Vietnam is one of the most popular travel destinations for tourists. The easiest way to get there is by flying into one of the country's two main airports: Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi, located in the north, serves as the capital, while Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most developed cities in the south. If we're talking about a visit from Bali, it's more convenient to fly into Ho Chi Minh City.
Meanwhile, VietJet, the leading Vietnamese airline, has increased the frequency of flights to Bali. The airline will operate four flights per day from Ho Chi Minh City to Bali and two flights per day from Bali to Hanoi starting from August 12, 2023. Additionally, the country's authorities are currently reviewing the visa policy and plan to introduce the possibility of extending the electronic visa to 90 days starting from August 15.
If you plan to stay in the country for less than two weeks, you will need to present a return ticket at the border, and the necessary stamp will be placed in your passport. Upon crossing the border, vaccination, PCR tests, QR codes, or any phone applications will not be required.
The flight from Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City is a direct flight that takes about 3 hours and 50 minutes. It's advisable to purchase round-trip tickets together, as buying separate tickets might result in a higher price. The one-way ticket cost starts from $101.
The most suitable time for a trip to Vietnam is from February to May and from August to October. During the summer, Vietnam can be very hot and humid, with an average temperature of around +35°C. Such weather can make your stay uncomfortable. The time difference between Vietnam and Bali is one hour (Vietnam is behind Bali).
The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND). A convenient exchange rate is approximately 1$ = 23,800 dong = 15,000 rupees.
Ho Chi Minh City
Prices in Ho Chi Minh City are roughly similar to those in Bali, if not lower, especially for food and accommodation. Small hotels in the central tourist area of the city can cost around 500,000 dong per room (about $20). If you don't book accommodation in advance, there's always a possibility of finding a suitable option on-site, especially on the tourist street Phạm Ngũ Lão. You can reach this street from the airport using very cheap buses (numbers 109 or 103), and the cost of the trip is 15,000 - 20,000 dong (about $1)
It's better to have a reserve of dollars for your trip. There's no need to rush to exchange them for local currency right at the airport. You can exchange dollars for dong at any bank in the country. However, they are gladly accepted in other places as well, such as restaurants, tourist offices, jewelry stores, and hotels.
In Ho Chi Minh City, cards are widely accepted in all shopping centers, supermarkets, etc. In May, the press service of the national payment system 'Mir' happily reported that our cards now work in Vietnam. Currently, you can withdraw money in six cities where there are 'reprogrammed' ATMs of VRB bank: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Vung Tau, Hai Phong, Khanh Hoa. Here is an updated list with addresses of these ATMs.
Don't rush to buy a local SIM card with mobile internet right at the airport upon arrival. It's better to do this at mobile network offices, for example, MobiFone. Purchase the simplest SIM card with the most basic internet plan, which will cost around $20 per month. Just make sure they've activated the internet plan for you, otherwise, the money will be deducted immediately.
The most convenient ways to get around the city are taxis and motorbikes. It's important to be attentive and aware of possible scams and fraud you might encounter from taxi drivers. In Ho Chi Minh City, taxi drivers are everywhere, and it's quite easy to catch their attention and become a customer. Prices aren't regulated by the government and can vary depending on the company (there are many of them here), so don't be surprised if you're quoted different prices for the same trip in different taxis. The average price for the most popular Vietnamese transportation company, Mai Linh Taxi, is around 13,000 dong (less than $1) per kilometer traveled and roughly 7,000 dong for waiting time. By the way, the highest number of cars on the road in Ho Chi Minh City can be observed during rush hours on weekdays from 7:00 to 8:30 and from 16:30 to 18:00.
Most taxi drivers speak limited English and sometimes struggle with reading addresses in Latin script. Therefore, it's recommended to show the address written in Vietnamese or use a map to indicate the location. An ideal option would be to download the Grab app, where you can choose the type of transport you need and see the final price for the trip.
Ho Chi Minh City offers a modern urban atmosphere, dynamic nightlife, splendid restaurants, and numerous historical landmarks. There are many interesting places to visit there.
The city still preserves the French colonial architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries. And although the number of these elegant buildings is decreasing year by year, there are still enough interesting squares and urban ensembles in the historic center to admire. Yes, it can't be compared to Versailles and Paris, but if you've missed classic European architecture during your years in Bali, a trip to Ho Chi Minh City might be worth it.
In the city center, there are at least 5-7 magnificent rooftop bars. Many of them are open-air, so you'll be able to look out over the city not through glass but directly feel the power of this rapidly developing metropolis and listen to its sounds.
For fans of colonial architecture
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
The renowned cathedral, built in the Gothic style, has become a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City and an important place for believers and tourists alike. Inside the cathedral, you'll find beautiful frescoes, statues of saints, and an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. The cathedral is also a venue for religious services and events.
At the beginning of 2019, the cathedral was closed for reconstruction, and as of July 2023, the reconstruction was still ongoing.
During the initial construction, many building materials for the cathedral were imported from France, including bricks, steel, cement, stained glass, and metal accessories. Bricks were transported directly from Marseille. The foundation was designed to be so sturdy that it could support a building load ten times higher than the current cathedral. The building was completed in 1880. The architecture blends Romanesque and Gothic styles. This cathedral design was chosen out of 18 proposed options.
Most of the original bricks still bear marks made on them during their manufacturing in Marseille. However, during the Vietnam War, parts of the building suffered damage, and some bricks had to be replaced.
The cathedral was designed in a Neo-Romanesque style with a red-brick façade. Another distinguishing feature is the stained glass windows and, of course, the two bell towers on the central façade with six bronze bells that ring to this day.
The cathedral measures 135 meters in length and 35 meters in width. The prayer hall can accommodate 1200 people. A series of chapels on either side serves as space for small altars with stone statues of saints. The main altar of the cathedral is made from a solid marble block with six angel statues.
Above the main entrance, there is a choir with an organ, by the way, the oldest organ in Vietnam. It was entirely handcrafted.
And the most prominent details of the cathedral are its bell towers. The original height was 36.6 meters. During the 1895 reconstruction, two symmetrical bell towers were added to the facade, raising the building's height to 57.6 meters. Currently, there are six large bronze bells on the bell towers, cast in France. When they all ring simultaneously, the sound can be heard up to 10 kilometers around.
The space between the bells houses a clock with a mechanism that weighs around a ton. It was made in Switzerland in 1887, and despite its respectable age, the mechanism still functions excellently.
In front of the cathedral, there is a park, with intersecting paths forming a cross, and the center features a statue of Our Lady of Peace. It was created by the sculptor J. Chokketti in 1959.
In 1962, the cathedral was given the title of 'basilica,' which is only used for cathedrals that hold special historical and religious significance.
Saigon General Post Office
The Ho Chi Minh City Central Post Office is a legacy of French colonial times. It is located right next to Notre-Dame Cathedral, just across the street.
The building's architecture is an eclectic blend of Gothic and Renaissance influences. The design was based on the work of Gustave Eiffel and his assistant Alfred Foulhoux. The building is adorned with arched windows and wooden shutters, looking much the same as it did after its completion in 1891.
The history of the postal department in Saigon dates back to a distant past. The building was constructed during the period of French colonization of Vietnam in the late 19th to early 20th century. The architect of the building was Gustave Eiffel, known for his work on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The Saigon Central Post Office represents a beautiful blend of French and Eastern architecture. The building is adorned with high vaulted ceilings, decorative wooden elements, and enormous maps on the walls. Historical city maps grace the walls, depicting past plans of the city — 'Telegraph Lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892' and 'Saigon and Its Surroundings 1892'. The central hall inside the building is decorated with a portrait of Gustave Eiffel.
When you step inside, you are instantly charmed by the interior with its arches, marble floors with intricate patterns, antique phone booths, where there's even a sign that says 'Moscow'. And despite the French architecture and stylistic elements, the legendary leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, watches over everything from the wall, reminding you that you're in Asia.
In addition to its historical value, the Saigon Central Post Office continues to function as a post office, where tourists and local residents can send letters, postcards, and packages. Moreover, inside the building, there are also shops offering souvenirs and gifts.
