The city was one of my many drop-off locations. From Kuala Lumpur, we took an early flight to Ho Chi Minh. Since we were targeting to travel 10 countries within 30 days, it was a quick sightseeing around the city. The short stay in Ho Chi Minh was one the best trips I had. Here are few highlights of my trip while staying for less than 24 hours.
1. Rent a scooter – The city center is quite small and a walking tour would be best to see its highlights. However, renting a scooter can take you farther and of course, it is more convenient. Expect to pay 200 – 250k in local currency per day depending on the scooter model. You will need to leave your passport or make a specific amount of deposit. As tourists, it is expected that you have your international driver’s license before driving. Check with your hotel for a scooter rental.
Contact Number: +84 120 769 5132
Address: Sarimi condo, B1-B2 Towers, B2-00 01 Sarimi Building, Ward, Nguyan Co Thach, An Loi Dong, Quan 2, Ho Chi Minh 777777, Vietnam
M-F 9 AM – 5 PM
Sat – 9 AM – 4:30 PM
Sun – CLOSED
Saigon Scooter Rental
Contact Number: +84 93 725 2509
Address: 23 Han Mac Tu, Ta Thanh, Tan Phu, Ho Chi Minh 848484, Vietnam
Open Hours: M – Sun: 9 AM – 6 PM
2. Try the local food – Food is one of a country’s identity. In Vietnam, food is a very important part of their culture. The best food in Ho Chi Minh can’t be found in fancy and expensive restaurants but in the busy streets of the city. Steaming large cauldrons, chopsticks, plastic tables, plates, and chairs are displayed in the sidewalk in specific areas of the city. A bowl of Vietnamese soup or Pho in the local language cost 20k – 40k dong. Usually, the soup is composed of sliced meat of your choice (chicken, beef, pork or duck) noodles, fresh vegetables and special seasoning including chili, basil, and other local ingredients.
3. Enjoy the bustling nightlife – Pho Tay or street of foreigners is the favorite location of backpackers and budget travelers. The place is packed with budget-friendly accommodations, food, cheap shopping, and nightlife. Located at District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, it is one of the quiet streets of the city during the day but, it gets crowded during the night with plenty of local and foreign tourists. The place is full of entertainment, cheap booze, beautiful ladies, massages, and loud music.
Address: Areas covering the streets of District 1, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Pham Ngu Lao, Do Quang Dau, Bui Vien De Tham, Ho Chi Minh
For those who do not like the crowd, one of the most famous rooftop bar in the city where you can chill and have a drink is at The View located in Duc Vuong Hotel. It is a known inexpensive place to get some drink without the loud crazy music.
Duc Vuong Hotel
Address: 195 Bui Ven, Phuong Pahm Ngu Lao, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Contact Number: +84 283920 6991
4. Cheap shopping – Vietnam is a haven of cheap shopping. They manufacture from high-end designer clothes, bags, shoes, textiles to replications which are known to be very affordable. To name a few, brands like Old Navy, Nike, Converse, Adidas and Levi’s are manufactured in Vietnam. There are numerous shopping destinations in the city, posh malls, retail markets, and sidewalk shopping vendors. To get the best out of the confusing shopping options if you have limited time staying in Ho Chi Minh, here are the 2 of the best locations to find the best bargain.
Ben Thanh Market Plaza – it is one of the large markets in the city located at the District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. It houses plenty of souvenir items, clothes, textiles, and local cuisine.
Address: Le Loi, Ben Thanh, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Open Hours: M – Sun 6 AM – 00:00
Contact Number: +84 83 521 0004
Saigon Square Shopping Mall – is another bargain destination for affordable shopping. This place is known to have better-priced items compared to Ben Thanh Market. The place is air-conditioned for comfortable shopping. Items for sale are displayed on stalls as vendors call out for customers. Don’t forget to use your haggling skills.
Address: Nam Ky Khoi and Le Loi in District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Open Hours: 8 AM – 10 PM
5. Visit the biggest Catholic church in the city – The Notre Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh is a remnant of Catholicism in the country. The church was built by French colonists in the late 1880’s. Located in Paris Square, a statue of the Virgin Mother is standing in front of the church. Some locals claim that the statue of the Virgin Mary shed blood tears but, the church disproved the claim. Though the church is next to a traffic-congested street, the surrounding environment of the church is peaceful with a small garden where churchgoers and visitors can chill while having a snack.
Notre Dame Cathedral Opening Hours:
Daily 08:00 – 17:00
Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
6. Learn about Vietnam’s history – the Vietnam War was one of the most devastating experience the whole of Vietnam faced. For the people of Vietnam, it was something that they need to erase from their memory but proud of what they have learned from it. The War Remnants Museum was opened to the public in the late ‘70s. It displays the horrifying war photographs and military equipment used to torture the Vietnamese people. There are bombs, firearms, tanks, firefighter planes and other war memorabilia to educate curious visitors. The place is quite disturbing for many. While minors are allowed to visit the museum, parents or guardians discretion is advised.
Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Open Hours Daily : 7:30 – 12:00 / 13;30 – 17:00
7. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels – Located at Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh is the immense network of connecting underground tunnels that made a great part of the survival of the Vietcong soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was an agonizing life in the tunnels since it was used as their homes, hospitals, and the only protection they had to survive. As the war continued, malaria and other sicknesses were uncontrollable because of poor hygiene, no ventilation, no enough food, and medicines to aid the soldiers. Visiting the tunnels will gain you an insight to what it was during the war.
Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00
Location: 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City
Contact Number: +84 83 794 8820
8. Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office – The French made a great impact on the lives of the people of Ho Chi Minh. The few buildings that are standing tall around the city were built by them. One of which is the Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office. Its beauty was believed to be the most beautiful and grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. The location is perfect since it is located next to Notre Dame Cathedral.
Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 19:00
Location: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: +84 83 822 1677
9. Join A Free Walking Tour – If you are on a tight budget but would love to see the city inexpensively, just go online and search for free walking tours. There are few websites that offer these tours for free. Most of it are being organized by local universities and non-profit organizations.
10. Explore Buddhist Temples – like any other countries in Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh has a diverse religion living together harmoniously. There are numerous beautiful Buddhist temples around Ho Chi Minh City which you can visit for free. The best time to visit them is during religious festivals where beautiful display of colors, faith, tradition, and unity are being highlighted.