Ho Chi Minh City is an exciting and vibrant city that offers a wealth of experiences for families with kids. From exploring the bustling streets to sampling delicious local cuisine, there’s something here for each member of the family!
We spent 3 months traveling Vietnam with our kids ages 3, 6, 8, and 10 years old. Of that time we loved spending over a month soaking in all of the sites, smells, and sounds of Ho Chi Minh City.
In this guide, we’ll give you tips on where to stay and what to do so that your family can make the most out of your time in this amazing city. Get ready for an adventure like no other – let’s explore Ho Chi Minh City with kids!
About Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Before we jump in let’s touch on a little history about Ho Chi Minh City. The city was originally founded in the 17th century, and it has experienced a significant transformation over time. In 1975, following the end of the Vietnam War, the city’s official name changed from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh – who had been an influential leader in the country’s struggle for independence. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Southeast Asia, and it’s a great destination for families with kids.
Is Ho Chi Minh City Good for Kids?
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is not typically on the radar for most families looking for a holiday vacation. Many will just enter Vietnam via HCMC as a transition point to other parts of the country. But they’re missing out! HCMC is a fantastic destination for families with kids, especially if you want to experience something different and explore an exciting new culture.
The city has plenty of kid-friendly attractions that will keep your family entertained as you explore.
Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City with Kids
The city offers an endless supply of activities, attractions, and experiences that are perfect for kids. Here are some of our top recommendations:
Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show
This traditional Vietnamese puppet show is a great way to expose your kids to the cultural history of the city. The show is hosted in an open-air theater, where kids can watch puppets perform traditional folk dances and stories.
Full disclosure though. If you are planning on visiting any of the regions north of HCMC like Hoi An or Hanoi, you may want to skip this one and hit a water puppet show up north for a more culture-rich experience. But if you are staying in town, this is a must-see.
Cu Chi Tunnels Excursion
The Cu Chi tunnels were a highlight of our trip to Ho Chi Minh City and a great way to learn about the history of the Vietnam War. The tunnels are incredibly impressive and offer an interactive experience for kids, as they can explore some of the underground passageways and bunkers.
Our kids especially liked learning about the making and setting of booby traps and being able to touch real military equipment like tanks and other machinery. We recommend this tour and going early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day.
Take a Walk Along the Saigon River
We had a great time walking along the Saigon River, especially in the evening when the city lights are up. The riverfront is a great spot for some leisurely family time, and you will even find some small playgrounds along the path. We almost always spotted rats (some of the largest that we have ever seen) which made for some funny memories that we still talk about.
Kids will love seeing all the boats and barges along the river – as well as tasting some of the street food that’s available in abundance!
Mekong Delta Day Tour
This tour was truly a one-of-a-kind experience that our family will never forget. We spent a full day exploring the floating markets, rice paddies, and small villages of the Mekong Delta. The entire experience was educational, entertaining and eye-opening – in addition to being highly entertaining for the kids.
We especially loved riding on a traditional bamboo boat through the region’s canals and learning about the local ways of life. You can book a Mekong Delta day tour directly here.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is a great spot to spend the day with kids. The zoo has over 400 animals, including tigers, elephants, and more – as well as plenty of plants and flowers in the botanical garden. There’s also a small amusement park and playground area for younger children.
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum in Saigon is an interesting visit but be warned that it is quite graphic and gruesome. It has an anti-American feel and is best suited for older children who can appreciate the history and context of the museum. We found that it was a great way to open up conversations about war, politics, and current events with our kids.
They do have some pretty cool aircraft and tanks that our kids liked seeing and if you have younger children there is a kid’s playroom on the third floor that keeps them quite entertained.
Suoi Tien Theme Park
If your kids are looking for a more modern and thrilling experience, Suoi Tien Theme Park is the way to go. This huge amusement park has water rides, roller coasters, and plenty of interesting attractions to explore.
It’s a great spot to let loose and have some fun, with plenty of food and souvenir stalls around the park. Plus, there is a large lake in the center that you can rent boats on or even see dolphins!
