VietnamActivities & Attractions88 Local Things to Do in Saigon

88 Local Things to Do in Saigon

Travel like a local? It sounds like a paradox but is actually the ultimate goal that any traveler to Saigon (the former name of Ho Chi Minh City) would love to pursue. After ticking off all the tourist-must-dos in Saigon, check out these top 88 local’s favorite things to do and explore the authentic unseen side of the city. Spoiler: most of the suggestions below involve delectable local dishes!

Top Things to Do in Saigon: Make sure you’ve covered all local’s favorite attractions

1. Snap some pictures at the pink Tan Dinh Church

2. Pay a visit to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum

3. Check-in at the Notre Dame Cathedral

4. Send home a postcard from the Central Post Office

5. Release your inner bookworm at the Nguyen Van Binh Book Street

6. Pay a visit to the Independence Palace

7. Witness Vietnam’s wartorn past at the War Remnants Museum

8. Enjoy a panoramic view of Saigon from Landmark 81 – the tallest skyscraper in Vietnam (preferably with a nice cocktail)

9. Watch a top-rated cultural show at the flamboyant Saigon Opera House

10. Walk with your significant other in a romantic sunset on the Phu My Bridge

11. You’re single? No problem, you can pray for love at the Jade Emperor Pagoda instead

12. Book a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels and venture into the Vietnam wartime

cu chi tunnels local things to do in saigon

The mysterious hidden tunnels in Cu Chi

13. Go for an evening walk at the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street

14. Cool off with a leisure stroll around the Bach Dang harbor

15. Gather for a picnic at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden

Top Local Things to Do in Saigon: How to spend your free time like a local

16. Wake up (really) early to take a stroll on the Ho Thi Ky Flower Market at 4 AM

17. Buy your ticket to watch a Vietnamese play at a local theater

18. Travel off-the-beaten-path and visit floating markets in Saigon

slums of saigon

As opposed to the glistening urban scene, Saigon is still home to the riverside slums, hence the presence of floating markets in Saigon

19. Go thrift shopping at Ba Chieu Market

20. Shop till you drop at Saigon’s shopping malls

21. Get your hands on duty-free alcohol and tobacco at the Tan Son Nhat airport

22. Shop for off-brand designers’ clothes on Nguyen Trai Street’s night market

local market 2

Get ready to haggle for the price while shopping at the local markets

23. Explore the aesthetically-pleasing cafe concepts

24. Enjoy grilled chicken served on a tray of banana leaves with pickled morning glory and a beer

grilled chicken on tray

25. Immerse in the multicultural street art environment at En Dee and Out Cast Saigon

26. Hop on a waterbus to do the Saigon’s sightseeing from a different angle

27. Gather in on a barbecue party with friends

bbq at 3t rooftop

A rooftop barbecue is always a fantastic idea for a group hangout

28. Go bar-hopping at the Bui vien Backpackers’ Street

29. Try not to get too wasted at Saigon rooftop bars

30. Pull an all-nighter at a 24/7 coffee shop and watch the street scenes

31. Don’t let the bad weather ruin the fun. Go under a little Saigon’s shower to find a cup of hot beverage

32. Join a night tour led by a local guide to take in all the sights and sounds of Saigon nightlife

33. Rent a motorbike and sneak through the hidden alleys

34. Test your patience amidst the traffic jam in Saigon

35. Be a photographer at the Lantern Street in District 5

36. Pose in front of the vibrant flowers markets and flower streets during the Tet holiday

flowers market at tet

Saigon streets are filled with flowers during the Tet holiday

37. Get into the holiday’s spirit by visiting the Christian community during Christmas time

38. Be a diva at Saigon’s karaokes

39. Plan a romantic dinner in Saigon at a rooftop restaurant

40. Go on a date-night in Saigon at Ban Nguyet Lake

41. Treat your inner child with all the games at the Le Thi Rieng Park

42. Go on a night stroll on the most beautiful bridges in Saigon and admire the city’s modern architecture

43. Mellow out with live music at acoustic cafes

44. Go underground (we mean it quite literally) and shop at the underground Central Market shopping center

45. Head to the Rubik Zoo “container market” once you’ve had enough of exploring the traditional local ones

46. Master the art of crossing the street in Saigon

47. Pamper yourself with a manicure/pedicure

48. Join an aerobics class at a public park

49. Take a public bus to the suburban district

50. Get a foot massage

51. Join a charity trip to an orphanage

Top Things to Do in Saigon: How to eat like a local

52. Have a bite of the internationally-famous banh mi

53. Banh mi with sunny side-up-eggs: a classic French breakfast but with a Vietnamese twist

banh mi

Don’t leave Saigon without getting your hands on the most beloved baguette in the world

