Previously, we wrote an article on the Overview of Ho Chi Minh City’s 24 districts. Today we’ll reveal Ho Chi Minh City’s Layout, by districts and popular areas, highlighting the best of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, the most crowded city in Vietnam.
A Brief Ho Chi Minh City Layout – Downtown Districts and Suburban Districts
Ho Chi Minh City Layout – 24 districts
If you hop on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll land in Tan Binh District (to the northwest), one of the most populated districts of the city. In Tan Binh District, you can drop by the long-winded Le Van Sy Street which is a shopping paradise and at the same time a foodie’s go-to spot with very fine restaurants and coffee shops. But this is only the beginning of your journey in Ho Chi Minh City.
Two rivers running through Ho Chi Minh City are the Saigon River to the north and northeast and Dong Nai – Soai Rap River to the south and southwest, supplying fresh water for the whole city and creating an advantage of waterway transport for the area along these rivers.
The suburban districts, including Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh, Nha Be, and Can Gio, stretch from the north to the west and south of Ho Chi Minh City Map, shaping a crescent-like area. They are home to the mangrove forests and Cu Chi Tunnels historical site. If you’re fascinated by Vietnam history, especially the Vietnam War, a Cu Chi Tunnels tour is well worth your time!
A vast area of Ho Chi Minh City in the north and west in these suburban districts still depends mostly on agriculture and natural resources in their economic growth, while the east side (Thu Duc District, District 9, District 7, and Nha Be District) is for industrial development. Some previously deserted areas like District 7 and District 2 in the southeast have also been recently exploited for high-class residential areas and real estate.
And last but not least, the central districts, especially District 1, District 3, District 5, and District 10, without natural advantages, mostly focused on providing services and trading activities. Go to District 1 and District 3 if you want to see the modern, busy, and young Saigon with a fast pace of life. Get to District 5 to explore the Chinatown in the city. Eat at the friendly and stellar food stalls in District 10 and District 11. And, imagine doing all these with a local expert on a motorbike private tour!
Ho Chi Minh City Layout – Most Popular Areas
The well-known areas below are the places with cultural significance and diversity you should not miss on your Ho Chi Minh City travel. And for the most part, their locations are in the heart of the city, so getting around is wonderfully convenient.
Saigon Riverside Areas
Saigon River is the iconic river of the city. Along the two banks of the Saigon River, different lifestyles and changes in Cu Chi District, Hoc Mon District, Binh Thanh District, District 12, 1, 2, 4, and 7, are flourishing every day. The most luxurious and splendid area alongside the Saigon River must be Ton Duc Thang Street. Ton Duc Thang Street houses multiple high-end hotels and gourmet restaurants, from which you can enjoy the scenic view of the Saigon River in the fresh mornings and cool evenings. Right here you can also see Bach Dang Wharf and the Saigon River Bus boats.
Saigon Riverside areas at night
Strolling along Ton Duc Thang Street from the short and winding Khanh Hoi Bridge, you’ll also reach Nguyen Hue Walking Street, the grand-looking boulevard as well as the go-to meeting spot of all the young in Ho Chi Minh City. It would be the time of your life to drop by this famed street during Tet Holiday (usually around early February) when brilliant flower beds embellish the whole landscape.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street at night
Notre Dame Cathedral Area
The nationally recognized cathedral and its neighborhood signify the character of Ho Chi Minh City. Situated right in the heart of the city, the time-honored Notre Dame Cathedral showcases its quaintly charming Roman and Gothic architecture, which contrasts with myriad state-of-the-art buildings nearby. From Notre Dame Cathedral you just need to walk a few steps to reach Saigon Central Post Office (another two-century-old French architecture), Independence Palace (Dinh Doc Lap), Diamond Plaza shopping mall, Dong Khoi Street, Turtle Lake (Ho Con Rua), or enjoy “sit”-coffee (ca phe bet) at Han Thuyen Street, or travel 1 km to shop at another long-standing landmark – Ben Thanh Market.
A day tour of Notre Dame Cathedral
Western Streets (or Westerners’ Hub, or Khu Pho Tay)
Westerner’ Hub includes the backpackers’ district (Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Street, De Tham Street, Do Quang Dau Street) and the neighboring streets in downtown District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Very lively and active at night. Open-air beer clubs and affordable bars guarantee a true blast with friends or friendly locals.
A bar at Bui Vien Street at night
The Chinatown in District 5
Chinatown, including Districts 5, 6, 10, and 11, is the most hectic and dynamic trading center in Ho Chi Minh City. This is also the home to the largest population of Chinese Vietnamese in South Vietnam. Coming here, especially District 5, you will get the chance to sample a diverse and exceptional cuisine that features a wholly Chinese cooking style along with dishes that embrace adaptations to the Vietnamese taste. Circumferencing Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown is majestic wholesale and retail markets such as Binh Tay Market, Dai Quang Minh Market, and Soai Kinh Lam Fabrics Market.
The Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City
Museums in Ho Chi Minh City
A city of rapid modernization, Ho Chi Minh City is also home to the best museums in Vietnam. War Remnants Museum and Southern Vietnam Women Museum in District 3, Fito Museum in District 10, Ho Chi Minh Museum at Nha Rong Wharf in District 4, and so on. See the harsh past events of Vietnam, explore traditional Vietnamese medicine, or learn about the most respected man in Vietnam through pictures and artifacts to get a glimpse into this fascinating country.
War Remnants Museum
Summary of Ho Chi Minh City Layout
When you come to Ho Chi Minh City, definitely visit downtown District 1 and District 3 to explore not only young, dynamic landmarks but also intriguing museums. Then perhaps join a tour to Cu Chi Tunnels and get a taste of the past grueling war in Vietnam.