Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam by population (about 10 millions). During my trip, I stayed in District 1 which is the most active and tourist area in the city.
This city is the only one I found the most interesting in Vietnam so far. Historically, culturally and gastronomically. From the War Museum with the tragic Vietnam War history to the local food. Every corner in Ho Chi Minh worth to be explored.
By staying in this district, you will find around the most tourist points to visit, such as Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, War Museum, Art Museum, street markets and of course, street food and bars areas.
- Street markets
- Independence Palace
- War Museum
- Notre Dame Cathedral & Post Office
- Art Museums
- Cu Chi Tunnels
I usually walked to those places as long as the weather was alright. I traveled there in summer, so was extremely hot, plus traffic jams, makes slightly harder to walk around. Taking a taxi is a good option too, since taxis in the city are fairly cheap. However, you’ll experience how the traffic jam is here.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are several options from Ho Chi Minh airport to District 1:
Getting a taxi from the airport is the easiest option, but the most expensive. A race may costs about 220,000VND.
Taxi are located in the left part in the international terminal. Be extremely careful before taking a taxi or you can be scammed in the worse way you may imagine. Only choose reliable taxis, such as Mai Linh or Vinasun. This last one is the most common in Ho Chi Minh. Please keep away from those taxis with tinted windows. Those are particularly scammers.
Bus 152 is the cheapest and convenient option. The cost is about 5,000VND and you can ask the driver where is your hotel to get off in the nearest station.
Find more info in this link for more buses options
1. Street Markets
Every morning I had the chance to walk through these street markets to get some local coffee and breakfast. Wandering in the District 1, you will be able to find many markets nearby. At night, the same area is converted in BBQ street food, what’s the most famous in Ho Chi Minh!
If you are looking for is the night street food, you should go to Bùi Viện street! This street is where you will be able to find a lot of food varieties and bars. Night life is here!
Personally, I’ve visited Hanoi and Phú Quốc before, and the food I’ve tasted in Ho Chi Minh in the top. BBQ seafood, meat, Vietnamese food…everything everywhere
2. Independence Palace
Also know as Reunification Palace, this place is worthy to see at least once. It’s located about 30 minutes walking from the main street in District 1.
Opening hours: 7:00 to 11:30 & 13:00 to 17:00 (closed during lunch time)
Entrance ticket: 20,000VND
There are guided tours in English available
3. War Museum
If there is a place where really touched me, was the War Museum. Telling the tragedy occurred during the Vietnam War, it will really open your eyes, since any American movie about Vietnam War is telling how the people of Vietnam suffered from the chemical warfare and its consequences
Opening hours: 7:30 to 12:00 & 13:30 to 17:00 (closed during lunch time)
Entrance ticket: 15,000VND
4. Notre Dame Cathedral & Post Office
A few minutes walking distance from the Independence Palace and War Museum, you can get to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ho Chi Ming post office. The post office is next to the cathedral and worth to have a quick look too.
Notre Dame Cathedral
5. Fine Arts Museum
In case you have free time during your trip, I would recommend you to have a look to this museum. It’s quite near to the main street and provides a good shelter from the sun and hot if the weather is being problematic.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 16:45
Entrance ticket: 10,000VND
6. Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels are a network of connecting underground tunnels located in Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh city. These tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.
To get here, you may arrange a tour from any tour agency or hotel and the journey takes about 2 hours.
This tour is a MUST, since you won’t see anything similar anywhere. You will need at least the full day to complete this tour and will be a bit crowd. But despite of this, it’s worthy.
The tour will provide a tour guide who will explain the whole history of these tunnels. And also you’ll live an experience how is a walk through this network of tunnels
In short, Ho Chi Minh city has many places to explore and even more awaiting to be explored.
If you are thinking to visit the city, I would recommend you to stay no more than 4 days. However, if your stay is longer, you can arrange different tours to Mekong Delta and Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, or also to visit Chinatown in district 5 for a half day.
- Location: Ho Chi Minh @ District 1
- Time spent: 5 days
- Season: April
- Weather conditions: Sunny & hot
- Score: 9/10