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What to do in and around Ho Chi Minh City

Are you heading to Ho Chi Minh City and wondering what to do or which tours to join. What are the best food, culture, or history tours in the city? What are the best tours to escape the city for a day? We have written this complete guide to what to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Rich in culture and historical landmarks, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s most populous metropolis and leading tourist destination. Under French colonial rule, the city was the capital of the French colony Cochinchina.

Located in the Southeastern part of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate with a rainy season that extends from May to October. The city’s average temperature throughout the year is 28 °C (82°F), making it a perfect tourist destination all year round.

But what draws visitors to this historical city? With the revitalization of the urban areas, including the construction projects on the Waterfront, Sky Garden, Riverside, and Phu Gia 99, more people are flocking to the city for an opportunity. For both residents and visitors, the city also offers many exciting sights and tours.

A trip to Ho Chi Minh City has the potential to be an incredibly exciting and meaningful adventure for everyone! Go on the Mekong Delta tours, explore the intricate Cu Chi Tunnels, eat delicious Vietnamese cuisine, tour the Saigon River, and visit some lesser-known sites to have more comprehensive experience in Vietnam.

These tours are a must for anyone seeking an exciting, comprehensive traveling experience in Ho Chi Minh City. With a little bit of planning, you can easily incorporate these fun activities into your trip and have an unforgettable experience in Vietnam.

Saigon Food Tours

Vietnam offers some of the tastiest foods in the world. The cuisine alone attracts many visitors to various parts of the country but particularly to Saigon. If you’re looking to have a good time while touring the city, hop on a motorbike and follow experienced guides to the best food stalls and restaurants.

Motorbike food tours offer visitors a convenient way to navigate the busy streets and narrow alleys of Ho Chi Minh City and provide a guide who is familiar with the culture and cuisine.

Throughout most tours, you will be able to sample many Vietnamese dishes, including pho, banh mi, bun mam, fresh spring rolls, and other favorites. Hot pot, a traditional, well-known stew made of goat, goby fish, gumbo, crab, and beef, are available for your tasting as well.

Savor the rich, smoky flavors of Vietnamese barbecued pork breast, goby fish, prawn, squid, octopus, clam, or spare rib. Have you ever tried snail? Now it’s your chance to try this famous dish in Vietnam! 

Try tasty seasoned snails on your trip through the city. There are plenty of places to stop for an herbal tea, sugar cane juice, or coconut juice along your route to quench the thirst in the tropical heat.

Best Food Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

There are various food tours to choose from throughout Saigon. Don’t miss the chance to step out of your comfort zone and satisfy your taste buds in this delicious city. Below are our favorite Saigon food tours.

Saigon Food Tour on the Back of a Scooter

Travel the vibrant streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the back of a scooter and feast on the city’s very best street food. Discover the hidden art behind the dishes and learn how food has shaped Vietnamese culture and history.

The Vegetarian Scooter Food Tour

Zip through the streets of Saigon on the back of a motorbike and make stops at four of the city’s very best vegan eateries. Visit the famous flower market and the iconic floating market on a can’t miss tour that caters to vegans and food lovers of all ages.

Saigon Street Food Walking Tour with a Local Guide

Discover the magic of Saigonese cuisine on a walking food tour through the city’s non-touristy District 7. Taste a variety of local dishes, navigate narrow alleys in search of street food stalls, and visit a small floating market where locals get their fresh produce.

Saigon Off the Beaten Path Tours

To have rich, unique experience in Ho Chi Minh City, you must venture off the beaten path and explore sites that the rest of the world knows little about. There are plenty of tours that can take you on such adventures, and many of the locals can give you advice about their favorite places.

One such place recommended by locals is Thanh Da, a beautifully forested island that provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban area. Thanh Da is full of beautiful rice paddies and countryside huts.

Mangrove swamps attract people who wish to see a vision of a peaceful nature. Farm animals roam the island while residents take to a relaxed way of life with plenty of fishing and tea drinking. This blissful landscape is attractive to any visitors seeking some peace in nature.

Vietnamese Women

Heritage House is another recommended tourist destination off the beaten path. Surrounded by modern architecture, Heritage House maintains its historical style as the world changes around it.