In the galleries that open to the right and left of the entrance, souvenir shops with fixed prices can be found. Prices are, of course, inflated due to the location's high popularity. But at least you can take a look at the types of souvenirs that interest you in principle.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
The City Hall building was constructed in 1909 in the French colonial style and was originally named the "Hôtel de Ville de Saigon" (Hotel de Ville of Saigon). It was designed to serve as the headquarters of the regional committee.
The construction of this architectural masterpiece took about 12 years, during which remarkable work was done. The project was developed by the French architect Femand Gardès, modeled after the Paris City Hall. The architectural style can be described as Neo-Baroque from the era of Emperor Napoleon III.
In 1975, after the unification of Vietnam, the building was renamed the People's Committee Building of Ho Chi Minh City. While it is closed to visitors, it still captures the attention of tourists eager to take photos against its backdrop.
The façade of the Ho Chi Minh City Hall is adorned in Neo-Renaissance style and decorated with various statues and sculptures. In front of the building stands a statue of General Jean-Baptiste Joseph Marie de Maunoury, a French military figure who served in Vietnam in the early 20th century.
Opposite the City Hall building is Ho Chi Minh City's central square, a very popular place for evening strolls by local residents, with a monument erected in honor of Vietnam's first president, Ho Chi Minh.
Saigon Municipal Opera House
The Saigon Municipal Opera House, also known as the Saigon Municipal Opera House, is one of the most outstanding and beautiful architectural landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) in Vietnam. This splendid building serves as a cultural and artistic center and hosts a variety of events such as opera performances, ballets, concerts, and other theatrical shows.
The theater was built in the early 20th century in the French Neo-Renaissance architectural style and stands as one of the most significant examples of Vietnam's colonial heritage. The architectural design of the building features elegant columns, intricately carved wooden elements, balconies, tall arched windows, and beautiful decorative details. The theater's building captures attention with its refined exterior, creating the impression of a majestic historical structure.
The Saigon Municipal Opera House is located in the city center, adjacent to other significant landmarks such as the Saigon Central Post Office and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Local residents and tourists come here to enjoy world-class performances and to admire the beauty of the building itself.
The theater is an important cultural and historical monument in Saigon, attracting many people interested in art and culture. It is an excellent place to immerse oneself in Vietnam's history and cultural heritage and to relish sophisticated artistic performances.
Here, a diverse range of performances takes place, including dramatic plays, opera productions, ballet, and folklore shows. Sometimes even fashion shows are held in the opera building.
Since 1863, when theater troupes from France started performing in Saigon, they staged plays in a wooden building known as the Admiral's House. Soon, the theater building was constructed on the site where the Caravelle Hotel now stands. The building is surrounded by two elegant hotels, Caravelle and Continental Saigon, which together form a unified architectural ensemble.
The current building began construction in 1898 and was completed in 1900, designed by French architects Félix Olivier, Ernest Guichard, and Eugène Ferret in the style of the Third French Republic architecture. It is said that the decor was inspired by the Petit Palais building in Paris, which now houses an art museum.
The facade of the building is adorned with numerous statues and Empire-style stucco decorations. Later, this decor received criticism, and as part of an architectural rejuvenation program, many details were removed in 1943.
Between the two World Wars, the building suffered little damage. It was used as a shelter for French civilians migrating from the north to the south of the country after the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords. Later, the theater underwent renovations and was used as a government congress building of Vietnam.
In 1975, after the reunification of Vietnam, the building regained its original function as a theater.
To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Saigon in 1998, the government decided to restore the architecture and decor of the theater building to its original beauty. Statues of art patrons, floral wreaths, and lamps, along with other details, were returned to their original places.
Ben Thanh Market
This is one of the most famous markets and main tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. This picturesque market is the oldest in the city and plays an important role in the daily life of the local residents.
Ben Thanh Market is located in the central part of the city, near Nguyen Hue Square, and its history dates back over a hundred years. The market building is a colorful and complex architectural complex with a traditional atmosphere of an Asian market. Here you can find numerous stalls and shops selling various goods, ranging from clothing, shoes, textiles, and souvenirs to fresh food, spices, and traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Ben Thanh Market serves not only as a trading center but also as a place to learn about local culture and customs. The market bustles with activity, and its atmosphere is filled with the aromas of local dishes and authentic charm. Tourists can try a variety of street food, purchase souvenirs, and even practice their bargaining skills, as prices for goods are often subject to negotiation.
Ben Thanh Market operates during the day and evening, but it becomes especially popular among tourists in the evening when many street cafes and restaurants open, offering Vietnamese cuisine and seafood.
In 1911, the previous building of Ben Thanh Market became dilapidated, and the city authorities decided to construct a new one to meet the demands of the developing commercial center that Saigon was at the time. Additionally, Ben Thanh Market was relocated to its current location.
Its area spans about 13,000 square meters. The market has 4 main entrances and 12 additional entrances. Approximately one and a half thousand stalls offer an incredibly diverse range of products. Starting from street food and fresh produce, and ending with souvenirs, electronics, and jewelry. Each section of the market specializes in its own assortment. It's said that around 10,000 shoppers pass through Ben Thanh Market every day.
This market is one of the many iconic landmarks of the city. Whether you plan to buy anything or not, visiting this market is definitely worth it just to immerse yourself in its lively atmosphere.
Despite having price tags on many items, remember to haggle. Start by offering a price half of what they ask for and then negotiate to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Also, keep an eye on your bags to avoid falling victim to pickpockets.
Hotel Majestic Saigon
A luxurious hotel that is a historical landmark and one of the most renowned and prestigious hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. This hotel captivates tourists with its opulent architectural design, rich history, and excellent service.
The hotel was built in 1925 during the French colonization of Vietnam and has since become a symbol of the city's architectural heritage. The hotel houses 175 rooms, including 76 Superior rooms with city views, 38 Deluxe rooms with pool views, 32 Deluxe rooms with river views, 20 Junior Suites, and 9 Majestic Suites. On the top floor, there's the Primavera Ballroom for special events. If you want to immerse yourself in all this romance and luxury for a couple of hours, step into the Serenade restaurant and experience a truly French atmosphere.
Hotel Majestic was built by one of the wealthiest residents of Saigon at the time, a Chinese man named Hui Bon Hoa. In addition to the Majestic, he also had a hand in building other establishments like the Fine Arts Museum of Saigon, Tu Du Hospital, and Ben Thanh Market. The hotel's building combines architectural styles of Rococo and Baroque with Eastern influences, creating a magnificent and distinctive exterior.
Hotel Majestic is located on the banks of the Saigon River and offers stunning views of the river and the city. Inside the hotel, an atmosphere of elegance and luxury is combined with traditional Vietnamese hospitality. Guests can enjoy comfortable rooms and suites, restaurants with diverse culinary offerings, a pool, a spa center, and other top-class amenities.
Hotel Majestic is also known for its historical role, serving as an important venue for meetings and events in the past, attracting celebrities, politicians, and businesspeople from around the world. Its lavish atmosphere and beautiful halls made it an ideal place for celebrations, banquets, and cultural events.
Hotel Continental Saigon
The building was erected in 1878, and the hotel itself started operating in 1880. The architect Pierre Cazeau conceived it as a luxurious place for French tourists that would amaze travelers after a long sea voyage.
Celebrities who arrived in Saigon stayed at the hotel, such as the Indian poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, British writer Graham Greene, and French novelist André Malraux. During wartime, the hotel became a meeting place for many foreign writers, journalists, and politicians.
Hotel Continental is located in the city center, just a few minutes' walk from attractions such as the Municipal Opera House of Saigon and Ben Thanh Market. The hotel offers luxurious rooms and suites with modern amenities to ensure comfort and pleasure for its guests.
The architectural style of the hotel combines elements of colonial and Eastern design, creating a unique atmosphere of vintage charm and luxury. Guests of Hotel Continental Saigon can enjoy beautiful interiors, luxurious dining halls, and facilities including restaurants, a spa center, pool, and fitness gym.
