This Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide helps you make the most of your two days in the city. It features a well-crafted travel itinerary and a detailed budget for the trip.
Disclaimer: Some information in this Ho Chi Minh City Guide changes too often. If you continue reading this article, you agree to cross-check information with concerned authorities. Please read the site’s full Terms.
Advisory: Please refer to Vietnam Embassy regarding the country’s latest travel advisories before planning your trip.
We arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 2:00 am and spent a few hours at the arrival hall. The defeating silence in my area brought me to an era when the Vietnamese people lost their freedom. During the Vietnam War in 1955, millions of people suffered and died.
At exactly 5:30 am, we boarded the bus heading to Pham Ngu Lao. While seated, I can’t help but notice the influx of motorbikes plying along the hectic city roads. The energetic morning scene in Ho Chi Minh City has left no traces that it suffered from an agonizing past.
It’s been decades since the city confronted the most horrendous chapter of its history. But with the Vietnamese resiliency, the city has transformed from being a despaired homeland to becoming Vietnam’s economic power.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Contents
- Quick Fact About Ho Chi Minh City
- Visa in Vietnam
- Time Zone in Ho Chi Minh City
- Climate In Ho Chi Minh City
- Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh City
- Language in Ho Chi Minh City
- Currency in Ho Chi Minh City
- Modes of Payment in Ho Chi Minh City
- Ways of Getting to Ho Chi Minh City
- Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
- Areas to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City
- Internet in Ho Chi Minh City
- Power Adaptors in Ho Chi Minh City
- Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Itinerary
- Budget for Ho Chi Minh City Trip
- Ho Chi Minh City Guidebook Resources
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. And I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you for the purchases made through these links. Thank you! Please read the site’s full Disclosure.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quick Fact About Ho Chi Minh City
In 1857, France colonized Saigon or the present-day Ho Chi Minh City. The French occupation had greatly influenced the city’s culture, cuisine, language, and architecture.
Visa in Vietnam
Philippine passport holders traveling for tourism in Vietnam are granted a free entry visa for twenty-one (21) days. You are required to apply for a tourist visa in the event of a visit extension.
Before departure, passengers must undergo stringent immigration procedures. Please read the article, How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at the Philippine Immigration?
Time Zone in Ho Chi Minh City
Manila, Philippines, is one (1) hour ahead of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide Reminder: Since Ho Chi Minh City time is an hour behind Manila time, make sure to reset your timepiece before departure.
Climate in Ho Chi Minh City
Situated in southeastern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate. The city has distinct seasons; the dry season from December until April and the rain season from May until November.
Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh City
Measuring 1,650 kilometers, the weather in Vietnam varies in each region. South Vietnam has warm temperatures, with rains occurring from May to November.
December to April
Deemed the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City, the dry season is from December until April. Experience fewer rains during this period but expect a sweltering temperature, particularly in April, the city’s driest month.
Come and visit Vietnam as it celebrates the Tet Festival, which happens in late January to mid-February.
May to November
The wettest season in Ho Chi Minh City is from May until November. Visitors may experience cloudy skies to short hours of rain, especially in the afternoon.
Language in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese is the official and widely spoken language in Ho Chi Minh City. Foreign visitors may expect language barriers as locals rarely speak English.
Here are some essential Vietnamese words and phrases you can use in the former Saigon.
- Xin Chào – Hello
- Xin Lỗi – Excuse me
- Cảm Ơn- Thank you
- Tạm biệt- Goodbye
- Trạm xe buýt Ở đâu? – Where is the bus stop?
- Nhà vệ sinh Ở đâu? – Where is the toilet?
- Chậm lại– Slow down
- Bao xa – How far?
- Tôi Muon Mua – I want to buy
- Bao nhiêu? – How much?
- Mắc quá – Too Expensive
- Giảm giá dược không – Can I get a discount?
Currency in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese Dong (code: VND) is the official currency of Vietnam after the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1978. Here is the exchange rate as of May 31, 2022: VND 1, PHP 0.0023, or USD 0.000043.
Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide Trivia: Want to experience becoming a millionaire with only USD 50 in your pocket? Come and visit Vietnam!
Modes of Payment in Ho Chi Minh City
Cash, debit, and credit cards are all accepted payment modes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Hard cash is the preferred mode of payment in Ho Chi Minh City. Aside from the local currency, some establishments also accept U.S. Dollars.
