This tip sheet is a collection of both local perspective and foreign travellers’ opinions about what one should and should not do while in Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Visit theme parks in and around the city
Ho Chi Minh City is regarded as the best destination for theme parks in Vietnam, though this is by and large caught unnoticed by travellers. These parks are enormously invested and established with high standard of quality, offering diverse services and activities to serve various kinds of customers, from middle class to high class, from children to adult and elderly. Therefore, it would be a big miss if you, your friends or families cannot spend time to visit those entertaining places.
The most famous among these parks and easiest to access is Dam Sen Cultural Park. This is one of the most outstanding and uproarious entertaining centers in Vietnam with a wide range of activities for guests, from modern one like gaming zones, water parks to zoo or temples. However, if you are already a frequent theme park surfers, you may want something of grander scale – Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa, Binh Quoi resort or Dai Nam park will sure meet your demand. They are designed with traditional Vietnam architecture touch while adopting the most state-of-the-art infrastructure. Sure enough, you will have a big blast!
2. Tryout street food
If you travel to Ho Chi Minh City but only have morning buffets at your hotel and lunch/dinners at nearby sit-down restaurants, really don’t tell your acquaintances that you have already been here. It is just because street foods make such a fundamental part of Ho Chi Minh City travel experience. No matter how inviting food from the hotels or nearby restaurants is, eating on the street is not a should but a must.
There are many popular cuisine streets in Ho Chi Minh City where smell and flavor of tasty food are merged with exciting atmosphere to form irresistible eating venues. Travelers can wander from evening until midnight, stop at a small restaurant at snail street Tran Hung Dao, meat street Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and try roasted wing at Nguyen Van Nghi Street.
3. Visit bar and nightclubs
Once again, you should know that Ho Chi Minh City is a young and dynamic city and when it comes to nightlife, no other cities in Vietnam can beat the economic capital of Vietnam. The number of bar and night clubs in this city have mushroomed over years and attract a great number of locals and tourists alike to participate in the endless joys. Clubs and bar like Acapolyse Now, QBar or The Palace Club are some of the most popular night places in HCMC. Like night clubs in other countries, those in Ho Chi Minh City are identically noisy under stimulated handsome music, made and mixed by magical hands of region reknown DJs, to get people up on the floor and dance joyfully with their unique style. And attention single lady and gentlemen, there are many single Vietnamese coming to bar and night club every night to kill the loneliness. So if you are open to some new romance, or just simply greet and become acquaintance with the local people, the open environment in those places is the most suitable (see How to spend you evening in Ho Chi Minh City for more ideas).
4. Spend time at hair salons
Don’t think that it is a funny idea from a beautification addict, but it is really worth-considering activity for travellers, especially women. Hair designers at those stores possess adequate skills and they sure match the quality of Toronto, New York or Paris one. Those working at hair-dressers and barbers are always full of humour so they will sure bring you not only pretty hair style but also big smiles and comfort.
Especially, these hair salons offer numerous additional services besides hair cut such as dying, nail servives or hair curling with a very reasonable price (about $5-7 for hair cut, $10-20 for curling or dying). Cheap price, good services and friendly staff, is it enough for you to give a try on it?
5. Visit pagodas
One more thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City for the tourists, especially Buddhists, is to visit numerous pagodas in this city. Many residents in Ho Chi Minh City originated from China, Khmer and Japanese where Buddhism is popular. Thus it comes as no surprise that the pagodas and temples in Ho Chi Minh City reflect a fuse of architecture influence from all these countries. Another typical feature of pagodas in HCMC is they seem to be more colorful than their counterparts in the North.
In normal days, pagodas and temples offer a tranquil and safe haven to escape from the noise and hustle of daily city life. Therefore, not only Buddhists can come to worship and express their respects to the Buddha, but also all guests are welcome just only for relaxing or regaining the balance of their lives.
1. Wander in sketchy areas:
Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of big parks like Le Van Tam, Tao Dan, Hoang Van Thu, 30th April, etc. While many of them are worth visiting, there are some that are quite dangerous to visitors, especially at night, namely: Gia Dinh Park (Tan Binh District), 23rd September Park (District 1), Hoa Binh Park, Le Thi Rieng Park (District 10), Phu Lam Park (District 6). Prostitution, drugs selling, robbery, waylay thrive in these parks. Some have also become safe haven for the homelessness. Street vendors also can irritate park-goers by clinging to customers. Therefore, tourists are recommended not to come to these places, especially at night. Adventure is good, but not at the risk of your safety.
2. Spend time at outdated cinemas:
Besides modern and comfortable cinemas, there are still old cinemas that exist in this city. In spite of relatively cheap prices, their facilities are of low-standard and the atmosphere isn’t quite appropriate for those who want to fully enjoy the film as local young couples often come here not to watch movies but to talk (and kiss!). As well as full of disturbance, these cinemas don’t show updated movies. One typical cinema of that kind is Tan Son Nhat Cinema.
3. Join the traffic in unsuitable time:
Riding motorbike or bike as local people is an interesting experience for foreigners. However, they’re not advised to do so in rush hours (about 7 – 9 AM and 5 – 7 PM) or on crowded big streets as Ho Chi Minh City has traffic jam almost everyday. It would be extremely dangerous as visitors don’t know about driving habit of Vietnamese people as well as traffic law. Therefore, tourists who want to try this type of transport should be careful with the time and route.
4. Pay a visit to the zoo:
HCMC Zoo and Botanical Garden are one of the oldest zoos in the world, with many special species of flora and fauna. Although the zoo offers quite a valuable visiting experience, tourists are often disappointed with the facilities and the poor conditions of the animal cages and the animals themselves. The bad smell of those cages is also a problem for visitors. In short, a visit to the zoo may turn you right off.
5. Plan any trip to Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe:
Eating and drinking places besides Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal are common among local men who come to drink after working hours. However, as Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal is quite polluted and emanates super bad odor, this is not a really comfortable and ideal place to enjoy a meal – unless you want to do a scholar research about floating lives in Mekong delta. Drunkmen often fight with each other and at weekend, often there is street racing on this route which results in insecure situations.