Take a picture, it'll last longer! Looking for bold, chic, or cute places within Ho Chi Minh City to visit and take photos at? We have the list for you - these 8 places are not only instagrammable, they also part of Saigon's history and culture.
Ho Chi Minh City is the economic hub of Vietnam, known for its fun bustling lifestyle, loved by Vietnamese and foreign visitors alike. Old Saigon meets global metropolis in the city's eclectic mix of unique architecture giving rise to innumerable instagrammable spots.
Equipped with great phone cameras, there is no reason why you should not be taking photos of these great places and having a keepsake of wonderful times spent in Ho Chi Minh City. Of course, they will also add life and vibrancy to your Instagram grid and Facebook page!
3 FAQs: Taking Photos in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Is it safe to use my smartphone or camera to take photos out and about in the city?
Saigon is generally a safe place, there is rarely violent crime against foreigners. Snatch thievery is however quite common. Do not leave your belongings out of sight when taking photos, and if using a camera, make sure you use the neck handle.
2. Do I need permission to shoot?
If you are casually taking photos, you generally do not need any permission. However, some cafes or restaurants require a booking fee if you are staging a photoshoot (e.g. with wardrobe changes). If you are using a lot of photography equipment or planning to shoot for a long time at government or historic sites, you may have to apply for prior permission.
3. Are there photography studios in the city?
Yes! Ho Chi Minh City has photography studios and for whatever you are looking for! For example:
- September Studio - specialises in cinematic-style wedding photography
- Paris Wedding - produces fashion magazine style shoots
- SelfieStudio Saigon - a casual selfie photo studio with fun props and costumes
- Rabbit Studio - lighthearted fun style of photography
- Ariel Studios - moody, atmospheric shots and videography
8 Photography Spots in Ho Chi Minh City
Of course, most people aren't looking for a photo studio but rather want to explore the city with a phone or camera in hand! Get ready to great photos at these amazing spots, and also leave with a story of these places ranging from old colonial structures to modern buildings, from cute coffee shops to bustling markets - this bustling city has them all!
Ho Chi Minh City was populated by the Khmers and the Vietnamese before the 17th century. Then conquered by the French, Saigon was made the capital of Cochin Chine in 1862. During the Second Indochina War, Saigon was the headquarters of American military operations. When reunification occurred in 1975, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Given this rich history, Ho Chi Minh City is full of Instagram worthy beautiful architecture.
1. Independence Palace
We start with the Independence Palace at the top of our list. This historical site is where the President of the Republic of Vietnam, also known as South Vietnam resided from 1955-1975. It is a great example of Vietnamese architecture with a fusion between French and Chinese styles.
In 1975, the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon and the palace was renamed the 'Reunification Palace'. It is now open to visitors as a museum, come here to understand the history of modern Vietnam.
This is also a great photography spot. Situated in a spacious park, it provides great views of the surrounding area and is often used as a backdrop for wedding photos.
2. Saigon Opera House & City Hall
These two majestic and beautiful buildings are located practically side by side in the heart of Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall was built in the early 1900s as a hotel and is a prime example of French colonial architecture. It seats prominently on the end of Nguyen Hue walking street, with a statue of Ho Chi Minh featured in front of the main building. It is now used as the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Head Office.
The Saigon Opera House on the other hand was constructed in 1897 following designs by French architect Ferret Eugene. It was built as a classical opera house. Many of the applied ornaments and decorative features were imported directly from France. It is still used as an opera house, visit to see ballets and plays performed.
This is the perfect spot to capture a historic slice of the city, we are certain that you won't be able to stop taking photos. It is also worth taking a trip here at night when the buildings are beautifully lit up with lights! Of course, after you take photos, do stroll down Nguyen Hue street, the whole street is lined with local restaurants, coffee shops, and street food.
3. Notre Dame Cathedral
The famous Neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the late 1880s by the French colonisers in order to spread their Catholic beliefs. It stands almost 60 metres tall and is known for its stunning red brick facade and stained glass windows. The church building also has two bell towers containing six bronze bells that are still in use today.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the only four basilicas in Vietnam and it is still operating as a church. Be mindful of this religious place and dress respectfully when visiting. If mass is in service, make sure to be quiet while you wander about and take photos.
If you are in the mood for taking pictures of other churches, pop by Tan Dinh Church, also known as the 'pink church' and is built in the Romanesque Revival architecture style. The bright pink facade will be sure to cheer up your Instagram followers.
4. Ba Thien Hau Temple
Colourful, vibrant, and full of history - this is why the Ba Thien Hau Temple is a must-visit! This landmark is located right on busy Nguyen Trai Street. One of the oldest temples in Ho Chi Minh City, this temple is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and was constructed in 1762 by Chinese immigrants. The temple features adorned roofs, intricate carvings, and beautiful gardens, and undoubtedly one of the hidden gems in Vietnam's biggest city.
This temple is located in the Chinatown area of District 5 or 'Cholon' as it is known by locals. Mazu is believed to protect people and ships on the sea, and she also rescues those in need at sea. The temple dedicated to her comes from a blend of traditions and beliefs from both Buddhism and Taoism. This temple is linked to the seafaring culture and history of the Chinese in Southeast Asia.
While you are here, take your time to explore the nooks and crannies of the place to see hidden shires and interesting corners. Capture atmospheric shots of the place with incense adding layers to your photos. Be sure to wish for good news and good fortune too!
