How to spend one day in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest citiy with more than 8 million people calling it home. Located in the south of the country, Saigon used to be the capital of the Republic of Vietnam from 1956 to 1975, when it got captured by Northern Vietnamese troops and was was given its current name Ho Chi Minh City.
Today, HCMC is part of many travelers' itineraries around SE Asia, as it offers great urban experience opportunities and can be the perfect getaway to other nearby destinations, in Southern Vietnam. Getting there is rather easy, since the city can be easily approached by train or bus from Hanoi or Da Nang, and by plane from both national and international airports.
Things to do and what to expect If anything, HCMC is famous for its huge amount of motorbikes, which are the number one means of transport in the city. Renting one is a great way to get around and see as much as possible without wasting your time in public transport or taxi rides. However, be prepared for the locals' chaotic driving and the non stop sound of horns!
For more than 60 years, Vietnam was part of the French Indochina, thus the Vietnamese culture is deeply influenced by France and HCMC is no exception. French colonial buildings are everywhere in the city, creating an interesting mix of asian and european vibes. The central post office is one of the most iconic French style buildings of the city, designed by Alfred Foulhoux. Right next to it, you'll see the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, another excellent example of the city's colonial architecture. Walk behind the Cathedral, and you'll find yourself in what is known as Book Street (Duong Nguyen Van Binh), which as its name suggests, is a street full of bookstores, book stalls and book cafés! You'll find plenty of English written publications too and if you're asking us there's no better souvenir to take back home with you, than a book.
For those interested in history, HCMC won't be a disappointment either. The War Remnants and the Vietnam's History museums are among the most popular ones, while other thrilling options are the City Hall and the Reunification Palace.
Having nothing to do with history or the French colonial architecture, the Bitexco financial tower is one of HCMC's most iconic skyscrapers, standing at 262 metres high. The tower is open for shopping and eating, however its highlight is its sky deck, which offers unbeatable panoramic views of the city. Last but not least, HCMC has no lack of elaborate pagodas and green parks either, while another great thing to do is walk or ride your motorbike by the Saigon river.
If you have some extra days, get out of the city and take day trips to nearby destinations, such as the Cu Chi tunnels, the Cao Dai Temple or the Mekong Delta, to name a few.