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What to do in Saigon in 48 hours

Well, a lot of friends asked me what should we do in Ho Chi Minh city in 2 days ???

Should I answer that laying down on your bed in your hotel and read my blog? that could make your holiday the worst trip ever. But anyway, it’s pretty easy unless you don’t know what to do in Ho Chi Minh city in many years.

Ho Chi Minh city also known as Saigon is a largest city in Vietnam. It’s a capital Under the domination of French, it’s was the capital of Cochin China and later of independent republic of South Vietnam. Being a economic center of Vietnam and accounts for a large proportion with population now of 7,382,287. The economy of Ho Chi Minh City consists of industries ranging from mining, seafood processing, agriculture, and construction, to tourism, finance, and trade. Ho Chi Minh is a hive of activity where you can find the various of diverse culture from other regions.

To be fair, Ho Chi Minh city is like a rest stop for backpackers before they spread over throughout the country. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to lock yourself up in hotel to read my blog for nothing to do 🙂 I do appreciate if you do, though. There are a tons of things to explore around this city before you realized that you totally fell in love with it.

As a local people, originally from Ho Chi Minh city and had more than 25 years of living experience in this city. I might tip you off some interesting things to get around this home of a millions motorbikes.

Here we go…

1. Independent palace. I guess no one doesn’t know independence place, you might here at least once I think. Located in the heart of the city, The palace covered an area of 12 hectares, including a palace with an 80-meter-wide facade, a guest-chamber capable of accommodating 800 people, with a spacious gardens covered by green trees and a lawn. It was was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. To get around this palace is quite easy and it takes around 3 or 4 hours of visitation.

To get to the Reunification Palace, take bus No.150, get off at 107/1 – 170B Nguyen Dinh Chieu, and walk 11 minutes. Or, take the Bus No. 93, get off a 138B Nguyen Dihn Chieu, and walk 12 minutes. Opening every day, ( Sunday, festival, holiday ) from 7:30 AM – 11:00 AM / 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM.

2. War remnants museum. It’s one of the tourist destination I would recommend people should not skip. The museum displayed a lot of remnants from the American war. It’s barbaric and might be hard to stomach with some people. You should spend 1 or 2 hours in the museum to visit through the place.

To get to the museum, take Bus No. 28 at Ben Thanh Bus Station. The museum opens daily from 8.00 AM to 11.45 AM and 1.30 PM to 4.45 PM and entrance fee: 10,000VND = approximately half dollar.

3. Ben Thanh market. . It’s a large marketplace in the downtown area of Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam in District 1. It’s very popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles and souvenirs, as well as local cuisine. The only thing is you have to be a expert in negotiation, otherwise you will get ripped off. The merchant they always overcharge even to local people and I also get ripped off sometimes 🙁

If you stay in Ho Chi Minh city, try to stay near by Ben Thanh Market, this is a central area for tourist attractions. You can walk to the independence palace, cathedral, war museum quite easily. Also check the market at night with lots of local cuisine with affordable prices.

To get to the market, use your mouth and ask people around, it’s quite famous so I am quite sure everyone knows.

4. Fine Arts Museum. It’s a classic building with a Chinese style influence and house of the most interesting collections in Vietnam.

To get to the museum, get a cab and go to 97A Pho Ðuc Chinh St., District 1, HCMC. The museum open daily from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, Tue – Sun.

5. Ho Chi Minh city’s China Town. You can find a lot of traditional medicine shop around the area. The architectural structures coloured Chinese character gives it a way to be unique and cannot be mistaken. When you enter the area, you can recognize the zone by smelling from the traditional medicine parlor along the street.

To get to China Town in Ho Chi Minh city, get a cab and tell the cabbie ” Chợ Lớn ” which located in district 5.

6. CuChi Tunnel. This is worth to try, many people might heard a lot about CuChi Tunnel, it’s a system of underground where Vietnamese use to avoid American’s bomb during the war and also used to trap US soldiers. You cannot go down the tunnel if you are too fat, so go on diet if you want to visit Cu Chi or you will be get stuck in the trap 😉

To get to Cu Chi Tunnel, you can shop around before deciding which tour operation you will take. It’s quote from 45 – 75$ return by private car or maybe less than that. Just keep your eyes peeled around before making up your mind.

Another way, if you are making the tour on your own. To get the bus No. 13 from Ben Thanh bus station which is around 7.000 VND (almost 50 cent), it’s about 1,5 hours, Cu Chi on the last stop. When you arrived at the bus station, try to negotiate a motorbike around 100.000 VND return (around 5$) or take the bus No. 79 which cost only 5.000 VND or more if the driver doesn’t like you 🙂 . It taks about 45 minutes. The bus will reach a T-junction with Ben Duoc on the left side and Ben Dinh on the right. Get off here and walk on to Ben Dinh or stay on the bus till it drives right pass the Ben Duoc entrance. You will be squeezed on the bus sometimes but won’t die, no worry.

