5 Day Itinerary for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is an incredible city with a lot to see and do. The people were friendly and want to make you feel welcome. The historical sites of the city bring the past and the present together to make for a unique experience. Ho Chi Minh City is also a budget-friendly place since the dollar goes far. My trip to Ho Chi Minh City was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.
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Where to stay
Bach Suites Saigon, a Member of Design Hotels
A chic and stylish urban retreat in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, blending contemporary design with Vietnamese hospitality for an unforgettable stay.
Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers
Luxurious oasis in the heart of Saigon, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers blends modern elegance with impeccable service.
Park Hyatt Saigon
Regal hotel with all of the bells and whistles in Ho Chi Minh City.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Day 1: Banh Mi upon arrival
You'll most likely arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon and after the long flight, crossing the date line, you will be ready to relax and enjoy a good meal. After you arrive at your hotel, take a walk outside and find the closest Banh Mi restaurant. They're everywhere so you shouldn't have to go far. This is the traditional sandwich of Vietnam with meat in a baguette. Time to rest up for your day tomorrow.
Day 2: Food tour & Saigon Post Office
Start the day with a food tour. This was one of my favorite things I did in Ho Chi Minh City. On the food tour, you will be taken by motorbike around the city to multiple different restaurants to try the different cuisine of Ho Chi Minh City. We started at one restaurant where we were able to try different noodle soups. After that, we were taken to a lesser-seen area of Vietnam, with street vendors, including what was my favorite, Banh Xeo. I was a little unsure at first since it's an omelette wrapped in lettuce that you dip in a sauce, but trust me, it's surprisingly good and was one of my favorite meals. We also tried a drink made of sugar cane and jackfruit, along with several other dishes. We also go to see the flower market and experience how it was to drive on a motorbike in Vietnam.
After all the wonderful food, you will want to have a chance to walk it off so a visit to to the Saigon Post office is next. From there you can see the incredible architecture from the French influence that you will see around the city and in some of the food, remember the Banh Mi sandwich in the french baguette.
From there, you can also take a walk to Notre Dame Cathedral, also part of the French influence. This is built very similar to the one in Paris.
Day 3: Chinatown, Ben Thanh Market & Pho Di Bo Bui Vien
Start your day by having breakfast in your hotel and get ready to explore more of Ho Chi Minh City. Next is a cycle ride through Chinatown. While in Chinatown, you can also visit the Buddhist Temple there. This is a great way to see Chinatown by a guide that knows the area. The guide can also point out a great restaurant to have lunch and then you can have dessert at one of the french inspired chocolate shops, Maison Marou.
After lunch, time head to Ben Thanh Market to do some shopping and find some deals. Be ready to barter since that is expected in these markets. Insider tip - if you are wanting to exchange US dollars for Vietnamese Dong, the best place to do it is at the gold and silver shops around here. You will get the best exchange rates for crisp, new $100 bills.
After dinner, time to enjoy some nightlife and explore Pho Di Bo Bui Vien. This is the backpack district of Ho Chi Minh City, a pedestrian street where during the night the nightclubs spill out into the streets. You can sit, have a drink and enjoy the sights, music and street entertainment. If you really want to keep the night going, you can go to one of the many Sky Bars located around the city, where you are on the rooftop with a view of the city!
Day 4: Vegetarian delights, Palais De Reunification & War Remnants Museum
After a late night out, you'll probably want to sleep in a little bit today, but not too late since there's still so much to see. This will be our day to explore some of the history and museums of Ho Chi Minh City. Start your journey with lunch at one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Chay Garden. Even if you're not a vegetarian, the food is still incredible and the location is beautiful. We each got something different and all of the dishes were great.
After lunch, time to head to the Palais De Reunification or Independence Palace, the former home and workplace of the President of the Republic of Vietnam. Here you can walk the grounds and learn the history of the Republic of Vietnam and see the architecture of Ngô Viết Thụ. Here you will see more of the French influence on Ho Chi Minh City since Ngô Viết Thụ was trained in Paris.
Next it's off to visit the War Remnants Museum. Getting to see the perspective of the Vietnam War from the other side was eye opening and a really interesting experience. I learned more about the Vietnam war here than I ever had at home.
Day 5: Cu Chi Tunnels
After having breakfast at your hotel, time to take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels located outside of Ho Chi Minh City. A bus will pick you up and after a stop at the Lacquer Painting factory to see items created by those handicapped by Agent Orange, you will arrive at Cu Chi Tunnels. From there you will be taken on a tour of the underground tunnels that were created during the Vietnam war. These tunnels were dug by hand by the Vietnamese and at one point spread over 250 kilometers, all the way to the Cambodian border. You'll also have an opportunity to go into some of the tunnels if you would like to. You can choose to do a full or half-day tour, depending on how much time you would like to spend there.
Insider tip - I was able to purchase some really cool handmade items at the gift shop at the Cu Chi Tunnels. Unlike most gift shops, these were very reasonably priced.
Depending on if you do a full or half-day tour, you can return to Ho Chi Minh City, and do some more shopping, this time in Chinatown's Binh Tay Market. Just like in Ben Thanh market, bartering is expected and you can find just about anything you might want or need.
Insider tip - Make sure you try the moon cakes that you can get here. Some of the combinations are really different. We tried both a savory and a sweet one.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Things to Do and See in Paris.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Ho Chi Minh City.