Overview of Sai Gon
Sai Gon (also known as Ho Chi Minh city) is the most bustling and hustle city in Vietnam. Apart from being the busiest financial center, Sai Gon is well-known for various tourism activities. The unsleeping city has attracted many domestic and foreign visitors due to the break-taking view, unique skyscrapers, and special lifestyle of Saigonese. If you are planning to have a trip to Sai Gon, let’s explore what to do in Sai Gon with us!
Where is Sai Gon?
Being the most dynamic city in Vietnam, Sai Gon is situated in the south of Vietnam. The city had gone through different historical phrases and was named after Ho Chi Minh President. However, the name – Sai Gon is also popular among Vietnamese. Despite having many historical sites, Sai Gon is also the most dynamic city with a bustling pace of life and exciting nightlife.
Best time to visit Sai Gon
The climate here is typically tropical with two distinct seasons: dry and rainy. The rainy season has an average rainfall of about 1,800 millimeters and lasts from May to November. On the other hand, the dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F), with little variation throughout the year. Thus, the best time to visit Sai Gon is from December to March because it’s the most pleasant and has no flood.
What to do in Sai Gon – Top things to do in Sai Gon
1. Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Sai Gon is the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi Tunnels were built underground for Vietnamese soldiers in 1948. The area is 120 km long having trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, hospitals, and other necessities. Especially, there is an air filtration system here to help soldiers survive when hiding from bombing attacks.
Coming here, visitors have opportunities to get more knowledge about the legendary tunnels. Besides, crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels is a must-tried activity when visitors come here. It will bring you a sense of adventure and satisfaction after crawling through the tunnels.
2.Visit Sai Gon Notre-Dame Cathedral
The next popular destination in Sai Gon is Sai Gon Notre-Dame Cathedral located in District 1. The church was established in the late 19th century to serve the religious demand of the French. The church has undergone 3 renovations so far. The cathedral is typical of the neo-Romanesque architectural style with simplified arches and windows.
All the materials for the building were brought from France. The main material is Marseille bricks with no plastering and the pink bright color. Besides, the cathedral is special for harmonious interior design and the bell towers. The two bell towers are 36.6 m high, with no roof. Please notice the opening and closing time is 8 am to 6 pm and no entrance fee except for parking.
3. Visit Cho Lon market
Cho Lon is a famous vast market town, known as the largest China Town in Sai Gon, with various products. It is situated at the West Bank of Sai Gon River and accounts for a vast area of District 5 and 10. Tourists can find anything they are looking for when paying a visit to this market. Besides, it is featured by classical architectural style with tile-roofed houses and brow gray color walls. Cho Lon is always bustling in all seasons for trading goods from dusk to dawn. At night, tourists can try a lot of delicious Chinese dishes in this market.
Binh Tay market is one of the most important markets in Cho Lon. Binh Tay is famous for many specialties of Sai Gon at affordable prices. Thus, Binh Tay is a great place to spend your morning having breakfast and a glass of Saigonese coffee.
4. Browse in Ben Thanh Market
Compared to Cho Lon, Ben Thanh Market in the heart of Saigon is more Vietnamese style with selling handicrafts, local goods, and Vietnamese food. There is a variety of handicrafts here such as lacquerware, bamboo goods, and crafts. Textiles, clothes, and watches become popular products sold in this market.
Especially, the market shows the Vietnamese cuisine by having many food stalls including vegetarian noodles, seafood, crispy rice pancakes, steamed cakes, and local drinks. Ben Thanh market opens at 6 am every day in District 1 which is easy to find.
5. Take a stroll in Bui Vien street
The bustling nightlife of Sai Gon reflects at Bui Vien Walking Street which is a deal place for Western tourists or the young to hang out with their friends. Another name of Bui Vien Walking Street is Western Street because there are numerous restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, pubs, and bars for pedestrians to relax, try local cuisine, and experience the nightlife of Sai Gon. Tourists should walk down this street to completely experience the hustle and bustle atmosphere in Sai Gon.
6. Visit War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum is a famous historical attraction in Sai Gon located in District 3. It reminds people of a poignant but honoring war passing. In the War Remnants Museum, people display American planes, tanks, helicopters, and weaponry in the Vietnam war. The museum also contains graphic displays, photographs, and other artifacts.
The museum has three floors with seven permanent exhibits having both Vietnamese and English captions. More importantly, there is a souvenir shop where you can take books, postcards, and memorabilia recycled from war home. Visiting this museum to memorialize wartime is worth your time. Remember the open hours are from 7:30 am to 5 pm daily. The entrance fee is about VND 40, 000 (approximately US 1.75).
