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3 Days in Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City is a large, busy and fascinating city. Formerly known as Saigon, this former capital is an eclectic blend of the traditional and the modern. With historic attractions, fascinating day trips and bustling streets lined with food stalls and pavement cafes, there’s certainly plenty to see and do in three days in Ho Chi Minh City.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Foodie
  • Like a Local

12 Places

4 City Tips

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12 Places

Day 1

War Remnants Museum

History Museums

Reunification Palace

Historic Sites, Government Buildings, Architectural Buildings

Cho Ben Thanh Market

Flea & Street Markets

Cu Chi Tunnels

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Quan An Ngon

Restaurants

Day 2

Mekong Delta Private Day Tour

Private Tours

Bitexco Financial Tower - Saigon Skydeck

Observation Decks & Towers

Cyclo Resto

Restaurants

Day 3

The Elbow Room

Restaurants

Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu)

Religious Sites

Water puppet show at Thao Dien Village

Dinner Theatres

Dinner on Bonsai Cruise

Boat Tours

Kirsty S's City Tips

  • The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is in the dry season between December and April, when it’s warm and you’re unlikely to need an umbrella!
  • Although tipping is by no means compulsory in Vietnam, it’s certainly much appreciated, particularly if you receive great service. 10-15% is common.
  • You’ll need to arrange a visa to enter Vietnam. Visas can take up to a week to process from most western countries so be sure to leave enough time before you depart.
  • Dodgy taxi firms that charge extortionate rates are not uncommon in Ho Chi Minh City. Look out for Vinasun and Mailinh – these are the main reputable taxi companies in the city.
    Day 1
  • Save
    War Remnants Museum
    History Museums
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    Kirsty S Says:

    Start your first day in Ho Chi Minh City by learning more about the Vietnam War – from Vietnam’s perspective. A visit to the War Remnants Museum is an important and educational stop on your Ho Chi Minh City itinerary and creates a basis for understanding the rest of your time in Vietnam.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The upper floors of the museum display graphic images of the effects of agent orange and unexploded ordnance so are best avoided if visiting with children.
    • You’ll get more out of this museum the more you know about the Vietnam War before you arrive.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A different perspective 29/05/2015
    • A lot of propaganda of course, but intense 29/05/2015
    • War Remnants Museum
    Address:
    28 Vo Van Tan St, District 3
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    08 829 0325
    Other:
  • Save
    Reunification Palace
    Historic Sites, Government Buildings, Architectural Buildings
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    Staying with the history lesson theme, be sure to squeeze in a trip to the Reunification Palace too. Home to the presidents of South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon in 1975, interestingly, the palace has been left exactly as it was back then.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Don’t leave without seeing the underground bunker – it features a telecommunications center and a fascinating series of tunnels.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Cool to see 28/05/2015
    • ReUnification Palace 28/05/2015
    • Reunification Palace
    Address:
    135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia
    District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    808.5037
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    7:30 - 20:30
    13:00 - 2:00
  • Save
    Cho Ben Thanh Market
    Flea & Street Markets
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    Kirsty S Says:

    Chaotic yet fun, a trip to Ben Thanh Market, the city’s busiest and most central market, is worth the assault on the senses! It’s a lively and colorful place where determined market vendors and customers haggle for everything from fresh meat and vegetables to clothes, domestic items and souvenirs. Grab some lunch from one of the food stalls here to set you up for the afternoon’s activities.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Taking a taxi from outside the Ben Thanh Market near the roundabout is not a good idea. Instead head to the other side of the market entrance and left towards the five-star hotels.
    • The vendors who work at the market can be stubborn with their prices but you’ll need to haggle hard or you’ll end up paying far too much. (Some stalls now have Fixed Price signs.)
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #55 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Ho Chi Minh Landmark 27/05/2015
    • Huge and Tricky Seller 26/05/2015
    • Cho Ben Thanh Market
    Address:
    Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
    Other:
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    Cu Chi Tunnels
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    Make sure you embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of the city by heading to the Cu Chi Tunnels. In just a few hours you’ll learn how the Viet Cong lived underground for long stretches of time during the war. You’ll also see bomb craters along with booby traps that were used on American troops. For those who aren’t afraid of small spaces (some of them are incredibly narrow) you can experience the tunnels firsthand by getting in them.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Don’t worry if you don’t fancy squeezing into the tunnels yourself – it’s not for everyone and it certainly won’t take away from your Cu Chi Tunnels experience if you don’t!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • very sobering 29/05/2015
    • Impressive but weird 29/05/2015
    • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Save
    Quan An Ngon
    Restaurants (Vietnamese)
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    Kirsty S Says:

    Quan An Ngon is an amalgamation of hundreds of street food sellers situated within a beautifully renovated French villa. Perhaps understandably then, it attracts locals and tourists in their droves. A great spot for dinner on your first day in the city, there’s a huge variety of Vietnamese dishes to sample, from northern cuisine to the food of the Mekong Delta – and everything in between.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • I’d recommend calling ahead to make a reservation as the line can sometimes extend all the way to the Reunification Palace down the road!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #306 of 1,480 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Variety of choices under one roof 24/05/2015
    • Don't do it 23/05/2015
    • Quan An Ngon
    Address:
    138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street
    District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 8 3825 7179
    Price range:
    $2 - $10
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:00 - 7:30
    Other:
  • Day 2
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    Mekong Delta Private Day Tour
    Private Tours
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    Let’s face it, no trip to Ho Chi Minh City would be complete without exploring the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River flows through Tibet, China, Burma, Laos and Cambodia before finally winding its way into Vietnam. Travel along the river by longtail boat, sample exotic fruits and candy, visit local markets and learn all about rural life in and around the Delta.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • This tour involves a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, which is a little more than some tours. Bear in mind it’s worth the extra distance to get further off the tourist track.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 188 Tours & Activities in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A real flavour of Vietnam 18/05/2015
    • Loved it 06/05/2015
    • Mekong Delta Private Day Tour
    Address:
    3/32 Cao Thang Street
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 4 6684 7479
    Other:
  • Save
    Bitexco Financial Tower - Saigon Skydeck
    Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    One of the best ways to experience the city from an entirely different angle – the Bitexco Financial Tower is a huge skyscraper that features what’s known as the Saigon Skydeck. From here you can admire incredible panoramic views of the sprawling Ho Chi Minh City below.

    Good for
    • Must See
    Tips
    • Arriving half an hour before sunset is ideal – the views are truly incredible.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Nothing special 29/05/2015
    • Great views 28/05/2015
    • Bitexco Financial Tower - Saigon Skydeck
    Address:
    No 02 Hai Trieu Street, District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84(8)39156868
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:30 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Cyclo Resto
    Restaurants (Vietnamese)
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    For traditional and fantastic-value Vietnamese food, head to Cyclo Resto for dinner. The fixed menu is just fantastic and the flavors of each dish will blow you away. Cyclo comes highly recommended.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • Cyclo Resto has recently moved so don’t go to the old location! The new location is at 6/28 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in District 1.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 1,480 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best Vietnamese Cuisine 29/05/2015
    • Fantastic value for money 25/05/2015
    • Cyclo Resto
    Address:
    Unit 28 No 6 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street
    Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 8 6680 4235
    Price range:
    $6 - $24
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Save
    The Elbow Room
    Restaurants (American, Café, International, Bistro, Vietnamese)
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    If you need a break from Vietnamese food, head to The Elbow Room for breakfast. It serves up delicious western dishes in a friendly atmosphere and is ideal for a relaxed breakfast or brunch. If you must have western food while in Ho Chi Minh City, this is the place to do it.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • The Elbow Room is located at 52 Pasteur Street in District 1 and is open from 7:30am to 10:30pm.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #121 of 1,480 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Melt in your mouth food 27/05/2015
    • Seems the owner changed and food is not good at all 15/05/2015
    • The Elbow Room
    Address:
    52, Pasteur Street, District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 8 3821 4327
    Price range:
    $5 - $25
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:30 - 8:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu)
    Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    While the Jade Emperor Pagoda may seem tired and shabby in places, this is the oldest and most atmospheric temple you’re likely to find in the whole of Ho Chi Minh City. Filled with fascinating sculptures and figurines, the decor and ambience gives this place its undeniable charm. (Oh, and there are also real-life ‘lucky’ turtles kept in the grounds!)

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The Jade Emperor Pagoda is situated along Mai Thi Luu Street and is open from 7am to 6pm most days, but 5am to 7pm on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #47 of 213 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Great place 26/05/2015
    • Dirty but interesting 18/05/2015
    • Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu)
    Address:
    73 Mai Thi Luu St
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
  • Save
    Water puppet show at Thao Dien Village
    Dinner Theatres
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    Seeing a water puppet show while in Ho Chi Minh City is one of those must-do activities. It’s a great opportunity to experience Vietnamese culture and, despite being staged entirely in Vietnamese, is easy to follow and highly entertaining. Water puppetry in Vietnam dates back to the 11th century and symbolizes the link that water has with all aspects of life on earth. The shows are performed on water (obviously!) and traditional bamboo rods are used to control the puppets.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The Water Puppet Show at Thao Dien Village is held in the Ngon restaurant every Saturday from 7:30pm. You’ll need to make a reservation.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 12 Theatre & Concerts in Ho Chi Minh City
    • water puppet show 24/05/2015
    • A Nice Place to Get Away from the Heat 12/05/2015
    • Water puppet show at Thao Dien Village
    Address:
    195 Nguyen Van Huong
    Thao Dien Ward, District 2
    Ho Chi Minh City 7000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 8 37446457
  • Save
    Dinner on Bonsai Cruise
    Boat Tours
    See more photos
    Kirsty S Says:

    For dinner with a twist, escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a cruise along the Saigon River. This is a fantastic experience where you’ll be served a delicious dinner accompanied by live entertainment, all against the backdrop of the twinkling lights of the city as you float along.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Before you get on the boat, there’s a chance for pre-cruise photographs to be taken with the staff, all dressed in traditional Vietnamese costumes – a great souvenir of your trip.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 20 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Ho Chi Minh City
    • It's ok I suppose. 28/04/2015
    • Dinner cruse on Saigon River 15/04/2015
    • Dinner on Bonsai Cruise
    Address:
    Nha Rong Pier, 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh Str.
    District 4, Sai Gon River
    Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 83910509
    Other:
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