Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE | ITINERARY, TOURIST ATTRACTIONS, BUDGET HOTELS
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, has all the traits of a bustling metropolis—it is clamorous, somewhat disorderly, and has the largest population among all cities in Vietnam. Although these are traits that are a hallmark to most growing Asian cities in general, any first-time visitor may not help himself but feel overwhelmed how abuzz the city is like.
The place—as much as the rest of Vietnam—however, is understandably vibrant. Primarily, because of its population’s daily affairs with wheels, commonly motorcycles. With an estimated population of around 13 million, specifically within the metropolitan area, a good portion of these people scramble across the city not with their foot, but with their two wheels.
Ho Chi Minh is only partly defined by its motorcycle-loving, or otherwise, locals. This thriving city also holds a fair share of curious tourists and discerning visitors from elsewhere and abroad, too—counting to millions of them annually and who are directly contributive of Vietnam’s developing tourism.
But that should not come as a surprise considering that the city, more than just a hub of modernity, is also a host to a slew of tourist hotspots such as the Municipal Theatre, the Independence Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, the Ben Thanh Market, and the Ho Chi Minh City Hall. Each of these places offers unique attraction, which makes travel to the place a worthwhile endeavor for most people.
Then, there also goes the nightlife, which is essentially the city as defined by its youth. If you are a party animal—or maybe just enthusiastic about parties in general—who like to experience the night event in literally every place possible, you should consider adding the city’s offerings as part of your bucket list.
Do not mistake Saigon as the capital city of Vietnam. This title still rightfully belongs to Hanoi. But if there is one thing which the city has over Hanoi as a valuable city, it is that it’s the center of finance of the country; with it is home to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange and a multitude of companies, national and international banks, all of which play essential role in money-flow across Vietnam.
However, looking into the history that shaped Vietnam, it is understandable why this city has become significant about money. Consequently, for the money-centered individuals, the city is an ideal place for trade and business. For a nation with a total population that is close to a hundred million, Vietnam is unsurprisingly a big market to deal business with.
The city, in many ways, is quite akin to Manila, which is something reminiscent to Filipinos who have been in both worlds. With a difference being that the two culture spoke two different languages, everything else feels eerily the same—and, then again, also changed.
FLIGHTS TO HO CHI MINH CITY | HOW TO GET THERE
From Manila City, several airlines have direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City. You can click the on the websites of these airlines to check on the rates and flight schedules:
- Cebu Pacific
- Philippine Airlines
- JetStar Asia
- Eva Air
- Air Asia
- Malaysia Airlines
- Hongkong Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
- China Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Bangkok Airways
- Cathay Dragon
HO CHI MINH CITY AIRPORT
HO CHI MINH CITY ATTRACTIONS | THINGS TO DO
This lively city is the center of trade and commerce. To fully experience what the place has to offer, it would be great spending some time at a roadside café with a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee and plan how you will explore this beautiful city.
Meanwhile, here are some things which you can do on your first visit to the city:
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
The Saigon City Hall or the People’s Committee Head Office was built from 1902-1908. This French colonial-style structure is a famous landmark in the City because of its imposing structure.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall Address: Số 86 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1
Bui Vien Walking Street
Bui Vien is a famous street in Vietnam just across the City Hall which is a favorite destination to both locals and tourist during nighttime. The place usually hosts events and many entertainment activities. Bars, cafes, and restaurants are also found along the street.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts
It is considered as a significant art museum of the city. The place is just a few meters away from Ben Thanh Market.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts Address: 97A Phó Đức Chính, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1
Cruise at Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta, also known as the Western Region, is a place in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches sea through a network of distributaries.
The Mekong Delta is called as a “biological treasure trove” because there are over 1,000 animal species has been found in the area such as new species of plants, lizards, fish, and mammals.
The local guides during the cruise talk about the history of the region as you explore island lush tropical gardens of the place.
The river cruise provides the opportunity to stop at local villages to sample local cuisines and delicacies and experience more of the culture, as well as customs and traditions. You will also have the opportunity to buy some locally handcrafted souvenirs. Covering of knees and shoulders is recommended when visiting rural areas.
