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6 No-Stress Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City

6 No-Stress Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City

Travellers to Ho Chi Minh City are often time-poor, they tend to fly in for a night or two, then leave for their next destination.

And the experience can be stressful!

After all, HCMC is Vietnam’s largest city and it’s hot, noisy and congested.

So we’ve put together 6 easy no-stress things to do if you’re in town for a short layover and don’t want the stress and anxiety of planning things out!

1. Stay at a heritage hotel

Sadly Ho Chi Minh City has lost most of its heritage buildings over the past couple of decades. but thankfully, some remain, including the lovely Hotel Continental.

As you would expect of a hotel that’s the oldest in Vietnam, the Hotel Continental has an infamous history.

Built in 1880, the hotel was owned and operated for a time by a Corsican gangster, it was home to English author Graham Greene while he wrote his acclaimed novel The Quiet American, and was nicknamed “Radio Catinat” during the Vietnam War because it was a meeting place for correspondents, military brass and spies.

The Hotel Continental really is a national treasure.

Stay at Hotel Continental Saigon

2. Catch the Teh Dar Show at the Saigon Opera House

The Teh Dar Show is the fourth instalment of the hugely successful AO Show.

This mesmerising storytelling circus dramatically displays the life and customs of the peoples of the south-western highlands of Vietnam.

Teh Dar loosely translates to ‘going in a circle’ and is a constant theme throughout the show.

The primal experience starts from the opening scene, which can be best described as terrifyingly acrobatic backed by thundering drums that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

It’s an hour of suspense, drama, beauty, spirituality and talent.

3. Ride the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

There’s really no other way to cruise the city streets from an elevated position.

These double-decker buses have no roof, so in fine weather you get to cruise by most of Ho Chi Minh City’s big ticket sights – such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Reunification Palace, Turtle Lake and Ben Thanh Market – with the breeze in your hair.

Buses leave every half-hour or so, but it’s best to catch one around 5pm when the temperature is cooler, the light is great for selfies and you can get to see the city light up!

Get tickets for the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

4. Rent a Blue Bike

Ho Chi Minh City might not seem like a safe city to ride a bicycle round, but once you get the hang of the traffic, it’s a lot of fun.

Last year the city government set up ‘bike stations’ around the inner city where people can go to rent bikes.

They’ve proven to be extremely popular, especially among the younger generations for whom cycling these days is a bit of a novelty.

Keep an eye out for the stations around the city and scan the QR code with your mobile phone to follow the instructions for renting a bike.

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Note, there aren’t attendants at the stations to help you out.

5. Check out the new waterfront

Finally there’s somewhere along the Saigon River in District 1 where you can hang out.

Each evening, especially at weekends, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people make their way to the new waterfront park at the end of Nguyen Hue Street to take in the views and enjoy the breeze coming off the river after a typically hot and humid Saigon afternoon.

As a bonus, the pathway along the river extends under the Khanh Hoi Bridge to District 4 along the Ben Nghe Canal to Cau Mong, otherwise known as the Rainbow Bridge.

If you go during the day, be sure to protect yourself against the sun.

6. Take a Water Bus

While you’re at the waterfront, grab yourself a return ticket on the Saigon Water Bus.

There are just a couple of routes you can take, so it’s pretty straight forward.

It’s an excellent way to gain a different perspective of Ho Chi Minh City as the best route takes you through Thu Duc and Thanh Da Districts just outside of the city centre.

Here you can catch a glimpse of life on the waterways without having to take an organised trip to the Mekong Delta.

Make sure you leave enough time for the ride as it takes quite a bit of time and may eat into your other plans, so check at the Bach Dang Station at the beginning of Hai Ba Street opposite the Tran Hung Dao statue.

There are also evening trips so you can catch the city light up on sunset.

Check out the water bus timetable here

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©The Bureau Asia 2021

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