Ho Chi Minh City as it’s officially called is an electric mix of neon, traffic, history and many smiling faces. There are plenty of things to do with teenagers in Ho Chi Minh City.
You will notice that many of the locals still refer to it as Saigon. You see the Ho Chi Minh City name was forced on them when North Vietnam won the war and as we learnt there is still some division over this in the older generation. Whether it be Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City we loved our time in this city (I will refer to it as both Saigon and Hi Chi Minh City in this article)
The Vietnamese people love children no matter their age and you will find them very welcoming and friendly towards them. We had no trouble finding things to do in Saigon during our stay. Here we recommend all the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Food tour on motorbike
Ho Chi Minh City is all about motorbikes and there are over 9 million of them zipping and zooming around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. We went on a food tour with AN Tours Saigon. To say our teenagers in Ho Chi Minh city were excited about this was an understatement.
The food and guides were amazing. We had one bike and a guide for each of us. Both of the girls had been desperate to get on a motorbike for the entire trip but neither of us had the confidence to drive. This was the perfect way to see Saigon and navigate the traffic with a local at the wheel. The girls were so confident and felt so safe by the end they were riding without even holding on. This is our top adventure thing to do with teenagers in Ho Chi Minh City.
War remnants museum
It’s important to learn about the history of a place when visiting with children. Vietnam, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City are rich in the recent history of war and sorrow. The war remnants museum inflicts the horror of war on you like a blunt force trauma. Images and words portray all the horrors of war in sometimes very graphic images (This may be more suitable for older teens, just depends on where your teen is in the emotional maturity)
Our teens have been to a few dark tourism places before and had a good idea of what the museum was already about. We spend a lot of time before we go to any place like this preparing the girls and having open discussions with them about what they may see. We also pick a place they can sit if they decide that it is too much for them to see.
Outside you will find displays of tanks, aircraft, guns and even a mock P.O.W prison. Even though it has a touch of propaganda about it it’s a must-visit to learn about the history of Vietnam.
*We found that the second level of the museum was a little more intense than the ground level. At this level, there was a group who wanted to practice English with the girls so they prefered to do that.
Cu Chi tunnels
The Cu Chi tunnels are located outside of Saigon. You need to travel around 60 kilometres or 2 hours to reach them. The site is a mix of real and re-constructed tunnels and huts. The Cu Chi people fought for the North Vietnamese Army against the USA during the war.
There is an area where you can go in a real tunnel to see if you fit and section reconstructed to fit Westerners. Displays of bobby traps, weapon making, food preparation are there for you to see and to learn how life was lived in the tunnels. The film presentation that lasted 30 minutes was very educational for our teenagers visiting Ho Chi Minh city area.
Eat Bahn Mi
The staple food of the Vietnamese is the Bahn Mi. A simple crispy french bread roll and light-filled with meats of your choice and salad. A Bahn Mi goes for around $2 Australian and they are delicious.
Some of the meats include roast pork, chicken, cold cuts and a meat pate spread on it. It is usually accompanied by cucumber, carrot and lemongrass. You will find this amazing meal on most street corners and great if you are budget travelling.
Shopping at Diamond Department store
The Diamond department store is an elegant affair with 4 floors of luxury brands ranging from Guess, Converse, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Asus, Phillips and more. All these brands command their own little area over the 4 floors.
They are not individual stores they just occupy an area of the Diamond Department store. We were able to snap up some electrical bargains at 50% off. Like most good retailers there are sales all over the store. If your hungry there is a food court on the 4th floor.
Ride the hop on hop off bus
A new player on the tourist scene in Ho Chi Minh City is the Hop on hop off bus. These type of tours are a mainstay of many cities around the world and they are a brilliant way to see a city. We spent 2 days on the 8 stop city route. The weather can be hot and humid in Ho Chi Minh City and our teenager is not overly keen on the heat.
This made the bus tour a great activity for a teenager in Hi Chi Minh city. You can take in all the attractions of Saigon in air-conditioned comfort. Some of the stops included the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Bexito Tower, Bahn Tahn Market and the Saigon Riverfront.
