YOU INSIDER'S OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY SINCE 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION ACTIVITIES OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FUN IN THE SUN: WATERSPORTS IN VIETNAM
Vietnam’s coastline has something for everyone, whether it is for windsurfing, kitesurfing, catamaran sailing, stand-up paddle surfing (SUPing), surfing, sea kayaking, or even diving. Where are the best spots and what can you expect to find?
High season: November/December to April/May (best time of year for great wind conditions)
Low season: May to November (conditions are still good for learning and riding but the wind may not be as frequent)
Phan Thiet Region
Mui Ne (Main Beach)
Kitesurfing, windsurfing, wing, sailing, SUPing, limited surfing, and sea kayaking
This is probably the best-known location in Vietnam for water sports. Mui Ne’s Main Beach (the Ham Tien strip) is located 3h away from Ho Chi Minh City and provides most of the action with an abundance of water sports schools mainly focusing on kitesurfing, and a couple of more specialist clubs offering catamaran sailing, windsurfing, surfing, and SUPing.
For monohull sailboats, check Manta (www.mantasailing.org). Most of the kitesurf action is towards the south end of the strip. Jibe’s Beach Club has been teaching new kitesurf, windsurf, sailing, and surf students since 2000 and has great reviews.
Pros: Lots of schools, large choice of accommodation both on and off the beach, lots of riders (safety in numbers), perfect wind direction.
Cons: Lots of riders (can get a little busy, especially at the southern end of the strip), there can be a bit of a beach break (waves breaking in shallow water close to the shoreline).
Experienced/intermediate riders: kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing, catamaran sailing, SUPing
Suoi Nuoc has very similar wind and wave conditions to Hon Rom but even more space on the water. Some fun surf breaks in the early morning and strong, clean wind in the late morning and afternoon.
Full Moon Village Resort is a great water sports outlet. Contact them first to confirm your equipment needs (windsurfing, kitesurfing, catamarans, kayaks, surfboards, and SUPs).
From Mui Ne Main Beach it takes about 25 minutes by scooter or you can get the local bus which will deliver you to the doorstep of Full Moon Village (US$1). The local bus departs every 15 minutes.
Pros: Lots of space to ride, good-size waves breaking further out.
Cons: Not so suitable for beginners on the stronger days.
Experienced riders: kitesurfing, windsurfing
North of Suoi Nuoc (about 5 minutes by scooter) is a location called Turtle Island. Despite the name, you ride from the mainland. Although you can find some flat water conditions, this spot is recommended for experienced riders only. Unfortunately, there are no water sports outlets, so bring everything you need. Cross onshore wind direction with a sandy bottom and no reef.
Pros: Some flat water options, never crowded, options to ride downwind to find some wave action.
Cons: No storage options, no water sports centers nearby.
Little Buddha, mainly known for its clean peeling waves, is the perfect place for beginner surfers as well as intermediates. What makes the wave here so special is its predictability. Surf lessons and rentals are available at a number of schools. Buddha is a very small bay and really only suited to surfers and SUPs as it can get quite crowded.
Pros: Clean waves peeling left, no reef, and an easy-to-find location.
Cons: Can get overcrowded, better get there before late afternoon.
Phan Rang and Surrounding Areas
Windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing
Only recently discovered, the areas around Phan Rang offer strong cross-onshore wind during the high season. Most of the locations are only suitable for experienced riders, but with the correct supervision, it may be possible for new kitesurfers. You will be riding over reef and tide heights can change, so be sure to check the tide charts before you arrive. Many bays in the area are supervised by the military, so stick to the recognized water sports areas. If you are looking for a kite tour or you want to stay there for a longer period, contact Phi’s Kite adventures, www.phikiteadventures.com. Jibe’s Beach Club offers windsurfing day tours from Mui Ne to Phan rang including full equipment.
Pros: Flat water and waves available, strong, clean wind.
Cons: Riding over the reef, certain areas are restricted.
Ke Ga and Surrounding Area
Get away from the crowds at Ke Ga (approximately 1 hour’s travel time from Mui Ne and 2h from Ho Chi Minh City), which has some great conditions for the experienced kiter or windsurfer. The open ocean means deep water and some wave action. There are a couple of resorts with some basic equipment, but if you are serious about your hobby, take your own equipment or rent from Mui Ne. Private day tours can be arranged through Jibe’s Beach club.
