What to Visit in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) ? – Page 2

You are on Page 2 of the places to visit in Saigon.

Map – Orientation

See this interactive Map, with all the places mentioned on this page :

Pham Ngu Lao area

Pham Ngu Lao is the backpacker’s area and it is located a walking distance from the famous market Ben Thanh. Visit the place at night. it is very live.

Pham Ngu Lao at night

One of the best things you can do here, is to eat western food in one of the many restaurants. They prepare good Italian, Mexican and Indian food at very good prices. A lot of Vegetarian options. Also Vietnamese food, of course.


The park in front of Pham Ngu Lao – “September 23 park”

In front of Pham Ngu Lao, there is a strip of park, with a lot of activity at sunset.


Vietnamese use to come to this park and play a special version of ball game, that is kicked with the heel. See this in Youtube Video. There are also areas where people practice dancing (Swing dance and others).

The Zoo area

Jade Emperor Pagoda

From all the temples that I have visited in Saigon, this is the most impressive, a must visit.


It is a Taoist pagoda.


The roof :


You can see more photos of the temple in the Temple page.

Saigon Zoo

In terms of animals, it is not amazing. You will not see Pandas like in the zoo of Taipei, for example (apparently, the upscale zoos have pandas). What I saw in this zoo, was a live rabbit put as food to snakes.


It is nice to visit Saigon zoo on a week-end, when there are families with kids. They come to picnic in the park and they are in good mood. If you are a tourist you will be an attraction for them at least like the bears and elephants.


Landmark 81 – Skyscraper

It is the tallest building in Vietnam and one of the tallest in the world. 461 meters.

There is an observatory deck at the top and there is a nice commercial center at the bottom. Outside, there is a huge garden with views over the river. It is a residential area with tall buildings (a lot of expatriates choose to live here). The project belongs to the company Vinhomes, which is a very important company in Vietnam.

It is worth to visit the observatory during the day and visit the park in the evening. The place is not in the town center but not too far (2 Km away). It is in Binh Thanh District, about half way to district 2. See it on the Map above.

China Town area (Cho Lon)

This area is less elegant than the center of Saigon and the traffic is even worse. Try not to visit China town on the hottest month (April) during the hottest hour of the day (I did it). There are some famous temples to visit, restaurants (Chinese) and a big market. You better don’t walk there from center Saigon (I did) but take a taxi.

Binh Tay Market in China town

The main building of the market was renovated in 2019.


There are also many stands outside. It is a more authentic market compared to the famous Ben Thanh market in central Saigon (the names are confusing, right ?).


Outside the main building :


Thien Hau Temple (Pagoda) in China town

There are tourists from organized tours, coming to visit this temple, so you will not be alone. It is very impressive inside.


It is a Chinese-style temple of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu.


You can see more photos of the temple in the Temple page.

Ho Quan Nghia An temple – in China town

Situated very close to Thien Hau Temple and less visited by tourist groups.


It is also a Chinese temple.


You can see more photos of the temple in the Temple page.

District 2 and District 7 – Expatriates areas

These are two suburbs of Saigon and that is where many expatriates choose to live. The reason to visit these neighborhoods may be the many restaurants with international cuisine (some of them are excellent).

District 2 is more concentrated and District 7 is more spacious. In Both places there is a big mall (In the following photo, Crescent mall in District 7)

If you want a good ice-cream and a good Italian restaurant and a supermarket with international products, go to district 2. If you want to relax from the noise of the city, go to visit District 7. At District 7 there is a nice lake :

And a nice bridge, illuminated in the evening

District 2 is located in the north-east side of Saigon and District 7 in the South-East side. See location on the Map at the top of the page.
In a few years there will be a Metro line to District 2, but for now you need to find another way of Transport. Grab-motorbike will take you to both districts in less than half hour.
In District 2, the animated area is called : “Thao Dien” and the main street is called : “Xuan Thuy”.
There is a service of public boats, on the river, from the center of Saigon to district 2. It is called “Saigon Waterbus”.
In District 2 : Take note of the Italian restaurant : Pendolasco and the French chocolate café and factory : Maison Marou.

Out of town – One day excursions

There are many travel agencies in town, especially in the backpacker’s area Pham Gnu Lao. They propose one day trips or half day trips to several popular destinations. It is not expensive but sometimes there are also entrance fees, that are not included in the original price.