We like to make time for fun days like this that are geared for the kids since they do receive a heavy dose of other cultural experiences that Mindy and I love.
You can’t visit Ho Chi Minh with kids and not spend some time at the markets. Especially Ben Thanh Market, which is the city’s oldest and largest. It’s a great spot to teach your kids haggling and bargaining skills – plus it’s fun to shop for snacks, food items, and souvenirs with them.
Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand since most vendors won’t accept credit cards. Also, be extra cautious pickpocketing is common in the market.
Either way, it’s a great spot to explore and is loads of fun for the entire family.
Mariamman Hindu Temple
This unique Hindu temple in Saigon is a great place to take kids as it gives them a glimpse into the city’s diverse cultural landscape. Built in the late 19th century, the Mariamman Temple is dedicated to the goddess of rain and fertility, and is quite an interesting stop on your trip.
It’s best to avoid visiting during busy religious holidays, but any other time kids can explore the complex and get a better understanding of its religious significance. Plus, it’s free to enter so you really can’t go wrong!
Tips for Visiting Ho Chi Minh City with Kids
When visiting Ho Chi Minh City with kids, keep these tips in mind:
Be ready for crowds – the city is always busy, so don’t expect to find much breathing room or personal space, and make sure to keep a handle on the kids.
Bring cash – most vendors won’t accept credit cards and ATMs dispense only small amounts of money.
Avoid bringing a stroller if possible – although we did have a stroller with us it was very difficult to use with the large crowds and uneven and often nonexistent sidewalks.
Language barrier – Ho Chi Minh has a larger concentration of English speakers than anywhere else in Vietnam but still most of your encounters will be with people who don’t speak English unless they work in the tourism industry. For this reason, we do recommend hiring a guide for your family activities and having your google translate ready!
Ho Chi Minh City is big – 24 districts make up the city and the traffic is off the charts. Most families like to stay in or near District 1 since this is the main commerce district that allows for easy access to many of the attractions.
Don’t rent a self-drive car – navigation around Ho Chi Minh combined with the sea of traffic will have you pulling your hair out in frustration. Just hire a driver or use taxis or even better the Grab ride service (like Uber).
Don’t drink the tap water – this may be tempting because many of the accommodations are modern and gorgeous but don’t drink the water it is not potable. I don’t even brush my teeth with the sink water but instead, use the drinking water they provide or bottled water.
Petty theft is a problem everywhere – Keep flashy jewelry and/or electronics secured. Our kids often had their electronic devices in their hands while we were out and about and we were often reminded by concerned locals to put them away.
The rainy season is May through September – the climate is a typically hot and sticky year round but Ho Chi Minh receives the most rainfall through these months.
For some more tips on see traveling Vietnam with kids.
Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City with Kids
Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of family-friendly hotels, guesthouses, and villas. With a range of different price points, there is something for everyone.
For instance, if you are looking for a luxurious hotel stay in District 1, the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers is a great option. Located near many of the city’s attractions, this 5-star property offers spacious rooms, a rooftop pool and bar, and great service.
For those looking for something more affordable, there are plenty of guesthouses that offer basic amenities at budget prices. A family favorite is Overnight Saigon located in District 3 – it’s modern, clean, and offers a good selection of rooms that sleep up to 4 people.
No matter what you’re looking for when visiting Ho Chi Minh City with kids, there are plenty of options that will suit your needs! Just be sure to do your research and book in advance so you can find the perfect accommodation that suits your family.
Wrapping Up: Ho Chi Minh City with Kids
Visiting Ho Chi Minh City with kids can be a great experience. With its bustling streets, religious sites, and vibrant culture, there is something for everyone to enjoy. However, it’s important to remember that the city has some unique challenges when traveling with children – from navigating traffic-filled roads to avoiding petty theft. Fortunately, by keeping these tips in mind and researching accommodation options ahead of time you should be able to have an enjoyable visit without any major issues! So don’t wait any longer – pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable family trip in one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting cities!