attractions | What to See | Ho Chi Minh City

Top 5 Things to Do in Saigon

Author: Quang Mai
Published: Feb. 12, 2014, 4:53 p.m.
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What to See in Ho Chi Minh City

You‘ve never been to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and have a tight schedule to visit all of the interesting places? Firstly, you would need to find out the "Best time to visit Vietnam" and learn how to cross the street in big cities like HCMC, before checking out the 5 things to do in Saigon. Make sure you grab some unforgettable moments when you’re still here.

1. Enjoy spectacular scenery of HCMC from a great viewing place

Bitexco TowerThere are many places where you can capture the city’s beauty, such as Bitexco Financial Tower,AB Tower, Saigon Trade Center, and Saigon Centec. We recommend Saigon Sky Deck on the 49th floor of the Iconic Bitexco Financial Tower and Chill Sky Bar on 27th floor Rooftop of AB Tower. These are must-visit skyscrapers for viewing the whole city. Saigon is a city of lights so we advise to do this at night.

Rising to 180 meters by high-speed elevators, you are able to access Saigon Sky Deck after paying an entrance fee of about 10USD per person. Youdon’t need to rush since you have unlimited time to view around the sky deck and read about the history of Saigon that covers the wall. There are free telescopes and a souvenir shop.

Local Insight: Check out the operation hours before coming there as weekdays and weekends have different schedule.

Chill Sky Bar is a romantic place for couples and groups of friends. Stunning views, fabulous service and fantastic food meet your need of classy and trendy night. The rooftop filled up with trendy music while viewing Saigon night make Chill Sky Bar the best sky open bar in town.

Local insight: Book your table if you want to have the best view. Happy hours in the weekdays before 8:30pm, all drinks are half price.

2. Chilling in a coffee shop

Coffee is the second only after rice in value of agricultural products exported from Vietnam. As a matter of fact, it is not surprising that coffee became an important component of social life in the Vietnamese way of life. You can see people enjoying their coffee at any time during the day. That is the reason why a big city like HCMC has uncountable numbers of different types of coffee shops. Thus, “uong cafe” can have a different meaning depending where you plan to head to.

In HCMC as in any other cities in Vietnam, you can find coffee shops designed specifically for certain activities: watching movies, listening to music, reading magazines, watch people passing in the street, and there are coffee shops where men bring their girl-friends and others where men bring their mistresses. There are also coffee shops which serve as business offices. Be aware as you usually cannot do all those activities in the same coffee shop.

Local insight:Vietnamese coffee is almost exclusively Robusta. Robusta strains contain about 40–50% more caffeine than Arabica.

If you want to try the specialty of local style, there is Trinh-Coffee ready for you at anytime. Trinh Coffee is a style of coffee shop in which songs of Mr. Trinh Cong Son, a talented music composer, are performed. For those who want to know more about his song's melodies, please come to Crescent Mall this March 31st for the Memorial Music Concert.

Local insight: Le Petit café, Thềm Xưa café, Chiêu café, M và Tôi lounge, ATB lounge for Trinh-Coffee.

3. Try street-foods

Pho citypassPhở noodle is the first priority. If you don’t try Phở, then you’ve never been to Vietnam. Don’t try eating street-stall noodles until your stomach has become acclimatized!  It’s difficult to say which one is original, traditional or better. You should try them all: Phở Pasteur, Phở Hòa, Phở 24h, Phở 2000, Phở Hùng and Phở 5 sao and give your rate on each. However, it’s best if you have local friends to take you to off-brand phở stalls that serve the noodles the way the locals like. In this way you will experience the real Phở of Vietnam. Besides, I also advice you to check out Top 5 must eat dishes in Saigon and Top 5 che for your desserts.

Local insight: You should also, take time to try some traditional foods of Vietnam like Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup), Cơm Tấm (broken rice) and many more.

4. Enjoy live music every single day

Seventeen saloonFor those who love live music, HCMC brings chills to even the most hardened listener. There are around 20 bars and cafés in the center of HCMC that offer live music at night. 

You can check the list below:

Seventeen Saloon

Filipino bands play rock of Bon Jovi, U2, Guns N’ Roses Filipino bands play rock of Bon Jovi, U2, Guns N’ Roses


Vietnamese bands/ guest bans from overseas play western covers, rock ballads, rock’n roll


Carmen & Brothers band play Michael Jackson, Leona Lewis and Bon Jovi songs

Level 23 Nightspot

R&N, dance, jazz, hiphop, rap, rock

Saigon Saigon Bar

Cuban bands and Salsa Ban Warapo play South American rhythms

Bar Bui

Filipino bands play flamenco and country music

Jardind’ Amour cafe

Pianist plays pre-war Vietnamese music, International covers at night

La Habana

Local and Filipino bands play Flamenco music

Metallic Bar

Filipino singers with local bands play rock music, dance, hiphop

Napoly Bar

Quoc Anh band play classic 1980s hits

Bootleg DJ Cafe

Local and guest DJs play trendy live music (disco, hip-hop…)


Local bands play pop, rock and country music

info updated in August,2012

5. Cook it yourself

Making Vietnamese food is re-known all over the world and is not that hard to learn. Besides being in the fun and friendly atmosphere of the class, you will learn a lot of things about Vietnamese cuisine during the course. You won’t look ridiculous when trying to roll your own rice pancake.

Cook Class

Local insight: Hoa Tuc restaurant and Vietnam Cookery Center are offering very nice cooking classes.

You will find some other interesting things to do and see in Saigon via our HCMC activities list. And remember that you can get VAT refunds in Vietnam at certain shops, so do not mind asking the cashiers or the owner about that. We are more willing to receive and share your stories on our website and Facebook. Enjoy your trip with our guides and discover the city on your own.

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