City Guide: Saigon | Ho-Chi-Minh-City
Saigon or Ho-Chi-Minh-City is the biggest city in Vietnam. In this city guide we’ll explain what you can see in Saigon and why visiting the city can be very interesting.
While Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An all have a very cultural and historic touch, Saigon is very different. The city feels very modern, very metropolitan and also quite a bit more American than the other cities in the country. Surely, the influences of the past play a role in this, but Saigon kept to be the only real skyscraper city in Vietnam. Nevertheless, there are quite some interesting touristic, historic and cultural highlights in Ho-Chi-Minh-City, too.
Saigon Cathedral and the historic Post Office
When it comes to historic monuments in Saigon, the main spot to visit is the Cathedral Square in the city center. Here, you can not only find the Saigon Cathedral, but also the Post Office, which dates back to the French colonial reign.
The building is truly beautiful from outside and a place you’ll love to take pictures of. However, you should also go inside as the Post Office fulfills its purpose till today.
Even if you don’t have a letter to send, checking out the interior is well worth it.
This is definitely a must-see when doing sightseeing in Ho-Chi-Minh-City.
Ho-Chi-Minh Square and Hotel Continental Saigon
Another spot in the city that has a very historic flair is the Ho-Chi-Minh-Square. Even though we’re speaking of more recent history, there are several older buildings around the square.
Those include the City Hall, which has a beautiful historic touch, and the Hotel Continental, which might remind you of visiting Paris.
Additionally, there are a few more historic buildings around.Funnily, when turning around, you’ll see several skyscrapers dominating the skyline of the city.
This area of the city is great to see the huge differences between Saigon and other cities in Vietnam.
Other noteworthy buildings in Ho-Chi-Minh-City
Saigon has several further historic and culturally interesting buildings. Those are including a couple of government and administrative buildings, which are spread out through the city. The most important of those might be the Palace of Independence, which you can find in the city center. Not very far away is the Supreme Court, which is located in close a nice building, too.
One building I’d especially checking out is the Saigon Opera, which is located close to the Ho-Chi-Minh-Square. It’s a beautiful historic building dating back to the times of French Colonialism.
If you are interested in religion, you may check out the Tan Dinh Church, which has a unique pink color and thus doesn’t really look like a typical church.
While other cities in Vietnam, including Hanoi and Da Nang, got more beautiful pagodas, the Jade Emperor Pagoda Saigon is worth visiting, too.
The Souvenir Temple is another religious monument I’d recommend visiting if you’ve got time.
All in all, there are several interesting buildings in Saigon, so I’m sure you won’t get bored when doing sightseeing.
Fascinating museums in Ho-Chi-Minh-City
Saigon has a decent amount of museums spread throughout the city. Those include the Ho-Chi-Minh-City Museum, the War Remnants Museum and the Vietnam History Museum.
While I didn’t take any pictures inside the latter, my visit was very fascinating and sad at the same time. The museum brilliantly showcases the tragic events of the Vietnam War and the damage done.
The focus is not on geopolitics or right or wrong, but rather on the people. Thinking back, this might have been one of the most interesting museum visits of my life.
Saigon Botanical Garden & Zoo
A little further outside the city center, Saigon offers a combined zoo and botanical garden. The latter didn’t really fascinate me with just a few different plants and some funny plant art.
The zoo is quite big and houses dozens of different animals, including white tigers and lions. However, compared to zoos in Europe, the animals are living on relatively small space, which is a little sad.
Other than that, the zoo is quite nice and the combined park, which you pay an entrance fee (including the zoo and the botanical garden) is very nice to stroll through and relax from sightseeing.
The promenade and the Saigon River
What I really like about Saigon are the many things you can do in the city. Be it partying in the city center at night, sightseeing or visiting museums during the day, enjoying the views from the top of fascinating skyscrapers or strolling through the botanical garden.
Another very nice option to relax a little bit from the busy life in Saigon is the promenade at the river, which is a little tough to reach due to the large street separating it from the city center.
Yet, as soon as you’ve made it you can walk for a few kilometers and enjoy a nice view of the large river, the greenery and suburbia in the distance.
Overall impressions of visiting Saigon
I’m a big fan of Vietnam and I pretty much enjoyed all the cities, especially Hanoi and Hue. While Saigon is totally different and you might not even think that it is located in the same country as the likes of Hoi An, I enjoyed visiting the city, nevertheless. Saigon has an incredible skyline, great parks, very interesting museums and some historic monuments and spots. Ho-Chi-Minh-City isn’t as historically or culturally interesting as other cities in the country, but well worth visiting nevertheless. I’m looking forward to coming back!
Have you been to Saigon? What did you like the most about the city?