Before you set off for what could be one of your most memorable travelling experience to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), do your homework reading City Pass’s Top 5 things to do in Saigon. Some further recommended readings for you are "Best time to visit Vietnam" and How to cross the street
1. Panoramic view from skyscrapers
At a fee of VND200,000 per adult and VND130,000 per child (4 - 12 years old), you will get a pass to Saigon Sky Deck, located on the 49th floor and enjoy the superb view of Saigon below. There are telescopes for your pleasure. If a good cocktail is what you are after, go unwind with a drink in the skyscraper’s lounge on the 52nd floor.
Local Insight: Opening hours is from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The last ticket shall be bought 45 minutes prior to closing time.
Chill Sky Bar is an enviable location for travellers looking to get above the street-level deluge of motorbikes and honking trucks. Spectacular views, sophisticated design, stellar service and excellent food are this rooftop bar’s cornerstones.
Local insight: Weekday’ happy hour lasts from 5:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
2. Chilling in a coffee shop
Coffee is second only to rice in value of agricultural products exported from Vietnam. Coffee has became an important part of a Vietnamese everyday life. It is easy to catch a sight of people enjoying coffee at any time during the day. Saigon has different types of coffee shops to meet different demands: watching movies, listening to music, reading magazines, watching street-life, or, oddly enough, even coffee places for couples, cat lovers and Japanese maid theme.
Local insight: Vietnamese coffee is almost exclusively Robusta. Robusta strains contain about 40–50% more caffeine than Arabica.
For local style, head to Trinh-Coffee where some of the most popular songs by Trinh Cong Son, a talented music composer, are performed.
3. Heaven of street - food
Phở is a must-try whether you like it or not. If you don’t try phở, then you’ve never been to Vietnam. Don’t try street-stall food until your stomach has become acclimatized! Some of our recommendations: Phở Pasteur, Phở Hòa, Phở 24h, Phở 2000, Phở Hùng and Phở 5 sao. It’s best if you have local friends to take you to stalls that serve for the local, not the tourists for the genuine experience of Phở of Vietnam. Check out Top 5 must eat dishes in Saigon and Top 5 che to round off your Saigon’s street food tour.
Local insight: Take your time to try some other traditional foods, such as Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup) and Cơm Tấm (broken rice) among others.
4. Live music every single day
HCMC is home to hundreds of bands and DJs. You can enjoy live music from over 20 bars and cafés in the center of HCMC.
Check our list of Saigon best bars and cafes.
5. Cook it yourself
Making Vietnamese food is not a “Mission Impossible”. All you need is a passionate and ready-to-make-mistakes attitude. You can start first with your Vietnamese friends and make easy ready-to-eat pieces. So you will feel like a ‘master’ the next time you go eating out and do your own wrapping roll.
Local insight: Try the excellent cooking classes offered by Hoa Tuc Restaurant and Vietnam Cookery Center
Further activities you can join are listed in our HCMC activities articles. Our last tip is, you can get VAT refunds in Vietnam at some shops, so do not mind asking the cashiers or the owner about that.
Feel free to share your stories on our website and Facebook. Enjoy your trip with City Pass Guides and discover the city on your own.
Here are some other bars to kick start:
Filipino bands cover rock songs of Bon Jovi, U2, Guns N’ Roses among the others.
Address: 103A Pham Ngu Lao, District 3
Vietnamese bands covers popular rock ballads and rock ‘n’ roll.
Address: 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem Street, District 3
Carmen & Brothers band sings songs of Michael Jackson, Leona Lewis and Bon Jovi.
Address: 8 Ly Tu Trong, District 1
Level 23 Nightspot
R&N, dance, jazz, hiphop, rap, rock
Address: 88 Dong Khoi, District 1
Cuban bands and Warapo perform South American rhythms
Address: Rooftop via 9th Floor, Caravelle Hotel Saigon, 19-23 Lam Son Square, District 1
Filipino bands play flamenco and country music
Address: 39/2 Pham Ngoc Thach St., District 3
Jardind’ Amour cafe
Pianist plays pre-war Vietnamese music and covers popular songs at night
Address: 8bis Nguyen Van Trang, District 1
Local and Filipino bands play Flamenco music
Address: 6 Cao Ba Quat, District 1
Filipino singers with local bands play rock music, dance and hip-hop
Address: 39 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, District 3
Quoc Anh band plays 1980s’ classic hits
Address: 7 Pham Ngoc Thach, District 3
Bootleg DJ Cafe
Local and guest DJs play trendy dance music (disco, hip-hop…)
Address: 9 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
Local bands play pop, rock and country
Address: 57H Tu Xuong, D.3