For History Enthusiasts
Vietnam War Remnants Museum
This is a unique place that offers visitors a deep immersion into the history and consequences of the Vietnam War, one of the most significant conflicts of the 20th century. The museum is located in an impressive building and houses an extensive collection of exhibits, photographs, and documents that help visitors comprehend the scale and impact of this war on Vietnam and the international community. The museum's exhibitions present various aspects of the conflict, from its origins and causes to its aftermath and the peace movement.
Of course, before visiting, it's better to read something about the history of Vietnam and especially the history of the 20th century. To understand how much suffering this country endured over the past century, the bloodiest in its history.
In the museum's courtyard, there's military equipment from the time of the war with the US - cannons, tanks, a military cargo helicopter, bombs. Climbing on tanks and helicopters is prohibited. Shivers run down your spine when you imagine this entire arsenal in action on the battlefield.
Inside the museum building, there's a photography exhibition. Part of the photo exhibition consists of documentary photographs taken by American photographers, clippings from US newspapers from the war period. There's an exhibition dedicated to the history of one of the war's episodes when American soldiers came to a village and almost wiped out all its residents. In the same hall, there's a piece of a concrete pipe where Vietnamese people hid before the soldiers discovered them and killed them.
But the real horror begins when you enter the room with photographs of victims of chemical attacks and see the disfigured people who were affected by phosphorus and napalm bombs. It becomes even more heart-wrenching when the photo exhibition shows the maimed bodies of Vietnamese people who were born generations later to those who participated in the combat. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of war participants. According to statistics, even in the fourth generation, 2,000 disabled children were born to former war participants in the country. And in the room, there are photographs of these children who, despite their disabilities, try to draw, engage in sports, and pursue crafts.
Adult tourists, including men, walk through the exhibition with tear-filled eyes. In the adjacent room, there's an exhibition of children's drawings where kids depicted the disabled, victims of dioxin or "Agent Orange," as it was also known. There, two disabled girls create souvenirs from shimmering beads and sell them.
Visit this museum to rethink the importance of human life and start valuing it anew.
Ticket price: 40,000 dong (1.7$)
Opening hours: daily from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Cu Chi Tunnels
These tunnels became famous during the Vietnam War and served as shelters and a base for Viet Cong military operations. They've become a popular tourist spot where visitors can learn more about the lives and conditions faced by Viet Cong soldiers. The complex features an exhibit of American military equipment and various ammunition from that time. Additionally, you can explore an impressive collection of deadly traps designed by the Viet Cong. The complex staff will happily explain and demonstrate how they worked. The visit program also includes a jungle walk and an engaging activity called "find the entrance to the tunnel right under your feet." It's nearly impossible for an inexperienced eye to spot the well-camouflaged hatches. You can test your bravery and descend into these tunnels. You can also try the food that guerrillas ate. If you want a proper meal, there's a small café nearby. They offer a wide selection of dishes, but prices are high, so be prepared for that.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are located in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, about 50-55 km from the city center. There is no direct bus to the destination; you'll have to make transfers, which will significantly lengthen your journey.
The most optimal option is to book a tour of the tunnels, which can cost around $18 if purchased in Ho Chi Minh City (including transportation and guide services). You can buy the tour at any tourist center, which are located throughout Ho Chi Minh City.
A historic building that served as the residence of the President of South Vietnam during the war. Today, the Reunification Palace is a museum and is open for visitors. The original rooms, offices, and halls have been preserved in its interiors, reflecting the style and atmosphere of the Vietnam War era. Visitors can see presidential offices, meeting rooms, and even underground command centers. You can also explore photographs, documents, and exhibits that tell the story of Vietnam and events associated with this building.
Ticket cost: 40,000 dong (approximately $1.70)
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Vietnam History Museum
This is one of the most significant museums in Vietnam, dedicated to the rich history and culture of the country.
The museum building was constructed in 1927 according to the design of the French architect Delaval, but the style was based on Chinese traditions. In 1956, the museum acquired collections of cultural and everyday items from Vietnam's ethnic minorities such as the Cham, Khmer, Chinese, Japanese, and other ethnic groups.
There are 17 galleries in the museum that depict various periods of the country's history. Many galleries have informative descriptions on the walls. However, the colonial period and the history of the 20th century are not well covered. It's unlikely that you will get a comprehensive picture of Vietnam's history solely from the exhibition, so it's better to read something about the country's history before visiting the museum. The museum displays artifacts, rare documents, maps, photographs, and artworks that help portray the richness and complexity of the country's history.
The Vietnam History Museum holds significant importance for locals as well as foreign tourists interested in the history and culture of Vietnam. It's a place where you can learn about the national identity, traditions, and important events that have shaped modern Vietnam. The museum plays a vital role in preserving and popularizing Vietnam's cultural heritage, serving as a valuable source of knowledge about this remarkable country's past.
Currently, the museum's collection includes around 32,000 exhibits from Vietnam and other Asian countries. The exhibition on the Stone Age might be of interest. In this gallery, tools used by ancient people from periods hundreds of thousands of years ago are displayed. Notably, among these exhibits are not replicas, but genuine tools that ancient people used in their daily lives.
Another interesting exhibit, although small in size, is dedicated to the cultures of Vietnam's ethnic minorities, which number around fifty. The exhibit includes documentary photographs of rituals of these ethnic groups, clothing items, and photographs of their traditional houses.
Another collection is focused on Buddhism and presents a rich display of Buddha statues from various eras, countries, and made from diverse materials. There's also a hall showcasing Hindu sculptures from Vietnamese temples, as there were Hindu regions in the country at different times.
Ticket cost: 30,000 dong (approximately $1.20)
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with a break from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
This majestic mansion once served as the residence of the French governor and later as the residence of the President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, who was assassinated in 1963. The building itself holds historical significance, as it was constructed during the period of French colonization of Vietnam. This architectural masterpiece blends elements of French colonial architecture with traditional Eastern details.
Inside the museum, you can learn about the history of Ho Chi Minh City from ancient times to the present day. The museum's exhibits include archaeological finds, historical artifacts, photographs, maps, rare documents, and artworks that narrate the city's development, economic, social, and cultural life, as well as significant events and achievements.
Some exhibitions are integrated into the city's historical narrative, while others are not, giving the impression that they were included simply due to the presence of interesting artifacts. The most intriguing displays include an exhibit of ancient city maps, spanning from its earliest mentions to the present day. These maps provide insight into the city's evolution and urban planning. One of the maps depicts an octagonal-shaped old fortress, designed by French engineers and built during the pre-colonial period. The fortress was later destroyed during bombings during the city's conquest, and the city was completely rebuilt, maintaining the same layout.
Another intriguing exhibition focuses on the wedding rituals of different times and tribes in Vietnam. It features photographs from various periods, explanations of how weddings are conducted among different Vietnamese ethnic groups, and displays of wedding costumes.
The exhibit also includes an interesting display of currency used in Vietnam from ancient times to the present day. Here, you can see ancient Chinese coins as well as colonial-era elaborately decorated paper bills.
The most informative exhibit is dedicated to Vietnam's struggle for independence and reunification. It includes photographs, displays of personal belongings of war participants, and historical information about the course of this fight. While it's challenging to characterize the narrative as completely unbiased, and evaluating such significant events without bias is difficult, if you're interested in gaining insight into the perspective of modern Vietnamese historiography on those events, you'll have the chance to do so.
The building itself is simply magnificent and impresses with the elegance of its architecture. Outside the museum, there's a display of military equipment.
The Ho Chi Minh City Museum strives to preserve and disseminate knowledge about the city's past, its heritage, and its significance in Vietnam's history. It's a place where tourists and locals alike can learn more about their homeland, appreciate Ho Chi Minh's contributions to the country's history, and understand the path he traveled from ancient civilizations to the modern bustling metropolis.
Ticket cost: 30,000 dong (approximately $1.20)
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Nha Rong Wharf is located in District 4 of the city. This significant historical site played a crucial role in Vietnam's history and holds special importance for the country. Previously, it served as Saigon's main trading port during the era of French colonial rule. The port administration and the residence of the general manager were situated here.
