Many of the best attractions in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) center around the events of 20th-century war and conquest. It sounds somber, and in parts it is, but there are some truly fascinating historical activities suitable for all ages. From classic French architecture to perfectly maintained American war planes, walking around Ho Chi Minh is like seeing the past come to life with so many famous places of interest scattered throughout the city. Of course, as Vietnam’s biggest city and business capital, times are changing and modern skyscrapers are starting to punctuate the sky combining the new and old in a uniquely Vietnamese way.
We will be a guide to take you to visit around the city. Are you ready??? Let’s go !!!!!
1, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and the Post Office
Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is not only the most famous place in Saigon but is also as a symbol of Saigon.
A fine example of Neo-Romanesque architecture, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral is a distinctive landmark in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Its twin square towers rise almost 60 meters above the city, capped by iron spires. Built from 1877 to around 1883, the cathedral was intended to be a place for the colonial missions to worship and a symbol of the power of the French colony. The exterior consists of red bricks from Marseille and the clock between the two bell towers were built in Switzerland in 1887. To see the interior, try visiting in the morning or attending a Sunday mass.
Across the street, the French colonial-style post office, completed in 1891, was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the French architect of the Eiffel Tower. Today, the post office is still in use and is a popular meeting place for locals.
Located next to the City Post Office is Nguyen Van Binh Book Street. It is now home to over 20 small shops run by Vietnamese publishing companies, including the famous Publishing House in Vietnam, as well as a number of smaller stalls and cafes.
Address: Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon,
2, Reunification Palace
A visit to the Reunification Palace, once known as Independence Palace, is more about the historic events that took place here than any pomp and grandeur. In fact, this 1960s-style building, with its large, airy rooms and dated furnishings, seems frozen in time since April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the iron gates here, bringing an end to the Vietnam War. For locals, the palace represents this historic event and the reunification of the country.
Set on 44 acres of lush lawns and gardens, the palace also offers a fascinating glimpse at the lifestyle of privileged heads of state in 1960s Saigon. It was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, which was bombed by fighter jets in 1962 in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. The current building was completed in 1966 and became the home and workplace of the successive president when Vietnam was split between the north and the south. Notable features include the president’s living quarters, the war command room with large maps and antiquated communications equipment, and the maze of basement tunnels. You’ll also see military vehicles outside, including the fighter jet that destroyed the Norodom Palace and tank 843, which rammed through the palace gate on that fateful day in April more than four decades ago. Guided tours in English are available.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
3, Saigon Opera House
Also known as The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, the elegant Saigon Opera House, at the start of the famous tree-lined Le Loi Avenue, is eye-candy for architecture buffs – especially fans of the French colonial style. It was built as Opėra de Saigon in 1897 by Eugene Ferret, a French architect, to entertain French colonists, and its striking facade echoes the style of the Petit Palais, which was built in the same year in Paris. After 1956, the building was used as the home of the Lower House Assembly of South Vietnam and again became a theater in 1975, after the fall of Saigon. The only way to see the theater’s interior is to purchase a ticket to a show. Both the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera perform here, and tickets are available at the box office or local travel agents. In the area around the opera house are some of the city’s new shopping malls and exclusive hotels. You can also combine a visit here with the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral and Reunification Palace.
Address: 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
4, Ben Thanh Market & Saigon Square
For sightseers, the hot and hectic Ben Thanh Market is almost an obligatory stop, even if only to witness the cramped stalls and market chaos. The stalls are piled high with everything from local delicacies, fish, flowers, and tropical fruits to shoes, clothes, colorful candy, and souvenirs. The markets are also notorious for pickpockets, so make sure any valuables are secure and out of sight. After soaking up all the ambiance, head to Saigon Square, about a three-minute stroll away, for a slightly less frenetic shopping experience with the added bonus of air conditioning. Here, you’ll find fantastic deals on everything from clothing and backpacks to jewelry and shoes. Haggling is customary at both locations.
Address: 32-30, 36-34-32-30 Phan Bội Châu, Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh City
5, Ho Chi Minh City Museum
Near the Reunification Palace, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum occupies an impressive Neoclassical building, formerly known as Gia Long Palace, that was once home to the Cochinchina’s governor. It’s worth a stop for an overview of the city’s history and a gawk at the grand architecture, which includes Oriental and European flourishes. The museum traces the city’s past with exhibits on the struggle for independence, nature and archaeology, trade, village handicrafts, currency, and the culture of Saigon. Interestingly, the building sits on a network of tunnels and bunkers, which served as escape routes for past dignitaries, though these are closed to the public.
Address: 65 Ly Tu Trong, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
6, Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre
The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is perfect for families with young children and anyone who enjoys light-hearted traditional entertainment. Water puppetry originated in rural villages in the Red River Delta and has been performed in Vietnam for more than 1,000 years. The captivating 50-minute show provides a window into the country’s culture. It’s presented in Vietnamese, but the strength of the puppet characters, both people, and animals transcends the language barrier. Live music enhances the experience; the talented musicians play traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and two-stringed violins. The theater is air-conditioned, and if you’re sitting in the front row, be prepared for some gentle splashes.
Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City