Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City South Vietnam in Southeast Asia

10 Unique Things To Do In Saigon, Vietnam

Looking for original things to do in Saigon? After several months exploring this city, we have some unique ideas to round out your itinerary.

Some suggestions are hidden gems, known only to locals and expats. Others involve popular attractions but in novel and entertaining ways. Maybe you’re on a package tour and seeking to fill a “free day” in Saigon.

Maybe you’re an independent traveler and seeking the offbeat. Either way, we hope these tips help you have a better, richer, more individualized experience in Saigon.

What About the Classic Things to Do in Saigon?

You can read our list of standard highlights in another post.

This is a supplementary list of lesser-known things to do in Saigon.

Have a better, richer, more individualized experience in Saigon.Click To Tweet

1. Adventure Eating

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Adventure Eating in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

Vietnamese food is absolutely delicious 99.9% of the time, but it can also be extreme and exotic. If you want to push your culinary limits, try adventure eating at Bo Cap Lua Restaurant.

They serve tarantulas, scorpions, lizards, live worms, fried worms, and other “unspeakable” items. You can see more of the disgusting things we ate at Bo Cap Lua.

Bo Cap Lua
17B 11th Street
Go Vap District
Ho Chi Minh City

2. Jade Emperor Pagoda “Secret” Canal Walk

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Canal Walk in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the popular things to do in Saigon. But few know about the lovely canal, only a few hundred feet away.

After you visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, take a stroll along the canal. It can turn this common attraction into an uncommon experience.

You’ll glimpse an unseen side of Saigon. Quiet streets, quaint neighborhoods, and several other temples line the canal.

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Pagodas and Temples in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

You can simply enjoy the peaceful beauty of the canal or use it to structure a “temple crawl.” There are many temples on the canal to explore, but we recommend visiting Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (Mahayana Buddhism) and Wat Chantaransay (Theravada Buddhism).

Combined with the Jade Emperor Pagoda, which is Taoist, you’ll see 3 radically different styles of spirituality (that exist in the same small community). AND you’ll enjoy a scenic walk, away from the chaotic streets of Saigon.

You can see more photos and read the full details of this canal walk here. It includes directions to the canal and info on why this canal is the biggest environmental accomplishment in Saigon.

3. Suoi Tien Buddhist Amusement Park

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Suoi Tien Park in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

Suoi Tien is the craziest amusement park in Vietnam (maybe all of Asia). It’s actually a combination culture park/amusement park.

Suoi Tien has a sprawling waterpark, the longest roller coaster in Vietnam, and all the fun stuff you’d expect. But the massive Buddhist monuments and active temples (next to the rides!) make Suoi Tien a unique travel experience.

It’s a surreal mash-up of deep Buddhist culture AND superficial amusements. Even if you’re not interested in the rides, the gargantuan sculptures and monuments are worth the price of admission (which is only $5USD).

Suoi Tien offers some of the most spectacular sights and is one of the most unusual things to do in Saigon.

Check out more photos of the amazing park here.

Hours: 8am – 530pm

120 Hanoi Highway
Tan Phu Ward
District 9, HCMC

4. The Amazing Viet Show

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. The Amazing Viet Show in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

The Amazing Viet Show is a fun way to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Saigon has many entertaining shows, but this is the wackiest. It features “extraordinary people” with “unusual talents.” Or you could call it a Vietnamese freak show – with a difference.

The headline acts are contortionists, sword swallowers, and the like, but between those acts are song and dance performances featuring Vietnamese music and costumes.

Vanessa had her first cyclo ride at the Amazing Viet Show. A man put these contraptions in his eyes and pulled a cyclo full of people across the stage! You can read more about that crazy story here.

Tickets start at 640,000VND ($28US). The best place to buy tickets is at the theater because they often offer in person discounts.

The Amazing Viet Show is performed at the V Show Theater.
147 Cach Mạng Thang Tam Street
District 3, HCMC

5. Binh Quoi Tourist Village

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Binh Quoi Tourist Village in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

Binh Quoi Tourist Village is a rural oasis in the heart of the city. It looks like a Traditional Village on the Mekong Delta. It’s a staged reproduction, but it’s beautiful, peaceful, and entrance is free.

Binh Quoi Village feels like entering a different world and different era. You can relax in bamboo huts that line the many waterways. You can paddle a boat on the lake. You can scramble across monkey bridges. And more.

There are even restaurants and a hotel if you desire. The best time for a peaceful visit is on weekday mornings. There’s a large, traditional buffet on weekend evenings, but it’s more crowded (and you can’t see the scenery in the dark).

