Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Things to Do / Activities in Saigon

There are more things to do in Ho Chi Minh City than travelers might imagine. While initial activities may consist of exploring historical landmarks, museums and motorbike-packed streets, as well as trying out the city’s various delicacies and favorite street eats, the bulk of Saigon’s activities remains to be discovered by new visitors.

Tours and excursions are must-dos for visitors stopping by for a day or two. Those planning to stay longer will be surprised to find plenty of activities besides sightseeing. Saigon’s nightlife is active every night of the week, with everything from low-key hipster bars to rooftop glamour lounges each sharing much appreciation among the city’s party-addicted crowd.

While bars, clubs and karaoke joints of Western and local variety reign supreme at night, things tend to tone down a bit during the day; Fortunately, activities are no less plentiful. Stop by the park for a quick read, play a variety of sports with the locals, join a live detective game, discover lesser-known districts like Cho Lon in District 5 (Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown), take a cooking or crafts class, experience the city’s massage parlours and much more.

Families will be happy to know there are numerous venues and activities that cater to all ages and sizes, including Ho Chi Minh City’s many malls, like Vincom Center and VivoCity, as well as cinemas with the latest Western movies and outdoor and indoor markets packed with interesting knick-knacks for both kids and parents.

Those planning on going suit or dress shopping and have a bit of time have the chance to get a bespoke suit crafted by a skilled tailor. Our guide on finding a tailor in Saigon should help you navigate the initially daunting task of getting great custom-made clothes.

Thanks to the city’s central location, many adventures await on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, offering endless weekend getaways possibilities. Madagui Forest City, only a few hours away, is nearly as large as a national park and contains camping grounds, team activities and many hiking trails. Beaches at Vung Tau and Phan Thiet are no more than several hours away and offer excellent opportunities for whiling away an afternoon kicking the sand and watching the waves.

whether you’re a backpacker, expat or exploring with your family, Ho Chi Minh City will always have a good deal of activities for those who look a little deeper.

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  • Like all modern cities the best sports and leisure activities are not always in your face when you first arrive in Saigon; they have to be tracked down. In some cases you are likely to stumble across them, others need a bit of research. Watching sport is easy in this vibrant city, the number of sports bars is growing exponentially. Taking part takes a bit more effort, literally. Pool The Saigon Pool League was started early in 2014 and in the short time since has grown from just eight teams to a vibrant league of 35 teams playing in four ...

Saigon’s spas and beauty centers are some of the best places to relax in Southeast Asia, with everything from rejuvenating skincare treatments and mud baths to vigorous body scrubs and restful Vietnamese massages. Be prepared to fall in love with the city’s spa culture – you may not want to leave.

Many of the top spas are situated inside one of the city’s numerous 5-star hotels, but there are some other gems to be found around Ho Chi Minh city too – many of them in converted and renovated villas, replete with timeless classical decor and calming spacious treatment rooms.

Beauty junkies will be pleased to discover the best spas in Saigon use naturally-sourced ingredients in many, if not all, of their treatment products. Don’t be afraid to ask about this, or anything else related to your visit – masseuses and therapists in high-quality spas are adept at tailoring the experience to the individual and the options to customise your visit are as plentiful as they are tantalising.

Of course, top spas are not complete without the full suite of extras to make you feel pampered and relaxed – expect jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms to be available to all spa guests, as well as fitness centres in the larger locations. Welcome and farewell drinks are other thoughtful touches.

For couples there are plenty of great romantic packages, with sensuous massages and luxurious pampering sessions to truly elevate your vacation or honeymoon experience.

Popular treatments include massage therapy (with Western, Thai and Vietnamese options), facial and hair care, pedicures, reflexology, manicures and face whitening. Be sure to ask at each individual spa about their signature massage treatment.

Of course, finding that inner glow that comes with true well-being often extends beyond the spa – fortunately for image-conscious travellers there are ample hair and nail salons in Saigon too, as well as superbly appointed gyms, like Equinox Fitness and Leisure Centre.

Can you tell the difference between handmade rice paper and the factory kind? Do you know why fish sauce from Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet is world famous? Culinary secrets and techniques are taught around Ho Chi Minh City and may include a market visit to shop for ingredients. The chef may not speak your language, but that's part of the fun! A cooking class is a tasty Saigon souvenir that keeps on giving.

  • Vietnam Cookery Center

    When in HCMC learn the secrets of Vietnamese gastronomy with a hands-on cooking course. Meet your instructor chef at Ben Thanh Market and discover local produce. Then head out to the school to master authentic Vietnamese cooking. The classes, held inside the school's spacious 1930s colonial building, are fun, relaxed and delicious. What better memory to take home from Saigon ...

