Unusual things to do in Ho Chi Minh city that only locals would know

Uncover the hidden treasures of Ho Chi Minh City with our guide to the unusual things to do in Ho Chi Minh City that only locals would know. Beyond the bustling streets and popular tourist attractions lies a world of unique experiences waiting to be explored. Venture off the beaten path and dive into the heart of this vibrant city, where you can discover hidden alleys filled with street art, savor delectable street food at secret stalls, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of local culture. 

Join us as we reveal the city’s best-kept secrets and unveil a side of Ho Chi Minh City that few travelers ever get to witness.

Your guide to most unique unusual things to do in Ho Chi Minh city

For newcomers, Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City, can appear overwhelming. This sprawling metropolis is not only vast but also bustling and dynamic, serving as a major economic and cultural hub in Vietnam. While the city boasts many well-known attractions like the Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and lively walking streets, is that all there is to Ho Chi Minh City? 

If you’re seeking a unique and unconventional experience beyond the typical tourist spots, our list of unusual things to do in Ho Chi Minh City offer an intriguing alternative, a guide to some of the top tier even for the locals. 

Indulge in the romantic sunset on a boat on Saigon River

Embark on a luxurious speed boat journey during the late afternoon to savor the serene beauty of the Saigon River and witness a breathtaking sunset, all while escaping the bustling city of Saigon. This extraordinary experience often goes unnoticed by many travelers, but for those seeking a private and leisurely perspective of the city, it’s a hidden gem.

Over the course of a few evening hours, you’ll have the opportunity to absorb the picturesque surroundings, inhale the fresh river breeze, and gain insights into the daily lives of the locals residing along the riverbanks. As the sun dips below the horizon, Saigon’s skyline comes to life with shimmering lights, unveiling a completely different facet of the vibrant city. Indulge in a leisurely dinner with your companion, relishing this unique moment that may occur just once in a lifetime, and let yourself fall under the spell of this enchanting city.

View itinerary: 5-day exploring South Vietnam and Mekong delta

Visiting the Buu Long Pagoda

Buu Long Pagoda, nestled in the bustling Ho Chi Minh City, is a tranquil oasis that offers respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. This hidden gem is a serene Buddhist temple complex with a history dating back to the early 20th century. What makes Buu Long Pagoda unique is its striking blend of architectural styles. The pagoda features a harmonious fusion of Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, and Angkor influences, creating a captivating visual tapestry. Visitors are welcomed by a magnificent gate adorned with intricate carvings, setting the tone for the temple’s grandeur.

Inside the pagoda grounds, you’ll find lush gardens, serene lotus ponds, and meticulously crafted statues and shrines. It’s a place where visitors can explore the spiritual side of Vietnam’s culture while enjoying a serene ambiance. Buu Long Pagoda is not just a place of worship but also a sanctuary for those seeking peace and a deeper connection with spirituality amid the urban chaos. It’s a hidden cultural gem in Ho Chi Minh City, inviting travelers to step into a world of tranquility and reflection.

Witness Vietnam villager’s life through the art of theater

Experience the captivating charm and serene rural life of Vietnam without leaving the city by attending Saigon’s A O Show. This exceptional performance seamlessly weaves together the diverse elements of Vietnamese culture, combining acrobatics, humor, poetry, illusions, and music.

Sixteen circus artists and stunt performers narrate the show’s timeless tales, accompanied by the melodic compositions of instrumentalists. Directors provide the artists with 20% creative freedom, nurturing their inspiration and fostering innovation. Since its premiere in early 2013, A O Show has offered a fresh and unique entertainment option, blending the magic of opera with the thrill of modern circus for a truly memorable experience.

Learn about the history of the traditional costume – Ao Dai

Housing a mesmerizing collection that celebrates the timeless beauty of the traditional Ao Dai, Ao Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a testament to its founder’s unwavering passion for this iconic attire. Established in 2014 by designer Le Sy Hoang, whose dedication spanned 12 years, this museum offers a deep dive into the artistry of crafting Ao Dai.

The museum serves as a fascinating window into the meticulous process of Ao Dai creation, encompassing design, cutting, sewing, and intricate embroidery. Spend a day here, and you’ll have the unique opportunity to witness skilled artisans at work, bringing these garments to life. Explore the rich history of the Ao Dai, tracing its evolution from the 17th century to modern-day manifestations in the museum’s expansive exhibition halls. A special section pays tribute to the remarkable women who have contributed significantly to the nation’s development, featuring the Ao Dai worn by these influential figures across various professions. Embrace the chance to don these exquisite garments yourself, as the Vietnamese take immense pride in their elegant attire. Step into Ao Dai Museum, and you’ll emerge not only informed but also uniquely adorned in the essence of Vietnamese culture.

Enjoying a glass of local-made craft beer

Ho Chi Minh city Bui Vien street
Ho Chi Minh city Bui Vien street

This sprawling urban hub has become a magnet for expats hailing from all corners of the globe, drawn to the allure of sampling regional delicacies like passion fruit, dragon fruit, and beetroot. While some of Saigon’s craft beers and breweries might offer a taste similar to what you’re accustomed to, others offer an entirely unique experience. These breweries boast spacious, contemporary tasting rooms that pulse with energy, drawing in a diverse crowd of tourists and locals alike. Many even boast lively rooftop terraces and delectable bar snacks, creating the perfect setting for a day of beer exploration.