Find out more about Binh Quoi Tourist Village in this post.

Binh Quoi Tourist Village
147 Binh Quoi Street
Binh Thanh District, HCMC

6. AO Show at the Saigon Opera House

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. AO Show in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

The Saigon Opera House is one of the most historic landmarks of the city. Every Saigon visitor comes to the Opera House for sightseeing, but few actually watch a performance.

Take your Opera House experience to the next level by catching the AO Show. Often called “Bamboo Cirque,” it’s like a Cirque du Soleil show about contemporary Vietnamese culture. The AO Show combines acrobatics, dance, and dazzling choreography.

It’s not only a great show that’s fun and amazing. It’s also a great travel experience that meaningful and gives insight into the culture. The central theme is how rapid modernization and urbanization is changing Vietnam (for better and worse).

Tickets start at 630,000VND ($27US). It’s best to buy tickets at the Opera House. Check for package deals that include dinner at a local restaurant too. These are often a bargain.

Saigon Opera House
7 Lam Son Square
District 1, HCMC

7. Live it Up in Phu My Hung

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Phu My Hung in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

Speaking of rapid modernization and urbanization, visit Phu My Hung to see a different (wealthier) side of Saigon. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, Phu My Hung is an upscale neighborhood that offers high-end dining, shopping, and entertainment.

An evening here can be both fun and enlightening. You’ll have a high-end experience, and you’ll see how Vietnam’s growing middle-class lives.

There are many easy options here. We recommend visiting the Crescent Mall, but not really for the shopping. There’s a pretty lake behind the mall and a picturesque walkway around the lake. Several fine restaurants line the walkway. And at the end, there’s the Starlight Bridge.

At night, this bridge doubles as a water fountain and puts on a lovely light show. For dinner, we recommend Cham Charm Restaurant. It’s a rather expensive seafood buffet, but the décor is beautiful. The theme is the ancient Cham civilization of Vietnam.

Much of Saigon (and Vietnam) is rather poor, but that’s not the whole story. The temptation is to make the poor rural farmer the symbol of Vietnam. That’s still partially true, but a complete picture must also include Vietnam’s growing middle class.

You can glimpse their changing lifestyle and values in Phu My Hung.

Crescent Mall
101 Ton Dat Tien Street
District 7, HCMC

8. Mix with Locals at Tao Dan Park

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

Tao Dan Park is a big, beautiful park in Saigon. It’s one of the few green spaces in Saigon, and it’s a great place to mix with locals. Early morning is the best time to visit. The whole community comes out to enjoy the cool morning air. Locals of all ages and from all walks of life meet here to socialize and exercise.

The whole community comes out to enjoy the cool morning air. Locals of all ages and from all walks of life meet here to socialize and exercise.

You’ll see people practice a wide variety of martial arts, including Tai Chi. Dancing is another popular activity at Tao Dan. You’ll see everything from Asian Fan Dancing to Waltzing to group Line Dancing.

Most of these are open and communal. So it’s your chance to conquer the language barrier through physical activity and play. Know a little Tai Chi or a bit of line dancing, join in. Why not?

It may be one of your most memorable moments in Saigon. Read more about Tao Dan Park here.

Tao Dan Park lies along Truong Dinh Street, between Nguyen Du Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.

9. Traditional Culture Show at the Golden Lotus Theater

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. Golden Lotus Theater in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia
If you want to taste classic Vietnamese culture, check out the Golden Lotus Theater. It’s the most enjoyable “traditional” dance and music show in Saigon.

This is a fun show with all the elaborate costumes, vibrant dances, and soulful music you’d expect and few things you wouldn’t. Like a 1000-year-old water puppet show that ends with fireworks.

We stress enjoyable and fun because authentic performances of ancient culture can drag on. Let’s be honest, as interesting as they may be culturally and historically, they tend to get boring for the average visitor.

At the Golden Lotus Theatre, the show maintains a quick, entertaining pace. You can read more about this show here.

The Golden Lotus Theatre is inside the Rex Hotel.
141 Nguyen Hue Street
District 1, HCMC

10. La Fênetre Soleil– For a Quirky  and Cross-Cultural Evening

Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam. La Fenetre Soleil in Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Asia

By day, it’s a mild-mannered café. By night, La Fênetre Soleil is quirky hub for cross-cultural encounters. This Vietnamese club has a French name, serves Indonesian food, specializes in live Jazz music, but has weekly Salsa dancing on Wednesdays and weekly Swing dancing on Sundays. And that’s not all.

