2 Days in Saigon: A Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh  2 day Travel guide

You’ve decided to travel to Vietnam and don’t know where to start, either in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi? Here’s a guide to add Ho Chi Minh city to your travels. Ho Chi Minh it’s the biggest city in Vietnam and has a rich history, culture, and amazing street food! Saigon is located in the south of Vietnam. So to the south it is!! LETS GO!

Must Knows >>

Where to stay? >>

Transportation >>

Tours & Tickets >>

Things to do >>

Where to eat? >>

Is Ho Chi Minh City safe for tourists? 

Yes, Ho Chi Minh City is safe for tourists. It’s a great destination for female solo travelers too, like I was when I visited. It’s definitely a cultural shock but don’t be scared to go on your own. Many backpackers have traveled Vietnam and there are pretty well known backpacker routes. So whether you are a solo traveler, backpacker, or on holiday Ho Chi Minh City is a safe and great place to start your trip. 

Transportation in Ho Chi Minh 

The main transportation in Ho Chi Minh City is motorbikes! Cars are much slower in Vietnam. So for Vietnam, the Grab app is the alternative to Uber. You request a biker, they arrive, hand you a helmet and off you go holding onto their jacket! 

Things to Do: First Day in in Ho Chi Minh City

Bowl of Pho from Pho Qynn

1. Pho for Breakfast

Before starting your day Head to Pho Quynh for an authentic bowl of Pho – a beef noodle soup! Yes, Pho is often eaten for breakfast and Pho Quynh is one of the most popular spots for it in Ho Chi Minh. It’s sooooo good and they are quick! If this is your first day in Vietnam, you gotta start with the Top Vietnamese dish known worldwide! 

Entry Ticket in front of the Reunification Palace.

2. Independence Palace

Independence Palace also known as Reunification Convention Hall is a symbol of the end of a cold war. This historical monument was the home of the Vietnam president during the Vietnam war and THE PLACE WHERE THE VIETNAM WAR ENDED  when the North Vietnamese Army along with the Soviet Union took over the independence palace, the South Vietnamese people and its U.S. allies. 

Getting to stand in the now serene lawn where such a cold war ended is truly an indescribable feeling.  

➤ Dress Code: Dress modestly to go inside.
➤ Approx time of visit: 1.5 hr
➤ Entrance is 65,000 VND
➤ Open from:  8:00 – 3:00 PM

Tours & Tickets

Ho Chi Minh City Book Street filled with bookstores.

3. Dong Khoi Street Shopping

Dong Khoi Street is one of the most bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City. It is one of Ho Chi Minh’s commercial centers and streets with the highest land price! You can find big restaurants, famous hotels like Caravelle Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Majestic Hotel, and malls like the Vincom Center Shopping mall, and luxury shopping in Union Square shopping mall.

Ho Chi Ming Statue in front of City Hall Park.

4. City Hall – People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City

Next head to Ho Chi Minh City Hall, also known as the People’s Committee Building. Right in front there’s a huge statue of Ho Chi Minh – the president of North Vietnam who led the North Vietnam Army into the Vietnam war which ultimately led to the reunification of South and North Vietnam.  

Nguyen Hue Walking Street and Music Fountain in front of People's committee.

5. Nguyen Hue Walking Street and Music Fountain

Right in front of City hall is Nguyen Hue Walking Street  and the Nguyen Hue Music Fountain. This street is best enjoyed in the evening on the weekends. The street lights up with street markets, art, music, food and vendors! There’s plenty of entertainment to go around and the Nguyen Hue Fountain lights up with rhythmic colors!

Saigon Japan Town alley with Japanese lanterns.

6. Saigon Japan Town

Just two blocks from Nguyen Hue Walking Street is Saigon Little Japan at Thai Van Lung. If you want to experience Japanese food and shopping from a country just a flight away from Japan come here! The alleys are decorated by lantern-lit alleyways that resemble Japan with Vietnamese influence. In Saigon Japan town you can find izakayas, ramen bars and Gyudon restaurants, sushi and Japanese desserts! And just around the corner you’ll see major Japanese shopping stores like UNIQLO and MUJI. 