  • Miso to Mirin – Saigon Cooking Class Delivers Again

    Recently, City Pass had a chance to check out the new Japanese cooking class at Blanchy Street. Miso, Mirin, and Dashi all filled the air with nuanced aromas and odors as Chef Martin Brito gives the ins and outs of crafting the simple, yet complex, dishes of Japan. Hailing from Sydney’s west, Brito spent over a decade in London honing ...

  • Saigon Cooking Class

    Through the century old archway lies a peaceful courtyard, home of Hoa Tuc restaurant and Saigon Cooking Class. Learn the secrets of Saigon cuisine with an English-speaking Vietnamese chef in a uniquely elegant setting. The food focus is both traditional and modern fare. Half-day gourmet tours, hands-on cooking classes and private classes are available. Located in the heart of Ho ...

Golf enthusiasts in Saigon/HCMC do not need to take lengthy trips to the Highlands or coastal cities just to play the game they love. Less than two hours away are some of the most exciting courses in the country. Accompanying these courses are some excellent resorts for golfers that wish to play consecutive days in a row, or enjoy the scenery and relax from city life.

Considered by golfasia.com as the best course in the south, Long Thanh Golf Club & Residential Estate is a 36-hole golf course (consisting of the Hill and Lake courses) situated on a peaceful countryside. Both courses are designed to test the ability of everyone from beginners to more advanced players, although the Lake’s flatter fields cater more towards less experienced golfers while still offering a challenge. The clubhouse here is considered one of the best in the country, with ample services and amenities.

Forty-five minutes out from the city center golfers will find Vietnam’s first international championship course, Song Be Golf Resort. A challenging feat for even experienced players, this walking course is considered one of the most difficult in the country. Built in 1994, Song Be houses a modern clubhouse with facilities that overlook the ocean and dunes for resting golfers.

The Bluffs is an 18-hole course situated by Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam, so golfers not only get an excellent, Greg Norman designed golf course, but nine eateries at the casino resort, a plush clubhouse with its own dining facilities, and one of the best course layouts in the South. Play in a natural setting twined with Oceanside dunes and natural obstacles like coastal winds that challenge even adept players. The casino resort offers free transportation for the two hour ride over from the city center.

The Vietnam Golf & Country Club is only 17 kilometers away from the city, but is located on an impressive 300 hectares of land and consists of two championship courses. Courses were created using minimal land alteration and feel quite natural. For more information on this excellent course, read the extensive description here.

Only ninety minutes out, golfers will find the Dong Nai Golf Resort. If you are a lover of gorgeous backdrops and plenty of amenities, this 27-hole golf course will impress.

There are many more excellent golf course throughout Vietnam, but some of the best are located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, with plenty of lavish amenities, local and international F&B facilities, and courses shaped around Vietnam’s natural beauty.

If you’re looking for one of the best ways to spend an evening in Ho Chi Minh City, then a trip to the casino (officially known as ‘gaming centers’) should be near the top of your list. Whether you’re on the hunt for big jackpots or just looking to score some free drinks while having a good time with friends, there are plenty of fun casinos to try out.

Because gambling is not legal for Vietnamese nationals, there are no defined age limits for legal gambling in Vietnam – however, it’s still best to bring your passport to prove your foreign citizenship when entering a casino.

All gambling inside the city is electronic and that means no live tables, no croupiers and no chips. So a computer deals your cards, rather than a human being. The minimum bet depends on the game and casino, but they can range from 5 cents for slot machines up to $20 per hand for blackjack.

There are plenty of casinos in the city centre of Ho Chi Minh, all located in luxury hotels, but if you want the best gambling experience then you may have to venture further afield to The Grand Ho Tram casino resort, two hours away by car. This is the only site in Vietnam that compares to Las Vegas or Macau in terms of experience.

For more information, you can read our reviews about the Top 10 Casinos in Ho Chi Minh City and 5 Tips to Win in A Saigon Casino.

There are enough gyms in Ho Chi Minh City to satisfy any workout junkie. Despite the small sea of beer bellies, there is a dedicated portion of the city’s population who run, swim and pump iron like there is no tomorrow.

