Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon, is the Southern Capital of Vietnam. It’s a city full of life, hustle & bustle (sometimes a bit too much) and has loads of iconic things to do!
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So without delaying any more, let’s kick off our guide to Ho Chi Minh!
The BEST Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh
There’s a ton to do in Ho Chi Minh and with Vietnam’s strict Travel Visa times of 30 days (the option most people go for), you may not be able to do it all! Below you’ll find a list of all the things we enjoyed most that are MUST Do’s in our eyes.
The Cu Chi Tunnels
Our favourite thing to do in Ho Chi Minh, hands down. It’s super educational in everything to do with the Vietnam War & how the guerrilla warfare was used. You book tickets from most hostels/travel agents & it’s around 200,000 Dong (£8) per ticket. Some agents will offer group discounts too. The tour around the tunnels is pretty graphic, detailing what the lives of the resistance soldiers were like. There’s a ton of old war equipment to peruse; tanks, traps, explosives & even kitchen utensils. Some of the tunnels are tiny & you’re given the opportunity to get inside them, should you wish! Be warned though, if you’re claustrophobic, you might wanna avoid them. Towards the end of the tour, there’s a shooting range, which you can pay to use. It’s super expensive though & a bit too violent for our tastes so we missed out on it. Be as respectful as possible as lots of people from both sides of the war lost their lives here. You’ll need to dedicate an entire morning/afternoon to take it all in but it’s well worth it!
War Remnants Museum
Another harrowing, informative experience that you simply have to visit while in Ho Chi Ming! If the exhibits don’t stir some serious emotions within you, you’re made of stone. You can expect to learn a lot about the statistics of the Vietnam War & the awful effects it had on Vietnam and it’s people. Agent Orange (a deadly chemical weapon) was utilised in terrifying ways and generations now (and to come) still feel the effects. Tickets are cheap and you could easily spend a few hours here, listening and learning.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh
Vietnam has a load of French inspiration (mainly in the North) but this beauty resides in Ho Chi Minh. While it isn’t as grand as Notre Dame once was, it does a good job replicating it. It’s located next to the massive Post Office in Ho Chi Ming and is SO worth a visit. We have no pictures as it was shut due to renovation works & there was scaffolding all around it.
The Post Office
The best stop in your travels to send stuff home to your loved ones/mates! Post officers in the U.K are never this beautiful or grand unfortunately. It resembles a train station, both inside and out, which is pretty cool! The prices are really cheap to send packages & postcards internationally and they arrive super quick. There are some great souvenir shops in the building too so get your fill. We had to buy some of the magnets there, they were just too pretty to pass up on!
Skyline Bar & Viewpoint
So there are a bunch of these scattered around Ho Chi Minh. To be honest, we’re not sure which one is the best! We went to one just near the Heineken Experience as some of them charged just to get to the bar. In this one though, you only had to buy a cocktail to get up there. There’s a deck on the bar level which you do have to pay extra for but it provides a seriously good sunset!
Explore the City
Ho Chi Minh has a lot of variety within. There’s the wonderful Tao Dan Park which is great for a run/walk around. Tons of markets & shops to visit for plenty of Vietnamese goodies. Incredible, affordable restaurants are everywhere too, just be careful with breakfast though. We had a few bad experiences with finding weird stuff in our food in Ho Chi Minh. Stuff like glass in jam and ants in bread. Avoid bar street for food is our advice!
A Night Out on Bar Street
Bar Street in Ho Chi Minh has one of the best atmospheres in all of South-East Asia! It’s constantly booming from the afternoon onwards, providing a bloody great drinking experience. We were absolute idiots and stayed in a hostel on bar street (the BIGGEST no no)! It was a nice hostel but getting to sleep before 4am was a myth. This ended up ruining many a day in Ho Chi Minh sadly due to exhaustion. Take our advice & stay in a hostel as far from Bar Street as possible. It’s much better to just visit for a night, have a dance then head back for some proper sleep!
Optional – Get an Airbnb
The previous point leads on to this one nicely! As we’d had one too many nights of crappy sleep, we decided to splash out a little. To be fair, it actually only cost us £3 more a night each than beds in hostels. It also means you can save some money by cooking for ourselves (a luxury you’ll sorely miss while travelling)! We split the costs among ourselves and a couple of our great friends, Jon & Bean!
Honorable Mention – Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Another thing that we missed out on due to timings in Vietnam with our Visa’s. But if you plan on spending more time than us in Ho Chi Minh, you may want to check these out! Entrance fee is $2.50 (around £2) per adult which is nothing and it’s the 8th oldest zoo in the world! Not to mention the biggest zoo in all of Vietnam. The Botanical Gardens attached to it are cute too from what we’ve seen in pictures! We’ve put a link below for a more in-depth guide: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293925-d317904-Reviews-Zoo_and_Botanical_Gardens-Ho_Chi_Minh_City.html
The Perfect Ho Chi Minh Itinerary!
We think 4 days is a perfect amount of time in Ho Chi Minh. This leaves you enough time to do everything cultural, party & have some chill time!
Arrive from Mui Ne/wherever you’re coming from and check in to your hostel! You may have time now to do a bit of exploring in Ho Chi Minh, so visit the Tao Dan Park as it’s the nicest. Evening 1 : Head to Bar Street for a night on the dancefloor. Before you drink though, go to literally any restaurant near Bar Street for some Banh Xéo (Giant Vietnamese Savoury Pancakes).
Visit the War Remnants Museum (preferably getting there by walking) to get some steps in. Be prepared for a sad experience. Stop off for some lunch on your way back (maybe more Banh Xéo)! Evening 2: Go and book your tickets for the Cu Chi Tunnels for tomorrow. Grab some dinner and have an early night for the Cu Chi Tunnels (tour starts early). You may want to pick up some fruit/snacks for the day ahead of you tomorrow and lunch was quite expensive at the Tunnels.
An early start to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels which will take up most of your day! You’ll get back around 3-4pm. If you can’t wait till dinner, get some food now or chill. Evening 3: Visit a skytop bar for a fancy cocktail or two, you’ve earned it over the last few days! Get some cheap dinner and maybe go for some more drinks. Alternatively to the drinking, go for a walk around the city in the evening, it’s beautiful!
Chill with some breakfast then take a nice long walk. Visit the Post Office & the Notre Dame Cathedral. If this doesn’t take you too long, head to a supermarket, get some food and have a picnic in the park. When you’re done, head back to your hostel. Evening 4: If you’ve had enough of the city, book your tickets outta there! We went from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. We’ll be putting up a guide on the best way to do that in our next Travel Post!
Is Ho Chi Minh Expensive?
Being a capital city, it sure as hell can be. But it all depends on how thrifty you are as a person. Get a hostel that includes breakfast, get drunk before you go to a bar and ALWAYS haggle when booking excursions! These tips will save you some serious money in Ho Chi Minh (and travelling anywhere in general). Another Tip (Ho Chi Minh specific): Watch out for your stuff at all times, there are LOTS of pickpockets in Ho Chi Minh (particularly around Bar Street). No one wants the expense of having to buy a new phone while they’re abroad.
We hope you’ve found this guide useful! If you’re a travel fanatic and want to see more of our guides on Vietnam, check out the link below: https://maktravels.co.uk/2020/09/04/hoi-an-the-jewel-of-vietnam/
Much Love & Peace Out!
Matt & Mik x
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