As Ho Chi Minh City’s craft beer scene rapidly expands, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety available. Below, we’ve highlighted a selection of local Vietnamese craft beer havens that cater to both novices and connoisseurs: Pasteur Street Brewery, East West Brewery, Tê Tê Taphouse, Heart of Darkness, Malt…

Explore local art scene at Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts

Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts in Ho Chi Minh City is a cultural gem that showcases the rich artistic heritage of Vietnam. Located in a grand colonial-era building, this museum is a testament to the country’s vibrant artistic traditions. Visitors can explore an extensive collection of Vietnamese art spanning various periods, from ancient to contemporary. One of the museum’s highlights is its collection of traditional Vietnamese paintings, which provide insights into the nation’s history and culture. These artworks often depict scenes from daily life, folklore, and significant historical events. The museum also houses an array of sculptures, ceramics, lacquerware, and more, offering a comprehensive overview of Vietnamese artistic expressions.

Stepping inside this museum is like embarking on a visual journey through Vietnam’s artistic evolution. It serves as a valuable resource for art enthusiasts, historians, and anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the country’s cultural heritage. Whether you’re captivated by traditional art forms or contemporary expressions, the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts offers a delightful and educational experience for all visitors.

View itinerary: Ideal Vietnam Southbound 15-day Trip

Joining in the lively Collectors Market

unusual things to do in ho chi minh city

Nestled within a quiet local alley on No Trang Long street, in the heart of Binh Thanh District, you’ll discover the fascinating Collectors Market. This hidden gem has become a cherished gathering spot for aficionados of vintage treasures, where enthusiasts converge to engage in discussions, friendly chit-chats, and trades of all things old and fascinating. Here, you’ll find an eclectic array of items, some of which possess considerable historical and monetary value, with certain pieces fetching prices as high as 1,000 USD. 

Collectors Market is a veritable haven for those on the hunt for unique and vintage treasures. Whether you’re seeking antique curiosities, nostalgic relics, or simply want to explore a rich tapestry of historical artifacts, this market is a must-visit. It offers a remarkable glimpse into Vietnam’s past and serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of the old and the extraordinary.

Visiting Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple, situated just outside Ho Chi Minh City, is a mesmerizing testament to the syncretic nature of Vietnamese spirituality. This colorful and eclectic temple is the holy center of the Cao Dai religion, a unique faith that combines elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, and even Islam. The temple’s architecture is a visual feast, featuring vibrant colors, intricate carvings, and ornate details that reflect a fusion of various religious and artistic influences. Its interior is equally captivating, with rows of worshippers dressed in white robes attending prayer sessions, creating a serene and spiritual ambiance.

Visiting the Cao Dai Temple provides a remarkable opportunity to witness the harmonious coexistence of diverse religious traditions in Vietnam. The daily midday ceremony, where adherents gather for prayer and meditation, is a particularly enlightening experience. It’s a place where the spiritual and artistic worlds blend seamlessly, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a deeper understanding of Vietnamese culture and faith.

Indulge in a Motorbike food tour

Steamed Broken Rice Vietnam - Vietnamese Food Tour
Steamed Broken Rice Vietnam

Exploring Ho Chi Minh City’s culinary scene takes on a whole new dimension when you embark on a Motorbike Food Tour on the back of a vintage Vespa. This unique experience offers a delightful blend of gastronomic adventure and urban exploration.

As you hop onto the back of a classic Vespa, you’ll be whisked away on a journey through the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The city’s chaotic traffic might seem intimidating at first, but it quickly becomes part of the thrill. With an experienced driver at the helm, you can focus on savoring the diverse flavors the city has to offer. The tour takes you to hidden food stalls, street-side eateries, and local hotspots that you might not discover on your own. You’ll have the chance to sample a wide range of Vietnamese dishes, from savory pho to crispy banh xeo and everything in between. Each bite tells a story of the city’s rich culinary heritage.

Beyond the food, the Vespa ride itself is an exhilarating experience. The wind in your hair, the vibrant streets whizzing by, and the bustling energy of the city create a sensory overload that’s both exciting and memorable. Motorbike Food Tours in Ho Chi Minh City offer a unique and immersive way to taste the city’s culture, one delicious bite at a time.

Final thoughts

Exploring the vibrant tapestry of Ho Chi Minh City through unusual things to do in Ho Chi Minh City unveils the hidden gems that locals cherish. From secret street food spots to tucked-away historical sites, these experiences offer a unique glimpse into the city’s heart and soul. 

To make the most of your visit, consider Viland Travel’s customized tour. Our expertise ensures you won’t miss these authentic adventures, blending them seamlessly into your itinerary. By delving into the lesser-known aspects of this dynamic city, you’ll forge a deeper connection with its culture and people, creating lasting memories of your time in Ho Chi Minh City.

Book now and let us give you the unique vacation you’re looking for!