Tours, Ho Chi Minh City
To have a general view about HCMC, just spend half day to go around Saigon. Let's start your tour from Nguyen Hue Square at the corner Nguyen Hue - Le Loi, picture Opera House & HCMC People's Commitee which lies opposite with the square (30 minutes), then spend 1 hour to visit Reunification Palace - the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975, 1 hour to walk through 30/4 Park after that to Notre Dame Cathedral (a Neo-Romanesque structure built 100 years ago) , Centre Post Office (here, you can choose some nice postcard to send to your friends or relatives at home) and end your trip at bustling Ben Thanh Market.
These places are all in city center and can be found easily. So, don't buy a tour, just walk with a city map :)
If you do the tour to the Tunnels and Temple with Rainbow Adventure tours, (probably other tours as well) then a morning tea stop is at the handicapped persons workshop. Here you see them making various crafts. It was very interesting.
The shop was selling the products they made. They looked extremely well done and were very nice - prices were fairly high though.
A typical city tour highlights centuries of timeless traditions and the beauty of Vietnam's ancient culture, as well as more recent Western influences. You will see the neo-Romanesque architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral, the French-style Central Post Office and City Hall. Then on to the War Remnants Museum, and Ben Thanh Market, Saigon's central market. In the Chinese sector called Cholon, visit Binh Tay Market and 19th century Thien Hau Pagoda.
Notre Dame Cathedral. Pretty red brick French colonial Notre Dame Cathedral. Built last century from materials all imported from France. The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and has two 40-metre towers.
Central Post Office (Buu Dien Truing Tam). The post office was built between 1886-1891 and is the largest post office in Viet Nam. This French colonial structure was completed in 1891 and houses an enormous map of old Indochina.
City Hall (Hotel de Ville). Saigon's gingerbread Hôtel de Ville, is now the somewhat incongruous home of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. It was built between 1901 and 1908 after years of the sort of architectural controversy peculiar to the French.
War Remnants Museum. Established in September 1975. It contains countless artifacts, photographs and pictures documenting some of the less heroic activities carried out by the US army in Vietnam. Displays illustrate the killing of civilians, the spreading of toxic defoliant, the torturing of prisoners. Planes, tanks, bombs and helicopters are also on display.
Ben Thanh Market. At all of its four sides the Market is always loaded with varieties of goods, such as consumer goods, cakes and candies, and particularly high-quality fruit and vegetables.
Cholon, the City's Chinatown is one of the oldest parts of Saigon and serves as the Chinatown for the city.
Thien Hau Pagoda. This early 19th century pagoda is dedicated to the worship of both Buddha and Thien Hau Thanh Mau - Goddess of the Sea and protector of sailors.
There are agencies which offer tours on the Saigon River, taking you to some attractions; I myself chose (like few years ago!) to hire a small boat for myself alone which I found on the shore of the river, near the hydrofoil terminal.
Spending two hours on the river, looking at the boats, big ones, small ones, all sorts of boats from the heavy freighters to the little barques crossing the river, looking at people on the boats, just a short dive in a world I do not know, enjoy discovering bits of life on the river. . . and I dream in those situations. . . . .
Interesting are some big boats, like this one on picture 3, registered (convenience flag!) in Ulan Baatar, showing that there is a Mongolian navy!
I am always amazed by people living on boats, making their boats like houses, and here (picture 2) the ladies have open space for preparing food. . . Other ladies like on the main picture just make short trips on the river, passing by giants of the oceans.
All sorts of boats and all sorts of goods; the small boats are rather slow, adapted to the river, and on this one (picture 4), carrying palm leaves, people have time for a sleep; and here (picture 5), the river grocery, with drinking water, sweets, food; that sort of boat probably goes up far small rivers to isolated villages, where even the trucks do not arrive. . . (Possibly).
Saigon is a city of bikes, and even on the river, you can see a number of bikes. . . . probably many people cross the river with their bikes. . . . (two first pictures), and the kids have a bike in the small yard above the river (picture 3); the bikes are everywhere!