Live music at the Bui Vien Walking Street Vietnam

7. Ho Chi Minh Night activities: Bui Vien Walking Street

Who doesn’t love street food? Bui Vien Walking Street is a nightlife attraction and it’s a famous spot for backpackers so if you are looking to meet fellow travelers and grab a bite this is the spot! Bui Vien is known as the backpacker district and it’s very similar to Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand! It’s a multicultural mashup so you’ll find Western, Asian and local  foods to try. The street is decorated with neon lights and bars, clubs and live music right on the street. It’s truly one of the best nightlife destinations in Ho Chi Minh! 

Panoramic View of a sunset in Ho Chi Minh city.

8. The View Rooftop Bar

End your day with a sunset on a rooftop! The View Rooftop Bar is close to Bui Vien street and has an amazing panoramic view of the city. The place has a really soothing vibe at the end of the night. 

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh’s Historical Sights

1. Banh Mi for breakfast

Banh Mi Hong Hoa is a must-visit for their epic Bánh Mì, a local’s favorite Vietnamese sandwich. You’ll see a line but don’t worry it moves super fast!

War Tanks used in the Vietnam War located in the War Remnants Museum.

2. War Remnants Museum

Our first stop is the War Remnants Museum, one of the most famous historical attractions in Vietnam. Visiting the War Remnants Museum will transform your perspective on the Vietnam war and show you the Vietnamese side of it. You’ll get to see why it happened, what went on and who was involved in the Vietnam War.  The museum displays a collection of tanks, aircraft, photographs and objects to showcase the heroism and resiliency of Vietnamese people and to remind us of the brutalities committed during the Vietnam War …. let me tell you, I wasn’t prepared to experience it.

➤ Approx time of visit: 2 hr
➤ Entrance is 40,000 VND/$1.75 USD 

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

3. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Wind down with a walk through Ho Chi Minh’s beautiful european style architecture. The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is tucked away in Ho Chi Minh’s Downtown. It’s one of the oldest churches in Ho Chi Minh and right in front of it is a small park with a marble statue of Mary, Queen of Peace.

➤ Dress Code: Dress modestly to go inside.
➤ Entrance is free!
➤ Open 8:00-5:00PM

Outside of the Saigon Central Post office.

4. Saigon Central Post Office

Just next to the Basilica is the Saigon Central Post Office, a beautiful functioning post office that has an architectural blend of colonial French and Vietnamese design. 

➤ Tip: Don’t leave without sending a postcard!
➤  Entrance is Free!

Ho Chi Minh City Book Street filled with bookstores.

5. Ho Chi Minh City Book Street

Enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee. Vietnam has unique coffees and this is a spot to take a rest and sip on a cup of coffee. Book street is lined up with bookshops. It’s the perfect place to get Vietnam-themed stationery for your travel diary! If you don’t have one yet you can get one here and matching pens to write with!! Can’t you tell I love notebooks too 🙂.

Packed alley inside the Ben Thanh Market.

6. Ben Thanh Market

If you are wondering where to get travel souvenirs, Ben Thanh Market is the place to go! Ben Thanh Market is the oldest and central market of Ho Chi Minh with vendors that sell anything from food, clothes, local handicrafts, vietnamese art and souvenirs. They really do sell everything you can think of here.

➤ Tip: Don’t forget to bargain the pricet!!

People enjoying food at the entrance of Ben Nghe Street Food Market w

7. Ben Nghe Street Food Market 

Ho Chi Minh has some of the best food in Vietnam and the best part of it- you can try different dishes all at once in the same place by going to Ben Nghe Street Food  Market! Gather your friends and buy a different dish to share! It’s also a trendy spot with beautiful street artwork on the walls and dimmed lights.. It’s a brilliant place to hang out at night. 

Here is a list of 20 foods to try in Vietnam you can  taste!!

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

Ho Chi Minh City has various neigboorhoods you can stay at. Some of the best places to stay are in the City Center District 1 near the Notre-Dame Basilica. It’s close to the shopping and dinning spots. There’s also the area surrounding the Ben Thanh Market which is very central to all major attractions. To be in the center of the nightlife stay near the Bui Vien Walking Street.


Bon Ami Hotel

Mai House Saigon Hotel

Galaxy Boutique Sai Gon Central Hotel


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Hi there! I'm Mei

There are too many cuisines to only cook one! I  hope this blog allows you to explore and taste the diversity of cuisines from around the world. Here you’ll find globally-inspired recipes and the travel stories that led to them.  

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