Saigon (also officially known as Ho Chi Minh City or locally in Vietnamese as Sài Gòn) is Vietnam’s most booming up and coming city, a places where the action never stops. But if you had only a day visiting this hustle and bustle city, what can you do to experience mostly everything in Saigon District 1?
1. Learn about the Vietnam’s history at Independence Palace:
It is advisable for expats to visit Independence Palace (known as Reunification Palace) in Saigon District 1, the former home of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War to learn more about Vietnamese history. With an outstanding architecture, it is considered the symbol of victory, peace and integrity of Vietnam.
After buying a ticket you can then go inside, and walk around a few of the floors to see all sorts of rooms including meeting rooms, dining rooms, and lounges that are fit for royalty. The round dragon carpet, located on the second floor, a huge circular red carpet with a dragon etched into the middle, was something I thought was pretty amazing. After navigating through a few floors and seeing the helicopter pad, you can then head to the basement where you’ll find some slightly scary offices, control rooms, and bunkers.
Visiting the Independence Palace is one of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and it’s one of the most visited attractions in the city.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Open hours: 7:30 am – 11 am and 1 pm – 4 pm daily. However, occasionally the Palace can be completely closed when there’s a large official event taking place. So make sure it’s open the day you plan to go.
Entrance price: 30,000 VND per person
2. Visit Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
In the past you might have heard of the Gia Long Palace or the Revolutionary Museum, but now, the same place is officially known as the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC Museum in Saigon District 1.
Most of the displays show the history and making of Ho Chi Minh City, and also there are a number of Vietnamese culture exhibits as well. But what I liked best, was just the amazing mansion palace that the Ho Chi Minh City Museum was housed in, yet another beautiful neoclassical structure built in 1885, with big pillars and wooden staircases.
Address: 65 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe, Ho Chi Minh City.
Open hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily
Entrance price: 15,000 VND
3. Try tasty and authentic Vietnamese Street Foods
Saigon is famous for its culinary heaven with a long list of both ordinary food and international dishes. It is impossible not to enjoy Vietnamese street food with fresh and local ingredients namely Pho, spring rolls, pancake, papaya salad, sea crab,…They can create unforgettable and distinct flavours.
4. City tour on a motorbike
Vietnam is a country using motorbikes as a usual transport. Therefore, it is always welcomed to engage in a tour by motorbike. Expats can choose to go with locals and friends or to experience on their own. They can control their speed, their time and more specifically, they can go anywhere they love without depending on others.
Related article: Complete guide about motorcycle in Vietnam
5. Explore the Saigon Cathedral of Notre Dame
Welcome to Paris? Probably not quite as grand as the Notre Dame de Paris, but nevertheless an important cathedral and landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, the Notre Dame Cathedral marks the center of the French colonial heritage in Saigon District 1.
The cathedral is beautiful, with two 40 meter high towers, and a statue of the Virgin Mary in the front lawn area. Make sure you go to the very front on the road – side, so you can get a great photo of Virgin Mary with the cathedral in the background. Inside the cathedral you’ll see beautiful stained glass windows, the wooden pews, and classic plaid floor tiles.
Address: 01 Cong xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Open hours: 8 am – 11 am in the morning and 3 pm – 6 pm in the evening on weekdays only (on Sunday, there’s an official mass that begins at 9:30 am that you are free to attend)
Entrance price: Free
6. Try the traditionally – made Vietnamese coffee in District 1
As one of the leading coffee exporters, Vietnam has really good coffee that people will enjoy.
In many corners along the street in Saigon District 1, visitors can easily spot a variety of cafe stores with classic style. It is more specific to try traditional coffee with natural taste in such a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.
7. Enjoy Art Exhibitions in District 1:
Last but not least, Art exhibition is a smart choice for art lovers. It offers various distinctive collections of famous artists in Vietnam. You can boh relax and reflect your thoughts on remarkable paintings at some well-known exhibitions such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts in Saigon District 1.
This is the list of attractive things that expats should not miss the opportunity to explore when paying a visit to Sai Gon. Let’s take it as a valuable notebook for your journey in Vietnam.
Address: 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam
Open hours: 8am – 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
8. Boat ride along Saigon River:
As a way to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city, boat ride is an ideal suggestion for expats to go along Saigon riverside on their day-offs.
Visitors can have a chance to experience different landscapes with diversified living styles. It is interesting to see some famous buildings such as Masteri Thao Dien, Phu My Hung, Landmark,…as well as old villages below the bridge.
9. Have a drink with a view at Bitexco Tower
Standing taller than any other building in Ho Chi Minh City, and towering to the sky, is a skyscraper that’s made to look like a lotus bulb, known as Bitexco Financial Tower. Listed as one of the highest towers in Vietnam, Bitexco is extremely luxurious with modern structure and it can provide a broad view of the whole city. From a distance, or from the sky, it’s easily the most recognizable building in Ho Chi Minh City, for its tallness and for its modern design.
There are a number of things you can do when you’re at the Bitexco Financial Tower, but by far the most popular attraction is to take advantage of the height of the building to get a view of the city. It is undoubtedly a stunning attraction to both locals and foreigners. They can go around the building or have a drink at rooftop skybar.
Address: 36 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Open hours: 9:30 am – 9:30 pm daily (for Skydeck), 11:30 am – 11 pm daily for cafe
Entrance price: 200,000 VND for Skydeck entrance.
10. Go shopping at one of the biggest shopping centers in Saigon
With those who really love shopping, Saigon is a suitable place to satisfy their great demands because it has a wide range of large shopping malls such as Vincom Center, Saigon Square, Takashimaya, Diamond Plaza, Parkson,…These sites are not only spacious but also very diversified in goods and materials.
Related article: Best Ho Chi Minh Shopping Malls Every Shopaholic Must Visit
Address: 65 Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
Open hours: 9:30am – 9:30pm from Monday to Friday, 9:30 – 10pm in weekend.