Debit and Credit Cards
Apart from cash, some hotels, restaurants, and shops accept Visa and Mastercard.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Tip: To save money, convert your currency to Vietnamese Dong in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, which offers better exchange rates. Otherwise, convert just enough cash at the airport of destination to cover your fare to the city center.
For withdrawals, inform your home bank ahead of time regarding ATM use abroad.
Ways of Getting to Ho Chi Minh City
Situated southeast of the Indochina Peninsula in mainland Southeast Asia: Ho Chi Minh City is accessible via air and land.
Several local and international airlines provide flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Flight duration between Manila and Ho Chi Minh City will take around two and 40 minutes.
The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the main gateway to Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of Southern Vietnam. It is the busiest airport in the country, serving millions of passengers.
Vietnam shares a land border with China to the North and Laos and Cambodia to the west. Transports such as buses, cars, and trains are available for inland travel to Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Facts: The world’s longest connecting train journey begins in Porto, Portugal, and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The 17,000-kilometer journey traverses countries such as Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia, China, and Vietnam. Which do you prefer, train or plane?
This Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide requires 19 minutes of reading. If you can’t make it this time, read it later. But please save this pin.
Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has persistent traffic due to a lack of infrastructure and countless vehicles. Hence, the city is slightly intimidating for newly arrived visitors dealing with the chaotic and risky thoroughfares.
The severity of its traffic won’t stop you from exploring the city with its variety of transport options.
Public buses are probably the most economical mode of transport in Ho Chi Minh City, serving over a hundred routes.
City buses operate 24 hours a day from Monday to Sunday. The fare starts at VND 5,000, PHP 10.89, or USD 0.22. Here are the two major bus stations in Ho Chi Minh City and the bus routes.
Tan Son Nhat Station to
- Ben Than Market (49, 152)
- Pham Ngu Lao (109)
- Chinatown (147)
- Mien Tay Station (119)
- Mien Dong Station (159).
Ben Than Station to
- Tan Son Nhat (49, 152)
- Chinatown (1)
- Mien Tay Station (102)
- Mien Dong Station (26).
Cabs in Ho Chi Minh City are perhaps the most convenient way to navigate the city. City taxis operate 24 hours a day from Monday to Sunday. The fare starts at VND 10,000, PHP 22.64, or USD 0.43.
Also known as Xe Om, motorbike taxis are cheap transport in Ho Chi Minh City. Aside from its one-way service, it also offers hourly service for tours.
Motorbike taxis operate 24 hours a day from Monday to Sunday. The fare starts at VND 20,000, PHP 45.28, or USD 0.86.
Bicycle and Motorcycle
Motorcycles and bicycles are other modes of transport in Ho Chi Minh City. The bicycle rental starts at VND 20,000, PHP 43.54, or USD 0.87. Moreover, motorcycle rental is at VND 120,000, PHP 271.67, or USD 5.17.
The cyclo is a three-wheeled taxi usually hailed for short-distance trips and tours. This slow-paced transportation is a must-do, especially for travelers who prefer a relaxed sightseeing experience.
Fare starts at VND 20,000, PHP 45.28, or USD 0.86.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Reminder: The rigged-meter scam is widespread in Ho Chi Minh City. To prevent from being scammed, avail yourself of the services of Vinasun and Mai Lin – the city’s reputable taxi operators.
Areas to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the second most visited city in Vietnam, following Hanoi. With its thriving tourism industry, accommodations are manifold throughout the city.
Most of the accommodations are in the city’s prime locations, offering distinct atmospheres. From the chaotic streets of Pham Ngu Lao to the more laid-back Thao Dien, the city has more options.
Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 is Vietnam’s business and financial center. It is home to several western architectures and a manifold of accommodations found in Pham Ngu Lao and Dong Khoi.
Pham Ngu Lao is the city’s backpacking area. The vibrant neighborhood hosts inexpensive accommodations, shops, eateries, and bars. Must-see attractions in Pham Ngu Lao are Bui Vien, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and Ben Thanh Market.
On the other hand, Dong Khoi and Nguyen Hue offer several upscale hotels, boutiques, and diners. The neighborhood is home to western architecture like the city’s iconic landmark, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building.
Aside from the city hall, must-see attractions are the Saigon Opera House, Saigon Central Post Office, and Reunification Palace.
Located east of District 1, District 2 traced its roots from being the poorest in Ho Chi Minh City. The isolated area is packed with high-rise residential buildings, boutiques, top-end dining places, and shopping centers.