Pros: you will have the water to yourself, and good size waves for the experienced rider.
Cons: Very limited equipment outlets, no supervision if you have a problem.
If you have the time, the skill, and the sense of adventure, why not hit the road and make your very own discoveries? If you are the first, just maybe you get to name your discovery.
SAIGON INSPIRATION ACTIVITIES OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES INDOOR & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN HCMC
Finding your way around Saigon’s various attractions can be a headache. Once you’ve exhausted all the obvious tourist traps you may feel like you’ve seen all the city can offer. But lurking beneath the surface of this gloriously varied city lays a wealth of options. Whether you want a chilled-out afternoon, adrenaline-fuelled adventure, or a cultural journey of discovery, here are some of the great activities Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.
Water Ski Viet Nam
With a full array of white-knuckle watersports on offer, there is no better way to experience the excitement of wakeboarding, waterskiing, barefoot waterskiing, wake surfing, or double waterskiing. Featuring high-end Mastercraft and Malibu boats and O’Neill equipment, safety is a top priority here. Please call first as it was temporarily closed last we checked it.
Shoot Your Friends
BCR Paintball Shooting Range
What better way to bond with your friends, loved ones, and complete strangers than by firing a round of paint at them? Get down to the Thu Duc Paintball Club or Paintball Saigon and lock load, and fire at will. Without a doubt one of the best outdoor activities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Climb a (Mini) Mountain in Saigon
Saigon may be short on mountains, but it’s not short on climbing opportunities. Thu Duc City’s Vertical Academy features a huge top rope wall, as well as bouldering and training facilities. It’s so much fun, you won’t even notice you’re working out.
Ride a Pony in Saigon
Saigon Pony Club
District 2’s Saigon Pony Club is host to ponies and stallions of varying sizes. With two foreign teachers adept at instructing riders of all ages, the facility provides excellent tuition for children and adults alike. Set up 10 years ago, the Saigon Pony Club remains the best riding school in Saigon.
Relax in Saigon’s Botanical Gardens
Since 1864, the Saigon Botanical Gardens have been a top destination for busy Saigonese to take a break and engage with nature. Skating enthusiasts can visit the roller rink for a little spin around the circuit. Animal lovers may want to avoid the nearby zoo, with its tiny cages and run-down facilities.
Slip and Slide on Ice
The new Vincom megamall in D2 is home to HCMC’s coolest new attraction. Climb to the 5th floor to find a huge ice skating rink. With 900 m2 that can comfortably accommodate 100 skaters at a time, it’s insanely popular with locals, especially at weekends. Services such as skating lessons and medical care make this kid-friendly.
Sign Up for Beer School
Craft beer has become huge in Saigon. What started with HCMC’s first true microbrewery, Pasteur Street Brewing Company has exploded into a city-wide phenomenon. To get your head and tongue around the craze, look no further than the Saigon Beer School. Learn how to identify nose, notes, and finishes with expert tutelage, tour some breweries, and organize beer events.
Street Food Tours
With such a huge range of delicious foods, Saigon is a foodie’s paradise … if you know where to look. Luckily, a number of tour guides have cropped up. Xo Tours takes you on an exhilarating race around town with all sorts of delicious treats thrown in, behind Vietnamese ladies only. XO Tours and Vietnam Vespa Adventures are two of the most established companies of their kind in the city, so be sure to check them out.
Saigon’s Best Flea Market
Hello Weekend Flea Market
For a break from the usual rip-off merchants at Ben Thanh market, why not take a trip down to the Hello Weekend Flea Market? With a wide array of new and used products and a friendly, almost hippyish vibe, the market is a true gem. You still might have to haggle a little, but it’s nowhere near as cutthroat as the other markets in town, and the variety on offer is pretty astounding.
Craft Your Own Leather
Saigon Leather Workshop
Taking elements of traditional Vietnamese leather craft with a contemporary twist, the products at the Saigon Leather Workshop are stylish yet simple and minimalist. And best of all, you can make them yourself. With guidance on sourcing, techniques, and style, the workshop is a masterclass in leatherworking.
Scale the Bitexco tower
Saigon Sky Deck
With stunning views of downtown Saigon, some of the higher floors of the city’s iconic Bitexco tower host restaurants and bars with a view. The prices are steep, but the unparalleled vista of the Saigon River and beyond is worth it, if only for a drink and a view.
