Vietnam’s biggest metropolis is a buzzing cosmopolitan destination where its French heritage is still on display alongside its traditional oriental charm.

Better known to past generations as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has witnessed conflict and upheaval throughout its history. Its complex heritage is nowhere better seen today than on the city’s skyline. Look up and you’ll see newly-built skyscrapers towering over 19th century European-style architecture; Buddhist temples alongside cathedrals; even modern coffee shops next door to traditional tea houses.

The city’s most historic district, District 1, lies on the western bank of the Saigon River. It is here that you can walk around the Reunification Palace, the Central Post Office and the Ho Chi Minh Notre Dame Cathedral. When Saigon was a French colony, its occupiers made their mark on the city and the impressive 19th century architecture in this part of town is testament to that European influence. Nearby, you can enjoy a stroll through Tao Dan Park or head north to visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Visitors still flock here to this day, and you’ll find many fine hotels amid the attractions.

For a more relaxed atmosphere away from the centre of the city, spend some time at the Dam Sen Water Park and the surrounding park complex. Further afield, explore the Chi Chi Tunnels used in the Vietnam War. Modern-day Ho Chi Minh City may have transformed dramatically, but the scars of the war are still felt, evidenced at the War Remnants Museum which attracts more than half a million visitors each year and is among the most visited spots in the country.

When night falls, take advantage of the cooler conditions and explore the centre of the city. Around Districts 1 and 3 try a steaming bowl of pho (rice noodle soup) and enjoy a chilled Bia Hoi, the fresh local beer available in these parts. If you’re looking for bargains to take home with you, check out the Ben Thanh Night Market.

Getting around Ho Chi Minh City is easy and cheap, but take care when on the roads as visitors can find themselves overwhelmed by just how frantic the traffic – and especially the motorbikes – can be. By day the city is typically hot and humid, but many buildings have air conditioning and there are plenty of shady spots where you can escape and unwind.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Bui Thi Xuan
Bui Thi Xuan showing a city and street scenes

Bui Thi Xuan

Known for Dining, Shopping, Friendly People

4/5(39 reviews)

A very popular commercial hub in Ho Chi Minh City, this spot has a lively mix of technology stores, fancy bars and restaurants and luxurious hotels.

Top hotels in Ho Chi Minh City

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
ibis Saigon Airport
ibis Saigon Airport
4 out of 5
2 Hong Ha Street, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City
NZ$106
per night
1 Dec. - 2 Dec.

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 6 mi (10 km) of War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace and Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Saigon Central Post ...

4.3/5Excellent! (904 reviews)

"Average hotel at average price. Free airport shuttle is good for transit tourist."…"

Reviewed on 6 Nov. 2019

ibis Saigon Airport
Rex Hotel
Rex Hotel
5 out of 5
141 Nguyen Hue Blvd, Ho Chi Minh City
NZ$187
per night
16 Dec. - 17 Dec.

This family-friendly Ho Chi Minh City hotel is located in the entertainment district, steps away from Dong Khoi Shopping Street, Ho Chi Minh City Hall and Museum ...

4.3/5Excellent! (2,101 reviews)

"Good Breakfast and friendly staff. Well located for a lot of interesting places"…"

Reviewed on 31 Oct. 2019

Rex Hotel
Hotel Nikko Saigon
Hotel Nikko Saigon
5 out of 5
235 Nguyen Van Cu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
NZ$211
per night
23 Nov. - 24 Nov.

Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tu Du Hospital and Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Area. Bui Vien Walking Street ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (2,034 reviews)

"Best hotel in ho chi min. An oasis in the chaos of the city"…"

Reviewed on 11 Nov. 2019

Hotel Nikko Saigon

Popular activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market
Image for Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market

4/5(213 reviews)

No trip to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without exploring this bustling market where you can enjoy a traditional Vietnamese dish or purchase souvenirs.

Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Area
Image for Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Area

Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Area

3.5/5(66 reviews)

Known as the city’s main backpacker area, the streets of Pham Ngu Lao are lined with great value restaurants, colorful markets and lively bars.

War Remnants Museum
Image for War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum

4/5(174 reviews)

Find out about the history of the Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective in this interesting museum based in a former American administration office.

Opera House
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Opera House

4/5(102 reviews)

This stunning theater, with its glistening white architecture and curved lines, makes it easy to forget that you are in Ho Chi Minh City and not in Paris.

Independence Palace
Image for Independence Palace

Independence Palace

4/5(150 reviews)

Get an appreciation for the years of conflict and unrest that plagued Vietnam during the 20th century at this fascinating palace.

Saigon Central Post Office
Image for Saigon Central Post Office

Saigon Central Post Office

4/5(158 reviews)

Make sure you write your postcards in Ho Chi Minh City, as it’s a great excuse to visit the city’s stunning 19th-century post office.

Top activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Luxury-Group Half-Day Tour of Cu Chi Tunnels
Image for Luxury-Group Half-Day Tour of Cu Chi Tunnels

Luxury-Group Half-Day Tour of Cu Chi Tunnels

NZ$38

Escape the bustle of the city to explore rural scenery of Southern Vietnam and get an up-close look at the famous Cu Chi Tunnels in Southern Vietnam. Learn about the lives of Vietnamese soldiers by going for a subterranean stroll through the tunnels, and get the chance to fire guns from the Vietnam War era at a nearby shooting range.

Mekong Delta Tour W/ Vinh Trang Pagoda, Rowing-Boat & Lunch
Image for Mekong Delta Tour W/ Vinh Trang Pagoda, Rowing-Boat & Lunch

Mekong Delta Tour W/ Vinh Trang Pagoda, Rowing-Boat & Lunch

NZ$40

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking river wonderland of the Mekong Delta, located only 2 hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City. This experience is exclusively crafted by our guides who are native to the region, so that you will experience the true local vibes of the area, and be away from the crowds of tourists.

Cu Chi Tunnels: Morning or Afternoon Guided Small-Group Tour
Image for Cu Chi Tunnels: Morning or Afternoon Guided Small-Group Tour

Cu Chi Tunnels: Morning or Afternoon Guided Small-Group Tour

NZ$36

Imagine spending your days living in underground tunnels, only able to come out at night when the sun is down - that's what the people of Cu Chi did nearly 50 years ago during the Vietnam War.

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