Experience Cu Chi Tunnels
Enhance your knowledge about the history of Vietnam as the Cu Chi Tunnels gives you a glimpse of the Vietnam War. The Cu Chi tunnels were built by fighters as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate. The 124-mile (200-kilometer) underground network will show you how the tunnels served as underground cities during the Vietnam War.
Cu Chi Tunnels Address: Tổ 6 -ấp QL22, Phước Thạnh, Củ Chi
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Tour Around the City through a Cycle
Discover the city by riding a Cyclo, a traditional three-wheeled bicycle. Visit places and landmarks of the City like Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, the city’s flower market, and much more.
Sample Ho Chi Minh City Street Food
Food is always part of any travel. As you visit the city, it would be great to have some culinary experience. While in the city, it would be great to immerse yourself in some local markets and rustic restaurants to try local specialties like spring rolls, ‘Bahn mi’ baguettes, salads, and popular rice dishes. Don’t miss to try the aromatic Saigonese coffee.
Buy Some Souvenirs at Bến Thành Market
Would you like to buy some handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs, as well as sample local cuisine? Then you must visit the Bến Thành Market. This place is a large marketplace in central Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam in District 1 and one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon.
Bến Thành Market Address: Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1
Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda
Located at 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist pagoda which was built by the Chinese community in 1909.
Marvel at the great architectural design of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The church building was constructed between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists who initially named it Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saïgon. The cathedral has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet).
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon: 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Quận 1
Bitexco Financial Tower
Ho Chi Minh City’s skyscraper and was completed in 2010. On its 49th Floor is Saigon Skydeck offering a 360 view of the City. The place is open to the public daily.
Bitexco Financial Tower/Saigon Skydeck Address: Bitexco Financial Tower, 7, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1
Vincom Landmark 81
Vincom Landmark 81 is another skyscraper in the city. Within the vicinity is a beautiful park which is perfect for strolling and sightseeing.
Vincom Landmark 81 Address: 772 Điện Biên Phủ, Vinhomes Tân Cảng, Bình Thạnh
Saigon Central Post Office
Just across the Notre-Dame Basilica and a few meters walk from the Reunification Palace, you will see an old, yet beautifully preserved building, the Saigon Post Office or the Ho Chi Minh City Post Office. The structure which is still functioning for its original purpose was erected in the late 19th century when the country was part of French Indochina.
Saigon Central Post Office: Số 125 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 710009, Vietnam
Reunification Palace | Independence Palace
Just a few blocks north of the Market, you will find the reunification palace. This historical building called Independence Palace marks the site of the former Royal Palace Norodom and one of the most important places to visit in the City. The placemarks an important part of the American War and how it ended with the fall of Saigon when the Palace’s gates were breached by Viet Cong tanks. The palace is open from Monday through Friday from 7:30 am, until 4:30. They closed for lunch however from 11 am until 1 pm.
Independence Palace Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1
Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City
Known as Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The structure was established in 1897 and an example of French Colonial architecture.
At the Buddhist Vinh Trang Pagoda. This place is part of Mekong Delta Tour
Stay Connected in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Make sure to buy a tourist SIM Card the Moment you arrive at the airport. There many counters selling Sim Cards for the tourists.
TIME IN HO CHI MINH CITY
The Philippines is one hour ahead of the city.
Click this link to check the REAL TIME IN HO CHI MINH CITY
BEST TIME TO VISIT | HO CHI MINH CITY WEATHER
Many people considered visiting Saigon between December to March because this is when the City is drier.
During the late part of January to early February, Vietnam is celebrating it’s New Year (Tet Festival/ Vietnam Chinese New Year), so this is also a good time to visit. However, since this is a festival time, there’s a big chance that prices for hotels and airfares are quite high.
Between the months of May to September, rain showers do happen, but they normally come in a short burst, so you can still get around. Just keep umbrellas or raincoats handy.
It is usually between July to November where typhoons do happen.
Click here to CHECK HO CHI MINH CITY WEATHER
Click here to CHECK HO CHI MINH CITY WEATHER MONTHLY FORECAST
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY
This is just the recommended itinerary for Saigon trip.
The moment you arrive at the airport, make sure to buy or pick your tourist SIM Card. You can also buy online in advance to be delivered to your hotel in the city.
DAY 1 IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Ben Thanh Market – You can start your visit to Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to Ben Thanh Market, the symbol of the city.
