Before coming to Vietnam, we asked everyone that had been for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. Most people actually just told us to get out as soon as possible! It seemed that anytime we googled for things to do, we got the cookie cutter list of museums, and tourist traps. We were about to listen to the advice we had gotten and just leave. Instead, we chose to explore and we are glad we did.
Our goal was to find the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. No tourist traps, no overpriced tours, and especially no tour buses. And I definitely think we succeeded!
- War Remnants Museum
While this does pop up on the top of every list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, it is absolutely worth a visit. Haunting, emotionally trying, and informative, this museum is one of the best we have ever been to. The exhibits are all tastefully done, and go through a horrible time period for Vietnam and the United States.
There were exhibits ranging from journalists role in the war, to napalm usage by the United States, to root causes that sparked the “War of Aggression Against Vietnam.” And a war of aggression it was. Be prepared to feel extremely uncomfortable with humanity, but hopefully that will inspire you to think peace instead of violence in other conflicts the world might be facing today.
- Street Food Tour of Ho Chi Minh City
It’s no secret that we love street food. Vietnam may be the best place for street food we’ve ever been. Not only are there different street food stands on every corner, they are so unbelievably delicious! We had fresh out of the fryer sesame donuts, crispy waffles and waffle puffs, Bahn Mi, pho, fresh vegetable spring rolls, fresh juice and fruits, and amazing pork chops and broken rice. I can’t even begin to describe how fantastic everything tastes, but we might never want to leave! If you’re looking for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, just eat! We just followed our nose and our eyes when deciding what to eat. If there’s long lines of locals, chances are it’s super good.
- Pasteur Street Brewing
While walking to Notre Dame Cathedral, we decided to wander into a craft brewery down an alleyway. We were welcomed into the Pasteur Street Brewing Company, complete with Nashville Hot Chicken, Fried Okra, and seriously delicious craft beer. We loved sampling everything this fun brewery had to offer, from the Jasmine IPA to the Passion Fruit Wheat Ale to the Double IPA. If you’re looking for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, this is a great way to beat the heat and get a little something different than Bia Saigon. Plus, you’ll see Pastuer Street Brewing signs pop up all over Vietnam while traveling, so it was fun to visit the headquarters.
- Walk By the Saigon River
Okay, admittedly the Saigon River is not the cleanest. But, we still loved walking alongside the river and the manicured gardens watching the ships go by. While we were walking, we were close to the only people on the trail! It was a good way to get away from the million motor bikes that clog the roads and sidewalks.
- Go to The Lunch Lady for Lunch
While this is sort of related to the street food tour, this one deserves it’s own number. We heard about The Lunch Lady through Anthony Bourdain and were not disappointed. If they ask if you want the whole lunch spread, just say no because the real deal is the soup. Also a fair word of warning, but if they try to bring you starter dishes, say no or you will get charged!
Every day there is a different soup special. We had a great pork and shrimp combination and it was super tasty. I think the most entertaining part though is watching The Lunch Lady work. She is always jam packed and cranks out the soups like it’s nothing. The entire thing is a crazy whole family operation..and they are an amazing team. Definitely worth the visit.
- Listen to the Birds at Tao Dan Park for Morning Coffee
Okay, this was one of my favorite discoveries for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. Every morning, a park full of people gather for their morning coffee at a small cafe. The best part though? They all bring their caged birds! It’s like a giant bird play date, with the sounds of birds singing filling the air. The people obviously care for their birds, as they would move their cages every so often to put them near what I can only assume are their bird friends. It was so relaxing, a great way to start the day, and a great little snippet of local life.
- Get a Spa Treatment
Treat yaself! For those prices, it’s so worth it. I got my nails done while Cazzie got a massage and we felt so pampered after! We had just had a crazy 10 hour layover in Singapore which included sleeping in a less than desirable “bed.” So it was well deserved! There’s tons of places for a spa treatmentif you’re looking for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City all along the walking street. Plus, it’s the cheapest prices we’ve seen in all of Vietnam so don’t miss out!
That about sums up our time in Ho Chi Minh City. Most of the street foods we found were centered around the Bui Vien Walking Street n District One, which is where we were centered as many others are. There’s also million green spaces and parks, and it’s a great way to interact with locals. We met about 15 people in a 2 hour span of being in a park! Whatever you decide about things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, just make sure to be careful of the motorbikes, and have fun!