The economic powerhouse and the biggest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is also taking its place amongst the global modern metropolises of the world. Saigonese, Vietnamese transplants, and tourists alike adore the city for its never-ending bustle.
5. Bitexco Financial Tower
Perhaps the most iconic building of modern Vietnam, the Bitexco Financial Tower, 262 metres in height, it was the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City for 8 years from 2010 to 2018, until it was overtaken by Landmark 81.
Covered in glass and steel, Bitexco tower looms impressively over the city's skyline. Its shape is inspired by a lotus bud, Vietnam's national flower. It is also home to a multitude of offices, businesses, shops, and restaurants.
Visit the observation deck for a bird's eye view of the city or enjoy the view from a bar or restaurant. Sip on refreshing drinks while you see daily life unfold on the street below. This is the perfect spot to take a good shot of street life. Visit at night to take photos of the city light scape.
6. Starlight Bridge
One of the most instagrammable spots in town, Starlight Bridge in District 7 is located in a gloriously green park, a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Tourists and residents enjoy walking around the area.
First enjoy a stroll around Crescent Walk in Phu My Hung, also known as the 'Singapore' of Saigon. It is a wide and peaceful promenade that hugs a lake, framed by tall offices and malls. Enjoy the tranquil green space that is Ho Ban Nguyen Park, be sure take photos by the beautiful lotus ponds.
After that head to Starlight Bridge, also known as Rainbow Bridge, where a romantic scene of LED lights and water jets is displayed at night from Thursdays to Sundays from 6.30pm to 10pm.
Come just before sunset to enjoy the walk in the park, and stay to take in the water show. Bring your cameras and get ready to take photos of the stunning scene. After that head to the promenade and have sundowners at the various sidewalk bars.
Markets and Streets
Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its markets and it would be a shame to not visit at least one during your stay. The markets offer a unique glimpse into the local culture. Some of the most popular markets in Ho Chi Minh City include Ben Thanh Market, the Cambodian Market, and the Russian Market. Overspilling from its vibrant markets, the streets of Ho Chi Minh City are full of life. Check out the different street vendors and taste delicious street food. Famous streets include the aforementioned Nguyen Hue street, Nguyen Trai shopping street, and backpackers Bui Vien Street. This backdrop also provides great opportunities for photos!
7. Ben Thanh Market
The original Ben Thanh Market dates to the 17th Century, it was a meeting point for vendors and merchants who had travelled along the Saigon River to bring goods to the city dwellers. Thus, it was already a well known trading spot when the French colonised Vietnam, and the French installed a wooden structure with a thatched roof making it a formal market.
A favourite with Vietnamese and experienced visitors, the best time to visit Ben Thanh Market is early morning. Enjoy this slice of local life by taking your morning Vietnamese coffee here, buying tidbits, and haggling over souvenirs.
One of the most photographable spots in Ho Chi Minh City, capture the essence of market life while you are here. The area surrounding this busy market is also a great place to wander around and take in the sights and sounds of Saigon street life. Pop into any of the cute cafes within walking distance for a refresher.
8. Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien Street is known for being a red-light district of sorts and is home to many bars, restaurants and guesthouses. Nicknamed 'backpacker ghetto' it is filled with dormitory rooms which rent out for reasonable prices, thereby attracting backpackers.
Bui Vien Street developed along with the tourism industry in Vietnam, and is now a popular destination for both domestic and international travellers. It's definitely worth taking a stroll down here to get a feel for Saigon's nightlife! The cheap drinks on offer are also easy on your pocket, making this a favourite place for many to kick start their weekends.
With the pumping nightlife, bright neon signs, and packed streets, this is a wonderful backdrop to capture and to show your instagram followers how much fun you are having!
Nature Spots In Ho Chi Minh City
9. Binh Quoi Tourist Village
Binh Quoi tourist village is one of Ho Chi Minh City's hidden gems. In fact, there are 3 villages located along the Saigon River that offer a number of activities for visitors, including picnics with barbeques, boat rides, and walking around the wonderfully manicured gardens.
For the best experience, we recommend Binh Quoi 2 as it is one of the best nature spots in Ho Chi Minh City.
10. Gia Dinh Park, Phu Nhuan District
Gia Dinh Park is a hidden nature gem, located away from the central districts, it is actually within walking distance of Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Often called the green lung of Saigon, it is home to over 700 trees and wide expanses of green fields. Gia Dinh park is great for families and children with several different zones for children of various age groups to play in. It's also popular amongst local students as there are a few large universities nearby.
You will see young people here reading books, chatting, and enjoying nature while some of the older folk have created dancing groups that meet most nights. Gia Dinh Park is also home to a small skateboarding scene in the southeast corner.
Best Instagrammable Spots in Ho Chi Minh City
The beauty and vibrant culture of Ho Chi Minh City have earned it a reputation as one of the most Instagram-worthy destinations in Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh City is constantly evolving and there is something happening on every corner, be sure to capture your moments here on film.
Camera culture is something to behold in the city, many of the youths are unabashedly snapping away pictures on their phone at cute cafes and cultural sites. Feel free to join in this trend and take photos that you will treasure forever.
Whether you are looking for historic sites, unique architecture, or just places that will capture your imagination with their picturesque charm, Ho Chi Minh City has something special to offer every traveller!
While you are wandering the city looking for instagrammable spots, be sure to check out these 10 must-try restaurants and street food jaunts!