There’s plenty to keep visitors occupied in Ho Chi Minh City. Most newcomers to the city fill their first days with sightseeing as they are eager to see Saigon’s famed attractions, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, as soon as they can.
It’s not unusual, however, for tourists to get distracted by some fabulous outfit or painting in a shop window display and suddenly switch into shopping mode. Between exclusive designs in glitzy boutiques and bargains in the markets, the possibilities for shopping in Ho Chi Minh City are endless.
Most visitors to the city are enthralled by the fantastic range of cuisine on offer in the city’s many restaurants, so allow plenty of time in their schedule for some delectable dining. It’s quite a discovery to find that a bowl of pho (a noodle soup), served to customers sitting on tiny streetside stalls, can be as delicious as any swanky restaurant located in a colonial mansion.
The discoveries continue when it comes to drinking; as well as the usual range of beers, wines and spirits, Vietnam produces a tasty and cheap draft beer called bia hoi, which is usually served with nibbles of nuts or veggies, in simple shophouses that function as bars.
Such places are good to enjoy a chat, though if you’re in the mood for entertainment, there are lots of bars featuring live bands where you can tap your toes or even get up and dance.
If you worry that all this good living is getting you out of shape, there are plenty of ways to get fit again. Most top hotels have fitness clubs and swimming pools where non-guests can pay a day fee to use the facilities. If the city’s heat gets too much, there’s also a massive water park at Dam Sen, to the west of the city centre.
Golf is also becoming very popular in Vietnam, and there’s a great course at the Vietnam Golf and Country Club just 15km from the centre. Few visitors leave Saigon without taking a day trip to see something of the surrounding countryside.
There’s no doubt that the most popular (and strangest!) attraction is the Cu Chi Tunnels an extensive system of underground passages where the Vietcong hid from the Americans. Other interesting destinations are the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh and the floating markets in the Mekong Delta…more on Ho Chi Minh City Activities.