12 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City


If exploring high octane cities in far-flung foreign lands sounds like your idea of the perfect getaway, say hello to Ho Chi Minh City; one of the most vibrant, multi-cultural destinations in Vietnam — nay, Southeast Asia.

Tucked slightly upstream from the South China Sea, this sprawling metropolis has a rich and evocative history; from its time as the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina to the pivotal role it played in the infamous Vietnam conflict. Formerly known as Saigon (and still referred thus), Ho Chi Minh is widely considered to be at the forefront of Vietnam’s burgeoning economic boom, largely thanks to the progressiveness and get-go of its residents.

Given Ho Chi Minh City is a regular fixture on Southeast Asia cruise itineraries, we’ve put together a guide on how to make the most of your shore time in this colourful Vietnamese city.


Cu Chi Tunnels


Having played such a significant role in the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels attract great interest from those visiting the country’s second city. Once a network of perilous subterranean supply lines used by the Viet Cong, Cu Chi has now been partially restored and turned into a fascinating visitor attraction.

Central Post Office


Constructed in the late 19th century, the Saigon Central Post Office is one of Ho Chi Minh’s finest examples of French colonial architecture. Located at the centre of the city, this Gothic, Renaissance structure is now a popular tourist destination thanks to the exquisite beauty of its design. 

Saigon Skydeck (Bitexco Financial Tower)


Experience one of the finest views available in Southeast Asia by taking the lift to the top of the Bitexco Financial Tower, where you’re afforded a 360° panorama across Ho Chi Minh from the Saigon Skydeck. Though not free to enter, it’s certainly worth the money for the extraordinary vista enjoyed at the top.


Walk Dong Khoi Street


Home to some of the finest examples of French colonial architecture in the city, as well as several high-end fashion outlets; Dong Khoi Street has a European overtone that makes it one of the must-see attractions in Ho Chi Minh. Aside from its exquisite Parisian architecture, the street is lined with cafes, bistros and restaurants — making it the perfect place to pit-stop for a light bite.

Visit Ba Thien Hau Temple


Buried deep in Ho Chi’s evocative Chinatown district, Ba Thien Hau Temple is a charming example of a late 19th century Chinese-style religious temple. The site is fronted by an exquisitely ornate façade, whilst inside, its walls are lined with delicate carvings pertaining to revered Taoist deities.

Take in the War Remnants Museum

 war-remnants museum

Essential viewing for those interested in learning more about the Vietnam conflict; Ho Chi Minh City’s War Remnants Museum is as informative as it is moving. Containing all manner of relics left over from the end of the war in 1975, this rousing attraction serves as reminder of the horrors faced by both sides during this all-too bloody conflict.



With a strapline that reads “dining in the dark”, Noir. is no ordinary restaurant. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be plunged into total darkness, and left to eat your meal with only your other four remaining senses intact. The experience is a peculiar one, and one you’re sure to never forget. 

La Villa French Restaurant 

French influence runs deep in Vietnam, including in the country’s gastronomy. For your chance to sample European cuisine in heart of Ho Chi Minh City, make for La Villa; an authentic French restaurant housed in an exquisite colonial-era mansion house.

Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour

For those brave enough to tuck into the local cuisine, a Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour could be just the ticket. Over the course of two hours, an expert guide will lead you to several street food vendors and speciality restaurants across the city, sampling portions of unique Vietnamese fare along the way.

Interested in visiting Ho Chi Minh City on your next cruise break? Visit the Cruise1st Australia homepage, where you’ll find a complete range of Southeast Asia cruises. Or, if you need any further help, don’t hesitate to give our team a call on 1300 306 318.

Image credits: David McKelvey, Alex Ch, Tri Nguyen, Soreen D, Ross Huggett, Manhhai


About Author

Alyssa Beit

Alyssa lives in Sydney, NSW. Born on the 14th October and is a Social and Human Service Assistant at Cruise 1st Australia. She is in her early 40’s and loves tranquility on luxury cruises.

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