Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh city | Saigonwalks

Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh city | Saigonwalks

Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh city | Saigonwalks

Ho Chi Minh City has long captivated foreigners, not only for its breathtaking essence but also for its distinct regional cultural characteristics. The city presents a fascinating amalgamation of Vietnamese and foreign cultures, creating a vibrant intersection of diverse traditions. Instead of a singular local culture, Ho Chi Minh City showcases a fusion of numerous cultural influences. This unique blend has contributed to the city's rich architectural landscape, featuring ancient structures from around the world that serve as symbolic representations of its historical evolution. Saigonwalks is delighted to recommend exceptional destinations that are must-visits in Ho Chi Minh City.


When thinking about Ho Chi Minh City, one often imagines a vibrant and modern metropolis. However, this city also holds great historical significance in its resistance against the French and American armies. To gain a deeper understanding of Vietnamese history, a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels is highly recommended. This activity not only provides informative insights but also offers a rewarding experience, making it one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite its location outside the city center, the trip is well worth the effort.

Saigonwalks - Cu Chi tunnel (photo: innoviet)

The Cu Chi Tunnels have several highlights that make them a fascinating destination. Exploring these tunnels allows visitors to witness their unique architecture and grasp their pivotal role in Vietnam's history. It is astonishing to learn that these tunnels served as hospitals, schools, theaters, and even kitchens. The entrances were cleverly concealed with secret wooden doors and camouflaged leaves. Designed to accommodate the small stature of the Vietnamese, the tunnel system proved resilient against the concerted efforts of the US Army, who were unable to completely dismantle it due to its isolated construction and numerous escape routes to the Saigon River, counterfeit bunkers, and booby traps.


Inside the tunnel system, visitors can discover special closed-door mechanisms strategically placed to deter enemies, as well as toxic gases. Vietnamese soldiers also carved concealed ventilation vents into the ground. Furthermore, the tunnels were rigged with skillfully crafted and perilous traps to protect those inside.

The Cu Chi Tunnels played a crucial role in the victory of the Vietnamese army during the war. If the tunnels had been compromised, the Vietnamese would likely have faced failure. However, their resilience and the strategic advantage provided by the tunnel network significantly contributed to their ultimate success. When visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels, visitors can experience the daily life of soldiers in the tunnels, taste dishes previously consumed by the Vietnamese army (such as sesame and boiled cassava), or venture further into the dark, expansive tunnels to witness the struggles and hardships endured by Vietnamese soldiers during the war.


Cholon's origins are closely intertwined with the Hoa people, who migrated to Vietnam after the collapse of the Ming dynasty in 1644. As political crises in China persisted, the Hoa population in Vietnam steadily grew, forming a well-established diaspora consisting of five distinct groups: Cantonese, Hakka, Chaozhou, Fujianese, and Hainanese. In 1779, during the Tay Son rebellion against the Nguyen dynasty in southern Vietnam, Cholon, which means "big market," emerged. Ethnic Chinese supporters of the Nguyen dynasty, fearing reprisals, fled their homes in Bien Hoa and nearby towns, eventually finding refuge in Cholon. The area retained its separate city status and served as a prominent commercial hub until 1932 when it merged with the rapidly urbanizing city of Saigon.

Cho Lon
Saigonwalks - Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh city

During the Vietnam War, Cholon gained notoriety as a black market where US soldiers sold American Army-issued supplies. It also endured bombings during the early days of the Tet Offensive. Fortunately, many of the famous pagodas and traditional Chinese architectural structures survived. In the late 1970s, an exodus of the Hoa people occurred following the Sino-Vietnamese war and subsequent anti-Chinese sentiments. Despite its tumultuous past,Cholon's businesses and traditions have endured, making it a thriving district.


Over the years, Ben Thanh Market has undergone significant transformations in its architectural design. It has evolved from a market constructed with bricks, wooden ribs, and thatched roofs to its current structure featuring iron frames, tiled roofs, a spacious corrugated iron roof, and a ceramic tile floor. Despite these changes, the market has managed to retain its old architectural features, particularly the clock tower located at the south gate. The clock tower, designed in accordance with French architecture, boasts three faces bearing the inscription "Only Ben Thanh."

ben thanh market
Saigonwalks - Ben Thanh market

Moreover, each main entrance of the market is adorned with bas-reliefs made of baked ceramic. These intricate reliefs were crafted in 1952 by artisan Le Van Mau, who served as a lecturer at the Bien Hoa Fine Arts School. The reliefs depict regional products and male animals such as pigs, cows, ducks, bananas, fish, and more.

Being the largest retail market in the city, Ben Thanh Market offers a wide variety of items to cater to different tastes. Visitors can explore a plethora of options ranging from fashion, handicrafts, and fine arts to household appliances, electronics, and souvenirs. Additionally, the market boasts a haven for dry food enthusiasts, featuring an array of delectable cakes, jams, dried seafood, and a wide assortment of fruits and agricultural products sourced from the South, the West, and various other regions. It's a culinary paradise where you can savor specialties from all across Vietnam without the need to travel extensively, as everything is conveniently gathered at Ben Thanh Market.

Ho Chi Minh City is always ready to welcome you and share its stories. You will be amazed by the sights, lifestyle, and friendliness of the locals, known as Saigonese. The Saigonwalks' website provides regularly updated travel information. If you find the program tour exploring Saigon intriguing, feel free to contact Saigonwalks to experience their unique tour program around Ho Chi Minh City.