Saigon’s top sights

Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, is Vietnam‘s busiest city. There’s so much to see and do here, whether you’re staying for just a few days or planning to visit for a month.

If you’re planning to spend time in Ho Chi Minh City, here is a list of the top 6 things to do around Saigon’s region.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, is an incredibly beautiful and exotic place with its great floating markets, where locals sit on boats to sell their wares, small villages along the canals and spectacular rice paddies.

It’s possible to visit the Mekong Delta without a tour and is actually quite easy. You just need to ask around and combine different ways of transport, bus, ferry or rent a motorbike. Save at least 3 days to explore the Mekong.

If you are looking for a more comfortable experience there are many cruise routes along the Mekong Delta.

Củ Chi Tunnels

Deep under the ground, you’ll find a network of connecting tunnels, called the Củ Chi Tunnels.

To get here from Ho Chi Minh on your own you can choose from one of these options: motorbike, car, bus or speedboat.

To get there by public bus first, take the bus nº 13 from 23-9 park (nearby Pham Ngu Lao, backpacker area) to Cu Chi bus station. Then transfer to Bus nº 79 headed to Ben Duoc. This is by far the cheapest option but the total travelling time is around two and a half hours. To return to HCMC get the bus nº79.

Tip: download the BusMap app beforehand to make travelling by bus in and around Ho Chi Minh City a breeze.

These tunnels were once in use by the military and acted as hiding places, living quarters, hospitals and supply routes, all safely hidden from view. This gives a fascinating insight into life in Saigon through the Vietnam War.

There are two entrances:  Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc that for some reason have different entrance fees.

Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc?

The truth is, Ben Duoc is the best example of the original tunnels and is cheaper. Ben Dinh is closer to Ho Chi Minh City therefor more touristy.

Delicious vegan food

Saigon is a paradise for vegan food lovers, there is an abundance of choice, quality and great prices everywhere you look.

Find incredible temples

Ho Chi Minh City is filled with magnificent temples, to be discovered all over the city.

The famous Thien Hau Temple, located in District 5 in the Chinatown has great small details and decoration.

Standing out amidst Vietnamese architecture, Notre Dame Cathedral is distinctly European. Created by French colonists, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon has two bell towers and some incredibly impressive stained glass windows.

Phuoc Hai Temple, also known as the Jade Emperor Pagoda. located in District 1 – the downtown of Saigon displays many statues of saints in Chinese culture.


Don’t miss Ho Chi Minh City’s vibrant and bustling street markets. These are an incredible sight, and a chance to sample local foods and flavours.

The most famous market in Vietnam is the hugely varied Ben Thanh Market, but if you go to Binh Tay Market you will find better prices and have a more “local” experience.

Binh Tay Market is located in the Cholon area of Ho Chi Minh City, which is Chinatown.

For something more unusual, find military memorabilia at Dan Sinh Market, or go to incredibly colourful Ho Thi Ky for the largest wholesale flower market.

Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

Often described as one of the best things to see in Ho Chi Minh City, the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is an attraction that’s not to be missed. Here you can enjoy Vietnamese culture amongst the locals and other tourists. Often the shows are presented entirely in Vietnamese, but can still be enjoyed if you don’t speak the language.

Staff will explain the premise of the story before the colourful puppet show begins. Water puppetry is a Vietnamese tradition, so this attraction is an experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

How to get around Saigon

If you fly to Ho Chi Minh city, you can take a taxi or bus from the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport to the city. To take the bus look for bus nº152, it will take you all the way to Ben Thanh Market.

HCMC is not the most pleasant place to walk around because of the crazy amount of motorbikes but its still the best option especially in the central areas of town. Walking is always one of the best ways to explore any city.

To get somewhere outside Ho Chi Minh, renting a motorbike is the best option, there are plenty of rentals agencies, and the fare for the day is quite cheap.

You can also use the local bus system that is a cheap and safe way to get around town.

Using a taxi can be challenging, and to be fair I avoid using them when possible. If you go with this option make sure you take a reliable company and confirm the taxi is legit.

You’ll have to spend quite a few days in the area to see everything this region has to offer. Have you ever been to Saigon? What are the things to do in Saigon that you enjoyed the most?

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Travel through the South of Vietnam

My journey started at Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and from there I explored the south of this diverse country. To visit Vietnam you need to apply to your Visa beforehand, there is no possibility to get a Visa once you are at the border or the airport.

Ho Chi Minh City has a pulsate and chaotic energy. The traffic is something beyond explanation, but despite that, it’s full of life and the best way to explore the city is losing yourself in the street.

This is what I recommend to visit:

  • Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
  • Binh Tay Market
  • Ben Thanh Market
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Cho Lon area

Once in HCMC don’t miss the coffee, it’s a true delight and also all the incredible vegan food.

Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta has many places to explore, and it’s incredibly beautiful and exotic with its water floating world. You need time to explore all its beauty and its innumerable rivers, canals and, streams that cross the landscape.

I need to say that’s possible to visit the Mekong Delta without a tour and is actually quite easy. You just need to ask around and combine different ways of transport, bus, ferry and motorbikes.

river mekong travel vietnam

You have so many options to choose from, that taking a decision is pretty difficult mostly when you don’t have much time, so I will leave a small list of the best places I visit:

  • Ben Tre – it’s very picturesque and less tourist than My Tho. This area is famous for its keo dua (coconut candy)
  • Ha Tien – it’s beautiful, has a nice riverside market, lots of caves to visit some of which have been turned into temples. Thach dong cave pagoda deserves a visit.
  • Tra Vinh – for me is one of the charming  towns in the Mekong Delta
  • Minh Long – has the Cai Be floating market that is always busy, carrying all the characteristics of the locals’ life.
  • Sam Mountain– has a strong Chinese influence and its full of pagodas and temple the Cavern Pagoda it’s a nice one to visit.
  • Can Tho – is the largest city in the region you can visit the floating markets, Phong Dien, Cai Rang – and take a boat along the canals.  Phung Hiep is the biggest and busiest floating market in the Mekong Delta it opens at 4.00 am closes at 11.00 am.

Asian Markets are always my first choice to eat, and Vietnam wasn’t an exception, I especially enjoyed the rice paper wrapped spring rolls, fruit and smoothies.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha