Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide : Best Places to Visit

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Ho Chi Minh City which is formerly known as Saigon is the biggest and messiest metropolis in Vietnam. It is also a popular tourist destination in Vietnam, with most visitors choosing between Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi when they first planning to visit Vietnam. 

There are many street vendors and markets that overflow onto the traffic lanes, and motorbikes, bicycles, vehicles, and rickshaws travel wherever they choose. The overflow of motorbikes on the streets is also one of the signatures of Vietnam culture.

The city has a lot to offer and it has recently developed into a popular hotspot for digital nomads. This Ho Chi Minh City travel guide will get you covered from where to stay and how to get around the city to best things to do in Ho Chi Minh city.

When is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City?

Located in the Southeast region and it is on the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city does not have four seasons like Ha Noi.It stays warm throughout the year with an average temperature of about 28°C and it is differentiated into dry and wet seasons.

I went to Ho Chi Minh City in April and the weather was just nice and breezy. When planning a trip to Vietnam, keep in mind that the Vietnamese celebrate Tết Holiday, also known as the Chinese Lunar New Year. The holiday falls between late January and early February. As a result, it is best to avoid travelling during this time because most stores will be closed for the holiday.

Dry season (December – April): During this period, it is known as the most suitable time of the year to visit Ho Chi Minh city. 

Rainy (Wet)  Season (May – November) : This period is when humidity is at its highest with frequent tropical storms. It is best advised to avoid traveling to Saigon in these months.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide : How To Get From Airport to The City

The majority of visitors to Ho Chi Minh City will arrive at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. When I travelled to Ho Chi Minh , I took a flight from Kuala Lumpur and arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. 

If you are flying into the city, you will need to transfer from the airport to the center of Ho Chi Minh city.

By Bus:

I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh city and arrived in less than three hours. From the airport, I took a bus ride to the hotel which is 8km away from the airport.

The bus is the cheapest way to travel from the airport to the center of the city. There are several buses that will take you to the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City from the airport and they run several trips a day.

I took bus 109 from the arrival terminal to the city center. The trip costs VND 20,000 (~RM 4) and will get you into the city in 45 minutes. If you wish to get into the city center in less time, you can take Bus 49 for VND 40,000 (~RM 8) and the trip is about 30 minutes.Another option is Bus 152, which is the cheapest but also the slowest. Bus 152 takes one hour to get to the city center and costs VND 5,000 (RM 1).

By Private Transfer:

Private transfer is the most easiest and direct way of transportation. With private transfer, you could travel with ease and arrive in less time. You could book a private transfer through the hotel you booked or book one via Klook.

By Grab:

Grab is an e-hailing service widely used in Southeast Asia and it is very convenient to use. On my trip back from the city center to the airport a few years ago, I booked a ride through Grab and it cost about VND 66,000 (~ RM 12) and reached in less than 30 minutes. It is an excellent choice because the ride can accommodate at least three people, depending on the type of vehicle you choose.

Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh city is very big. If you are staying in District 1, most of the signature sights such as Notre-Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office is very close and can be reached by foot.

If you want to go to other district, you may take bus or use GrabBike and Grab ride. I personally prefer Grab ride and use it most often when I was in Ho Chi Minh city.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

The most happening area in Ho Chi Minh city is in District 1. If you are new to the city and planning to explore the city and some major top sights , then the best place to stay is in District 1.

Talk about districts, Ho Chi Minh city is huge and there are a total of 24 districts in the city. Out of so many districts, District 1 is the one that people recognise as the heart of Saigon. Ho Chi Minh city was influenced by numerous cultures as a result of its recent history and it could be reflected on individual districts. For instance, District 2 is considered as westener’s district while District 5 is known as Chinatown. You can also refer to this great article to further understand the Districts in Saigon.

District 1 :

District 1 is the commercial hub and the heart of Saigon. This district is the best place to stay especially if it’s your first time in Ho Chi Minh city. 

Other than restaurants, cafes and pubs, this district is also home to many major sights such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office and Book streets. Check the rates and book a hotel in District 1 through Agoda and Booking.com.

Budget : Silverland Jolie Hotel

Mid-range :Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel

Luxury :The Riverie Saigon Residential Suites

District 2:

Compared to the hustle and bustle in District 1, District 2 is a relatively quieter city. It is a residential area which is mainly occupied by expats and influential locals. 

If you prefer a quiet place to stay, then District 2 is definitely a suitable choice for you.To view some big landmarks, all it takes is an 18-minute Grab ride to District 1.

Budget : Mecozy Apartel

Mid-Range : La Casita Saigon

Luxury : Mia Saigon

District 3

District 3 is at the northwest of District 1. There are a lot of amazing street food eats and good restaurants in this district. You can find some buildings with colonial architecture here but most of the main sights are in District 1 and it requires some walking to the major sights if you stay at District 3. 

Budget : Leaf Signature Hotel, La Group

Mid-range : Mai House Saigon Hotel

Luxury :Hôtel des Arts Saigon – MGallery Collection

District 5 :

District 5 is known as Saigon’s Chinatown because it is home to Chinese street foods and restaurants. You can find Buddhist temples and great Chinese restaurants here in this district.

District 5 is a must-see if you visit Saigon around the Lunar New Year or Mid Autumn Festival because it is famous for the Lantern Festival and therefore offers excellent photo opportunities.

Budget : Signature Boutique Hotel

Midrange: Windsor Plaza Hotel

Luxury : Hotel Equatorial

Travel Necessities In Ho Chi Minh City

Power Socket

The electricity supply in Vietnam 220 Volts at 50 Hz. If you have type A, C or F power adaptor, then you should have no problem in getting your appliances charged. Otherwise, get a universal travel adaptor to fit the socket type.

Best Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous sights to visit in Ho Chi Minh city. The red-bricked cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 by the French. The cathedral is the major destination and also the religious site regularly visited by the locals but it is currently under renovation until 2023.

2. Explore Ben Thanh Market

Get lost in the largest market in Saigon and enjoy the fun of exploring local handicraft, souvenirs and try traditional Vietnamese street foods in this market.

3. Take a tour to Cu Chi Tunnels

One of the popular day trips in Ho Chi Minh city is to tour the Cu Chi tunnels. It is an extensive network of tunnels built and used by Viet Cong in the 1960s to battle American soldiers during the Vietnam war.

I booked the half day tour through Klook and the trip took us through the jungle to show us how the Vietnamese fought the strong force for such a long time and we got a chance to crawl through the narrow tunnel. However, the tunnel is very narrow to crawl so beware if you are claustrophobic.

Cu Chi Tunnels is a very popular destination and there are many tour selections. Some of the great ones you may explore :

Cu Chi Tunnels Half Day Tour

Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta Day Tour 

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour via Limousine

4. Visit War Remnants Museum

If you have a particular interest in the Vietnam war, then you may pay a visit to this museum.  I spent about 2 hours in the museum as there were so many on display such as photographs, souvenirs, artillery, and combat machines including tanks, helicopters, and even fighter jets at the War Remnants Museum.

5. Deliver a Postcard at Saigon Central Post Office

Saigon Central Post Office is just a few steps away from the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral. The yellow building is huge and you can write and post a postcard back to your home country.

6. Take a Tour to Independence Palace

Another historical monument in the city worth visiting is the Independence Palace. Independence Palace served as the residence and office of South Vietnamese President during the Vietnam War.

7. Watch the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show

Attend a performance at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater if you want to experience Vietnamese culture firsthand. Truth to be told, I was skeptical that I would enjoy this show. My gratitude to my friend for insisting on bringing me to see this special show because it was an intriguing and fun experience overall! 

Although the traditional Vietnamese water puppet show is performed in Vietnam language, the orchestra and gestures help even foreigners to grasp the meaning of the show which lasts about 45 minutes. I book the ticket in advance through Klook.

8. Sip Coffee at Cafe Apartment

Cafe Apartments in Saigon
Cafe Apartments in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh city has a very strong coffee culture.There are cafes at every turn on the streets. One of the most popular cafe spots on social media is the Cafe Apartments. As the name implies, it is a block of apartments that accomodates cafes and restaurants. Here you can find many quirky and unique cafes and bar. 

I personally like the vibe at the Cafe Apartments as it is very chill and relaxing. You can even catch an amazing sunset view from the higher floor cafes’ balcony.

9. Take a Day Trip to Mui Ne

Mui Ne - Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide
The White Sand Dunes at Mui Ne.

Mui Ne is a coastal village town in the Phan Thiet city. Tours to Mui Ne vary but the trip normally takes up to 1 to 2 days including returning to Saigon. I booked the trip through Klook. The trip to Mui Ne took around 4 hours, but it went smoothly because it was a sleeping bus, allowing the passenger to sleep peacefully the entire time.

One of the highlights in Mui Ne is the White Sand Dune. The boundless sand dunes are a great place to watch the sunset and sunrise. You can take a thrilling Jeep ride to the higher part of the dune to grasp the amazing view.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Expenses

Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in terms of traveling cost in Southeast Asia.  My most recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City was with a friend, and we shared a room for four days. We spent about VND 650,000 a day for the vacation including accommodation, meals, transportation, tours and entrance tickets.

Hotel Costs : 

This depends on which district you are staying at and also the budget you have for accommodation. The hotel we stayed at was a budget type which was about VND 365k per night. If you are on a tight budget, you could look for a hostel dorm that costs about VND 78k to share a room with other travellers.


Meals are cheap in Ho Chi Minh Saigon. A food budget of around VND 70000 a meal is enough for street food. If you go to restaurants, the cost for a meal will be around VND 200k.


If you plan to take the bus to travel around Saigon, then a budget of VND 100,000 a day should be enough. However, if you are sharing ride with your travel partner, you may consider to take Grab ride or GrabBike to save a bit.

Tours and Tickets:

The costs for Tours and Tickets depend on the type of tours you join. For my experience, if you join all the tours I have mentioned in this guide, it will be roughly VND 1,200,000 in total.

Where to go after Ho Chi Minh city?

1. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Vietnam - Where to go after Ho Chi Minh city
Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc is an island paradise with white sand beaches and clear blue water located in the south of Vietnam. It is only one hour away from Ho Chi Minh city by flight. If you are looking for a relax and sunbathing experience after the sightseeing at HCMC, then Phu Quoc is definitely an ideal destination.

2. Nha Trang

Nha Trang Vietnam
Nha Trang is a beautiful Coastal City.

Nha Trang is a coastal city where there is a beach area like Phu quoc but with more sightseeing places. By day, you can chill and soak in the sun on the beach. By night when the nightlife wakes up, you can join the party at rooftop bars or whisky bars.

3. Da Lat

Da Lat Vietname
Da Lat Town

Da Lat is a city near Nha Trang. Da Lat is a city unlike any we visited in HCMC, Nha Trang or Phu Quoc. Da Lat is a romantic city that has earned the moniker “Little Paris.” It is a small town with interesting buildings and views. When in Da Lat, it is best to take bicycle ride or walking because the views here are amazing.

I hope you find this Ho Chi Minh city travel guide useful and help you plan your trip to Ho Chi Minh city. This guide is based on my visits to Saigon. If you have any suggestions, you’re welcome to let us know in the comment section below.