Ben Thanh Market
This is a must-visit in Ho Chi Minh City if you are wanting to do some serious shopping. The Ben Thanh Market is one of the oldest surviving structures in Saigon and it is a shoppers dream. The traditional Vietnamese crafts like chopsticks, lanterns, rice bowls and paintings are all there for you to buy.
Bartering is an Olympic sport inside the market where you can also find cold drinks, food, spices and to be honest just about anything else you can imagine.
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If bartering is not your thing on the outer corridors there are fixed price shops. I found these were most of the time around what I had bartered down the shops on the inside to.
Cinema in Ho Chi Minh City
Look for CGV Cinemas when in Ho Chi Minh City. Movies are popular with teenagers in Ho Chi Minh City. They are the largest chain in Vietnam. You will find movies in both local and English language versions. CGV feature Imax and 4d while also having different comfort levels such as L’amour, Premium, Gold Class, Stadium, Art House and Sweet Box for couples.
You will find CGV Cinemas in Ho Chi Minh at
• Floor 5th, Crescent Mall, Tan Phu, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3812 3000
• Liberty Central Citypoint Hotel, District 1, 59 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3822 3111
• 126, Tan Da, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3812 3000
• Floor 3rd, Pandora City, 1, Truong Chinh, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3812 3000
• Level 3, Aeon Mall, 30, Bao Tan Thang, Celadon City, Son Ly, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3812 3000
• Floor 5th, Parkson Paragon, 3, Nguyen Luong Bang, Tan Phu, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 08 3812 3000
10 pin bowling in Ho Chi Minh city
10 pin bowling is a great game for the whole family. Ramp up the family competition on wet or hot days in Saigon. You will find a number of first-class bowling alleys in Ho Chi Minh city. Like western lanes, most of these places come with arcade games and food available.
Dream Games 30 Bờ Bao Tân Thắng, Sơn Ký, Tân Phú, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Diamond Bowling Plaza 34 Le Duan, District 1 Ho Chi Minh City
Escape Rooms Ho Chi Minh City
For those new to Escape rooms, this is a quick run down.
An escape room, also known as an “escape game” is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand.
Escape rooms may consist of a large, single room, or span multiple rooms. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. If your teen likes this stuff it is definitely one of the top things to do in Bangkok with teenagers.
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The Escape Hunt Experience – 2nd Floor, Number 60-62 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City 0084, Vietnam +84 8 6290 8698
Lost Ho Chi Minh City – 1058 Nguyễn Văn Linh, Tân Phong,
Quận 7, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam+84 28 3771 0333
Places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City
The Nguyen Shack – Located in the heart of district one featuring family rooms. Rooms feature a queen-size bed and bunks, TV, Aircon and WiFi throughout. The Nguyen Shack is modelled on a traditional Vietnamese homestay.
The staff were outstanding. It’s nice to be greeted each day by the staff asking “how was your day?” The Nguyen Shack Saigon has an extensive collection of tea and traditional herbal remedies ready to be consumed. We loved this place as it was central and easy to reach all the places in the city from here. Please read our Nguyen Shack review >> HERE <<
For more accommodation options we recommend booking.com for all your hostels, apartments and hotels. Check the map below
How to get to Hi Chi Minh City
The Tân Sơn Nhất Airport is located with the city of Ho Chi Minh. There is a city surrounding the airport on all sides. This makes for amazing views as you take off and land.
The airport is serviced by leading Asian carriers Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Air Asia. For all your Ho Chi Minh City flights, we recommend using Skyscanner.
The bus arrives daily from all parts of Vietnam and Asia. The most popular international route is on the Transasian Highway from Phnom Penh in Cambodia. This trip takes 6-7 hours. Buses arrive numerous times a day from the northern cities of Da Nang, Hanoi and many other locations.
Vietnam has an extensive train network that runs along the coast of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and on into China. Taking an overnight train is a popular way to travel to Ho Chi Minh City from the North.
We recommend 12go Asia for all your train and bus tickets for Asia. You can check prices and book tickets through the banner underneath.
Money in Vietnam
The Vietnamese Dong is the official currency. Notes issued are as follows 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000, 500,000₫. ATMs are easy to find in most towns.
Always exchange your currency at banks. The government-run Vietcombank can exchange dong for US dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Banks in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will let you change foreign currencies.
We have a Vietnam page full of articles you can find >> HERE <<
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, Husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support