VietnamActivities & AttractionsHow to Explore Ho Chi Minh City in One Trip

How to Explore Ho Chi Minh City in One Trip

Ho Chi Minh City is a big city to know every corner of it, but below are some ideas for you to have a grasp of this beautiful southern city. Let’s travel Ho Chi Minh City in one trip!

The Must-Visit Attractions

Historical Sights

Ho Chi Minh City houses many historical sights of mid-modern and contemporary history. Most of the historical sights are monuments from the 2 Indochina Wars. If you want to have a picture of how Vietnam, especially in the south, from the 17th to 20th century looks like, by traveling Ho Chi Minh City in one trip, here are a few suggestions.

ho chi minh city in one trip independence palace

The magnificent Independence Palace

  • Nha Rong Wharf. The wharf is where Ho Chi Minh, the first president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, headed overseas to study the wisdom of the world, finding international supports, and the revolutionary road for the country. It is now turned into the Ho Chi Minh Museum, displaying the life and work of him.
  • Independence Palace. The palace history dated back to the early 1t9th century. It was built for the French governors then passed to South Vietnam’s presidents. Its gate was run over by the tank of Viet Minh, marking the collapse of South Vietnam in Indochina, on April 30th, 1975.
  • War Remnants Museum. The museum is established to show everyone the cruelty of war and hardship Vietnamese had gone through to earn dependence and peace. It displays collections of documents and other remains from the Vietnam War like tanks, bombs, and a replica of Con Dao’s Tiger Cage.

Read more Best Historical Sights in Ho Chi Minh here.

Architectural Attractions

Ho Chi Minh City is where many French colonial architectures still exists and well-preserved. Many of them are still used with original purposes or used as schools and museums.

ho chi minh city in one trip post office

Saigon Central Post Office at day time

  • Ho Chi Minh City Hall. The hall was built in 1901 to serve as the French colonial administration building. Both the plan and the decoration of the municipal hall was of French architecture and a French designer. The most recognizable features of the building are the Greek columns, the bell tower, and sophisticated stone sculptures near the top.
  • Saigon Opera House. Started one year before the Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Saigon Opera House was the work of three architectures Ernest Guichard, Eugène Ferret và Felix Olivier. Located on its own at the busiest road in Ho Chi Minh City, this building stands out even more with its bright wall and blue-tiled roof, and at night with a €160,000 light system supported by the authority of Lyon, France.
  • Saigon Central Post Office. One of the earliest colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Central Post Office’s construction had been continued from 1886–1891. The design was by the French architecture Villedieu with the help of his assistant Foulhoux. The inside of the post office was inspired and designed to look like a train station with arched roofs and two rows of columns on the two sides symmetrically.

Religious Sites

People of different religions such as Buddhism, Christians, Islam, and Hinduism are living in Ho Chi Minh City. Each contributes and adds a little of their unique traditions to create a diverse culture of Ho Chi Minh City.

ho chi minh city in one trip notre dame cathedral

The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral

  • Notre Dame Cathedral. Located right in the city center, Notre Dame Cathedral is among the top tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City that become the icon of the city, even though Catholic is not the largest religion in Vietnam. The construction started in 1877 and finished in 1880. It is one of the earliest achievements of the French commissary in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
  • Jade Emperor Pagoda. This pagoda was built by a Chinese businessman in the early 20th century. Because this man follows several beliefs, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, the deities worshiped here are a mixture of all religions, like Buddha, Jade Emperor (the God of the Sky), and Lady Kim Hoa (the Goddess of fertility).
  • Mariamman Hindu Temple. When a group of Indians came to Saigon to settle, they also bring their own culture and religion to the country. The Mariamman Temple is now around 100 years old. The Mariamman Goddess and other deities of the Tamil are worshiped here. After some years left abandoned, the temple is now visited regularly by both Hindus and non-Hindus, especially on special occasions like Mariamman’s birthday.

Related articles:

Temples and pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City
Churches in Ho Chi Minh City
Musulman Mosque in Ho Chi Minh City

Top Activities to Try in Ho Chi Minh City in One Trip

There are many exciting things to do in Ho Chi Minh City to understand this city better besides sightseeing. Below are some of the best activities you must try.

Motorbike Ride

One of the best ways to visit all of these attractions in Ho Chi Minh City in one trip is to get on a motorbike ride. You will not only experience how the locals commute from place to place every day but also be able to get into any streets and make many stops as you wish along the way. Some streets don’t have parking lots for cars or restrict car traffic (both ways or one way), while there is less of such a nuisance for motorbikes.