This historic Central Market building of District 1 in the city, also known as Cho Ben Thanh or Ben Thanh Market is more than 100 years old and played an essential part in the economy of the city.
Statue of Tran Nguyen Han – right in the front entrance of the Ben Thanh Market, you will see the statute of Tran Nguyen Han mounted on a horse on a stone arch. Tran Nguyen Han is a general in the Later Lê Dynasty (1428-1527) and is remembered for helping Emperor Lê Lợi in defeating the Ming army.
War Remnants Museum – Another impressive sight which is just 10 minutes walk from the Market is the War Remnants Museum. This place exhibits remnants and important artifacts left of the American war. The exhibits in the museum include old types of equipment and photographs. The site is open every day from 7:30 am.
You will surely get tired visiting these places, so for lunch, you can return to Ben Thanh Market wherein a wide array of eating facilities can be found.
You can continue your first day in the place by visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Saigon Post Office.
If you want more historical, you can take a cab to the Thi Nghe Channel. In this area, you will find Historical and Military Museums.
Saigon Skydeck at Bitexco Financial Tower – See the city from above at the Skydeck of Betixco Tower
Note: You can just walk or grab a bike or car to visit these places.
DAY 2 IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Cu Chi Tunnel Complex is another must-see destination when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. From Pham Ngu Lao street- the backpacker area, you will found several day trips to the complex. Cu Chi is approximately 40 km northwest of the city in Southern Vietnam. The Cu Chi Tunnels are amazingly an underground community composed of chambers and 250 km of tunnels below the City. A visit to this place will allow you to comprehend why Vietnam won the battle, and with just salt and cassava the survived the underground life.
In the late afternoon, you visit other attractions in the City or catch the store hours at Saigon Square for your shopping.
In the evening, you can visit the Bui Vien Walking Street to enjoy the night scene in Ho Chi Minh. Many street foods are being sold at the area, so you might as well try them.
DAY 3 IN HO CHI MINH CITY
You can spend your third day in the city by experiencing a full day excursion to Mekong Delta. The place offers sceneries like rivers, rice paddies, bee farm, candy making and much more.
You can visit the visit Vincom Landmark 81 late in the afternoon to enjoy your last day in Ho Chi Minh.
HO CHI MINH CITY HOTELS
There are various accommodation facilities in the city that are really cheap. Pick one which suits your taste and budget. Also, I recommend that you choose hotels located in District 1 because it is located near most tourist attractions.
Click on any of the links below to book your hotel.
Town House 23 Saigon Hotel
23 Dang Thi Nhu street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Town House 373 Saigon Hotel
373/45 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 (easier access via alley 160 of Cong Quynh street), District 1
185/28 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1
212A/A61 Nguyen Trai street, Nguyen Cu Trinh ward, District 1
287-289 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1
175/8 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1
DDA Hotel District 1
183 De Tham, District 1
LeBlanc Hotel Saigon
414 (Behind) Nguyen Dinh Chieu street, Ward 4, District 3
A in Hotel
28/10 Bui Vien St, District 1
Meraki Boutique Hotel
178 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
HAPPY TRIP’S TRAVEL TIPS
- Stay in District 1, this is where most of the tourist attractions are located.
- It is more cost-effective to avail a tour package when visiting Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta. I placed a link above for you to click. Most tours offered in the hotels are much more expensive.
- Ho Chi Minh City is relatively an easy place to navigate. For solo travelers, you can simply use your grab and you can choose a “Grab Bike” because it is a lot cheaper as compared to a car.
- Don’t forget to wear your most comfortable outfit and footwear.
- Sunscreen, umbrella or cap could be very useful when visiting this City.
- During rainy days, it would be very helpful to bring a raincoat. You might not want to get stranded because of the rain showers.
- Be connected all the time. Make sure to buy a tourist SIM Card so that you can check easily the address or find a grab bike or car whenever you need one.
- Don’t underestimate the value of travel insurance.
- Don’t forget to bring bottled water and avoid drinking just anywhere.
- Street food is great to try, however, be very careful also when buying. If you see that basic sanitation is not visible, avoid buying.
- Don’t forget your medicines. Loperamide, Paracetamol,etc. must always be in your hand-carry bag.
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