Activities to escape the heat and rain in Saigon

By Darren Barnard   June 1, 2024 | 05:00 am PT
Ho Chi Minh City recently endured the longest heat wave in nearly three decades, where scorching temperatures regularly exceeded 35 degrees Celsius.

Although many are thankful for the heat somewhat subsiding and seasonal rains beginning to appear, torrential rain storms can also wreck havoc for tourists hoping to explore the city.

Here are some activities you can enjoy in Vietnam's biggest city without the weather spoiling your plans.

Visit the War Remnants Museum

Visitors watch photos and their descriptions at the War Remnants Museum in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Visitors watch photos and their descriptions at the War Remnants Museum in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Some of the most informative museums in the country are found in Saigon. The War Remnants Museum in particular is arguably the most insightful and eyeopening museum in the country.

They have numerous permanent exhibitions in the museum, including one particularly emotive and uplifting display about some of the victims of Agent Orange and some personal stories of survivors, who despite their immense hardship, have achieved tremendous accomplishments in their lives whilst also helping other war victims with education and other integral life skills.

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, District 3

Enjoy a tour of The Independence Palace

Another sight steeped in history is The Independence Palace in the heart of the city. Visitors can join one of the regular guided tours included in the price of an entry ticket. These tours of up to 25 adults are led by professional guides and are a good opportunity to get greater insight during a visit.

Alternatively, you can opt for a self-guided audio tour which can be heard in 10 languages: English, French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, German, Spanish, Russian, Thai and Vietnamese. This allows guests the freedom to enjoy the palace at their own pace.

Address: 106 Nguyen Du, District 1

Bargain at Ben Thanh Market

Just 500 m away from The Independence Palace is arguably the most famous market in Vietnam. The popular landmark welcomes over 10,000 visitors per day with over 1,000 booths that operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., selling a huge range of products. The French Indochinese architecture helps the market stand out in the middle of the urban area of District 1, where it has been situated since its relocation in 1912.

Address: Ben Thanh, District 1

Watch a show at Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

Two Greek-style status in the front of the Saigon Opera House. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Two Greek-style status in the front of the Saigon Opera House. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Another French colonial building to escape the heat and enjoy some of Vietnam's rich culture is Saigon Opera House. The flamboyant facade can be seen just a short distance away from the previous attractions, but perhaps a visit in the evening is the best option, as you and nearly 500 other guests will be able to enjoy a performance, such as "A O" which is a combination of bamboo circus, acrobatic acts, dance, and theatrical visual art with live music of southern Vietnamese work songs.

Address: 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, Ben Nghe, District 1

Awe at the architecture of Saigon Central Post Office

Whilst exploring the heart of the city another attraction that is certainly worth a visit, regardless of the weather outside, is the post office opposite Saigon Notre Dame Basilica. It is open between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and free to go inside to enjoy the design of the building, which was the work of Gustave Eiffel, the architect of other famous sights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi.

Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1

Enjoy an air-conditioned cafe

Beyond French architecture, another symbol of Vietnam is the incredible coffee you can find throughout the country. There are thousands of cafes to appreciate this delight in Saigon, but perhaps particularly focus should be on speciality drinks such as coconut coffee, salt coffee or egg coffee which will each be a tremendous help in cooling down and refreshing after enduring the humidity.

Embrace the shade in Can Gio

Another efficient way of cooling down from the heat, is to enjoy the shade offered in the biosphere reserve located around 45 km south of the metropolis. Be careful though, whilst hiding under the canopy you will have the company of hundreds of macaques who call this place home. The southeast coastal area is the habitat of many rare species, including saltwater crocodiles which are now housed in a protected area. The wetland is often considered the "green lungs" of Ho Chi Minh City as its absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants.

Enjoy the view from Bitexco Financial Tower

Visitors take a view of Saigon from Bitexcos Skydeck. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Le

Visitors take a view of Saigon from Bitexco's Skydeck. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Le

Back in the urban jungle, you can enjoy one of the best views of the city from the top of the second tallest building in Saigon. At a height of 262 m you will be able to enjoy a 360-degree view of the entire city. The landscape is particularly aesthetically pleasing during sunset as you can enjoy the sun's descent, followed by the lights of the city turning on.

A ticket to Saigon SkyDeck costs nearly half the price of a ticket to go up to Vietnam’s tallest building, Landmark 81. The view from the top is more central within the city, offering you the chance to see many different neighborhoods within Saigon from a spectacular vantage point.

Address: 2 Hai Trieu Street, Ben Nghe, District 1

Appreciate the stillness of religious sites

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city are places of reflection and connection. Some of the best examples to appreciate this are Jade Emperor Pagoda or Ba Thien Hau Temple. The former is one of the most atmospheric temples in Saigon and honors the supreme Taoist God, Ngoc Hoang and is a wonderful escape of not only the heat and rain in the south, but also the chaos and noise.

Addresses: 73 Mai Thi Luu, Da Kao, District 1 & 710 Nguyen Trai, District 5

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