Uncover the rich tapestry of experiences awaiting you when you travel to Ho Chi Minh City. From savouring Vietnamese coffee to exploring historical landmarks, this comprehensive guide will make your visit truly unforgettable.
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a dynamic and bustling metropolis in Vietnam that offers a mesmerizing blend of tradition and modernity. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a vibrant urban experience, travelling to Ho Chi Minh City will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Start your day with a cup of Vietnamese coffee
Travel to Ho Chi Minh City, and you’ll quickly discover that coffee is more than just a beverage; it’s a way of life. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest producer of coffee, following only Brazil. Coffee culture is deeply ingrained in the daily routine of the Vietnamese people, and you can begin your exploration of the city by immersing yourself in this aromatic tradition.
Travel Tip: As you embark on your Ho Chi Minh City adventure, make Lacàph your first destination. This isn’t your typical coffee shop; it’s an oasis for coffee lovers eager to dive into the unique coffee culture of Vietnam. Lacàph’s tagline, “coffees for the curious,” perfectly encapsulates its mission. Here, you can sample various coffee blends, learn about the journey from bean to cup, and gain insights into the rich history of Vietnamese coffee production.
Marvel at the city’s architectural wonders
As you continue to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, you will be captivated by its diverse and stunning architecture. District 1, in particular, is a treasure trove of iconic attractions and architectural marvels. The city’s architecture is a testament to its complex history, with visible influences from both French colonialism and American involvement during the Vietnam War.
Travel Tip: When exploring District 1, don’t miss the chance to visit Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office. Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 19th century, showcases beautiful French Gothic architecture and serves as a significant religious landmark in the city. The Central Post Office, designed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, is a stunning example of neoclassical architecture. Both sites offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and architectural heritage.
Savour the world-famous Banh Mi
No trip to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without indulging in the world-famous Banh Mi. These delectable Vietnamese sandwiches are a symphony of flavours and textures, making them an absolute must-try when you travel to Ho Chi Minh City.
Travel Tip: While you can find Banh Mi vendors throughout the city, one unique spot stands out – Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, affectionately known as the “Lesbian Banh Mi.” Run by a lesbian couple since the 1970s, this eatery not only serves mouthwatering sandwiches but also promotes a welcoming and inclusive working environment for the LGBTQ+ community. Known locally as the Banh Mi O Moi or “Lesbian Sandwich,” this establishment is a testament to the city’s diversity and culinary excellence.
For business travellers visiting the Saigon Exhibition Convention Center (SECC), there’s a hidden gem inside. Banh Mi Ba Hung, located within the SECC premises, offers delicious homemade sandwiches served by friendly women. It’s the perfect spot to refuel after a busy day at a convention or exhibition.
Explore the War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi Tunnels
To gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s history and its struggle during the Vietnam War, a visit to the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels is essential when you travel to Ho Chi Minh City.
The War Remnants Museum, formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, is consistently the most popular museum in the city among Western tourists. While some exhibits can be emotionally challenging due to their confrontational and disturbing nature, the museum provides invaluable insights into the realities of the Vietnam War. It’s a place where you can truly appreciate the resilience and spirit of the Vietnamese people. However, it’s important to note that certain parts of the museum may not be suitable for families with children.
The Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground passages used by Viet Cong soldiers during the war, offer a unique perspective on guerrilla warfare tactics. Explore these tunnels and discover the ingenious ways in which they were used for hiding, communication, supply routes, hospitals, and more. This experience provides a profound insight into the strategies that played a pivotal role in Vietnam’s ultimate victory.
Travel Tip: The War Remnants Museum is located in the city, while the Cu Chi Tunnels are located 70 kilometres from the city, it is better to book a half-day tour via a tour operator like Vietravel for convenience.
Immerse yourself in Saigon’s nightlife with a Vespa Tour
In the bustling streets of Saigon, scooters and bikes reign supreme as the lifeblood of transportation. Known as the “Scooter Capital of the World,” Ho Chi Minh City is a city in perpetual motion, with a sea of scooters and bicycles weaving through the chaotic yet somehow harmonious traffic. Scooters, in particular, are the favoured mode of transport for both locals and adventurous travellers alike.
The cacophony of buzzing engines and the colourful array of helmets paint a vivid portrait of Saigon’s energetic spirit. Scooters and bikes encapsulate the essence of Saigon’s mobility, seamlessly blending tradition with modernity in a two-wheeled dance that defines the city’s character.
Travel Tip: A Vespa tour is a fantastic way to explore Saigon like a local, discovering some of the city’s most fabulous eating, drinking, and music venues. As you weave through the bustling streets and narrow alleys of Saigon, you’ll soak in the city’s charm, illuminated by the glittering lights of its landmarks.
During your Vespa adventure, you will have the opportunity to sample beloved Saigon dishes at two popular restaurants, all accompanied by refreshing beverages. You’ll also visit a Vietnamese-style cafe, where you can enjoy live music while sipping on beer or cocktails. The night culminates at a lively music bar, where you can groove to the tunes alongside the hip, young Vietnamese crowd. It is an immersive experience that showcases the city’s vibrant culture and its love for music, food, and celebration.
Travel to Ho Chi Minh City promises a tapestry of experiences that will leave a lasting impression. From sipping Vietnamese coffee to exploring historical landmarks, indulging in Banh Mi, delving into the country’s history at museums and tunnels, and immersing yourself in the city’s nightlife with a Vespa tour, each activity adds a unique layer to your adventure. So, pack your bags, embark on your journey to Ho Chi Minh City, and let this vibrant destination weave its magic on you.