Finding your way around Saigon’s various attractions can be a headache. Once you’ve exhausted all the obvious tourist traps you may feel like you’ve seen all the city can offer.
But lurking beneath the surface of this gloriously varied city lays a wealth of options. Whether you want a chilled out afternoon, an adrenaline fuelled adventure or a cultural journey of discovery, here are some of the great activities Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.
Water Ski Viet Nam
Thrill seekers on the hunt for an adrenaline fix need look no further than Water Ski Viet Nam. With a full array of white-knuckle watersports on offer, there is no better way to experience the excitement of wakeboarding, waterskiing, barefoot waterskiing, wake surfing or double waterskiing. Featuring high-end Mastercraft and Malibu boats and O'Neill equipment, safety is a top priority here.
Nguyen Duc Canh, Phu My Hung, D7
+84 90 977 2612
Shoot Your Friends
What better way to bond with your friends, loved ones and complete strangers than by firing a round of paint at them? Get down to the Thu Duc Paintball Club or Paintball Saigon and lock, load and fire at will. Without a doubt one of the best outdoor activities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Thu Duc Paintball Club
19, Duong 48, Hiep Binh Chanh, Thu Duc District
+84 28 6283 5788
14, Duong So 11, An Phu, D2
+84 90 681 9001
Climb a (Mini) Mountain
Saigon may be short on mountains, but it’s not short on climbing opportunities. District 2’s Vertical Academy features a huge top rope wall, as well as bouldering and training facilities. It’s so much fun, you won’t even notice you’re working out. X-Rock Climbing is another great option.
18 Truc Duong, Thao Dien, D2
+84 96 692 0612
Phan Dinh Phung Sport Center, 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3
+84 28 6278 5794
Saigon Pony Club
District 2’s Saigon Pony Club is host to ponies and stallions of varying size. With two foreign teachers adept at instructing riders of all ages, the facility provides excellent tuition for children and adults alike. Set up 10 years ago, the Saigon Pony Club remains the best riding school in Saigon.
38, Duong So 42, Le Van Thinh, D2
+84 91 373 3360
Relax in the Botanical Gardens
Since 1864, the Saigon Botanical Gardens have been a top destination for busy Saigonese to take a break and engage with nature. Skating enthusiasts can visit the roller rink for a little spin around the circuit. Animal lovers may want to avoid the nearby zoo, with its tiny cages and run-down facilities.
The new Vincom megamall in D2 is home to HCMC’s coolest new attraction. Climb to the 5th floor to find a huge ice skating rink. With 900 m2 that can comfortably accommodate 100 skaters at a time, it’s insanely popular with locals, especially at weekends. Services such as skating lessons and medical care make this kid-friendly.
L5-09 Level 5, Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien, D2
+84 1900 6677, Ext. 9
Sign Up for Beer School
Craft beer has become huge in Saigon. What started with HCMC’s first true microbrewery, Pasteur Street Brewing Company, has exploded into a city-wide phenomenon. To get your head and tongue around the craze, look no further than the Saigon Beer School. Learn how to identify nose, notes and finishes with expert tutelage, tour some breweries and organize beer events.
+84 12 0710 1450
Street Food Tours
With such a huge range of delicious foods, Saigon is a foodie’s paradise … if you know where to look. Luckily, a number of tour guides have cropped up. Back of the Bike Tours takes you on an exhilarating race around town with all sorts of delicious treats thrown in, while Street Foodies Tours takes much the same plan, albeit at a more sedate, four-hour pace. XO Tours and Vietnam Vespa Adventures are two of the most established companies of their kind in the city, so be sure to check them out as well.
Street Foodies Tours
+84 93 210 3985 or +84 12 0898 6388
Back of the Bike Tours
+84 93 504 6910
Vietnam Vespa Adventures
+84 93 850 0997
+84 93 308 3727
Saigon’s Best Flea Market
For a break from the usual rip-off merchants at Ben Thanh market, why not take a trip down to the Hello Weekend Flea Market? With a wide array of new and used products and a friendly, almost hippyish vibe, the market is a true gem. You still might have to haggle a little, but it’s nowhere near as cutthroat as the other markets in town, and the variety on offer is pretty astounding.
Hoa Lu Stadium, 2 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1
+84 90 180 4858
Want to turn heads and learn something about the city you live in? Look no further than Jeep Tour Saigon. With a range of tours, from the Cu Chi tunnels to Saigon by night, it’s a great way to explore the city and beyond, all while looking classy in a little monster of a Jeep.
20, Street 48, D4
+84 28 3943 4606
+84 91 338 1109
Craft Your Own Leather
Taking elements of traditional Vietnamese leather craft with a contemporary twist, the products at the Saigon Leather Workshop are stylish yet simple and minimalist. And best of all, you can make them yourself. With guidance on sourcing, techniques and style, the workshop is a masterclass in leatherworking.
116/19A Tran Quoc Toan, D3
+84 12 8515 7571
Throw a Bowl
Vietnamese ceramics date back millennia, predating Chinese domination and incorporating a mix of Khmer, Indian and Cham influences. You can learn all about the craft at the Overland Pottery Studio.
Overland reopens February 2017 at
54B Nguyen Thi Huynh, Phu Nhuan District
+84 28 3820 9734
Scale the Bitexco
With stunning views of downtown Saigon, some of the higher floors of the city’s iconic Bitexco tower host EON51 Fine Dining . The prices are steep, but the unparalleled vista of the Saigon River and beyond are worth it, if only for a drink and a view.
Level 50-51-52, 2 Hai Trieu, D1
+84 97 950 5152
Discover, Grow and Cook Vietnamese Food
With a plethora of cooking classes, it’s easy to get lost for choice. Take a trip out of town to the Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class. Set in the magnificent Agricultural Village near Cu Chi, the facility lets you grow traditional Vietnamese food, learn traditional recipes and techniques, or simply enjoy an expertly prepared meal from the school’s top chefs. If you don’t want to travel that far, the popular Saigon Cooking Class is the go-to place for both residents and tourists, with small class sizes and English-speaking staff catering to all skill levels.
Western Asian Travel Service Company
275 Tinh Lo 2, Ap 3, Phuoc Vinh An, Cu Chi District
+84 28 3794 2175
Saigon Cooking Class
74/7 Hai Ba Trung, D1
+84 28 3825 8485
Get Your Art On
Vin Space in District 2 has quickly made its mark as one of Vietnam’s top art workshops. With classes for all ages, it offers everything from fun kids’ activities to wine-and-painting nights for grown-ups. Local partnerships ensure that you’ll be well-fed with snacks from artisanal producers. Superb!