★★★★

WE LOVED SILVERLAND JOLIE HOTEL

  • Check the reviews on Booking, TripAdviser and Google; they’re great!
  • Excellent location within easy reach of the sights
  • We love a rooftop bar and afternoon tea; there’s even a small pool
  • Check expectations; rooms in Vietnam are smaller and beds are harder

Alternative Districts in Ho Chi Minh

  • District 3 Hotels : A good compromise for visitors seeking a more relaxed local experience, while still being close to the centre. There is a  good selection of cafes, restaurants, and budget-friendly hotels but they are more geared towards a Vietnamese visitor.
  • Binh Thanh District: A trendy area with a growing number of services and galleries. It’s a bit further away from the main attractions but offers a more modern vibe and might suit young and young at heart travellers who like a more boho feel

Ultimately, the best area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City really comes down to your own individual preferences and priorities.  We felt that District 1 offered us a great choice as a first-time visitors.  If we return to the city this is where we’d opt to be. 

Ho Chi Minh District 1 at night

Day Trips From Ho Chi Minh City

There are two common day trips offered to get you out of the city.  Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta.  Some companies offer this as a package for one day but we wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re happy with a very busy schedule and have very limited time.

Cu Chi Tunnels

This is offered as a half day tour but it’s longer.  We took a Cu Chi Tunnels tour and left our hotel before 8:00am and returned around 3:00pm.  Our half day tour never felt rushed and we’re glad we didn’t try to see anything else alongside the tunnels; others who did had less favourable reports.

Cu Chi Tunnels are a tourist attraction and they are popular but their history is rooted very much in the reality of war and we found this day fascinating and would not have missed it.

Top Tip : If you have time in your schedule then book the morning tour; you still have time for activities and sightseeing in the afternoon and evening.

Mekong Delta Tours

We opted to take a three day tour of the Mekong but if you have less time there are some excellent day trips from Ho Chi Minh that will offer you a flavour of this stunning area and give you a chance to visit one of the famous floating markets.

Top Tip : We do not recommend trying to fit Cu Chi Tunnels and the Delta into one day; you’ll end up not seeing the best of either.  Choose both or pick the one that interests you most.

colleen and gerry watching sunset over the mekong delta during our 3 day tour

Dam Sen Water Park

This isn’t really outside of Ho Chi Minh but it’s certainly more of a day trip.  A fun-filled water park on the outskirts of the city, perfect for a hot day if you love the water and want to cool down.

It has a variety of slides, pools, and wave machines and it’s great for children of all ages! 

The park isn’t open every day all year so do check out their website to ensure you don’t make a wasted trip.  It gets very busy at weekends with locals too so try to avoid this.

Suoi Tien Theme Park

We didn’t visit here but it’s definitely something different if you’re looking for a day off from sight-seeing.  Suoi Tien offers a mix of cultural attractions, thrilling fairground rides and a pool come water park all inspired by Vietnamese folklore and mythology.

Adult ticket prices start from 150,000 VND and you can check out offers and opening times on their website; it has English language pages.

How Long Do You Need in Ho Chi Minh?

Ho Chi Minh City has so much to offer.  Most folks allow 2 or 3 days and this is a great amount to get a feel for the city.   In 3 days you could also include a day at Cu Chi Tunnels or the Mekong Delta.

Even if you have only a short day then follow our 24 hour Itinerary and you’ll discover how it’s definitely possible to see the city’s highlights with careful planning. 

We had a week and it was the start of our two month adventure in Vietnam. It felt that we missed a lot but when I look back at this post and our photos I realise we actually did a great deal in that time. Ho Chi Minh is a big city and you could spend an extended amount of time here and delve deeper in the galleries and museums. 

there's a great coffee scene in Ho Chi Minh, Propaganda Cafe was one of our favourites

How To Get Around Ho Chi Minh City

For us the easiest way to move around was on foot.  A lot of the attractions are close together in District one, making the very accessible.  However, I understand that we love to walk and not everyone feels the same.

There are city buses but for us the easiest option by a mile was to use GRAB.  This works pretty much the same as UBER but it’s the Asian equivalent.  We have used it for several years and had no issues.  The cars in Ho Chi Minh were always great and the fares are so reasonable that we felt it was all we needed.

For longer trips there are city buses and if you’re looking to move from one tourist attraction to the next then use the Hop-On Hop Off tourist bus.

Finally, if you’d prefer to let a car take the strain, booking a city tour with a driver is very affordable, and a good way to ensure you don’t miss a trick!  

Frequently Asked Questions About Ho Chi Minh

When we’re travelling we regularly post to our own Facebook page and friends and family ask us lots of questions. Now that we have a Then We Walked facebook page do feel free to reach out and ask us more but in the meantime here are a selection of what we’re asked.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe?