In their favor, full-featured gyms have sprung up - mainly in District 1 and in various 4-star and 5-star hotels. Some independent gyms exist, offering the latest equipment, such as the few branches of California Fitness, The Landmark Health Club and the Vincharm Health Club. All these venues offer the usual treadmills, elliptical machines and bicycles for cardio training. For muscle and body building, they will have free weights (dumbbells, barbells, olympic bars and plates), benches, squat racks and machines dedicated to one specific body area: legs, arms, pectorals, shoulders, back, etc.

High-end gyms in Ho Chi Minh City range in price but hover around $100-150 US range, and less if yearly memberships are acquired. More local, less accommodating gyms go as low as $10-25 US, with varying degrees of amenities. If you’re not too concerned about pools, jacuzzis, saunas and ice baths, then the small gym around the corner might be just as suitable.

Some sports clubs also offer fitness classes and lessons. The Saigon Sports Club for instance have zumba and yoga group sessions. You can also book for a private instructor to help you make the best our of your exercises.

Those who are not keen to get in shape by balancing barbells have a plethora of options. Parks are great for jogging and sometimes have free workout stations where you can do push ups and sit ups. Recommended parks for your daily workout fix include Tao Dan Park and 30-4 Park. Gymnasiums and sports-and-recreation centers around the city have dirt-cheap fees for fun activities like dodgeball, rock-climbing, tennis and other sports. We recommend paying a visit to Phan Dinh Phung to get a nice selection of activities. You can also rent a badminton or a basketball court for a very reasonable price.

Swimmers need not fret. Many pools line the city, some of the best located in 4- and 5-star hotels and resorts. Fees at these facilities range from $10-20 US for a day of use and are well worth it, with fewer people and cleaner water. Local pools are a fraction of the price but are not recommended for hygiene purposes.

Ho Chi Minh City boasts so many delicious delicacies that sometimes it’s hard to get back on track and get fit. The small streets and thick pollution exuding from the many motorbikes doesn’t help much, either. Luckily, the city is loaded with enough high- and low-end gyms, sports centers, pools and parks to help you get in shape and stay healthy, even if you can’t resist just one more local dish.

  • Those looking to keep fit in Ho Chi Minh City need to look no further than this fully equipped health club. Equally popular with Vietnamese and expatriates living in the city, the club offers a rooftop swimming pool, an international squash court, male and female changing areas and saunas along with weekly classes in the fitness studio. Located on the 15th and 16th floors of The Landmark Building, the club is known for its breathtaking views combined with the latest gym equipment and friendly staff.
  • In the heart of Saigon's District 1 at the towering Vincom Center, Vincharm Health Club is a full service modern gym with the latest workout equipment. A Western style fitness centre, the spacious and clean facilities feature free weights, cardiovascular machines, a pool, sauna, and steam bath. You can also take classes in yoga, belly dancing and general workout techniques. Burn some calories at one of the leading five star gyms in Ho Chi Minh City. Located on Levels 3 and 4 of Vincom Center, Vincharm Health Club is a modern, fully furnished health and fitness complex where you ...

Whether you are a cinema aficionado or looking to spend an evening with friends going to the movies in Saigon, you can catch all the latest blockbusters and local films in cinemas all over Ho Chi Minh City. The first IMAX has just opened in VivoCity Mall in District 7, with more theaters planned in the near future.

There are two top chains of movie theatres in Saigon - Galaxy Cinemas and CGV Cinemas (formerly Megastar Cinemas), both offering Hollywood blockbusters in English language with Vietnamese subtitles. Other than these two, BHD Cineplex and Lotte Cinema offer 2D and 3D cinema experiences, with some movies available in English.

Cinebox, which has two locations in the city, and Điện ảnh Sài Gòn on Hai Ba Trung street, which shows mostly Vietnamese movies.

Going to the cinema in Saigon is cheaper than in the West, especially the food, and contrary to other Southeast Asian countries, there is not much difference in the procedure. 

You can normally choose where to sit on a computer screen. In some cinemas though, you get your seats assigned by the cashier, and depending on their mindset, they may cluster their customers together in the corner, while the rest of the cinema is empty. Occasionally the government censors a Hollywood blockbuster aired in movie theatres in Vietnam, but that’s rather rare. Censorship usually affects graphic scenes of violence and sexuality.

Galaxy and CGV are the two cinema chains that offer movies dubbed in English language or with English subtitles. Galaxy has 2D and 3D technology available, while the Korean movie theatre chain CGV introduced the first IMAX cinema of Vietnam in Ho Chi MInh City. They also use 48FS, 3D and 4DX technology. If you are on a date, some cinemas offer special seats for couples also called "love seats": For instance, you can get the "sweetbox" in some selected CGV cinemas with more privacy. Most theaters also have different categories of tickets from VIP to standard. VIP seats will be larger and more comfortable.