Two massive blue terracotta dragons adorn the roof of the building. The structure gained recognition not just for its architectural value but also its historical significance to the nation's destiny.
Built in the early 20th century, Nha Rong Wharf served as the headquarters for the French shipping company Messageries Maritimes in the past. The building was a crucial port handling cargo and passengers, making it one of the key trade centers in the region.
However, the importance of Nha Rong Wharf goes beyond its commercial functions. The building also played a significant role in Vietnam's political history. It was the place where Ho Chi Minh (also known as Nguyen Ai Quoc) first left the country in 1911 to commence his struggle for Vietnam's independence from colonial rule.
Today, Nha Rong Wharf functions as a museum known as the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The museum is dedicated to the life and activities of Ho Chi Minh, the founder and leader of North Vietnam. Inside the museum, you can learn more about the life of this prominent political figure, as well as the periods of colonial rule and the struggle for Vietnam's independence.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Nha Rong Wharf offers a splendid view of the Saigon River and the city. Locals and tourists visit here to enjoy the beauty of the river and the surrounding landscape.
For enthusiasts of activities
Trampoline Center "Jump Arena"
A decent trampoline center located in the expat area of Ho Chi Minh City, Thao Dien. It's probably not worth traveling here from the city center, but if you've found accommodation in this area and are traveling with a child, stopping by here could be enjoyable for the whole family.
An hour of jumping costs 100,000 dong ($4.20) from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM. On weekends, it's 140,000 dong ($6). A two-hour pass is 120,000 dong ($5). An unlimited day of jumping on the trampolines is 150,000 dong ($6.30). To visit the center, you must purchase non-slip socks, which are sold here for 50,000 dong ($2.10).
"Jump Arena" offers large areas with set-up trampolines where visitors can freely jump and refine their acrobatic skills. It's a great place for both children and adults to have fun. Visitors can experience the sensation of weightlessness and joyful bouncing, as well as learn various tricks and jumps on the trampolines. There are trampolines with jumps into soft cubes, jumps into inflatable bags, two climbing walls, a field with trampolines arranged in squares, trampoline slides, and a zone where you can jump from trampolines onto platforms. The center is staffed with employees who maintain good control over the space.
In the same area known as Thao Dien, there's also an ice skating rink and a climbing wall.
Vinpearl Land Ice Skating Rink
Just a 10-minute walk from Jump Arena, located in the Vinciti shopping center, there's an ice skating rink. Vinpearl Land offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy ice skating in comfortable and safe conditions. The rink is typically equipped with modern facilities and undergoes regular technical inspections to ensure smooth and safe ice.
Prices are as follows: for children up to 140 centimeters in height, it's 100,000 dong ($4.20) (on weekends and holidays, 150,000 dong - $6.30); for those taller than 140 centimeters, it's 170,000 dong ($7.20) (on weekends and holidays, 220,000 dong). The rink operates from 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM. All equipment is provided and included in the ticket price. If a child is not confident on the ice, they can use a support penguin, which they'll need to push along while holding onto it.
Overall, the shopping center is quite good, featuring restaurants and cafes where you can eat. In the underground floor, there's a supermarket with a good selection of products.
At the Vinpearl Land Ice Skating Rink, various events and shows are often organized, such as figure skating performances, hockey matches, and ice shows, making the visit even more captivating.
Push Climbing Climbing Gym
And here's the third reason to visit the Thao Dien district. A climbing gym with 9-meter walls and bouldering walls. Even if you've never tried rock climbing, this is a great place to conquer your first 9-meter wall in this gym. There are special days here - Wednesdays for girls and Thursdays for boys, when the entrance fee to the climbing gym is only 100,000 dong ($4.20). Shoes and safety gear are included in the price.
A qualified trainer will show you how to put on the gear, handle the rope, find the easiest route, and point out holds with a laser pointer for you to climb, until you start to figure it out on your own. The atmosphere here is friendly and supportive. Visitors encourage each other emotionally, offer advice, and provide safety support if necessary.
The wall of this climbing gym is the tallest in Saigon. It features 30 routes of varying difficulty levels, suitable for beginners to advanced climbers. It's equipped with 6 self-belaying devices. There are 2 separate bouldering zones, covering a total area of 70 square meters, suitable for all skill levels.
Inside the gym, there's a small climbing gear shop. And in front of the climbing gym, there's a small restaurant where you can relax after your climbing adventures.
The standard one-hour pass without gear costs 150,000 dong ($6.30). Gear - shoes, harness, and chalk bag - costs an additional 50,000 dong.
The entrance to the climbing gym is not from the main street, but from a side street opposite the Vinmart supermarket.
Vertical Academy Climbing Gym
This is another popular climbing gym and entertainment center in Ho Chi Minh City. The climbing gym doesn't have a tall wall, but it does have bouldering walls. This place opened in June 2018.
The bouldering wall area is about 100 square meters, with a height of 4.5 meters.
The standard day pass costs 150,000 dong ($6.30). It includes climbing shoes and instructor assistance. On Wednesdays, there are special sessions for beginners, which cost 200,000 dong ($8.50) for an adult.
Vertical Academy is equipped with various routes of different difficulties to match climbers' experience levels. It provides both beginners and experienced climbers with the opportunity to enjoy this thrilling sport.
Professional instructors at the center help students improve their technical skills. Workshops and training sessions are also available for those who want to enhance their climbing abilities on the wall.
In addition to climbing activities, Vertical Academy organizes and hosts competitions, themed events, and even children's parties.
Dam Sen Water Park
Dam Sen is one of the largest and most modern water parks and amusement parks in Vietnam. It covers an area of 50 hectares, with about 60% of the area being lush greenery, which includes decorative plants. Another 20% consists of water spaces. It's a true green oasis within the city.
The park's decor combines a variety of styles from different countries and eras, expressed through Japanese tea ceremony houses, a bonsai garden with Japanese cherry blossoms, a Roman square, a royal palace, an orchid garden, and an ice house. Additionally, the park features a unique Vietnamese instrument called "Thach Thuy Cam," and its music is created through the interaction of stone and water.
The park's garden is home to around 80 species of birds and 30 species of rare animals. Visitors can spot peacocks, pheasants, herons, parrots, pythons, tigers, leopards, bears, and elephants. You can also visit a crocodile farm with hundreds of reptile residents. The park provides an opportunity to learn about the cultivation and growth of pearls and how they are cultivated in modern conditions.
The attractions include roller coasters, rafting, spinning coasters, and a haunted castle. Laser shows and movie screenings on water screens take place. The park's dinosaur area hosts shows featuring giant dinosaurs.
In the water park, you can have fun on attractions such as the 19-meter "Kamikaze" water slide, a massive wave pool, the "Twisting River" and the "Wild River," the 12-meter "Boomerang" slide on which you ride a huge raft, the "Black Lightning" - a black tunnel where you slide on a double air tube, the 12-meter "Love Storm" slide on which you can ride solo without any equipment, a zipline over the pool, a 20-meter-high "Tornado" tube with a 119-meter-long tunnel and free fall, a steep spiral "Twister Max" tube, and a massage jacuzzi pool with 70 fountains. For children, there's an Aqua Dance area - a dance floor with fountains, and a special kids' pool. Additional fees apply for using the slides.
Within the park's premises, besides restaurants and cafes, there are numerous massage salons, saunas, jacuzzis, and beauty salons.
The entrance fee for the amusement park for adults ranges from 100,000 to 360,000 dong ($4.2 - $15.2, excluding water park slides). The entrance fee for the water park for adults (above 1.4 meters) is 150,000 dong ($6.3) during the day and 120,000 dong ($5) after 4:00 PM. For children (below 1.4 meters), it's 110,000 dong ($4.6) during the day and 80,000 dong ($3.4) after 4:00 PM. The park operates from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. It can get quite crowded on weekends. Storage for belongings costs 20,000 dong.
The park is quite far from the city center. You can reach it by taxi or city bus. Buses of routes 15, 64, 144, 62, and 69 stop near the park.