The boat tour took about two hours, and further out on the delta, in deeper waters, the giant cranes are like prehistoric animals in the dark blue sky (picture 4); it was a relaxing tour on the river, far from the city noise, in a different ambience, but now, it’s almost night, we are coming back to the quay (picture 5)
This was an 8 hour tour of the city by Delta Tours. It was a good value at $8.00 but a little slow paced for us. I think we could have covered it is 6 hours,for sure. it did get us around to see the sights however and considering in was the Lunar New Years day ,it was a good option for us.
We travel around the world on a regular basis. It is easy to travel through
Europe, Singapore, or even Dubai. Being an American, when our company asked us
to spend a month in Vietnam, we could not find any information on what to do
with your children.
We did some extensive research on different sites - tripadvisor, yahoo travel,
etc. Finally we decided to chose Jason's All Stars tour company (my husband would be at work
all day and the kids and I would just be sitting in a hotel - a very nice
hotel...but still a hotel). Check out our pictures from the trip at http://
The Cu Chi Tunnels tour was great. My one year old really loved crawling
through the tunnels and my 16 year old got to fire an automatic riffle. We also got to go on a Saigon city tour to see the Saigon Colonial, Chinatown & Saigon Village. See how laquerware is made. Cao Dai Holy See, Kim Phuc's village. Eat Elephant Ear Fish Soup. The kids got to
drive a boat down the Mekong Delta and eat different rice candies. Vung Tau
was quiet a ride but the beaches were beautiful and you needed a dip in the
water after climbing up to see the statue of Jesus!
Even though we did not opt for on of the (hop on a bus with 20 other people tours)
With Jason's we still got to do all of the popular tourist stops and got to create
specialized tours to stop at places the kids wanted to see (water parks, water
puppet show), etc. If you are in Vietnam with your kids, check them out at
I'm not all too keen on the people who drive a cyclo (a bike or motorbike with a little cart to transport people or goods), whom I call the cyclopes. But to see the main interesting points of Saigon, there's no better way than hiring a cyclope for a day. They know all the places, and can give you some advice on the way. I suggest the bike-cyclopes, cos it's a lovely way to explore the Saigon highlists. Choose from the list the cyclope carries with him, and at the end of the day, don't forget to bargain.
They will be after you wherever you go! It can be quite overwhelming and exhausting especially whne you've just arrived. It is worth taking a cyclo tour for a unique view of the city and for the adrenaline rush! Be very clear though exactly how long you want a tour for and where to go.
Bleary eyed and killing time for our room to be ready in the hotel, we were stuck on cyclos for 2 hours in the hot sun, just off the plane and too exhausted to argue! A good initiation to Saigon but a slightly unwelcome one!
Saigon hotpot is a voluntary club with students from various universities offering free tour guide service for tourists. They are pasionate about introducing Saigon to the world and it also gave them the chance to practise the use of English. The tours they offer are city tour and traditional meal tour.
The tourists are expected to cover their own expense, transport and tickets as well as those for their volunteer guides. All tours start at 9am and the volunteer guides will meet the tourists at the hotel lobby for the tours. They can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Their website is www.saigonhotpot.com. I sent an email to them and got a reply a few days later. Different volunteer guides would be assigned to the tourist depending on their available free time.
As I was travelling alone to HCMC, I had enlisted the help from Saigon hotpot to show me around the places. I had requested for traditional meal tour, city tour and also a tour in search of local cusine. More information on the traditional meal tour can be found on my travalogue. I especially liked the traditional meal tour where i can participate in the cooking and it is really an eye opener to see that the market is more developed than I had thought.
Other than exploring the places of interest in a country, I would love to eat the local cusines especially those that are known only to the locals. I didn't expect to be the first person to request for such foodie tour though. I had met up with Ms Tran for dinner and was recommended to food like bo la lot, banh canh cua and also che. It was really a very satisfying meal for me. Yum Yum. More information on the food can be found in my restaurant tips.