1. The Cafe Apartment - No. 42 Nguyen Hue Street
This unusual location has the appearance of a typical apartment building in Saigon, but inside you won't find any apartments, clothes drying in the hallways, or children hanging out in the hallways. There are roughly 30 cafes, restaurants, studios, and boutiques instead, each with a distinctive aesthetic and ambiance. Located in the heart of the city center, you will find this 60-year-old structure, standing majestically among the modern establishments.
This building has a long history, dating back to the war against France. High-ranking government officials and American military advisors were housed at the nine-story building at 42 Nguyen Hue Street during the Vietnam War. This was when Saigon was the capital of South Vietnam (perhaps because of its convenient location). The prominence of this building likewise diminished after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
The building remained in the shadows, slightly neglected, as Vietnam's economy began to grow quickly. In the city center, bigger and grander skyscrapers started to show up more frequently.
After all those years, the passage of time has left significant remarks on every corner of this historical building, from the entrance's weak lighting and entwined electrical cables to the building's yellow brick walls and flaking paint.
We think it is definitely worthwhile to stop by for a coffee or a drink! Why? First off, it's fascinating! An old apartment building with confusing hallways, numerous odd local stores selling clothing or trinkets, as well as odd and creative boutique eateries. The view from the upper floors of the building is well worth the climb (don't worry, an elevator is also available), and it offers a pleasant setting to enjoy the city view.
2. Cho Lon - Chinatown
Why is it worthwhile to visit this location? Cho Lon undoubtedly has a distinctive atmosphere, traditions, culture, and manners all of its own. It is a strange location since it stands out from the rest of the city (and, while it may seem hard to believe, it is much more chaotic than other districts of Saigon!).
Beautiful colonial and post-colonial architecture may be found in Saigon's China Town, but it is sadly underdeveloped. But it gives this area a slightly sinister charm. Of course, there are multiple Chinese temples, pagodas, dotted with vintage, mysterious boutiques, as well as street markets filled with excellent, affordable cuisine.
We advise taking a stroll through the neighborhood's narrow streets or a quick scooter ride so you can explore the historic structures, look inside the stores and pagodas, and experience the regional cuisine. Just allow yourself to get a bit lost here to discover Saigon from an entirely different angle.
3. Tan Dinh Church
The Tan Dinh Church stands out among the contemporary Saigon skyscrapers, historical structures, and traditional Vietnamese neighborhood because it resembles a Disney castle. Without a doubt, it grabs the interest of every passerby.
This iconic Saigon Pink Church was one of the top 10 pinkest locations in the world, according to the British magazine Condé Nast Traveler!
After the renowned Notre-Dame Cathedral, Tan Dinh Church is the second largest and one of the oldest churches in Ho Chi Minh City.
4. Flower Market / Khmer Market
Around 4km from the city center lies the largest Flower Market of Ho Chi Minh City. This special market provides flowers for not only the city itself but also other nearby provinces. Although the market is open all day, the morning and evening hours are when it is busiest. The majority of the indigenous flowers originate from Dalat, from the Mekong Delta, but they also come from other countries, including Hungary or the Netherlands.
The Cambodian Market, also known as Le Hong Phong Market, is right next to the Flower Market. Its beginnings can be traced back to the 1970s, when the civil conflict compelled the Vietnamese-Khmer community to leave Cambodia.
The market has greatly grown in size today, and a lot of local vendors have joined. However its authentically Cambodian character has been kept, mainly because of a number of stores run by the kids and grandkids of families who left Cambodia more than 40 years ago.
This is the place to go if you want to experience a particular fusion of the atmospheres of Vietnam and Cambodia. Here, you may observe residents' daily activities, including how they eat, drink, and party as well as sample a variety of unique dishes that will add to your culinary exploration of Vietnam.
5. Riverside Viewpoint - the most beautiful night panorama of Saigon!
The reason to visit this location is already implied by the title of this paragraph: Obviously, to feast your eyes!
Who wouldn't want to witness the best view of the Saigon skyscrapers, exquisitely lit up at night, picturesquely mirrored in the river, and all of this in a location that is utterly devoid of tourists?
Except for those who traveled with our Saigon motorbike tour (this journey will expose you to a wealth of curiosities known exclusively to locals!), you are unlikely to encounter any other tourists here.
District 2 is home to this one-of-a-kind viewpoint, which is situated on a floodplain that was drained in 2009–2010.
At the moment, District 2 is witnessing rapid development, with buildings springing up like mushrooms after rain. District 2 in the future is expected to develop with many buildings for economic purposes, contributing to attracting resources of industries, turning District 2 into a bustling place like District 1 at present. Everything points District 2 of Saigon to become as densely populated as Manhattan in around ten years.
However, before that occurs, make the most of the chance, enjoy a beer in a calm setting while sitting among the Vietnamese on small chairs and taking in the stunning nighttime view of Saigon's central district.