Special shout-out to my husband and favourite travel partner who has taken most of our travel photos.

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Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon itinerary in 3 days

Where to go in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, What to do in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is Vietnam's largest city. It is located in the south of Vietnam and is known for the pivotal role it played during the Vietnam War, or locally known as the American War. There are many reminders of the war in and around the city.

 

But despite it's difficult past, it is now filled with young Vietnamese working and studying at its universities. It has an exciting buzz as millions of people rush around going about their daily business. This dynamic city is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

It feels more Western than Hanoi, with several sky scrapers dotting the skyline, as well as designer shops, art deco buildings and the grand opera house. 

We combined this trip with Hanoi in 5 Days, Hue & Hoi An in 4 Days,  and Siem Reap - Angkor Wat in 3 Days.

Day 1

Ho Chi Minh City

Hotel

Ho Chi Minh City:

Intercontinental Hotel Saigon

♥♥♥♥♥

This large hotel in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City has well-appointed rooms with modern design as well as very nice North American-style amenities. Highly recommended.

Guides and Tours

Asia Tour Advisor

We booked all our tours in Vietnam and Cambodia through local tour company Asia Tour Advisors. They provided excellent and knowledgeable guides as well as wonderful drivers in all locations. They were prompt and reliable. All the activities were interesting and well-planned. The customer service they provided while planning our trip was excellent. 

Our contact was David Hong Luong

Email: hong@asiatouradvisor.com

Website: www.asiatouradvisor.com/

Phone: (+84)936-965-656

Saigon Food Tour

This was one of the highlights of our trip. We did the Taste of the Night Food Tour which was led by two, young Vietnamese guides who drove us on their scooters to authentic eateries. The guides were excellent drivers and we got to try a variety of delicious and interesting street food.

Email: hello@saigonfoodtour.com

Website: www.saigonfoodtour.com/

Phone: (+84) 968-852-425

What to do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Where to go in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City
Noteworthy Restaurants

Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Ben Thanh Market for lunch. This large marketplace in central Hồ Chí Minh City has a number of vendors cooking up fresh local cuisine.

  • Lemon Grass. This restaurant is nice, but a bit touristy. The food was good and it was located in a nice area of town. 

  • Hai Ho. This restaurant located near Ben Tre (near the Mekong Delta) seems to be in the middle of nowhere but is owned by a fishing family and the highlight is the whole fish that they serve - called elephant ear fish. All the food was delicious and unique.

 

Afternoon

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon and checked into the Intercontinental Hotel. This large hotel in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City has well-appointed rooms with modern design as well as very nice North American-style amenities. 

Evening

After a short rest in our rooms, we were picked up by our guides for a very fun evening food tour on scooters. This was one of the highlights of our trip. The tour, called Taste of the Night Food Tour through Saigon Food Tour, was led by two, young Vietnamese students who drove us on their scooters to authentic eateries. 

Our young guides were excellent drivers and drove us outside of the main district where we got to try a variety of delicious and interesting street food including unique rice pancakes with quail egg and fresh cold spring rolls at a local food establishment, a bowl of noodles at a hipster restaurant, and authentic Vietnamese bbq on a street lined with bbq restaurants.

We also had the opportunity to see beautiful views of the city at night from across the river, where many young Vietnamese hang out in the evenings. 

The whole evening was a very unique experience which I highly recommend.

Day 2

Favourite Museums
  • Cu Chi Tunnels. Located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City. During the war, the Viet Cong fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels using them to hide during bombing raids. Some of the tunnels have been preserved and there are many models and simulations of what it was like during the war. It was very interesting.

  • Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace. It is a landmark surrounded by a beautiful park setting. It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the American War.

  • War Remnants Museum. It contains exhibits relating to the tragic American War. Some of the exhibits are hard to see as it contains graphic photos from the front lines of the war. This moving museum is a must see to get an idea of the atrocities committed during this long and horrible war.

What to do in Ho Chi Minh City Saigon Vietnam, Where to go in Saigon

 

Day 3

Mekong Delta day trip

Where to go in Mekong Delta, What to do in Mekong Delta Vietnam

Morning

This morning we were picked up following breakfast, and headed to the Cu Chi Tunnels, just outside of Ho Chi Minh City. During the war, the Viet Cong fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels using them to hide during bombing raids. The tunnels also served as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.

Some of the tunnels have been preserved and there are many models and simulations of what it was like during the war. It was very interesting.

Following our tour we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City and stopped at the famous Ben Thanh Market for lunch. This large marketplace in central Hồ Chí Minh City is one of the earliest surviving structures in the city and is an important symbol, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, and authentic local cuisine. It is very colourful and the food vendors prepare all sorts of items from snails and oysters to banh mi sandwiches and pho.

Afternoon

After lunch we had a tour of Ho Chi Minh City which included the Notre Dame Cathedral. This twin-spired church, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. 

 

Across the street is the Saigon Central Post Office which was also built by the French in the late 19th century and has Gothic, Renaissance and French influences.  

 

From there we went for a tour inside Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace. It is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, surrounded by a beautiful park setting. It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

 

The Palace was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. 

Following our tour we headed to the War Remnants Museum. It contains exhibits relating to the tragic American War. Some of the exhibits are hard to see as it contains photos taken by photo journalists who were at the front lines of the war. This moving museum is a must see to get an idea of the atrocities committed during this long and horrible war.

Evening

This evening we decided to walk out to a local restaurant called Lemon Grass. This restaurant was nice, but a bit touristy. The food was good and it was located in a nice area of town. It was nice to walk around for the evening.

Morning

Today we headed south to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. We arrived in Huu Dinh hamlet and boarded a  small motor boat while enjoying some refreshing coconut water. 

 

Our first stop was at a coconut processing farm and then on to a brick making shop, where the locals still use centuries-old traditional methods to make the bricks by hand.

From there we got on a small rowing  sampan (boat), which was paddled by a local woman who took us to discover a lush maze of small canals which are dotted with small homes and fishing docks. 

We stopped to enjoy some tropical fruit and honey tea in a garden and learnt about the cocoa beans that are grown in this region. We also stopped at a candy factory and tasted some of the sweet treats that they make.

We then hopped onto the back of a motor-cyclo which took us through the village of Phon Nam, with its colourful produce stalls and small shops along the road side.  At the end of the road, we got off and walked through a lush trail, past bamboo and palm trees to the lovely local restaurant, called Hai Ho, for lunch.

This restaurant seems to be in the middle of nowhere but is owned by a fishing family and the highlight is the whole fish that they serve - called elephant ear fish. All the food was delicious and unique.

After lunch we walked back to our waiting boat and continued along the small canals to our car which was waiting for us in Ben Tre city, to take us back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Despite the long drive (1.5 hours each way) this was a lovely day trip and we were pleased that we did it.

Evening

This evening we decided to relax at the hotel and we had dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 4

Where to go in Angkor Wat, What to do in Angkor Wat

Morning

After breakfast we headed to airport for our flight home after an incredible trip in Vietnam and Cambodia.