To have fun trips in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!

ho chi minh city in one trip motorbike

Ride on the back of the bike with our local guides from i Tour Vietnam


Street Foods Exploration

You cannot try all of the street foods in Ho Chi Minh City in one trip, but take some of these suggestions to taste one of the best kinds.

ho chi minh city in one trip banh xeo

A delicious crispy Banh xeo

  • Pho. Pho is like the star of Vietnamese cuisine, but it still humbly nestles in many small restaurants and local markets where you can sit on the sidewalks, in the open-air to have a meal and mingle with the locals. A bowl of pho will warm you up and fill your satisfaction with the flavorful beef broth, soft meat, and aromatic herbs.
  • Banh mi. Banh mi is another world-famous Vietnamese street foods. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, you can have it at any meal of the day. It comes in different sizes and ingredients, gives you enough energy, and satisfy all your taste buds. You can stop by any street vendor and order; they will put a loaf on the grill to make a crispy skin and stuffed it with juicy meat and many fresh vegetables.
  • Banh xeo. If you should choose only a few dishes to try in Ho Chi Minh City in one trip, this should be on top of the list. Unlike Pho which originated in North Vietnam or Banh mi, inspired by the French baguette, Banh xeo is a Southern dish with several variations in many provinces of Vietnam. And in Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily come across them all. The thin crispy, creamy pancake with a pleasant taste of sweetness from coconut milk goes perfectly with the savory from the fish sauce, shrimp, and meat, and fresh herbs.
  • Banh trang nuong. A simple snack but really tasty that will keep you want to eat more. The rice paper which is usually used as wrapping is now used as the base of a pizza. Grilled on coal, top with beaten egg, butter, green onion, shrimp, sausage, and a good spray of chili sauce and mayonnaise.
  • BBQ foods. Gather around a charcoal grill, having BBQs and drinking beers is usually how the locals hang out at night. There is a range of seafood like shrimp, snails, clams, fish, and protein like beef and pork belly, marinated in different kinds of finger-licking good sauces like chili butter, tamarind, BBQ and sesame.

Coffee Break

After busy finishing everything on the list of traveling Ho Chi Minh City in one trip, a coffee break is what you need, and Vietnamese coffee is something you should not miss out. Drinking Vietnamese coffee is not only to cool your thirst but also a way for the locals to socialize. The drink is not ready-made and brought to your table, it will be served with a tin coffee filter. You can see drops of coffee coming down from the screen, and while waiting, it is time to have a small conversation with your companions.

ho chi minh city in one trip coffee

Have a fun conversation over coffee


While in Ho Chi Minh City, another thing you should do is a little shopping. Besides the famous fashion brands in shopping malls, you can find many types of items that you may want to spend your money on, from souvenirs like beautiful postcards with pictures of famous attractions, conical hats, and ao dai, to the custom-made suits and dresses at an affordable price.

ho chi minh city in one trip shopping

Shopping for beautiful souvenirs

Learn more in A Guide to Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City.

Check prices and reviews of top hotels in Ho Chi Minh City:


The Hidden Gems

On the other side of a glamorous Ho Chi Minh City are the side of simple local life, old rundown apartments, and vast unexploited areas. You should visit one of these hidden gems to have a better look of Ho Chi Minh City.

Local Markets

The local markets are where the local shops for daily necessities, the chanting of the sellers surrounds you, all of the items are laid out in the open air, many people on motorbikes or on foot, are trying to get through the crowd. The vivid atmosphere at the local markets will be a special highlight when traveling Ho Chi Minh City in one trip.

ho chi minh city in one trip market

Explore the local life in a market


Another hidden gem of Ho Chi Minh City is the backstreets. Small alleyways that the locals use to escape traffic jams or make a shortcut. These streets are usually quieter and show the side of the city that is hidden behind the tall buildings and skyscrapers: walls of graffiti, groups of kids playing badminton, football, or chasing one another, or old people having conversations with each other in front of their houses.

ho chi minh city in one trip backstreets

Weave through a small alley to know what is hidden behind the tall walls

Summary of How to Explore Ho Chi Minh City in One Trip

Even with little time, you can make the most of your trip to Ho Chi Minh City by:

Make your agenda with our suggestions and have fun in Ho Chi Minh City!

Find cheap plane tickets below:

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