Discover, Grow, and Cook Vietnamese Food in Saigon
Western Asian Travel Service Company
With a plethora of cooking classes, it’s easy to get lost for choice. Take a trip out of town to the Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class. Set in the magnificent Agricultural Village near Cu Chi, the facility lets you grow traditional Vietnamese food, learn traditional recipes and techniques, or simply enjoy an expertly prepared meal from the school’s top chefs. If you don’t want to travel that far, there are plenty of choices in Ho Chi Minh City.
Get Your Art On in Saigon
Vin Space Art Studio
Vin Space in Thao Dien, Thu Duc City has quickly made its mark as one of Vietnam’s top art workshops. With classes for all ages, it offers everything from fun kids’ activities to wine-and-painting nights for grown-ups. Local partnerships ensure that you’ll be well-fed with snacks from artisanal producers. Superb!
SAIGON INSPIRATION ACTIVITIES OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES BEST SWIMMING POOLS IN SAIGON
It might seem like a simple question, but the reality is far from it. For one, residents and travelers in this great city are spoiled for choice. Thanks to the hot climate, pools are almost a necessity for staying cool in Saigon’s relentlessly tropical climate. As the weather heats up and wearing any sort of clothing feels crazy unbearable, swimming pools are the perfect places to relax in Ho Chi Minh City.
Whether you feel overwhelmed by the abundance of options, or don’t know where to even begin, we’re here to help! These are our top picks for some of Saigon’s best swimming pools. Keep in mind, that all the operating hours are listed for the general public. Many hotels and apartments with nice pools mentioned below are available after-hours for guests and residents.
Pool Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 70,000 for pool access, an additional VND 80,000 for gym access.
Be Warned: No sauna or steam room here.
What makes it special is: Central and priced affordably.
This quaint 3-star hotel in District 3 has an adorable rooftop pool, with a decent view to match. This is a great place to chill under the sun and take a dip. Plus, a monthly pass to both the pool and gym costs a reasonable VND800,000.
Le Méridien Saigon
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Day Pass: around VND 500,000—includes access to the pool, sauna, gym, and steam room.
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 300,000 for children under 16
Be Warned: Although it’s quite long (26 meters), it’s also narrow. Great for swimming laps, bad for a game of Marco Polo.
What Makes it Special: Beautiful views of the Saigon River winding through the city center.
This saltwater pool is a true (salty) taste of the finer things in life. When you’re not swimming, you can relax on the futuristic, ultra-chic lounge chairs located both poolside and on a separate deck, high above the crowded streets below.
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm
Day Pass: VND 520,000—includes pool, gym, steam room, and sauna access.
Kids’ Pass: VND 320,000 for children under 16
Be Warned: The lounge chairs are sparse here, so if it happens to be a busy day, you might be out of luck.
What Makes it Special: An on-site pool bar and restaurant, and bottles of water are offered free of charge.
Right in the middle of District 1, this pool is a welcome oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the streets at ground level. Surrounded by high walls and featuring a glass pane at one end, this pool feels both luxuriously modern and secluded.
Hôtel Des Arts Saigon
Hotel guest hours: 9 am – 1 am
Public hours: 12 pm – 8 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 1,800,000—includes 90 min spa treatment, lunch at the Saigon Kitchen restaurant, and a cocktail.
Be warned: The pool is beautiful but compact- not one for extended exercise.
What Makes it Special: One of the best views you can get from a rooftop pool in Saigon. You may not regret purchasing the afternoon package once you reach the poolside and take in a stunning wide-angle view of the city. Barside stools set in the pool are a lovely added bonus for enjoying a drink and a dip.
Lotte Legend Hotel
Hours: 6 am to 9 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 462,000 for pool and sauna access; an additional VND 116,000 for access to gym and steam room.
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 265,000
Be Warned: This pool is not ideal for exercise. This giant, circular pool is designed for lounging and casual swimming.
What Makes it Special: A kids’ pool sits adjacent to the larger pool, making it an ideal option for swimmers of all ages.
The Lotte Legend Hotel pool is the largest pool in the city by area, but it’s not just the pool itself that makes this venue great. The landscaping around the water is evocative of a tropical paradise, including a vine-covered pool cabana.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel
Hours: 6 am to 6 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 370,000—includes access to the pool, gym, sauna, and steam room.
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 185,000 for children under seven.
Be Warned: The pool is relatively small. The Renaissance also hosts frequent weekend barbecues and pool parties, so it tends to get crowded.
