Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide Blog: Things To Do, Where to Eat + Itinerary

This is a comprehensive Ho Chi Minh travel guide featuring the tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, things to do, must-try food, and itinerary and expenses.

Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam. It is located in the southern portion of the country and is accessible by flight from Manila. It is Vietnam’s largest city that offers both historical and cultural attractions.

Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide Blog: Things To Do, Where to Eat + Itinerary
Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Visa Requirements to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Philippine passport holders can visit Vietnam without applying for a visa as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) for a period of not more than 21 days. For other nationalities, you can check out the official Vietnam Immigration website to apply for an e-visa.

How to get to Ho Chi Minh City from Manila?

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Hanoi, Vietnam from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. You can check for cheap flights here or search below.

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When is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh?

Unlike Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh has only two seasons: dry and rainy season. The rainy season usually starts from September to November while the dry season normally falls between December to August. Because of its tropical weather, Ho Chi Minh is considered as an all-year-round tourist destination.

How to get to the city center from Ho Chi Minh Airport?

Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport is close to the city center so it’s pretty accessible. You can book a car online or book a taxi or Grab when you arrive at the airport.

Connecting to the internet in Ho Chi Minh

You can purchase a local sim at the airport upon your arrival but it is much cheaper to purchase a sim online and just pick it up when you arrive at Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport. You can buy here.

Where to exchange local currency in Ho Chi Minh?

There are exchange centers available at Ho Chi Minh Airport. Alternatively, you can also exchange currency in the city. There are a lot of currency exchange centers across the city center.

How to get around Ho Chi Minh?

For a solo backpacker, the most convenient and cost-effective means of transportation in Ho Chi Minh is Grab bike. It’s cheap and easy to book. If you are traveling with a group, you can book a grab car to your destination. Make sure you have a local sim so you can easily book a ride.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?

Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 24 districts and the most popular places to stay are in Districts 1, 2, and 3. District 1 is the heart of the city. Pham Ngu Lao is a good choice for backpackers to stay. A lot of budget accommodations in this area and it’s near some of the tourist attractions in HCMC. District 3 is also a good option. Check out our recommendation below:

Best Hostel to stay in Ho Chi Minh: The Dorm Saigon

Best Budget Hotel to stay in Ho Chi Minh: Chill Box Saigon

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Chill Box
Chill Box Ho Chi Minh

Available Airbnb in HCMC: Check out available Airbnb units in HCMC here or search below.

Must-try Food in Ho Chi Minh City [And Where to Find Them]

Heading to Saigon? Check out our list of must-try food in Ho Chi Minh City!

Bahn Mi

The best place to get a sumptuous bahn mi in Ho Chi Minh City is at Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa. The serving is huge and trust me, it is really good! The best bahn mi I have tried so far!!!

Bahn Mi Huyn Hoa
Bahn Mi
Bahn Mi Huyn Hoa
Bahn Mi Huyn Hoa

Com Tam

Com Tam or Vietnamese broken rice is a popular food in Saigon. It is usually paired with grilled pork or chicken. One of the top-rated restaurants in Saigon that serves Com Tam is Cơm tấm Ba Ghiền.

Com Tam - Vietnamese broken rice
Com Tam – Vietnamese broken rice
Vietnamese broken rice at Cơm tấm Ba Ghiền
Vietnamese broken rice at Cơm tấm Ba Ghiền

Braised Pork with Lemongrass

If you want authentic Vietnamese cuisines, you should go to Mountain Retreat located in an old apartment building. I like their Braised Pork with Lemongrass but they also offer other delish local dishes.

Braised Pork with Lemongrass at Mountain Retreat Restaurant
Braised Pork with Lemongrass at Mountain Retreat Restaurant

Pizza and Pasta

If you have enough of local Vietnamese dishes or you just one to try some comfort food while in Saigon, head over to Pizza 4P’s and try their Salmon and cheese pizza and their crab pasta. You won’t regret it!!!

Salmon and cheese pizza at Pizza 4Ps
Salmon and cheese pizza at Pizza 4Ps
Crab pasta Pizza 4Ps

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam is known for its coffee. In fact, you can find coffee shops everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. If you want to try the famous coconut coffee, you can go to Cong Caphe. If you like traditional Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, Phuoc Long is one of the best places to get it. Now, if you really love coffee, visit the Coffee Apartment. It’s an old apartment building converted into coffee shops. Definitely a must-visit for coffee lovers.