For shopping enthusiasts
This is probably one of the most convenient shopping malls in the city center. It features stores like H&M, Zara, Mango, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Charles & Keith, along with many cosmetic and accessory shops. The building is conveniently located in the city center and houses cafes and restaurants. There are a total of 7 above-ground and underground floors.
On the lowest floor of the mall, there's a supermarket with all kinds of products, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. On this floor, you'll also find many restaurants and cafes where you can eat for around 50,000 dong ($2) or so. On one of the underground floors, there's a bookstore with stationery and souvenirs. While there aren't many souvenirs, the assortment is quite extensive. You can even buy elegant Chinese teapots here.
The mall has several ATMs, including a Citibank ATM. In front of the shopping mall's building, there's a small square with benches where you can enjoy a pleasant evening. Right across the street is the Parkson Plaza department store with elite brand clothing, and the Union Square department store with space-themed elite brand clothing.
Binh Tay Night Market
Binh Tay Market was built in the 1880s and is located in the Chinatown area. Unlike the popular Ben Thanh Market in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Tay Market primarily serves the local population rather than tourists.
The market opens after sunset and continues operating until late at night. It's best to visit this market early in the morning. Closer to 6:00 PM, it already starts to close down, although the stalls around the market might still be active.
The market area is filled with numerous stalls, stands, and tents offering a wide range of goods, from souvenirs and clothing to accessories and cosmetics. One of the main attractions of the Binh Tay Night Market is its diverse food options. You'll have the chance to try various Vietnamese street snacks and dishes, such as banh mi (marinated pork sandwich), banh beo (steamed rice cakes with meat or shrimp), and pho (Vietnamese noodle soup with meat). Additionally, at the Binh Tay Night Market, you can find various products including clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, souvenirs, and more. It's a place where you can feel the city's pulse and observe how locals trade and spend their evenings. You can also find tourist items here, such as handicrafts, lacquer paintings, and textiles.
The market is located away from the city center, but you can reach it by either using Grab taxi services or taking a city bus. If you plan to take the bus back to the city center, look for a return bus at the major Ben Thanh Bus Station (Bến xe Chợ Lớn) near the market.
Keep in mind that if you're planning to buy clothes, larger sizes might not be readily available. Moreover, there aren't many sidewalks for pedestrians around the market; the space is occupied by stalls, motorbikes, and traders' goods.
It's convenient to visit this market if you'd like to explore the Chinese temples and pagodas in the Chinatown area.
An Dong Market
An Dong Market is located in the Chinatown area of Ho Chi Minh City and is a part of its cultural and commercial heritage. The market has been around for a long time and has become one of the oldest markets in South Vietnam. You can find anything here - from silver jewelry to dried fruits. Or you can simply sit down at a modest café and enjoy local delicacies. This market fully embodies the spirit and atmosphere of Chinatown.
The building houses numerous shops selling clothing and handicrafts. The market is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The first floor features dried products, coffee, tea, and jewelry. The second floor is the realm of shoes. The third and fourth floors offer clothing, and on the fourth floor, there are a few stalls selling souvenirs. Souvenirs mainly consist of carved wooden figurines, utensils, lacquer paintings, and bone artifacts.
If you're not picky about clothing and are looking for something sporty, you can find clothing for yourself at this market. If you need something elegant, you're unlikely to find it here. Much of the clothing sold is in a Chinese-style. Synthetic fabrics, sequins, bright colors, and rhinestones. Not all clothing at the market is sold in retail. You might encounter a problem with shoes in that larger sizes might not be available. The market mainly caters to locals, and the sizes available are usually smaller, tailored to Vietnamese people. Be prepared that your size 37-38 shoes might turn into a local size 39.
Even though the prices at this market are generally lower than the touristy and popular Ben Thanh Market, you can and should still bargain here. Not all clothing stalls sell retail here. There are wholesale shops as well.
Just a couple of hundred meters from the market building, there is An Dong Plaza. It's almost the same kind of market but in a newer and more modern building. The assortment is roughly the same. It can't be said that the clothing style there is more elegant, but in the central shopping areas around the escalator, there are shops with decent youth-oriented models. If you like a minimalist-denim style in clothing, you might find something for yourself there.
To get to An Dong Market from District 1, you can take a bus. The ticket cost will be around 5,000 - 6,000 dong ($0.2) depending on the route.
Visiting this market can also be combined with a visit to the Chinese pagodas in the Chinatown area.
For lovers of art galleries and painting museums
Museum of Fine Arts
This museum, built in 1929, is astonishing with its airy corridors, verandas, decorative tiles, and delicate stained glass.
The museum is housed in a building that was once a private villa. It was commissioned by the Chinese merchant Hui Bon Hoa, who became wealthy under colonial administration. He also owned the well-known Majestic Hotel in the center of Saigon. Initials "HBH" crafted from iron, which can be seen at the museum's entrance, remind visitors of this entrepreneur.
Hui Bon Hoa constructed the house for his family and incorporated elements of traditional Chinese architecture into French neoclassicism. The overall layout of the main building, the arrangement of its passages, halls, and staircases, were designed according to the principles of feng shui. The Museum of Fine Arts has been located in this house since 1987.
The main museum building has three floors. The collection in the main section focuses on contemporary lacquer graphics, sculpture, and painting. The hall is adorned with stained glass, chandeliers, and ornamentation. Passing through it, you'll reach an elegant staircase leading to the second and third floors. Next to it, there's a wooden lift – one of the first in Ho Chi Minh City. For preservation reasons, it is currently inactive.
The Museum of Fine Arts is dedicated to preserving, researching, and exhibiting artworks created by Vietnamese artists and artists from other countries. Its collection includes paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, ceramics, and other forms of art.
The museum's exhibitions cover different historical periods and styles, ranging from traditional Vietnamese art and culture to contemporary artistic movements. Visitors can learn about the diversity of artistic directions and characteristics of Vietnamese art history and culture.
The exhibitions are accompanied by souvenir shops where visitors can purchase art items. In the corridors of the main building, you can sometimes find artists and students creating their works on the spot. In the courtyard, art workshops and drawing classes for children are held almost every weekend.
Unfortunately, most works lack any information about the artist behind a particular painting or the concept they incorporated. Only a few rooms on the third floor have information about the featured artists.
The first floor is dedicated to Chinese and Vietnamese exhibits. Many works by local painters are devoted to landscapes and scenes of their homeland. Additionally, there is a gallery on the first floor where paintings by contemporary artists are put up for sale.
The second floor hosts an exhibition of paintings dedicated to the revolutionary struggle. On the second floor of the museum, there is an open gallery where you can relax and admire the views. The front facade also features picturesque balconies that you can step out onto.
Exhibits on the third floor represent the daily life of ancient inhabitants of the area that is modern-day Vietnam from the first century BCE. On display are items such as tools, ornaments, and tomb elements found in different parts of the country. Additionally, there are modern paintings.
In total, the museum's premises include three buildings, each of which is beautiful in its own right as examples of colonial architecture. The second building of the museum presents works by lesser-known artists and hosts special exhibitions. In an additional building, ancient artifacts from southern Vietnam are displayed, including pieces from the Mekong Delta.
The museum's collection also features exhibits representing the cultures of peoples who left their mark in Vietnam's history - the Khmer, Cham, and Indians. Artifacts from this collection span from 1400 to 400 years ago.
Ticket price: 30,000 dong ($1.3)
Opening hours: 08:00 - 17:00
It is conveniently located in the city center, making it possible to combine exploring the architecture of the French colonial part, visiting cafes and restaurants, and immersing oneself in the aesthetics of contemporary Vietnamese art.
The gallery's exhibition spans three floors and represents a diverse collection of contemporary art. All the featured works are creations of local artists, many of whom reside in the northern part of the country, in Hanoi and its surroundings. The gallery showcases works by about 50 masters.
