Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
From the sights and sounds of hundreds of scooters whizzing across the busy streets to the remnants of a sad history of war, you’ll find that Ho Chi Minh City is a rollercoaster ride as soon as you set foot there. A microcosm of rich cultures and compelling traditions, this huge metropolis is overwhelming-- roaming out of your Ho Chi Minh City hotel may get you fascinatingly lost in an instant. This is a worldwide local’s guide to off-the-beaten-path experiences in Vietnam’s capital.
Start Slow at Turtle Lake
Once you step out of the Ho Chi Minh City Airport, you may be at a loss of what to do first. A great way to experience the authentic atmosphere is by visiting a place where the locals enjoy spending time and grabbing a quick bite. Turtle Lake is nestled right in the middle of the city, complete with a water feature and platforms spanning across the mini lake. An inconspicuous roundabout by day, it turns into a bustling public park by night. The sound of busy traffic, along with the aroma of street vendors cooking, permeates the air, creating a lively atmosphere. Immerse yourself as you meet friendly locals relaxing by the fountain and learn so much about the city.
Worldwide Local Tip: The city is loaded with delicious places to eat, from little carts selling Banh Mi to indie restaurants serving fusion meals. Dine cheaply by the city’s main canal, Kênh Nhiêu Lộc-Thị Nghè, at little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, for an authentic taste of Saigon, with picturesque views of the canal.
Architecture and Religion
The Notre Dame church is the darling of Ho Chi Minh City, however, the Tan Dinh Church is its beautiful sister. A bright pink church stands out from the otherwise, concrete neighborhood, with it’s French-inspired Gothic and Renaissance design, towering above District 3. Built in 1876, it the second oldest church in the city, and has endured tumultuous times. Today, it stands proud and continues to open its doors for the masses, yet it doesn’t get as many crowds as the Notre Dame.
Worldwide Local Tip: Away from the swelteringly hot Ho Chi Minh City weather and the noise of the urban jungle, head to the Phu An Bamboo Village, on the outskirts of the city. A sea of green bamboo and gorgeous flowers, the towering trees exhale fresh air and provide a calming shade from the sun. You will find a local community making a living by creating handcrafted furniture from the harvested bamboo.
Don’t Miss the Water Puppets
Watch a Vietnamese cultural show, at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater, where puppets, or “Mua roi nuoc”, perform on a water stage, along with an orchestra performing traditional sound effects. One of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, the show displays local folklore and fables, creating a dazzling show of a quaint local art form.
Worldwide Local Tip: Ho Chi Minh City has an energetic young population that loves to party. Head to one of its numerous beer clubs in District 1 to join a group of raucous-but-fun locals and make friends in an instant.
Have an Unforgettable Time in Ho Chi Minh City!
In a huge metropolis with around 10 million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh has a plethora of incredible places to discover away from the crowds. As a worldwide local, experience the authentic adventures and become part of the frenzied charm of the city.