Look at the following map. Click to enlarge :


Cu Chi tunnels + Cao Dai Temple

The most popular one day trip. There is also a half day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels without the Cao Dai temple. Price is around 160,000 Dong for the full day version. There is also entry fee to the Cu Chi reserve around 110,000 Dong.
Cu Chi is an area where there have been fierce battles during the Vietnam war. Guerrillas were hiding in tunnels. A small area is now a sort of open air museum. You can read more about the Cu Chi tunnels in Wikipedia.


Cao Dai is a very colorful temple belonging to a small religion called Caodaism (you can read more about Caodaism in Wikipedia). With the full day excursion, you arrive in time to witness a religious ceremony with singings.


My personal experience : I took this day excursion a few years ago. I mainly remember being in a minibus all day long, we stayed in the two spots just a little time. The Cu Chi reserve is a very humid area with mosquitos (take with you protection) and you don’t walk a lot in tunnels, you mostly stay over the ground (luckily). There are exhibitions of traps used by the guerrillas with explanations. Overall you get the feeling of how tough the war was. The Cao Dai temple is nice.


The Mekong delta

The Mekong is a very long river (4,350 km) passing in several Asian countries (you can read in Wikipedia about the Mekong river). The Mekong goes into the sea in South Vietnam.
Before it goes into the sea, it splits into smaller rivers and all the area (a delta) is very unique.
There are 1, 2 or 3 days tours to the Mekong delta. You will travel in boats on rivers and see floating houses and farms. A one day trip cost around 170,000 Dong. Some points on the journey : My Tho, Ben Tre, Can Tho.

Can Tho is a big city. You can arrive by yourself to Can Tho. See the page about Can Tho.

Vung Tao beaches

Vung Tao is a town on the beach, about 70 Km south of Saigon (see the Map above).


The nice thing is that Vung Tao can be reached with a speed boat on the river, from center Saigon, so you can do this trip on your own and even return the same day to Saigon.

There is a separate page about Vung Tau, with details about the Transport, Hotels and more.


Inside the speed boat :


They let you get out on the terrace on the rear, but it is rough, there is a lot of noise and some engine smells.


Once you arrive to Vung Tao, you can choose to take a cable car to the mountain.


Or better, just walk on the sea promenade and drink a coffee.


When you have Free time in Saigon

Drink Vietnamese Coffee

You know that Vietnam is a great producer of Coffee, right ? There are a lot of Cafeterias in town and the coffee is excellent.

This is an important topic, so I have prepared a separate page about the cafés in Saigon.


Relax in a swimming pool

There are several public swimming pools in Saigon center, but the one you see in the picture is more fancy, it is “country club” style. If you will arrive in the morning, you will be more or less alone. In the afternoons there are some expatriates who visit. Located in the park “Ho Boi Van Thanh” in the north of the city (search “Van Thanh swimming pool” in Google maps). Go there with a taxi.


Eat a Pho

Pho is a Vietnamese soup. The one you see in the picture is completely Vegetarian (like me). There are noodles inside, of course. See my page about being vegetarian.


Dance Salsa

Yes, there is Salsa dancing all over the world and also in Saigon. The Salsa in Saigon is very good, it exists every day of the week. As a tourist, it is a good idea to come in the evening to a Salsa club because you will meet local people and expatriates. Some of the Salsa organizers in Saigon :  XSalsa and La Danza.


Organized Excursions

There are a lot of organized excursions for Saigon and out of Saigon. You can book a tour here with Viator.

More Places

Other things that exist in Saigon and I didn’t cover on this page and
may interest you :

  • Ho Chi Minh City Museum – about the history of Saigon.
  • Museum of Vietnamese History
  • Fine arts Museum – Vietnamese art
  • Water Puppet shows

The main pages about Saigon :

  1. What to Visit in Saigon (Tourist Attractions)
  2. Where to Stay in Saigon (The potential zones for the Hotel)
  3. The Transport in Saigon (Airport, Bus and Train stations)

Return to Page 1 of the places to visit in Saigon

More on Vietnam :

  On Thailand :

Other Stuff :

If you find incorrect data on this page, like a restaurant that has closed or a big river that has moved or you want to tell me something, please write me to contact.