Among the most vivid and characteristic artists of the gallery are Bui Huu Hung, known for his portraits of Vietnamese women with striking expressive eyes, and Dao Hai Phong, who presents surrealistic rural landscapes of Vietnam in shades. There's also a stylistic resemblance with Le Minh.
The "Apricot Gallery" is dedicated to promoting Vietnamese art and culture, as well as facilitating cultural exchange between different cultures and artists. Here, you can see a variety of artistic works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other forms of art.
The "Apricot Gallery" also organizes exhibitions and artistic events to showcase artists' works to the public and create a space for dialogue and discussion about art. It's a place that attracts not only artists but also collectors and art enthusiasts interested in contemporary art trends in Vietnam and beyond.
The "Apricot Gallery" is recognized within the Vietnamese community and beyond as one of the leading galleries in the country, representing high-quality artistic works and modern creative directions.
Opening hours: 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
The gallery opens directly onto the central square of Ho Chi Minh City, so it's quite natural to visit here during a city stroll. The collection is displayed on two floors of the gallery. The works of the currently popular artist Bui Huu Hung are also presented here.
And the works of the artist Tran Quang Dinh are especially noteworthy. The master breaks down objects into separate facets that radiate, shine, and exist according to some other laws of physics.
Opening hours: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Ben Tan Gallery
The gallery's exhibition, which is also located in the tourist center, is presented on three floors. There are many interesting works. The artist Hong Viet Dung is strongly represented, depicting minimalist landscapes from various corners of Vietnam. This gallery was known for its art exhibitions and the presentation of artworks created by Vietnamese and international artists.
Ben Tan Gallery presents various forms of art, including painting, sculpture, photography, and other artistic works. Here, you could see both traditional Vietnamese art pieces and contemporary creative approaches.
Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
A center of contemporary art where conceptual art exhibitions take place. It's located in the quiet expat area of Tao Dien, where you can also visit a rock climbing wall, a trampoline park, and an ice skating rink.
"Factory" was designed as an art space for contemporary Vietnamese art. The gallery is constantly undergoing transformations, always hosting new exhibitions and evolving along with their nature.
The space was established in 2016. Exhibitions, workshops, lectures, seminars, performances, and film screenings are held here.
The building itself is quite interesting, easily recognizable from the diagonal painted container on its facade. The gallery also has a restaurant of Thai cuisine called MAYs Urban Thai Dine.
Before visiting the gallery, check their website to see what exhibition is currently taking place.
The Factory's mission is to become a center for contemporary art and culture that fosters the development of the artistic community and enriches the cultural scene in Vietnam. It's a place where artists can showcase their works, ideas, and experiments, as well as interact with the public and discuss their projects.
The Factory also actively collaborates with other artistic organizations and galleries both within and outside the country, contributing to cultural exchange and the diversity of artistic projects.
Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
For lovers of bars with a view
Bitexco Financial Tower
When the construction of Bitexco Tower was completed in 2010, it became the tallest skyscraper in Vietnam. The building of this tower has a height of 262 meters and an impressive number of 68 floors. On the 49th floor, there is the famous Ho Chi Minh City tourist attraction - the Sky Deck observation deck, offering a breathtaking view of the city and the Saigon River. Inside the skyscraper, there are two restaurants located on the 50th and 51st floors.
Alto Bar on the Roof and Lounge in Bitexco Tower.
The Alto Heli Bar is located on the 52nd floor of the modern Bitexco Financial Tower, the highest point in Ho Chi Minh City. It's the perfect place to be amazed by and admire the cityscapes. Unlike other rooftop bars in Saigon, although Alto Heli isn't situated on the rooftop, it surpasses them in height by two times, offering unrestricted views across the curving horizon.
An impressive scene awaits you, blending with the sophisticated design of a modern lounge, comfortable sofas, and numerous bar stools. The entire bar is bathed in soft lighting, allowing guests to enjoy panoramic views of Saigon as the day transitions into night and thousands of lights illuminate the city.
Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 02:00 AM
Arguably one of the most stunning open-air bars, a must-visit during sunset to gaze upon Ho Chi Minh City and fall in love. The view spans across three sides from here. The bar is situated on the 25th floor, which is enough to see the entire city almost at your fingertips, hear its sounds, let the gentle breeze touch your face, and be filled with wonder.
During happy hours at sunset, discounts on drinks are available. The menu can be found on the sky bar's website. Parties take place at the sky bar from Thursday to Sunday. More information about the bar's events can be found on their Facebook profile.
The bar usually opens late in the evening and operates into the late night, making it an ideal spot for nighttime gatherings and meet-ups with friends. Additionally, the bar occasionally hosts special events, DJ parties, and other entertainment activities.
A pleasant rooftop bar located on the 18th floor of the hotel. Views open up to Ho Chi Minh City's central square and surrounding areas. As a bonus, there's a rooftop pool. You can use it even if you're not a guest of the Liberty Central hotel, provided you pay $14. The package includes access to the pool, gym, and sauna.
Drink prices at the bar are high but not exorbitant. If it's raining, there's enough space under the roof to take shelter from it.
Wine Bar Level 23
The bar is located on the 23rd floor of the Sheraton Hotel. The bar offers a view of the central square and its surroundings. The bar isn't too windy, so it can be quite comfortable even in the evening. The entire space is under a roof, which is a great advantage during light rain.
There are bar tables with chairs along the glass railings that offer views of the city and Ho Chi Minh City's central square. Despite being organized for maximum safety, you can still give your nerves a tickle. It's nice that unlimited nuts and mini snacks are provided with the beer.
Level 23 Wine Bar & Nightspot offers a wide selection of wines from different countries and regions, making it a perfect spot for wine enthusiasts. Additionally, the bar provides an atmosphere of relaxed elegance and an excellent place for friend gatherings, business discussions, or romantic dates. The drink menu can be found on the wine bar's website.
Furthermore, Level 23 Wine Bar & Nightspot offers comfortable lounge areas and an open terrace, where visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the city, especially in the evening when the lights come on.
The sky bar is only on the sixth floor, but it's still worth a separate mention. If you're at the lighthouse, don't linger on the sixth floor, head up to the open terraces on the seventh and eighth floors, where there are bar counters with views of the surroundings.
On Wednesdays, there are Lady's Nights, and all women get free entry and alcoholic drinks. For coffee and tea lovers.
Vietnam is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee. The coffee industry plays a significant role in the country's economy, and coffee is one of the main agricultural products grown on many farms in various regions of Vietnam.
One of the distinctive features of Vietnamese coffee is its strength and unique preparation method. Vietnamese coffee is usually very rich in taste and aroma, making it popular not only among locals but also among tourists visiting the country.
One of the most popular ways of preparing Vietnamese coffee is "cà phê đá" or "coffee with ice." This coffee is brewed using a filter cup called "phin" and is served with condensed milk and ice. The drink is particularly popular in hot weather and has become a symbol of Vietnamese coffee culture. Additionally, Vietnam is also known for its amazing coffee plantations and tours that allow visitors to learn about the coffee bean cultivation and harvesting process and to enjoy freshly brewed coffee on the spot.
Vietnamese coffee has become an integral part of local culture and everyday life. Coffee shops and street-side coffee stalls are popular places for meeting friends, conversations, and relaxation. If you visit Vietnam, be sure to try Vietnamese coffee and savor its unique flavor and atmosphere.
In the central first district, there are three L'Usine establishments. They all differ slightly in interior, but they're all worth visiting. The oldest and most classic one, L'Usine Heritage, is literally just steps away from the main square.
L'Usine is known for its stylish design and an atmosphere that blends modern elements with vintage details. The establishment features various areas, such as a restaurant with a diverse menu, a café with tasty drinks and baked goods, as well as a shop with fashionable clothing, accessories, and souvenirs. Additionally, there's an art gallery showcasing the works of local artists.
Vietnamese coffee for 45,000 dong ($2) is served in an authentic Vietnamese coffee style and is simply incomparable. It has a fruity-caramel aftertaste. And they even provide a small chocolate with the coffee. Note that tax is added to the bill on top of the coffee price. Keep this in mind when ordering.