The entrance fee is 90.000 VND (about 10$) which includes a tour guide who may or may not speak English well, but he can speak. You will be rushed by them sometime, just don’t let they rattle your cage, let them know you are not ready to go and take it easy.

7. Bitexco Financial Tower. Known as a world-class icon in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city. Get to the highest floor and have a beer while watching over Ho Chi Minh city from a perfect view. Beer starts from 200.000 VND (about 10$), note that, no Bia HoI here, so don’t expect you can get a beer with 12.000 VND and watch people’s head. Note that you cannot get on top by climbing.

To get to Bitexco Financial Tower, take the bus No. 8, get off at Tram Dieu Hanh Sai Gon, and walk 9 minutes. Or, take the bus No. 65, get off at Ben Thanh Market, and walk 11 minutes.

8. Chill Sky Bar. It’s the best sky bar in Ho Chi Minh city I think, worth to visit. Note that they have strict dress code and the drinking price is quite expensive. Of course, no Bia Hoi here again. I don’t think it’s a good place for backpackers. It’s stunning at night, though. Only shoes can access, no bare-foot, no thongs. The price of range is approximately from 50$.

To get to Chill Sky bar, well of course you don’t need to fly, get a cab and show him 26 & 27th Floor Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, District 1.

9. Phu My Hung area, district 7. Here is one of the fancy area in Ho Chi Minh city with a lot of apartment, shopping mall and international school. Once you get here, you will see another face of Ho Chi Minh city. No more narrow streets with full of motorbike. Phu My Hung is a large urban infrastructure developer in Vietnam with full of modern facilities. Also a place with lots of expat living around.

To get to Phu My Hung, you can go by bus, taxi or motorbike.There is a shuttle bus that goes around Phu My Hung, HCMC and drops you at Dong Khoi street in District 1. The ticket price is 15,000 VND (about 1.25$ or something). It’s a better option than a taxi (which cost around 150,000 VND one way).

10. Mekong Delta trip. Honestly, I won’t put this into the list since some people may take a trip up to 2 days or something. But you also can do a day tour which offers you a few activities quite interesting. So, my advice is, shopping around then go straight to one place that you like, since every tour offer from the tour operation just similar or they might change a schedule a bit. Same same but different. There are a few travel agent which is good and trustworthy in Saigon. You can also book a tour from your hotel. Basically, every tour you booked from travel agents around will merge into one and don’t surprise when you see the fat guy who peeked your chick on the street will on the same boat. It’s always spoilt for choice so don’t waster your time in making a decision.

11. Saigon Opera House. It’s an opera house in Ho Chi Minh City and an example of French Colonial architecture in Vietnam. The building was built between 1901 – 1911. It’s a very nice architecture and worth to see.

To get to Saigon Opera House, you can walk to it if you stay nearby district 1 or also get a cyclo and explore around the city.

12. Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. The ancient cathedral is located in a very nice picturesque corner in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Was built by the French colonists between 1863 and 1880.

To get to the cathedral, you can walk or go by taxi. Address is No. 1 Cong truong Cong xa Paris St., right at the intersection of Pham Ngoc Thach St, Le Duan St and Cong xa Paris St.

Well, I think it’s quite enough for 48 hours in Ho Chi Minh city, of course there might be a lot of thing else to do but I only recommend you some main activities so that you don’t need to stay at hotel and read my blog. Any way, I am currently based in Ho Chi Minh city but not sure for long term. So if you need any advice or looking for someone to hang out, don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and if you find my article helps a lot, do like me on facebook or follow on twitter. Thanks for reading.


Profile photo of Dang Huynh

Hi there, I am a passionate traveler from Vietnam who willing to leave everything behind to see the world.In September 2012, I left Vietnam for what supposed to be a trip around Southeast Asia. I’ve met a lot of awesome people and really get extended my eyesight. It has taken me a long time before I perfectly made up my mind to live the way as I want to be.I fortunately met a lot of passionate people on the road and so happy that we have lots of thing in common. We desire to travel or live in another country not because of making money but desire to experience new things, cultures and people. “And the joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun”. No matter what do you want to do or what do you want to be, or even just want to live in a strange way, that would be cool, go for it, dude. Life is wonderful and not long enough to wake up with regrets. No one of us know exactly things are wrong or right since life is a process of searching value things, but it’s a journey, not a destination.

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