Ho chi min City is the biggest city in Vietnam with around 10mio people living there resulting in craziness when it comes to traffic and noise. I used to stay there for just 4 full days and had my accommodation at the area of district 1. This is what I can highly recommend cause all the touristic places are in walking distance from their. My stay at the city backpackers hostel was great – the people there were super helpful with tours and other travel related organizational tasks.
District 1 attractions
The main tourist spots in district 1 are all in walking distance and you should be able to seem them in 1- max 2 days. Here are the main attractions:
War remnants museum
The entry to the museum costs 40k dong and has opened on a daily basis (only Sundays are closed). What you are going to see is basically documentation of the war crimes and war situations that the country Vietnam has been into since the French colonization. Be prepared for disturbing images of body parts and other terrors of war. The museum itself contains 3 floors and you should be through everything in around 1h. I have to admit i was puzzled and shocked after going through the exhibition, so if you are not prepared to see really shocking things, better skip this venue.
Easy to spot on the right hand on Nguyen Hue Walking Street you will spot the opera house right behind a small garden.
Peoples committee building
At the lower end of the Nguyen Hue Walking Street you can find the people committee building and in front of it a big statue of Ho Chi Min.
This Place has a typical 70s communism flair which I know from parts of Eastern Europe. At the time i was there you couldn’t get inside. The picture was shot from behind the main entrance barrier.
Cathedral Notre dam
When i was visiting the city, the cathedral was unfortunately covered in a construction scaffolding and was not accessible for tourists. Maybe this has changed in the meatiness, but it looks like a major overhaul.
Ben Thanh market
It is said to be the biggest market in the city and has a huge offering in clothes, food and other things of the day to day need. Be aware of fake products especially when being offered high fashion brands.
A very nice building back from the time of the French colonization. You should get inside and check the ceiling and the paintings on the wall.
Tran hung dao statue
When going down Nguyen Hue Walking Street towards the Saigon river you must turn left until you come to a big circle with a square in the middle. Surrounded by plenty of fountains you can find the big bronze statue of Tran hung dao (medieval general and war hero).
Cu Chi Tunnels
The tunnel system entry is 1,5 hour driving outside of the city. To get there, i booked a half day tour but i am sure you could easily reach it also by yourself. The tunnels show the defense mechanisms that the Vietnamese people used during the Vietnam war, although the tunnel are much older and has been already used during the French colonization. The experience of the practical usage and the life in the tunnels was very nice told and someone could get a glimpse of a feeling how it must have been back then. You can also get into the tunnel yourself, but if you feel claustrophobic you should definitely skip that. Plus: optional you could also shoot a AK47 at the area.
The mekong delta is an area in the south of Vietnam that is characterized by its rice fields and the many canals surrounded by mangrove forest. To visits a small part (Mekong delta is huge by itself) I booked a full day tour to see various small island and different arts of living there. For example a crocodile farm, a workshop where they produce coconut candy or a place where they cultivate bees to produce honey. All connected by canals through which is was really nice to ride on small size boats. Be prepared for a bunch of mosquitoes.
Going out in Ho Chi Min City
One of the main areas where people gather to go out is Bui vien. It is also known as the backpackers zone, as many hostels are in this space. The street itself is quite crowded in the evening and consists of bars, clubs and restaurants. Be prepared that you will be aggressively pushed to enter a specific establishments by a dozen of promoters standing around in front of their bar. The clubs are most of the time opened to the street and so every few meters you could here super loud bass music. I chose to sit in front of one of the beer bars turned to the street as it was super fun to observe the people around. Beer there is also quite cheap, for around 30k. Around 11/12pm the bars get empty and people more and more enter the clubs. Prizes are much higher there – around doubled. Although the are is know to be a backpackers area, when i was there the majority of the people were locals or from other Asien countries.