In between, there's a photo gallery of a well-known French photographer who travels through Asia, capturing children and the elderly. If you're in need of some photo inspiration, be sure to check it out.
The workshop, located in the top-floor apartments, was opened in 2014. It became the city's first dedicated coffee roastery. As you ascend here, you're enveloped in the aroma of freshly roasted coffee, so the climb up the ladder to the café anticipates entering a coffee paradise. The menu here is quite intricate, with a wealth of information about 100-500 brewing methods for coffee beans. An espresso cup costs 60,000 dong ($2.5).
The price is justified as most visitors use the place as a coworking space with very high-quality and fast internet. Paintings by contemporary artists hang on the walls, and guests play chess on the tables. This is a thoroughly modern café yet imbued with the spirit of Saigon.
For coffee connoisseurs, the selection is extensive - from espresso to coffee prepared in any of the professional devices - including the Wave, V60, AeroPress, and siphon. As Workshop's founder, Nguyen Tuan Dung, asserts, he understands that he can't change customers' tastes. He simply tries to instill in customers a respect and appreciation for coffee and the people who make it.
Here, you should try Vietnamese iced coffee, with its creamy, dense body and exquisite flavor. Apart from coffee, excellent breakfasts and lunches are also served. The pasta and Eggs Benedict are outstanding. Prices are higher than the market average, so be prepared for that.
This café has a very beautiful interior where design exhibitions take place. The prices are quite reasonable; for instance, you can get Vietnamese-style coffee for as little as 35,000 dong ($1.5). However, it's served in a regular cup instead of a Vietnamese coffee filter, but it comes with a generous and frothy foam. Interestingly, instead of regular drinking water, they serve a very light tea alongside the coffee.
For those who enjoy observing the city's hustle and bustle, there's a small open-air gallery on the second floor.
The food menu here is quite detailed and informative. There's a photo for each dish, making it easy to navigate.
Maison Marou Saigon
A cult chocolatier that people come to not just to have coffee or chocolate, but also to buy prestigious Vietnamese chocolate. In the spacious hall, there's an extensive table displaying various types of chocolate from the prestigious brand "Marou." All the chocolate bought here can be packaged and beautifully decorated as a gift.
On the wall, there's a map of the chocolate regions of Vietnam, where cocoa beans are grown and this delicacy is produced.
The place is very lively and bustling, not really suited for tranquil sitting. However, it might be to the liking of avid Instagrammers and lovers of cult places.
At Maison Marou Saigon café, you can indulge in a variety of chocolate products, including traditional tablet chocolates, pralines, chocolate candies, and other desserts. Additionally, you can try different chocolate-based beverages, including hot chocolate and chocolate cocktails.
Highly recommended to try the hot chocolate with chili and cinnamon.
The place also offers the opportunity to visit a chocolate factory, where you can learn about the chocolate-making process from raw materials to the finished product. You'll see how chocolate is made by hand and familiarize yourself with various production stages.
Furthermore, Maison Marou Saigon also has a shop where you can purchase various types of chocolate and chocolate-related souvenirs.
The Tea House Partea
In the central square of Ho Chi Minh City, there stands a very unusual building that was immortalized in the show "Orel i Reshka" ("Heads and Tails"). If you remember the episode where Nastya Ivleeva wandered around the house, which was converted from residential to a complex of cafes and shops, you'll understand what's being referred to. But here's the pity, the most interesting and even magical place in the show wasn't shown. Yet, it exists.
Right at the entrance, visitors are asked to take off their shoes. It might raise some suspicion, but this request becomes clear once you step inside. And there, it's a place reminiscent of "Alice in Wonderland." Every corner is filled with whimsical interior details. Guests are offered to choose their own tea from probably thirty different varieties, each of which sounds like a tea you could order and drink for the rest of your life.
A very pleasant coffee shop chain. There are numerous locations all over the city.
It was founded in 1968 and has become one of the most well-known local brands, offering high-quality coffee and tea.
Something more akin to a Vietnamese Starbucks. Similar democratic atmosphere and minimalistic design. They have a variety of Vietnamese coffee and interesting types of tea. For instance, you can try an invigorating matcha latte that will treat you to an amazing balance of creaminess and freshness simultaneously. Another excellent choice is the Choco Lover, served with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
They do offer baked goods, but it's not very diverse and mainly on the sweet side. It's not worth coming here specifically for desserts.
They also sell coffee roasted by the company, which can be a great gift for coffee enthusiasts.
The tea selection is pleasing - peach tea, green tea, jasmine, black. They are also sold in packages for those who want to take a piece of Saigon with them. There's an article online about how Russians decided to test several Vietnamese oolong brands. Two winners emerged, and one of them was the oolong tea from the Phuc Long brand. This tea can be purchased in regular stores, supermarkets. There are vacuum-packed versions available for convenient transportation.
Villa Royale resembles the home of a French antique collector. In reality, it's both an antique shop and a tea room located in a historic building from the 1930s. The Australian owner, David Campbell, collects items here for future sales. He's also an enthusiastic chef, combining both passions at Villa Royale.
The café offers 50 varieties of tea, including a seemingly complete range from the Singaporean company TWG. Waiters periodically refill the teapot, allowing patrons to enjoy the tea endlessly. Time passes leisurely here, attracting tourists and businessmen ready to spend a couple of hours over tea.
Tous les Jours bakery chain.
A South Korean bakery chain with several stores in Ho Chi Minh City. In this bakery, there's always a heavenly aroma as bakers continuously prepare various pastries throughout the day. Here, you'll find freshly baked bread, cakes, danishes, croissants, and numerous other treats, along with an extensive menu of drinks. If you adore cream cheese, take note of their "bread with cream cheese and walnuts" – it's incredibly delicious.
Sweet and Sour Bakery
Another delightful bakery located in Thảo Điền, a favorite area among tourists. In this bakery, they prepare appetizing cakes and delicate macarons. The cakes come in a variety of flavors: from classic vanilla to salted caramel, lime coconut, and the unparalleled cà phê sữa đá – a bakery-infused interpretation of Vietnamese iced coffee with milk.
The bakery attracts visitors with its traditional Vietnamese desserts, such as the Vietnamese donut called Banh Tieu, fluffy "Pandan" cheesecake, and other desserts.
Since its opening in Ho Chi Minh City in early 2017, this high-class bakery and restaurant have delighted its visitors with a delicious menu and a wide selection of exquisite desserts. Paul Bakery offers a variety of sandwiches and baked delicacies, as well as beautifully presented appetizers. The restaurant's design follows a distinctly European style with elegantly draped floor-to-ceiling windows, sophisticated chandeliers, and relaxing music. Although the prices at Paul Bakery are slightly higher than neighboring restaurants, the appetizing French dishes and pastries justify every additional dollar spent on this indulgence.
Le Petit Bake and Cake
Bakery in Ho Chi Minh City, specializing in creating small pastries and cakes. Known for its craftsmanship and creative approach, you'll find a variety of pastries and cakes with unique designs and flavors.
In Ho Chi Minh City, you'll find plenty of snacking opportunities at every turn. Undoubtedly, no matter where you're headed, there will always be a nearby eatery or street stall offering national dishes, as well as restaurants with French, Italian, Japanese cuisine, or other interesting options, including familiar fast-food places. Most of the street food stalls in Ho Chi Minh City are small kiosks where the owner (often the chef) specializes in preparing one or two dishes: pho soup (starting from 40,000 dong) can be found in almost every other establishment, as well as rice with meat (starting from 30,000 dong). Local cafes are everywhere, and bread stalls (from 20,000 dong) and sugarcane juice stands (starting from 10,000 dong) are on every corner. The city also has many cafes where you can try the famous Vietnamese coffee or egg coffee. On the street, its price is around 15,000 dong, while in cozier cafes, it's approximately 30,000 to 50,000 dong.
In Ho Chi Minh City, you can find several streets for strolling, each of which is a city landmark. The first one is Bui Vien Walking Street, a popular spot for evening walks.
Bui Vien Street is very popular among budget travelers, as accommodation can be found here starting from $4 per day. Of course, this might be a bed in a hostel, but it might suit those who trade comfort for savings. If you have a bit more money and can afford a hostel, guesthouse, or hotel in a different area, or at least on a parallel street to Bui Vien, it's better to stay away from it.
This street is the quintessence of lively pedestrian and entertainment streets in Asian cities. Considering that the sidewalks are crowded with motorbikes and restaurant tables, pedestrians have to walk on the road; the street is not particularly clean, and in the evenings, it gets engulfed by an inebriated crowd, ladies of the night, and is filled with loud and aggressive music from every window.
Yes, there are plenty of stalls with souvenirs, backpacker-style clothing, and inexpensive bars here. You can come here for the district's unique atmosphere, which is unlike the rest of Ho Chi Minh. And most importantly, leave this area in time, without losing your good mood. You can find many souvenir shops on the parallel tree-lined Phạm Ngũ Lão Street. It's generally more decent and spacious, and moreover, it has numerous offices of transportation companies selling bus tickets all over Vietnam.
Bui Vien Street has become known for its atmosphere of eternal celebration and youthful activity. Here, you'll find numerous hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels with affordable accommodation prices, making this street attractive for backpackers and independent travelers.
Furthermore, Bui Vien Street is famous for its bars and restaurants offering a variety of Vietnamese and international dishes at reasonable prices. In the evening, you can find various places with live music, karaoke, and other entertainment, making Bui Vien Street a popular spot for fun evening activities.
Bui Vien Street also hosts shops where you can purchase souvenirs, clothing, accessories, and other goods at low prices. You can also find massage salons and tour agencies offering tour and excursion services here.
Nostalgic District 1
This district, also known as the Old Quarter, is the historical center of the city. It's a blend of colonial and traditional architecture with narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful French villas, historic buildings, and temples that remind us of Vietnam's rich cultural heritage.
In this area, you can take a stroll along pedestrian streets, enjoying the ambiance and historical atmosphere. Here, you'll find many small cafes, restaurants, shops, and galleries where you can immerse yourself in the past and experience the spirit of old Saigon.
Another street, known as Đ. Nguyễn Huệ, is quieter and suitable for family walks. It's particularly lively at sunset, when locals come here for evening promenades.
Additionally, one of the most famous buildings in Saigon is located here – a 10-story building that has been completely transformed into restaurants.
Dong Khoi Street is a unique place where you can enjoy a wide range of historic colonial buildings, elite boutiques, well-known brand stores, luxurious hotels, and wonderful cafes and restaurants. Several key architectural landmarks of the city are located here, such as the Opera House, the Central Post Office, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
If you have free time after Ho Chi Minh City, you can head to Nha Trang. The most budget-friendly and interesting way to get there from Ho Chi Minh City is by taking an overnight bus, known as a sleeper bus. In such a bus, beds are installed instead of regular seats, allowing passengers to sleep relatively comfortably during the journey. Tickets for sleeper buses can be purchased at the hotel reception or at a tourist agency for around 450,000 dong ($19) per person. This travel option lets you avoid the daytime heat and save on hotel accommodation costs. Typically, the journey on a sleeper bus takes about 8-10 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.
Before boarding the bus, all passengers must remove their shoes and place them in special bags. Each passenger also receives a free bottle of water, but you should bring your own food as no snacks are provided. Bring warm clothing like a hoodie, pants, and socks. Luggage should be checked, leaving only valuable items with you, as there is no storage space for bags other than under your feet.
Nha Trang is the beach capital of Vietnam. However, besides its lively and fun-filled vacation scene, this resort offers the opportunity to get acquainted with the country's unique culture.
People also come here for the purpose of improving their health: within the city limits, there are two mineral-mud springs and one mud therapy facility called Thap Ba. It takes only 15 minutes to get to this place from the city center. Guests at the mud therapy facility have access to alternating warm and cold herbal and mud baths, jacuzzis, saunas, waterfalls, and outdoor swimming pools.
Almost all of Nha Trang's main attractions can be seen during a city bus tour, which takes about 5-6 hours, as the city is very compact. Mud therapy facilities are usually visited at the end of the tour.
Nha Trang offers numerous interesting places and activities to try. Here are a few ideas of what you can do in Nha Trang.
Cham Towers of Po Nagar
Po Nagar is the main attraction of Nha Trang. Within the complex, you can see four out of the ten preserved towers, with the tallest reaching a height of 28 meters and dedicated to the goddess Po Nagar, who, according to legend, imparted the knowledge of agriculture to the people. From the upper platform of the towers, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the sea, the entire city, and the Cai River. The temple complex is situated close to the tourist areas of the city, making it easily accessible for visits.
Entrance ticket cost: 30,000 dong ($1.5)
Opening hours: 6:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Long Son Pagoda
The White Buddha Temple is one of the well-known attractions in Nha Trang, located right in the heart of the city. It was founded by a monk in 1886, but in 1900, the temple was destroyed by a powerful hurricane. After that, what remained of the original temple was relocated and restored.
To visit the temple, you need to climb 144 steps, but for those who don't want to exert themselves too much, you can use a motorbike to reach the top. Along the way up, at the center, there is a statue of the "Reclining Buddha," where you can relax and enjoy the view before continuing your journey.
The entire path won't take more than an hour of your time. Entrance to the temple is free.
The museum is one of the largest oceanographic museums in the Southeast Asia region. Its collections include numerous samples of marine organisms, research equipment, ship models, and exhibits that reveal Vietnam's maritime history.
Admission fee: $40 per person, free entry for children under 6 years old.
Opening hours: Daily from 06:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Hon Chong Cape
Hon Chong is a granite cape that offers a breathtaking view of the winding coastline, for which Nha Trang is so famous. Near the cape, there is another beach where you can spend a pleasant time, enjoying the sun, swimming, or simply observing as local children fearlessly dive from the cape into the water.
Nha Trang Mountain Church (Cathedral)
The Cathedral embodies significance as both a religious landmark and a historical monument in the city. Situated atop a hill, this beautiful cathedral impresses with its majestic view over the city and the sea. Serving as one of the main Catholic churches in Nha Trang, it acts as a spiritual center for local Catholics. The cathedral, built in a colonial style with Gothic elements, undoubtedly captures attention with its beauty and impressive architecture. The entrance to the church is open from 05:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
It is one of the most popular markets in Nha Trang. This picturesque market offers visitors a variety of goods, the ambiance of local trade, and the opportunity to immerse themselves in Vietnam's authentic culture and customs. At Chodam Market, you'll find a vast selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, spices, as well as other food products. You can also purchase a variety of items including clothing, shoes, souvenirs, kitchenware, accessories, and much more. The market is open daily from 05:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
VinWonders Amusement Park
Located in Nha Trang Bay, VinWonders Park occupies a significant portion of Hon Tre Island. This park offers visitors diverse entertainment and amenities. You'll find pristine beaches, pools, freshwater slides, extreme and family rides, restaurants, an amphitheater, and shopping areas.
VinWonders Park provides numerous attractions for all ages. In addition to various ground attractions, an amphitheater, and a shopping center, you can enjoy water activities such as a wave pool, unique water slides, and an aquarium. The "Underwater World" Aquarium is the largest in the country and houses over 300 species of marine creatures. It's recommended to allocate at least an hour for its visit, especially if you're traveling with children. Given the park's myriad of offerings, many visitors spend an entire day here.
You can reach VinWonders Park via a cable car, which is 3,320 meters long (as of 2023, the cable car is under maintenance), or by a sea boat (included in the entrance ticket price). To do so, take a taxi to the cable car station and purchase the entrance tickets at the counter.
Opening hours: The amusement park operates daily, from 8:00 AM until evening, closing at 9:00 PM on weekdays and 10:00 PM from Friday to Sunday.
- Visitors under 1 meter tall: Free
- Visitors between 1 and 1.4 meters tall: 560,000 dong ($24)
- Adult ticket (above 1.4 meters tall): 750,000 dong ($32)
- Elderly guests also receive a discount, with tickets priced at 560,000 dong ($24).