With famous Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace, Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam. What to do after joining popular tours, visiting all tourist attractions, learn about history at War Remnant and Cu Chi Tunnels, drink in Saigon Backpacker, go shopping in big malls in the center? The following one-day itinerary suggests Top 5+ off-the-beaten-track things to do in Ho Chi Minh City for travelers who would like to learn more about the hidden Saigon.
Thich Quang Duc Monument – a monk burning himself
Location: 298 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City (crossroads of Cach Mang Thang Tam and Nguyen Dinh Chieu Streets). The monument is only 2 km from Ben Thanh Market. Click to see the location on Google Map.
- Heart-broken story about Thich Quang Duc Bodhisattva who burned himself to death to protest Ngo Dinh Diem’s often violent policies of religious oppression;
- Spacious green park, with old trees and lotus pond;
- Peaceful and calm place in the middle of the crowded and noisy city.
Read more about Thich Quang Duc Monument – Everything you need to know.
Nguyen Thien Thuat – one of the oldest apartment buildings in Saigon
Location: the apartment buildings are surrounded by 4 Streets Nguyen Thien Thuat, Phan Dinh Phung, Ly Thai To, Phan Thanh Gian, Ward 1, District 3. Nguyen Thien Thuat apartment building is about 2.5 km from Ben Thanh Market. Click to see on Google Map.
- The majority of materials, wooden louver windows, steel rolling doors, cement tiles, staircase since 1969 still remain;
- Small park, shophouses providing all services (rice shops, convenience stores, hair salon, local restaurant), a pagoda housed in an apartment, street vendors around;
- Strange things: farming chicken in balconies and rooftops, carrying motorcycles and bicycles upstairs because parking spaces are too small, drying clothes in front of the apartments;
- This is the real local life of Saigon people in many districts of Saigon.
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Ho Thi Ky Flower Market – dozens of flower shops hidden in alleys
Location: Ho Thi Ky Street, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. The market is hidden in the area of Le Hong Phong apartment buildings in Ho Thi Ky street and its narrow alleys. Click to see on Google Map.
- Established in 1990, Ho Thi Ky is one of the oldest flower markets in Saigon.
- Flower shops are hidden in the narrow Ho Thi Ky Street and its alleys.
Cambodian Local Wet Market – real local life
Location: Alley 66 Hung Vuong, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. The market is located on a narrow alley of Hung Vuong Street. The alley is parallel with Ho Thi Ky Street. View on Google Maps.
- A great place to see how local people sell and buy products for daily life.
- Live animals (frogs, fishes, shrimps), organ meat, fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Vendors sell products not only in houses along the alley but also on the ground and moving carts.
- Lots of amazing local street foods.
- There are many Cambodian vendors and foods from Cambodia so that they call this small market “Cambodian”.
Van Phat Pagoda – ten thousand Buddha statues
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha, Ten Thousand Buddha Temple, Van Phat Pagoda.
Location: 66/14 Nghia Thuc Street, Ward 5, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 4:30 – 19:00. The main hall on the fourth floor opens from 6:00 to 17:00.
- Built in 1959 and located in a quiet and peaceful alley of Saigon China Town.
- It looks simple from outside but splendid inside, with a large number of golden Buddha statues.
- The main hall on the top floor is the most beautiful, with a huge Buddha statue on a lotus seat, each lotus flower petal has a tiny Buddha statue.
- A mysterious place that is full of smoke and the smell of incenses.
Read more about Saigon Ten Thousand Buddha Pagoda
Hao Sy Phuong Alley – Over-100-year alley in Saigon China Town
Location: 206 Tran Hung Dao Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of Hao Si Phuong Alley on Google Maps.
- One of the oldest alleys in Ho Chi Minh City, home to hundreds of Chinese people for over one hundred years;
- Unique architectural work where modern and ancient meet;
- One of the most photogenic hidden places with two lines of colorful apartments and lots of ornamental trees and plants;
- An example of the strong Chinese community in alleys of Saigon China Town where people in speak Chinese, listen to Chinese music, place altars in Chinese styles are everywhere;
- Visitors feel like being in Saigon in the past when meeting old people who have lived here for their entire lives.
Read more about Hao Si Phuong Alley.