Must-visit attractions in District 2 include the Thu Thiem River Park, the Saigon Outcast, and Minh Dang Quang Pagoda.
A quieter neighborhood within the city center, District 3 offers a more authentic Vietnamese atmosphere. The area has good eateries, cafés, and plentiful cheaper accommodations.
It is also home to perhaps the most intriguing museum in Ho Chi Minh City, the War Remnants Museum.
An excellent location for food lovers, District 4 boasts extensive side-street eateries and diners. The smallest district in Ho Chi Minh City is home to Vinh Khanh Street and the Dragon Wharf.
Chinatown or District 5 is home to Vietnam’s largest market. A must-place for travelers with a great appreciation of Chinese architecture and cultures.
Attractions in Chinatown are Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Temple, Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda, and Nhi Phu Temple.
Internet in Ho Chi Minh City
Aside from the hotel’s complimentary Wi-Fi, Ho Chi Minh City also offers free public Wi-Fi. For on-the-go internet connectivity, sim cards are available for rent.
Connect online anytime and anywhere! With Vietnam 4G SIM Card, you can guarantee fast and reliable 4G data. Grab yours now!
Power Adaptors in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City operates on a 220V supply voltage with a frequency of 50Hz and has three types of power adaptors.
- A or with two flat parallel pins
- C or with two round pins
- G or with three flat parallel pins.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Itinerary
Day 1 - Mekong Delta
10:30 pm – 12:25 am flight to Ho Chi Minh City
12:25 am – 05:30 am arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, clear the immigration and customs checkpoint
05:30 am – 06:15 am head to 23/9 Park (23rd of September Park)
- From Tan Son Nhat International Airport Arrival Entrance
- Take the Yellow bus No. 109
- Alight at 23/9 Park
- Walk toward accommodation
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Tip: Pham Ngu Lao is the city’s backpacking district, offering cheaper accommodation options. If you’re on a budget, reserve your hostel in Ho Chi Minh City.
06:15 am – 07:30 am hotel check-in and have breakfast
Ca Phe Da
The Ca Phe Da is a Vietnamese coffee mixed with homegrown Robusta and condensed milk. This traditional coffee is available in almost all side street eateries and restaurants.
A visit to Ho Chi Minh City would not be complete without tasting the Bahn Mi. Vietnam’s famous sandwich has meat, veggies, and seasonings stuffed in a sliced baguette.
Considered the national dish of Vietnam, Pho is a traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup. It consists of chicken or beef broth, rice noodles, slices of meat, herbs, and spices.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Tip: The Mekong Delta is almost 200 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. For a hassle-free countryside tour, book your slot for an arranged Mekong Delta Tour.
07:30 am – 10:00 am head to and explore My Tho, Tien Giang Province
- From Pham Ngu Lao
- Take the hired-private shuttle
- Alight at Vinh Trang Pagoda
Vinh Trang Pagoda
Built in 1849, Vinh Trang Pagoda is a 2-hectare Buddhist temple located in My Tho, Tien Giang Province. It houses over fifty Buddha statues ornated with tropical trees and plants.
Vinh Trang Pagoda is open from Monday until Friday from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, and admission is free.
10:00 am – 04:00 pm head to and explore An Khanh, Chau Thanh, Ben Tre Province, and have lunch
- From Vinh Trang Pagoda
- Take the hired-private shuttle
- Hop into a motorized boat
Things to do in Chau Thanh, Ben Tre
First, visit the local coconut candy processing factory. Second, explore the Mekong River while seated in a cruising sampan or a wooden boat. Thirdly, listen to Vietnamese folk music while sipping honey tea and tasting tropical fruits.
04:00 pm – 05:30 pm head to Pham Ngu Lao
- From An Khanh
- Take the hired-private shuttle
- Alight at Pham Ngu Lao
05:30 pm – 9:00 pm have dinner, stroll along Bui Vien Night Street
A different atmosphere awaits tourists at night in Ho Chi Minh City. Book your Street Food and Sightseeing Night Tour with an Aodai Rider and discover the city’s off-the-beaten paths.
Day 2 - District 1 and District 3
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Reminder: Walking from points A to point B requires less than 800 meters.
08:00 am – 12:00 pm head to Dong Khoi and Nguyen Hue
- From Pham Ngu Lao
- Walk toward De Tham Street
- Take the Yellow bus No. 109
- Alight at Chua Ong Bus Stop
- Walk toward Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building
Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Building
Built-in 1908, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building is a former luxury hotel of Rennaisance architecture. This iconic landmark serves as the office of the city government.
