5 Free Things to Do in Saigon

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is regarded as a must-see city in Southeast Asia due to its rich heritage, cuisine, affordability, and metropolitan liveliness. All would find something of their liking. In our most recent Vietnam local guide to the lively city’s attractions, we offer you the 5 free things to do in Saigon that will guarantee you can still enjoy local culture on a budget.

1. Explore Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market, which first opened in 1912 and is situated in a prime position in the city center, has emerged as one of the leading marketplaces, with many commodities trading from various regions of Vietnam. It also provides guests with a wide variety of premium products, knockoff labels, foods, and a look at the local trades.

The clock tower at the market’s south gate is widely regarded as an unofficial sign of Saigon. Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a wonderful place to buy local handicrafts, Vietnamese paintings, ornaments, and other souvenirs.

Tips and note:
– In a crowded place, keep your eyes on your valuables at all times and avoid keeping things in your back pockets
– Go with a local to help bargain if you would like to buy souvenirs

Location: Intersections of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao, and Le Lai Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening time: 6 AM – 6 PM

2. Get Closer to Nature in Tao Dan Park

There are so many free things to do in Saigon, and if you’re looking for a change of scenery, Tao Dan Park is the place to be. Tao Dan Park has an abundance of urban green space that spans 10 hectares of Saigon and is home to over 1,000 famous trees. This soothing park, located in the city center, offers a lot of oxygen to the people who live in a congested city.

If you visit this park early in the morning or late in the day, you can see more of the local culture, of people, exercising, cycling, and doing yoga or tai chi together. Not to mention a bird singing contest in the early morning, where locals bring their pet birds in cages to catch up and share a cup of coffee; this is an intriguing aspect of Vietnamese society.

A replica of Nha Trang’s Cham Tower and the Hung King Temple was installed in the park to commemorate his contribution to the country’s development in the past.

Tips and notes:
– You should not go to Tao Dan Park at late night
– Sit on the bench in the early morning, have some coffee and take a deep breath to relax your body and mind, and you will have a great starting day

Location: 55C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 5 AM – 8 PM

3. Walk Around Nguyen Hue Street

The Nguyen Hue Walking Street is one of the most important Saigon attractions you should not forget. Since opening on Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, it has become a popular destination not only for Saigonese but also for visitors from all over the world. Nguyen Hue Walking Street is a popular location for major city activities such as parades, concerts, street festivals, and the annual Tet flower displays. Furthermore, on weekends and evenings, this walking street serves as a social meeting spot for the young generation. One of the free activities to do in Nguyen Hue is to partake in the water fountain fun with the local kids who are trying to cool off from the tropical sun.

Tips and notes:
– Come on the evening weekends if you want to watch water music performances
– Be aware of your belongings in crowded areas

Location: Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 5 AM – 12 AM

4. Visit Thien Hau Temple

The Nguyen Hue Walking Street is one of the most important Saigon attractions you should not forget. Since opening on Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, it has become a popular destination not only for Saigonese but also for visitors from all over the world. Nguyen Hue Walking Street is a popular location for major city activities such as parades, concerts, street festivals, and the annual Tet flower displays. Furthermore, on weekends and evenings, this walking street serves as a social meeting spot for the young generation. One of the free activities to do in Nguyen Hue is to partake in the water fountain fun with the local kids who are trying to cool off from the tropical sun.

Within, there are ceremonial shows of spiral incense suspended from the eaves, as well as majestic interior ceramic decorations on the roofs and walls. When there is a religious function, Thien Hau Temple is often crowded with visitors who come to pray for their families, particularly during the Lunar New Year. This free Saigon attraction is not only a valuable work in history, architecture, and sculpture, but it is also an important worship location for the Chinese and Vietnamese populations.

Tips and notes:
– Keep noises to a minimal
– Be careful with the porcelain dioramas

Location: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, Cho Lon, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 8 AM – 4:30 PM

5. Stroll Through the Book Street

If you like strolling around bookshops in a short lane, we suggest paying a visit to Nguyen Van Binh Book Street, one of Saigon’s latest free attractions. They sell fresh and used Vietnamese and foreign language books, but they don’t have a large range.

Book Street, located opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral and adjacent to the Central Post Office, now has over 20 shops selling a variety of domestic and foreign books in genres ranging from songbooks to classic Vietnamese. Locals sometimes host live music concerts on this fancy new pedestrian book lane, and writers come to chat about their writing.

Will you like to visit a reading station and browse through your favorite books while sipping a cup of coffee? Participate in one of these free things to do in Saigon.

Tips and notes:
– Choose a shaded place in the center where you can enjoy some quietness, away from the traffic
– Be aware of pickpockets

Location: Nguyen Van Binh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 8 AM – 8 PM

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