Ho Chi Minh City is a must-visit while in Vietnam. A city that can only be described as organized chaos and every moment should be captured on camera. An Instagrammer’s paradise, this city is home to many wonderful structures, each waiting for you to tell its story through the pictures you take. Grab your camera and check these five places out.
Get out of the airport first!
Tan Son Nhat International Airport is about 8 kilometers from the District 1 where most of the sights mentioned in this list are located. There are plenty of ways to get to the Ho Chi Minh City center. You can take the bus if you’re looking to get fully adventurous and go local – however, the bus is a little slow and sometimes unreliable. Then there is the option of hailing an airport taxi but you’ll end up paying a premium.
If you’re tech savvy, then downloading the ride-hailing app Grab may be a good idea. Prices are often reasonable (unless it’s rush hour), however the language barrier may get in the way. To have the smoothest of entries to Vietnam and it’s chaos, the best option is to pre-book your transfer from the airport. This way you can avoid having to locate your driver, negotiating your prices, and getting lost on the way to your hotel, and so be fresh when you’re ready to step out and see Ho Chi Minh City!
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is an emblematic market of Vietnam and has stood the test of time, witnessing all the ups and downs of Ho Chi Minh City. For over a 100 years, this market has served the city’s residents with all sorts of everyday items: from clothes to trinkets, house decor and food. Inside, you will be able to find virtually anything the Vietnamese people own, wear and eat.
Walk around inside – you will be overwhelmed by the colors, sounds and smells. Capture these characteristics in your pictures and stimulate the senses of those browsing your Instagram feed. Be sure to ask the vendors for their permission before you photograph them and their items. While many don’t mind, it’s rude not to.
Ben Thanh Market is one of those must-visit sites appearing in almost all travel guides about Vietnam. In addition to being a market, the structure serves as a background for beautiful photo-ops, especially the south entrance with the spectacular clock facade looming over the gate.
Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 9:00 AM to 06:00 PM daily
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the late 19th century, a time when Vietnam was under French ruling. A replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Notre Dame was constructed under the instruction of famed architect, Gustav Eiffel. If his name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he also designed the Eiffel Tower. The materials to build the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City were imported from France and the outside walls of the cathedral were built with brick from Toulouse. Not an easy task back in the day.
This cathedral stands smack-bang in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City, and in front of it stands tall a statue of Virgin Mary in a small garden like structure. It’s very easy for you to catch sight of teams of photographers with engaged couples creating their wedding photographs or just ordinary tourists with selfie sticks taking a photo outside this iconic cathedral. It’s an opportunity to troll your followers by pretending you’re in Paris. However, your charade will soon be exposed since it will be almost impossible to not share the other pictures of the beautiful sights you see in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily
Central Post Office
Located right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office was constructed at the same time, in the late 19th century, by the same architect.
This neo-gothic structure looks like a giant railway station and still functions today as a post office. You’ll be able to purchase and send postcards back home to make all your loved ones jealous of your adventures. If you can’t wait for the snail mail to reach, just snap some pictures of the exterior and interior, and upload them to your Instagram. You don’t even need to add a filter, the structures are just beautiful on their own.
Pro tip: Right beside the post office you’ll find the famed book street – this pedestrian street is decorated on both sides by bookstores with shelves spilling out into the street.
Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily.
The City Hall is an absolute architectural masterpiece, standing out from the other colonial structures that dot Ho Chi Minh City. Completed in 1908, this marvelous structure still functions as a government office, so unfortunately you cannot go inside. Yet you can appreciate the beauty of the structure from the outside as it looms above the end of the pedestrian street, Nguyen Hue.
Visit The City Hall twice – once during the day time when the blue skies add a certain charm to the building and makes it appear almost illustration-like. Then head over again come sundown as the cream and yellow structure gets lit up with floodlights, making it almost magical. Capture the structure from the end of Nguyen Hue, where there is a small patch of a garden that will add a green touch to the image.
Pro tip: Take a walk down the pedestrian street – enjoy some of the delicious street food and join in on the locals who often hold dance classes and musical festivals here. A few meters away, at 42 Nguyen Hue, you will come across the unique “cafe apartment.” This is an old apartment building in which every unit is a different cafe or boutique store, styled with unique themes. From the outside, it’s a pretty sight.
Ba Thien Hau Pagoda
Ba Thien Hau is one of the most famous pagodas in the city and will have you leaving the city center, through hectic traffic, all the way to Chinatown to be able to see it. This Buddhist temple was built in 1760 and is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, who is known to protect and rescue people on troubled seas.
Expect a lot of colors and intricate artwork as you walk inside, and the outside is no different. On the beautiful traditional Chinese-style roof, you will see hundreds of small porcelain figures. These colorful figurines depict various themes and legends from Chinese history, and you will find similar ones on the inside. The moment you step foot in, you will see massive stone incense burners in front of Mazu’s altar – a unique shot no doubt. Make sure to take your time and explore every corner of this temple as there are many sculptures, statues and artwork to discover – certain to add more stories to your Instagram.
It is a very photogenic pagoda but be respectful of the locals as the temple is still an active site of worship today.
Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily
These five spots will undoubtedly spice up your Instagram feed and inspire your followers to visit Vietnam and create their own memories. Remember to be respectful when you take pictures and ask in advance if it is okay you do so.