Visitors are not allowed inside the premises.
Saigon Municipal Opera House
Constructed in 1898, Saigon Municipal Opera House resembles the Paris Opera Garnier style. The well-preserved French colonial edifice hosts some of the city’s important cultural events and entertainment activities.
Saigon Municipal Opera House is not open to visitors except for performances and events.
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
The Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is a 60.5-meter tall Neo-Romanesque and Gothic-style church built in the 1800s. This stunning Catholic church is one of the remaining proof of Catholicism in a Buddhist-dominated nation.
The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is open from Monday to Sunday from 6:00 am until 8:00 am. Admission is free.
Saigon Central Post Office
Located opposite Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office is a 19th-century post office. Aside from the post service, it also houses several souvenir shops.
The Saigon Central Post Office is open from Monday to Friday from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm. While on the weekends, the office is open from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm. Admission is free.
The Reunification Palace, or the Independence Palace, is a historical landmark that witnessed the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Today, the monument constructed on the 12-hectare land serves as a museum and is occasionally for government functions use.
Reunification Palace is open from Monday to Sunday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. The entry fee is VND 40,000, PHP 90.56, or USD 1.72.
12:00 pm – 02:00 pm head to and explore District 3, have lunch
- From Reunification Palace
- Walk toward War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is a war-themed museum exhibiting the horrendous chapter of Vietnam’s history during the Vietnam War. It houses military hardware, photographic items, and dioramas depicting the atrocities of the American forces.
War Remnants Museum is open from Monday to Sunday from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm. The admission fee is VND 40,000, PHP 90.50, or USD 1.72.
Alternatively, book Saigon City Half-day Tour to deeply understand the city’s rich history with this guided tour. It includes the transfers and admissions to must-see tourist attractions in the city.
02:00 pm – 02:30 pm head to Pham Ngu Lao
- From War Remnants Museum
- Walk toward 166-168 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Bus Stop
- Take the Yellow bus No. 109
- Alight at De Tham Bus Stop
- Walk toward accommodation
02:30 pm – 03:00 pm hotel check-out, head to 23/9 Park Bus Station, board the bus
03:00 pm head to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Budget for Ho Chi Minh City Trip
In 2019, I spent PHP 6,342.00 for two days and one night in Ho Chi Minh City. However, costs may still vary depending on your travel lifestyle. For more thrift tips, consider several ways to save money for your next trip.
Here is the Ho Chi Minh City budget breakdown for your reference.
- One-way airfare, Manila to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, PHP 2,819.00
- 2D1N accommodation with breakfast, PHP 1,055.00/2, PHP 528.00
- Manila travel tax, PHP 1,620.00
- 1-Day Mekong Delta Tour with Lunch, PHP 750.00
- Tan Son Nhat International Airport – 23/9 Park Bus Stop via Yellow Bus No. 109, PHP 45.00
- Breakfast, PHP 150.00
- Dinner, PHP 150.00
- De Tham Bus Stop to Chua Ong Bus Stop via Yellow Bus No. 109, PHP 20.00
- Lunch, P 150.00
- War Remnants Museum entry fee is PHP 90.00
- Nam Ky Khoi Bus Stop to De Tham Bus Stop, PHP 20.00
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Resources
I have compiled handpicked travel resources to help you plan your trip. These are the brands that I highly recommend for their top-notch offers.
Looking for an easy-peasy solution to process your visa application and other travel docs, consult iVisa!
SafetyWing is your safeguard for travel medical and health insurance solutions while away from home.
The sky is the limit with Skyscanner if you are looking for better and cheaper flight options for your next trip.
Make a reservation to one of the most extensive hotels booking services – Agoda. It offers unmatched hotel deals!
Drive your way to places undiscovered! Book a car via Discover Cars and experience hassle-free road trips.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide Question: A former luxury hotel and iconic landmark of Ho Chi Minh City?
Please drop your answers and messages in the comment section. Thank you, and see you on the road!
About the Author
J. Sac is the author of ‘Ho Chi Minh City: An Excellent Guide to the World.’ He is also the founder of Traveledictorian – a travel blog that publishes compelling travel-related content.
His passion for writing, photography, and travel fueled him to explore Asia and the rest of the world. He also plans to undertake humanitarian work in his travels. Read his inspiring story and follow him on social media!
P.S. Subscribe to our newsletter for the newest travel guides and the latest updates in the travel industry.