With museums and markets, temples and shopping centres, you may be left wondering what to see in Ho Chi Minh first. The answer depends on what you're interested in the most. If you want to learn more about Eastern religions, visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda for Taoism and the Giac Lam Pagoda for Vietnamese Buddhism.
If you want to learn more about the country's military history, you can explore the Cu Chi Tunnels or Reunification Palace. Alternatively, there's the Central Post Office and the Notre-Dame Basilica if you're looking for a glimpse into the country's French Colonial past.
Take a day trip to visit the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's agricultural heartland. You'll explore the region by boat and see what everyday life is like for the farmers who produce rice and tropical fruit. Plus, you can enjoy fresh Vietnamese food at a local restaurant or from a boat-rowing vendor.
An underground system of more 120km, the Cu Chi Tunnels were originally used by Vietnamese soldiers during their various wars. Today, they form part of a war museum that gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like for soldiers. You can crawl around sections of the tunnels, taste the food that the fighters would have eaten, and even fire an M16 rifle.
From the outside, the Reunification Palace looks like a time capsule from the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, it's actually an important Ho Chi Minh landmark. This was where the presidents of South Vietnam lived until the end of the Vietnam War, and where the North and South reunited into one Vietnam. It's a must-see for anyone interested in history.
Built in 1909 by the Chinese community, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh, and a must-visit if you want to learn more about Taoism. The Jade Emperor is a major figure in Taoist theology, and this spectacular temple built in his honour is beautifully decorated with statues and elaborate carvings. The locals still use it to this day.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is better known as the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. This red Romanesque building was built by the French in the mid-1800s, and is one place you should definitely have on your itinerary when you visit Ho Chi Minh. Worshippers attend mass regularly and some locals believe that a statue of Mary here shed tears in 2005.
Before you leave Ho Chi Minh, be sure to pay a visit to Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda. Here, locals make offerings to a life-sized figure of a sacred horse before departing on a journey. This small Taoist temple has intricate ornamentation and is also home to brass ritual items and weapons.
One of the most beautiful places in Ho Chi Minh is also one of its most functional. Constructed in the late 1800s, the Central Post Office was designed by Gustave Eiffel (who also engineered his namesake tower in Paris). It's still being used as a post office today, so be sure to send a letter or a postcard from here during your visit.