 Generally, Ho Chi Minh City is a safe city for tourists. However, be aware that petty theft does exist, especially in crowded areas.

How difficult is it really to cross the road in Ho Chi Minh City?

When we first attempted this we were a tad nervous.  But after a few practice crossings on quieter roads we quickly got the hang of things.  At the end of our 2 months in Vietnam we were crossing roads like a local.

There are two rules to follow. 

  1. Find yourself a pedestrian crossing.  We’ve been told these are really just to make the roads pretty but they do also act as a point where people gather to cross; and there is safety in numbers.
  2. Be confident and never go back.  Drivers and Motos know that you will keep walking across.  They make allowance for this.  They never expect you to go back so keep moving forward.  Start crossing when you see a gap appear; sometimes only half the road maybe clear but that’s ok.  Hold up your hand to make your intention clear.  Slowly keep walking forwards with confidence.  It feels terrifying at large junctions but this method works.  And if you’re not feeling brave enough to start, wait for a local to cross and follow them.
crossing the road in ho chi mimh with motobikes everywhere
crossing the road seems scary but stay calm, stay alert and keep walking ; they drive around you

Is bargaining expected at markets?

Yes, bargaining is a common practice in Vietnam in the markets.  Tourists will always pay more than locals and this is to be expected.  Set yourself a price that you would be happy to pay and work towards this.

If you can’t strike a deal then a polite no thank you is all that’s needed. It’s considered bad form to push and push the price too low; if you feel you have a good deal then go for it, and if not move on. 

Top Tip : We were advised in Hanoi that it’s better to bargain later in the day; folks are more reluctant to reduce prices too early as it’s bad karma!

Is Ho Chi Minh A Walkable City?

Yes!  It’s one of the things we loved.  Many attractions are in District 1 and as we stayed in this district it made moving around easy. 

If though you’d prefer not to walk, GRAB taxi service is abundant and easy and inexpensive.

Is Ho Chi Minh Safe At Night?

We wandered around every evening and never felt uncomfortable; with the exception of one evening where we wandered too far and felt we were in unfamiliar ground.  Of course nothing happened but as always in large cites it’s best to exercise caution

There are plenty of well-lit and well populated areas and we never had any issues.

Is the Water Safe to Drink?

No.  Never drink the tap water.  Having been struck down by a parasite infection in Peru from dirty water I take no chances.  I even brush my teeth with bottled water. 

Our hotel had a large water dispenser where we could top up for free.

Are the Street Food Stalls Safe?

Um; that depends.  While street food is a quintessential part of Vietnamese culture, not all vendors maintain the same standards of hygiene that we’d expect.  And even when standard are high it’s possible that tap water is used in food prep.

We have eaten street across India and Vietnam without issue but I avoid eating meat and we tend to book night time food tours so that we can relax and enjoy the ambience and minimise the risk.

street food vendor in ho chi minh city

Are There Tourist Traps We Should Avoid?

We heard folks talk of these but we never found this to be an issue.  We had come from India so perhaps we were feeling a little more street-wise. 

Some tourist areas may be more overpriced and some restaurants maybe targeting an international audience but there are plenty of options to suit all budgets.

If there is something you want to buy, research prices in advance (ask at your hotel for guidance) and negotiate when shopping in markets or dealing with street vendors.

Are Unlicensed Tour Operators A Problem?

Sometimes.  It seems that everyone knows someone who can be our guide.  We only every book tours through booking sites.  We use Viator, GetYourGuide, GuruWalk and Klook (a great Asian tour site which is often cheaper).

We have learned that when we book ourselves we can read the reviews and check the itinerary to know exactly what is included.  My advice is book through reputable agencies or do thorough research before committing. And if there is something you really want to do then book your slot in advance!

Is Air Pollution and Traffic Congestion a Problem?

We never experienced issues with air pollution; certainly nothing like the problems we had in India

Traffic is an issue but not really a problem.  Ho Chi Minh has a lot of traffic which can be chaotic and busy.  However, as long as you exercise caution you should have no problems.  If you are travelling out of the city then do remember to allow time for traffic queues; especially at rush hour times.  

We both had a hair cut in Ho Chi Minh.  This was us afterwards!
We LOVED Ho Chi Minh City!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel, you should have a great travel and medical insurance policy.  None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.

I’ve ended up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal, Japan and Ireland! Every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.

TrueTraveller : We have this policy and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions.

Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.

Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.

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Colleen in Salamanca on the Via de la Plata

Hey I’m Colleen. I’m married to Gerry, we’ve three fabulous kids and been living in France for almost two decades. I fell in love with Spain in the 1980s and I’ve walked 1000s of miles along the Camino de Santiago. Now we’re exploring and walking the world and I can’t wait to share what we’ve learned!

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