Coconut coffee at Cong Caphe
Coconut coffee at Cong Caphe
Ho Chi Minh's Coffee Apartment
Ho Chi Minh’s Coffee Apartment

Top Tourist Attractions in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Also knows as the People’s Committee Building Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City Hall is an iconic tourist destination in Vietnam. It was originally constructed as a hotel in 1898 and was later on converted into a city hall. It’s located in District 1 and is just a walking distance from other tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Opera House, and Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace or the Independence Palace is another iconic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. It is open daily from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM. It is located at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The entrance fee is VND40,000 (Php88)

Independence Palace
Independence Palace

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

Located around 5-10 minutes by foot from HCM City Hall, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is another must-see attraction in the city. It was constructed in the late 1800s by French colonists. There is no entrance fee and it’s open to the public from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday to Saturday.

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office

Situated right next to Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office is probably the most elegant post office in the whole of Southeast Asia. It is open to the public daily from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The entrance fee is FREE and you can buy stamps, mail postcards, and exchange currency inside the post office.

Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is probably the most popular market in Ho Chi Minh City. It features different types of clothing, handicrafts, souvenirs, as well as food and drinks. If you are good at bargaining, this place is for you. This market is open from 7:00 Am to 7:00 PM.

Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market

Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City is an 800-seat Opera House built in 1897 during the French colonial times. It is located close to Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral and Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office.

Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House

Top Tours and Activities to Do from Ho Chi Minh

Cu Chi Tunnels

Discover the hidden underground world of Vietnam’s complicated network of tunnels used during the Vietnam War. Cu Chi Tunnels is located about 1.5 hours from the city center. It is highly recommended that you join a tour for a more convenient experience. You can book your tour here.

Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels | Photo by Christine Flores

Mekong Delta

A visit to Ho Chi Minh City is not complete without exploring the Mekong Delta. If you are traveling with a large group, you do a private tour. If you are with a small group or traveling solo, it is best to join a tour to save some money and meet new friends. It’s a full-day tour and you will spend some time shopping at the floating market, eating local dishes, and chatting with locals. You can book a discounted Mekong Delta tour here.

Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta

Basic and Useful Phrases in Vietnamese

English is not widely spoken in Vietnam especially in the suburbs, here are some useful words and phrases in Vietnamese to help you communicate with the locals. Big thanks to my friend Hieu of Hieu on the Go for helping me out with the translation.

EnglishVietnamese
YesDạ
NoKhông
Thank youCảm ơn
You’re welcomeKhông có chi
HelloXin chào
How are you?Bạn khoẻ không?
GoodbyeTạm biệt
What is your name?Tên bạn là gì?
My name is GlenTên tôi là Glen
Nice to meet youRất vui khi gặp bạn
Do you speak English?Bạn có nói tiếng anh không?
I don’t understandTôi không hiểu
How much is this?Cái này giá bao nhiêu?
Too expensiveMắc quá
Can you reduce the price?Giảm giá được không
OneMột
TwoHai
ThreeBa
FourBốn
FiveNăm
SixSáu
SevenBảy
EightTám
NineChín
TenMười
Turn leftRẽ trái
Turn rightRẽ phải
Go StraightĐi thẳng
Good morningChào buổi sáng
Good afternoonChào buổi chiều
Good eveningChào buổi tối

Ho Chi Minh Itinerary and Expenses

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh Itinerary – City Tour

10:00 AM – Visit Ben Thanh Market [Grab bike VND15,000]
11:00 AM – Brunch at 4P Pizza VND455,000
12:30 PM – Visit Saigon Cathedral [Grab VND17,000]
1:00 PM – Visit HCM Post Office
1:30 PM – Visit HCM City Hall
2:00 PM – Drop by at Saigon Opera House
2:30 PM – Coconut coffee at Cong Caphe VND59,000
3:30 PM – Grab to Independence Palace VND17,000
4:30 PM – Grab back to hotel VND12,000
7:00 PM – Dinner, Bahn Mi + traditional Viet coffee VND45,000 + VND55,000

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh Itinerary – Mekong Delta Tour

  • Full day-tour in the Mekong Delta Php2,931
  • Dinner VND80,000

Day 4: Ho Chi Minh Itinerary Cu Chi Tunnels + Chill

  • Half Day Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Php610
  • Late lunch at ơm tấm Ba Ghiền VND116,000
  • Chill at Coffee Apartment VND60,000
  • Dinner at Mountain Retreat Restaurant VDN150,000

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