This preserved house still has its antique furniture and a Buddhist Temple that has been around for generations of followers. Visitors can often be found burning incense and asking for good fortune. Tourists should be especially mindful of cultural practices in this setting.

Phu An Bamboo Village is also recommended as a lovely destination for visitors. As its name suggests, Phu An Bamboo Village is a man-made reserve of over 150 species of bamboo. Relax in nature and explore the tall stalks with the greenery overhead.

food tour vietnam

Wildflowers dot the forest’s landscape. On the Discovery Path, you can explore the local community that relies heavily on the bamboo for their livelihood. They create baskets, furniture, and other materials to sustain themselves and make use of the surrounding bamboo resources.

Best Off the Beaten Path Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

While the bustling tourist areas of Ho Chi Minh City have its charm, we recommend everyone visiting the city to go off the beaten path and discover the backstreets and narrow alleys of Saigon. Below are our favorite off the beaten track tours in Ho Chi Minh City.

Explore Central District of ho Chi Minh City in this Full-Day Tour.

Join this full-day sightseeing tour of downtown Saigon. Explore the bustling Ho Thi Ky Flower Market, visit Chinatown, learn about the Vietnam war at a secret weapons cellar and the War Remnants Museum, and discover all the central landmark buildings of Saigon. This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the whole of downtown Saigon in a single day.

Navigate the backstreets of Saigon on a Back of a Scooter

Jump on the back of a scooter and visit Saigon’s backstreets on an authentic culture tour. You will navigate the heart of the city, visiting local shopping streets, and picture-perfect areas filled with neighborhood food stalls. This tour is perfect for those who want to avoid the tourist hotspots and get a hands-on experience of the real Saigon.

Saigon River Tours

The Saigon River is a 300-km long waterway that extends from southeastern Cambodia to southern Vietnam. The river is vital to Ho Chi Minh City and the rural communities that surround the metropolitan area. Most of the tours of the river area near Ho Chi Minh City and travel south through more rural areas.

We recommend that visitors tour the Saigon River in a Vietnamese junk boat where they’ll sometimes receive lunch and dinner during their experience. During the morning tours, riders will get light breakfast. The river itself is very scenic, but you can also use it as a method of transportation to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

For some of the Saigon sunset cruises, tourists embark on a two-hour boat tour of Ho Chi Minh City, where you float past Thanh Da Island and see the city’s modern development and wealthy neighborhoods juxtaposed with more rural areas.

Many of these tours will provide you with snacks and drinks while you take in the beautiful sunset and breathtaking skyline. Sites included in some of these tours are Dragon Wharf, the Majestic Hotel, the Customs House, and Rainbow Bridge.

Go on a Saigon River tour and learn about the past, present, and future of Ho Chi Minh City from an experienced, knowledgeable tour guide. View the contrast between the rural areas filled with rice paddies and the upcoming city developments and experience a lovely meal or sunset.

Dinner Cruise on Saigon River from Ho Chi Minh City

Witness the spectacular Ho Chi Minh cityscapes by night on an unforgettable VIP tour of what is arguably Southeast Asia’s most vibrant metropolis. Ascend one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers for an unmatched panoramic view, and cruise the Saigon River in luxury while you enjoy the finest of Vietnamese cuisine.

Mekong Delta Tours

The Mekong Delta is located in the south-western region of Vietnam and comprised of a series of distributaries attached to the Mekong River that empty into the East Sea. The area is home to over 1,000 species of animal, and tropical plants line the banks.

It lies directly west of Ho Chi Minh City, making it a perfect destination for visitors seeking a natural escape from the urban landscape.

What truly entices explorers is its distributaries and the life that has thrived along its waters and banks. The main, and sometimes only, mode of transportation around the Delta is by boat as many of the communities are only accessible by canals.

The people who live in these communities have made use of geography by creating booming agriculture and aquaculture industries. When you travel through the region’s swamps, rivers, and islands, you’ll explore the many floating food markets, Khmer pagodas, and rice paddies.

Depending on how long you have to explore the Delta, you can select a tour that suits your desired level of sightseeing.

Group day trips are available. These tours often include visiting Cai Be, the floating market, and other known destinations such as My Tho, Ben Tre, and Vinh Long.