54. Find the best local vendor for Pho

pho beefballs local things to do in saigon

Pho in Saigon carries a sweeter taste than the one in Hanoi

55. Have some fresh coconut juice on a sunny day at a local market

coconuts local things to do in saigon

56. Be gastronomically adventurous with sea snails

57. Challenge your guts (literally!) and try the baluts

58. Try salt and chili noodles or vermicelli soup in Phu Nhuan District

59. Sticky rice with char siu in Binh Thanh District – what makes such a simple combination so special?

60. Grab a chilled beer and some goat meat dishes at Lam Ky Goat Hot Pot in Tan Binh District

saigon special beer local things to do in saigon

When in Saigon, drink the Saigon Special Beer

61. Go to Le Van Tam Park, not for exercising, but for the famous dried beef salad

62. Be a real Asian teen for a day and scroll through the “bubble tea hut” around the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street area

63. Grab a serving of steamed rice rolls (banh cuon) for quick brunch

banh cuon local things to do in saigon

A dish of Vietnamese rice rolls and cold cuts can fill your stomach quite nicely

64. Enjoy a bowl of hearty beef stew (bo kho) with banh mi for breakfast to warm up your stomach

bo kho

65. Make sure to have your bowl of bun moc (vermicelli noodles soup) during your Ben Thanh Market Food Tour

66. Eat mixed rice paper salads (Nguyen Thuong Hien Street, District 3) – the most beloved snack in Saigon

67. Buy a Vietnamese pizza from a street vendor (banh trang nuong)

68. Wake yourself up with some fresh milk and home-baked pastry for breakfast at Sua Tuoi Muoi

69. Be adventurous with the cow intestine soup in District 4

70. Refresh with a bowl of mixed fruits or sweet soup/dessert

flan with black coffee local things to do in saigon

Vietnamese flan is an influence from the French cuisine and a favorite dessert among locals

71. Sit at a roadside vendor for a bowl of tapioca noodles soup

72. Try all the com tam (broken rice) in Saigon and decide which place has the best grilled pork chops

com tam broken rice local things to do in saigon

A basic serving of com tam includes a piece of pork rib, pickles, and mixed fish sauce

73. Grilled pork with vermicelli (bun thit nuong) – similar to the bun cha in Hanoi, but not quite so

bun thit nuong

74. Hu Tieu Nam Vang – a taste of Vietnam, but not really. You’ll see why once you’ve tried it.

75. Eat a Vietnamese pancake (banh xeo) – it is not as sweet as you’d expect!

76. Experience with a taste from the Mekong Delta with Vietnamese gumbo (bun mam)

77. Eat at a random “hu tieu go” – roadside rice noodles soup hawker shop

78. Experience with craft beer in Saigon

79. Net-filtered coffee: a Vietnamese coffee experience that cannot be found anywhere else

80. Have a taste of the Chinese cuisine with Chaozhou’s rice porridge

81. Try authentic Chineses dim sum at the Chinatown in Saigon

82. Go to the one and only Sui Cao Ha Ton Quyen in District 11 for Chinese dumplings

83. Raid through all of the food streets in Saigon

84. Do a street food hunt around the Turtle Lake

85. Get lost in the food heaven in the Cambodian Market

86. Find the best street eats at Xom Chieu Market

87. Sip a cup of fine Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk filtered in front of you called a “ca phe sua da”

vietnamese coffee filter

Be amazed by the “ca phe sua da” – Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk

88. Get to know all the different types of Vietnamese cold cuts

Our Takes on Top 88 Local Things to Do in Saigon

As the most populated metropolitan in Vietnam, Saigon offers endless fun for both locals and international visitors. Need help to squeeze all of the excitement above in your limited stay in the city? Join our local motorbike tour for the most insightful and exciting tour you will ever have in Saigon.

If you need more guidance on where to try the aforementioned dishes, feel free to let us know in the comment section below. 

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