From markets and cultural sights to delicious local eats while in port
Start off at the Rex Hotel, in the heart of the city, for a walking tour of Ho Chi Minh City’s iconic sights. The hotel was the liveliest spot in town during the Vietnam War, and there are great views of the city from the property. Other noteworthy landmarks include the ostentatious Hotel de Ville, the red brick Notre Dame Cathedral, and the classic Municipal Theater. The Ben Thanh Market is another must-see in the area, dating back to 1914 and filled with stalls selling all kinds of goods and food.
For a taste of local culture, the city is home to nearly 200 temples and pagodas. A new noteworthy examples include the Xa Lao Pagoda, the Giac Lam Pagoda, Chinatown’s Thien Hau and Phuoc An Hoi Quan pagodas, and the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, which is filled with gilded figurines and statues of divinities.
Reunification Palace – formerly known as the Independence Palace – was the place where much of the Vietnam War negotiations were conducted, and today serves as a museum with a variety of original artifacts on display. Those who are interested in local museums should check out the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, centered on the Communist history of Vietnam, or the History Museum, tracing Vietnamese culture from the Bronze Age to modern times.
If you’re looking to grab a bite during your shore excursion, Lemon Grass Restaurant is a great spot for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, accompanied by panoramic views. Dong Pho Restaurant is another excellent choice, especially for sampling pho, a traditional dish of meat and noodles in broth.