While floating along with the network of distributaries and rivers, you can visit with the locals and try local foods like coconut candy, rice cake, and honey tea. It’s a great tourist destination for anyone seeking a mix of tropical landscapes and cultural experiences.

For a tropical, memorable experience while visiting Ho Chi Minh City, be sure to go on a boat tour of the Mekong Delta. You will cherish this cultural experience.

Best Mekong Delta Tours from Ho Chi Minh City

Thousands of people travel from ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta every day, and travelers have several options when deciding the best tour. Travelers also have the option of going to Mekong Delta by scooter, car, bus, or boats. And travelers will have to decide on whether to do a day tour or a multi-day tour. Below are our favorite tours.

Visit the Floating Market in Mekong Delta in a Full-Day Tour from Ho Chi Minh City

Explore the fantastic wonders of the Mekong Delta on an all-inclusive day tour from Saigon. Navigate narrow canals in the safe hands of an expert guide, visit an amazing floating market, and intimately experience the local culture, which has remained unchanged for millennia.

The Mekong Delta 2-Day Cruise

Boats in Mekong Delta
Merchant Boats in Mekong Delta

Cruise the majestic Mekong Delta and discover its beauty on a 2-day tour from Ho Chi Minh City. Experience the daily life on the river, visit the exotic fruit orchards, sail through Vietnam’s busiest floating market on a traditional sampan boat, and taste the local cuisine. This tour is ideal for those who want to explore Mekong Delta with comfort and ease.

The Mekong Delta 3-Day Adventure Tour

Explore the stunning Mekong Delta on a three-day private adventure tour. Drift through the maze of canals on a traditional Sampan boat and venture deep into the heart of Vietnam. Spend an evening in a local home-stay and taste the region’s most delicate flavors.

Cu Chi Tunnel Tours

As one of the most historically significant sites around Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels provide visitors with a glimpse into the past. Built during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong to infiltrate the city, the intricate 250-km long system of tunnels is still around today for anyone who wants to revisit this dark period South Vietnam history.

Today, the government of Vietnam has transformed the site into a Vietnam War memorial with two viewing areas: Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc.

The Viet Cong used the tunnels for hiding spots and military campaigns. The tunnels were the central meeting point for the Tet Offensive in 1968.

The tours of the tunnels explore their history and the harsh conditions in which the soldiers lived while fighting the South Vietnamese government and the United States military. See the small, dark tunnels in which the Viet Cong worked and dealt with malaria, scarce food, and a lack of fresh air and light.

Although the tunnels seem incredibly claustrophobic today, they have been modified to accommodate foreign tourists. Visitors can visit restored conference rooms and living quarters, watch a documentary, enjoy a meal once eaten by the Viet Cong, and see various booby traps in the low-lighting of the passageways.

Above the intricate tunnels, you can find several vendors and activities that will keep you busy all afternoon.

Join a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels and travel back in time to explore the life of the Viet Cong guerilla soldiers.

Best Cu Chi Tunnels Tours from ho Chi Minh City

Make sure to join a tour when traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels for the most authentic experience. Some travelers decide to make the trip on the back of a scooter while others opt to skip the traffic and go by a luxury speedboat.

The Cu Chi Tunnels Private Scooter Tour

Travel back to the times of the American-Vietnam War by visiting the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels, accompanied by a local student guide on a motorbike. Crawl into the underground labyrinth and see for yourself how the Viet Cong managed to survive in an elaborate system of tunnels while the Americans forces warred overground.

The Cu Chi Tunnels by Car | Full-Day Tour

Entering Cu Chi Tunnels

Explore the famous Cu Chi Tunnels on a full-day tour from Ho Chi Minh City and immerse yourself in the history of the Vietnam War. Learn about the architecture of the tunnel system, see how the Viet Cong lived, and taste the food they ate. You cannot visit Ho Chi Minh City without taking a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Cu Chi Tunnels by Speedboat

Experience the rich history and culture of the Cu Chi tunnel system on a half-day luxury speed boat tour. Learn about the daily life of the Viet Cong and get a first-hand look into their struggle for survival on an unforgettable journey that is ideal for travelers of all ages.