7. Visit Reunification Palace
Apart from the Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace has 1960s architecture with historical values to Vietnamese people. The palace is famous for the iconic moment when the Vietnamese Army’s tank crashed the main gate and headed to the palace. It is the period for the 30-year war and reunified the North and the South of Vietnam.
The palace is surrounded by lush gardens and antique furniture with five floors. Especially, foreign visitors can listen to free tour guides who can speak 5 languages: English, French, Japanese, and Chinese. Therefore, it is very convenient for visitors. The address of Reunification Palace is Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street. The palace is closed from 12 pm to 1 pm, so the opening times are from 7: 30 am to 12 pm or 1 pm to 4 pm.
8. Thien Hau Pagoda
Hidden at the central part of Sai Gon, Thien Hau pagoda is a religious and spiritual place that every tourist should visit. It attracts many local and foreign tourists due to the mysterious stories about this pagoda. Besides, when you are tired of the continual bustle of the urban city, the pagoda is ideal for them to calm their exhausted souls.
Thien Hau pagoda is outstanding for its Chinese architectural style with 3 rows of houses. More importantly, in the middle of the pagoda is a space called “Thien Tinh” (sky well) to create more light and make the smoke of incense escape.
Inside the pagoda, there is a statue of lady Thien Hau which is 1 meter high and moved here in 1836. In addition, the most unique feature here is the pendant hanging overhead. Visitors can record their wishes and hang them up with an incense stick.
9. Take a Bonsai River Cruise
A trip to Sai Gon would uncomplete if visitors forgot to have dinner in a Bonsai River Cruise. The cruise goes along the historic river to watch the city’s skyline while you enjoy a tasty dinner with a quality wine selection. The cruise follows Indochina style looks like a dragon boat with radiant lights. Moreover, the service team here is really friendly and productive because they want to make sure visitors have the best experience. For more details, Bonsai Cruise is docked daily at Sai Gon Port, 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, District 4.
10. Visit the Bitexco Financial Tower
The Bitexco Financial Tower’s height is 262 m located at the heart of Sai Gon where visitors can watch magnificent city view from the Sky Deck. American Architect Carlos Zapata specially designed the tower. This is the largest shopping mall with 68-storey tower houses. NCSEA offered the “Excellence in Structural Engineering” award for Bitexco in 2011. The tower is open daily from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm at 36 Ho Tung Mau, District 1.
11. Have a drink on
Just about 25 minutes of taking a taxi, tourists arrive at Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1 where many backpacking travelers stay. Many western-style restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and accommodation here. The most popular drink here is beer and tasty street food which are reasonably cheap.
12. Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda is always on the top of Sai Gon tourist attraction list due to its cultural and religious values. The Jade Emperor Pagoda was built in 1909 to worship Jade Emperor – a heaven’s gatekeeper. Jade Emperor is a supreme god who manages all things in heaven and earth. Visitors come here to pray for health, business, love, and others. Especially, the former U.S. President Barack Obama used to visit the pagoda in his visit to Vietnam in 2016.
From the outer side, the pagoda followed the Chinese religious architecture style. People use Yin Yang tiles to cover the roof. This pagoda stored a lot of paintings with various materials such as wood, ceramic, and cardboard. The best time to get here is in the morning to avoid the crowd and enjoy the tranquility of this site.
13. Have a cocktail at a Rooftop Bar
For those who enjoy the nightlife in Saigon, they should not miss the rooftop bars. Watching panoramic views of the city from the bar with a cocktail eases tourists’ tiredness and refresh their mind. Some popular rooftop bars in Sai Gon such as Saigon Rooftop Bar, Chill Sky Bar Saigon, Rex Rooftop Garden, Glow Skybar Saigon, and others.
14. Grab a coffee in Tao Dan Park
The last destination of the trip is Tao Dan Park located on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1. This place will remark your trip due to its peaceful and pleasant nature. Tao Dan is an ever-green park because there are numerous trees here. Therefore, this is suitable for tourists to immerse themselves into the nature. Besides, they can grab a glass of Vietnamese coffee near the park to enjoy their morning. Sitting on the small chair and sipping a coffee with a Vietnamese bread would make your day!
Some tips for traveling to Sai Gon
- Do not leave your money or valuable belongings in your hostel/hotel
- Do not carry too much cash in your pocket
- Choose reliable taxi brands
- Pay attention to your bag to prevent bag-snatching and pickpocketing