The movie schedules can be retrieved at respective cinema websites. Online booking is also available and you may choose whether to pay immediately or pay later for your movie ticket. If you decide to pay on arrival, you should appear about 25 minutes early.

What cinema in Ho Chi Minh city you choose is up to you, but remember to check on their website for current promotions.

  • Galaxy Cinema Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City’s original big cinema chain since 2005. Movies include American blockbusters (with Vietnamese subtitles), foreign films (again, with Vietnamese subtitles), 3D movies and, of course, Vietnamese flicks. Two of the theaters reside in District 1, one in District 6, one in the Go Vap district, and one in the Tan Binh district. Galaxy Kinh Duong Vuong in District 6 is the chain's newest and most technologically advanced theatre, although it's a bit far from the city center. Tuesdays are Galaxy's "Happy Day," when select movie tickets are discounted. Ticket ...
  • CGV Cinemas delivers a premium movie going experience with ten cinemas in some of the foremost shopping centres of Ho Chi Minh City. Originating from Korea, CGV Cinemas is the newest chain of movie theatres in Saigon, and they are rapidly expanding. Choose between standard theatre seats, a lovebox (specially designed chairs for couples) and private VIP screening rooms for your perfect night out at the movies. Their premium lobbies serve a variety of concessions and movies are available in standard format, digital, in-your-face 3D, 48FS and the new 4DX experience. There are ten CGV Cinemas locations in HCMC. Movies ...

Bowling in Ho Chi Minh City is a great way to have fun with your family or pass a rainy afternoon in air-conditioned comfort. As one of the most bustling centers of commerce and tourism in Southeast Asia, Saigon offers a plethora of things to do and things to see, especially with the kids. Visit the Ho Chi Minh City Zoo and Botanical Gardens, get lost in a maze of back-alleys or sip a smoothie on a street corner. But when the vibrance and non-stop motion of Vietnam’s urban hot-spot all gets too much for you, the city’s bowling alleys and movie theatres are a great way to experience another, quieter side of Saigon life.

One of the most popular spots, Diamond Superbowl, is located on the top floor of classy Diamond Plaza in District 1. The plaza itself is a smooth complex of pristine apartments, offices, brand shopping and high-end cosmetics, and some of the city’s best health-care facilities. The Superbowl is a popular hangout above the plaza for a wealthier demographic of local teens. It has the usual dark, LED lit setting, spacious lanes and arrays of bumpers and bowling balls, typical of modern bowling alleys. It also offers snooker and video games for those who like to multitask, and the usual array of fast food is available on site as well.

Other bowling alleys around the city include Powerbowl in District 1 and Saigon Superbowl in Tan Binh District.

  • Typifying a modern, noisy and fun bowling alley, Diamond Plaza Bowling in Saigon's Distric 1 has state of the art machines, 24 wide lanes and your choice of bumpers or no-nonsense gutters. Lanes are priced by the hour and you can rent socks and shoes, good news if you showed up in flip-flops. After a game or two, throw down on the snooker tables or check out the rest of the recently revamped Diamond Plaza, a central HCMC shopping complex including department stores, a food court and a slew of desirable merchandise. One of Ho Chi Minh City's ...
  • So you think you can dance? There are a number of places to dance, or learn how to in Ho Chi Minh City. From Salsa to Swing, ballet to belly dancing, Saigon can dance. On Wednesday nights at 8:30 pm try Cafe Molinari at 5 Le Duan for a free basic swing class. Drop by La Salsa at 212 Nguyen Dinh Chieu any night for social salsa. Generally there is no need to take a dance partner. While walking around the parks of central Saigon, keep an eye out for clusters of teenagers practicing the latest dance moves. In ...

Premier activities in Ho Chi Minh City

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    For most travelers, 72 hours is enough in crazy Saigon. The traffic is lethal, the chaos is incredible and the weather is stinking hot. Many who travel to Vietnam are overwhelmed by one of Southeast Asia’s most bustling cities, and with rustic Hanoi, romantic Hoi An and the lazy beaches of Nha Trang beckoning, most tourists just want to move ...

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    Ho Chi Minh City’s cardio culture is exploding, and with it, unique events that include nightly races and paint-drenched runs. Here are some of the city’s more interesting runs. Thanks to the rising development of highway systems and events designed to appeal to large audiences, not just experienced athletes, HCMC’s running culture is growing in size every year. Some of ...

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  • Add Colour to your Life

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