They also host a variety of special events too. One of our favorites was a presentation by the “Saigon Storytellers” group – where some locals and expats told true but well-crafted stories from their lives (kinda like The Moth podcast).

So if you’re looking for a different kind of nightclub in Saigon, try La Fênetre Soleil. Contact the club for what’s happening during your visit.

Phone: 08 3824 5994

44 Ly Tu Trọng
District 1, HCMC

There are many other unique things to do in Saigon. Of course, the best will be the ones you create. Hopefully, this list helps with both specific tips and ideas to spark your own imaginative itinerary.

Enjoy Saigon!

Which things to do in Saigon interest you? If you’ve been to Saigon, we’d love to hear your unique tips?

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  • Dannielle
    Posted at 04:23h, 19 August

    I missed out on a lot of this when I was there a few years ago! I blame the fact I was a young, stupid backpacker haha.

  • Mel
    Posted at 03:47h, 22 August

    Well, now Saigon is on my list of places to visit! I might skip the adventurous eating, but a stroll along the canal and seeing the pagoda sounds lovely. And the cultural show looks interesting. It’s always nice to find something like that that isn’t too cheesy.

  • Tracey Kifford
    Posted at 04:14h, 22 August

    What a beautiful place. Definitely on my bucket list now. I’d love to do that canal walk – but I’ll pass on the eating challenges!! x

  • Lisa
    Posted at 04:23h, 22 August

    All of these suggestions are excellent! I was in Saigon many years ago, and didn’t do any of these things! The Saigon Opera House is wonderful, who knew! Plus I like the look of the free, though re-enacted village. This last cafe/jazz club seems very eclectic, I’d definitely visit should I return one day.

  • Suzanne
    Posted at 08:18h, 22 August

    This post certainly offers a lot of choices when it comes to Saigon. The opera and cultural shows sound enticing. I also like the idea of the secret canal walk. However, I don’t think I will be partaking of eating spiders etc.

  • Maggie
    Posted at 09:19h, 22 August

    Saigon looks like the perfect place to visit! Though I consider myself an adventurous eater,I must admit that’s a bit much for me. The village looks like the perfect place to explore and unwind.

  • Janiel Green
    Posted at 09:58h, 22 August

    The tourist village looks AMAZING! I really hate tourist traps and try and seek out off the beaten path places and try to really experience the culture. Although I think I could skip the whole adventure eating thing……that looks like a little too much for me (blech).

  • Julianne
    Posted at 13:22h, 22 August

    Wow, so many interesting things to do in Saigon! I think La Fênetre Soleil and Tao Dan Park seem more like my speed. I checked out your post on Bo Cap Lua too — and man, I have a lot of respect for you two, but I don’t think I could eat a tarantula. The “scariest” thing I’ve ever eaten was a seahorse in China, so I don’t know if I could do a whole afternoon of adventure eating, but maybe I’d take a bite of one thing… haha! 🙂

  • aareeba
    Posted at 01:16h, 24 August

    Am planning to go to vietnam next year and I found this post really useful. I loved your pictures and am gonna save this post for my future use. Thanks alot for sharing this 🙂

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 11:14h, 24 August

    This is quite an intricate mosaic of experiences in Saigon. I am fascinated by the sheer range of options. From adventure eating to cultural shows, from temples to amusement parks, it is indeed a roller coaster of experiences. I am sure there can never be a dull moment when in Saigon.

  • Tania Mukherjee
    Posted at 06:34h, 26 August

    You have chalked up a perfect list. I liked the Viet show and the tourist village. The tourist village in particular looked really like an oasis. Also, I ended up reading your food eating post, the one where you ate the tarantulas!! Yikes!

  • SindhuMurthy
    Posted at 08:36h, 26 August

    Quite an interesting list of things to do. Binh Quoi Tourist Village and the Lotus theater really interest me. I shall make sure to visit both the places when I visit Vietnam. The unusual food in the first pic freaked me to the nerve. I hope you liked the taste 🙂

  • Ticking the Bucketlist
    Posted at 06:29h, 28 August

    I just got back from Saigon and didn’t do any of these! All my time was spent in day trips and I missed all these awesome city attractions. I would love to do the cultural shows most of all to get a peek into the local culture.

  • Ami
    Posted at 02:41h, 30 August

    There is so much to see here. I particularly liked Binh Quoi Tourist Village for its calm and natural environment. Culturally also, there seems so much to experience here. Well done with listing it all down.

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