What Makes it Special: Renovated in 2015, the quality of this swimming pool is incredible.
Situated below a two-story sky bar, and perched high above Saigon on the 22nd floor, this is a great lounging pool to take in a fantastic view, enjoy a good book, or sip on a cocktail at the pool bar.
New World Saigon
Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 450,000 for pool access (includes VND 100,000 food voucher); VND 500,000 for pool, sauna, and gym access (does not include food voucher).
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 350,000 for children under 12
Be Warned: The pool’s location is not immediately obvious – you have to take the elevator to level 2 to get there.
What Makes it Special: While this pool may not offer the best views, it’s not without merit.
Centrally located, it’s an escape from the usual chaos on the streets outside. It features a pleasant poolside bar with a TV and music, and the shower areas and locker rooms are top-notch. You can also rent out one of their five poolside cabanas if you really want to make a day of it.
Van Thanh Pool
Pool Hours: 6 am to 8 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 70,000 Monday–Friday; VND 80,000 Saturday and Sunday.
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 40,000 Monday–Friday; VND 50,000 Saturday and Sunday.
Be Warned: The deck chairs fill up quickly, and the floor mats aren’t the most hygienic option.
What Makes it Special: Expats and locals of all ages frequent this pool thanks to its accessibility and inclusion of a kids’ pool.
Van Thanh pool is one of the most popular pools in Saigon thanks to its low prices and relative level of ease and comfort. While there’s no gym, sauna, or steam room to complement your pool routine, you can enjoy the other amenities the Van Thanh compound has to offer, such as tennis courts and lakeside restaurants.
Equatorial Hotel Saigon
Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
Day Pass: VND 500,000 for access to pool, gym, steam room, and sauna.
Kids’ Pass: VND 300,000 for children under 16
Be Warned: Some of the poolside lounge chairs are worn and outdated.
What Makes it Special: The water gets the highest possible safety rating by the city’s health department.
This massive 24-meter pool is perfect for casual and serious swimmers alike, including a sunken poolside bar. The water is kept pure by special salt imported from Thailand, which they claim may offer additional skin health benefits.
It’s not the most grandiose or spectacular choice in Saigon, but it’s a solid pick for a dip and a leisurely nap on a shaded deck chair. The depth is a consistent 1.22 meters (4 feet), and it’s definitely long enough to do some quality laps. While pool parties aren’t allowed, it’s well-suited for solo visitors or a small group of friends.
Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel
Hours: 6:30am to 9:30pm
Day Pass: Around VND 330,000
Be Warned: The pool is rather small, but the view makes up for it!
What Makes it Special: Some of the deck chairs are directly in the pool, on raised platforms, for a more immersive feeling.
With a reasonable day pass price, a stunning view from the 25th-floor rooftop, and a “vertical sky bar” to quench your thirst, this is one of our personal favorites. The staff is known for being friendly and accommodating, and they welcome group events here. Keep this venue in mind if you want a birthday party with a view.
Riverside Serviced Apartments
Hours: 8 am to 7 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 500,000 per adult; VND 850,000 per family (two adults, two children); VND 120,000 per additional child.
Be Warned: The Riverside Serviced Apartments’ residents make this pool extremely busy on the weekends.
What Makes it Special: There’s not just a poolside bar here–there’s a poolside restaurant as well.
One of the best choices in Thu Duc City, it’s an especially good deal for families. Located right next to the Saigon River, this refreshing L-shaped oasis is surrounded by palm trees and a beachy resort vibe.
The Myst Dong Khoi
Hours: 6 am to 8 pm
Day Pass: Around VND 500,000 for access to the pool, sauna, steam bath, and one complimentary mineral water.
Kids’ Pass: Around VND 255,000 for children aged 6-12, free for children under 6.
Be Warned: The fitness center is very small and equipment is limited.
Why Makes it Special: The general layout is hip, trendy, and largely different from other pools in the city. This is a place that makes all visitors feel just a little bit cooler.
The entire layout of The Myst Dong Khoi is unique, and their pool is no exception. Flanked by gardenia trees and other tropical plants and ultra-modern teardrop-shaped deck chairs, the aesthetic here is decidedly modern and a standout among the many rooftop pools Saigon has to offer. Complete with a full bar, this pool is primarily for relaxing and lounging.
We’re always looking to improve our recommendations. Have we missed any of your favorite poolside spots in Saigon? Sound off an email or a comment on Facebook and share your favorites with us!