10 places to explore in Ho Chi Minh city within walking distance!

When in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh city, you can explore most of city’s attractions on foot. There’s no real need for renting a cab or taking a city tour package. Most of the places of interest are within 1-2 kms apart. You can simply walk in between enjoying the scenery/green cover, than having to depend on a tour bus or spending money on taxi that gets held up in traffic. In this post I am listing 10 most important places of tourist interest in Ho Chi Minh city and a sequence of visiting them, so that within a total walking distance of about 6 kms, you can explore all these 10 attractions. Of course you can customize this to suit your needs and interests- like if your hotel is closer to one of these you can begin from there. If you're to book an organized tour to visit these places, you'll have to pay anywhere between 25 to 50 USD depending on group size, what's included or not etc.
1. War Remnants Museum
Opens at 7 AM, open till 5 PM, so good to begin your tour from this museum assuming you can start early morning. 15000 VND entry ticket applies. Time to spend- minimum 1-2 hours, more depending on your interest. Must visit place to understand Vietnam war and related history. A separate post is coming up on this attraction.

2. Reunification Palace
Former residence and office of South Vietnam’s president. Has specific timings and a 40000 VND entry fee. It houses various royal rooms with luxurious interiors, spread across 4 floors. More photos and details about Reunification Palace in this post. Time to spend- min 1 hour, more if you’re interested. Once done with the building you can also relax in the garden for some time.

3. Notre-dame cathedral
An iconic church near Central post office, was set up by French for the religious purpose of French colonists. Today a tourist attractions in town. More details about Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica on Wikipedia here
4. Saigon Central Post office
Nice photogenic building, right across the road to Notre-Dame Cathedral. Both exteriors and interiors are photogenic. You can buy lots of interesting souvenirs here at reasonable price, may be send yourself or loved ones back home a post card. Central post office also has a tour booking office- you can book your package tours here without fearing to get cheated
 Interiors of Saigon Central post office
5. Ho Chi Minh city hall
Nice french colonial architecture with a statue of Ho Chi Minh in front of it and long wide roads. City hall is closed for public to go inside (it houses government offices, civilians who have some work can go inside, not tourists). Tourists can view it from outside and take some photos.

6. City Opera House (Municipal Theatre), Ho Chi Minh City
I saw the Opera House from outside. You can check the schedules on this website. Tickets usually cost about 1 million VND (Approx INR 3000). If there's a show during your visit, you can buy a ticket and go inside. 

At this point, if you’re hungry, Saigon Indian restaurant and Ashoka Indian restaurant are very close. You can head there for some food. But note that they have limited opening hours. More details here.
7. Tran Hung Dao Statue
I couldn’t visit this place, it is a circle with statue of a 13th century war hero. Because it is located right next to the Saigon river and there's a park nearby, this place might be worth visited, to relax for a while. If short of time, you may skip this.

8. Ton Duc Thong Museum
It is a small museum dedicated to Ton Duc Thong, who succeeded as President of Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh. If you're not interested or out of time, this place can probably be skipped. Open from 7.30 to 5 PM.

9. Saigon Skydeck
For some nice view of the Ho Chi Minh city, go to Saigon Skydeck. Detailed post and photos about Saigon Skydeck here. 200000 VND Entry fee applies. Best would be to complete other attractions and go up Saigon Skydeck by around 5 PM, so that you can spend an hour or two there, enjoying both day time view and night time view. If it is very cloudy you may wish to skip this, as nothing much can be seen from top.
10. Ben Thanh Market
Largest market in Ho Chi Minh city, good for shopping or buying some food/refreshments. Very cheap/reasonable fares. I had tender coconut at 20000 VND. Walk-able from Saigon Skydeck. Market is open till late night so you can finish your all other explorations and finally head here.
Almost all the above places have rest rooms, small cafe/shop for refreshments and place to relax for a while if you wish to. Refreshments are cheaper if you buy them at a supermarket or coffee shop on the street than ones inside a tourist attraction. (For example, a 500 ML water bottle costs 5000 VND at supermarkets, often sold for 1.5 to 2X the price in tourist places)

This list covers almost all places of interest within Ho Chi Minh city limits. Other places are several kms away, requiring half day/full day tour. I will write about them separately. If you have limited days, keep your full days for out of city tours. On your day of arrival and departure, based on time available you can explore places of interest within the city.

By spending 2 half days, I was able to explore 8 of the above 10 attractions. #7 and #8 didn't seem worth as I had limited time. You may use your discretion. Also stopped at a small park enroute to Saigon Railway station- nothing great about that park hence haven't listed above.

Below is an optimized sequence to visit them. Walking is the best way in my opinion- gives you lots of flexibility to spend as much time as you feel like, modify plans dynamically, take a break as you wish. You can buy a guided city tour, which will cost lots of money in addition to tickets and you will get very limited time at each attraction. Best is to walk around and selectively take a taxi to next destination if you’re tired.
Map link below, you can customize as you wish. As you can see, total distance is 6.1 km (by car, walking distance will be little less)

 Check other Vietnam posts here.
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