5 days in Ho Chi Minh City (including the Mekong Delta), Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam with nearly 9 million people. It is not the capital of Vietnam like most people assume, that is in fact Hanoi. The city itself has over 5 million vehicles, can you guess how many of those are cars? Only 400k! Yep, the rest are motorbikes and mopeds. Around 1.5 million motorbikes drive in and out of Ho Chi Minh City every single day. We spent 5 days in Ho Chi Minh City and hope our 5-day itinerary can inspire you to visit this amazing country.
5 day itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, check into your hotel and explore the streets
Day 2: Half Day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 3: Explore Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4: Mekong Delta – join a 2 day, 1-night tour
Day 5: Mekong Delta & Ho Chi Minh City in the evening / depart for your next destination
Entering Vietnam and the appropriate Visa
You need to make sure you have got the appropriate visa to enter Vietnam. For details on how to arrange your visa, click here.
Getting from Ho Chi Minh City Airport to your hotel
This might sound simple, just jump in a taxi! Well, you need to be very careful with what taxi company you use. Jenna thankfully did quite a bit of research into how much a taxi should cost and which companies to use and which to avoid. Either use Vinasun or Mailinh taxis and make sure the meter is on. Other taxis are known to have a dodgy meter, which is not how you want to start your trip! Nothing worse than getting frustrated as you watch the meter jump quickly knowing you’re about to pay 10 times what you should be paying. Typically, from the airport to a hotel in district one, you’re looking at around US$15- $20. We actually picked up a private car and negotiated the price before agreeing. We paid 180,000 VND which was a pretty good deal and no hassles at the end.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City
Same rules apply if you want to take a taxi just make sure you’re using Vinasun or Mailinh. It is always a good idea to talk about how much it is likely to cost before getting in and always make sure the meter is turned on. Otherwise, walk! It is a very hot city so you might want to pick up a fan to cool yourself down with while you’re walking. You can, however, use Uber.. if you’re game! There is uber bike, you use the Uber app as you normally would, and you have an option for a bike or a car and you go from there!
Staying connected in Vietnam
While we were waiting on the never ending immigration lines, we noticed a table selling 4G sims. Jenna went to check it out and for US$10, you could get a 4G sim card to suit most phones and that would give you unlimited data for two weeks, which coincidentally is how long we were spending in Vietnam (and I can confirm it turns itself off pretty much on the 2 week mark to the hour!). It is 100% worth it as you can use Google Maps, order an Uber or get directions to your hotel if you’ve gotten lost in the day. For more tips on using your mobile phone abroad, click here.
What to see in Ho Chi Minh City
Notre Dame Basilica: This gorgeous cathedral does have the same name as the one in Paris, and that is because it is a French cathedral and was made 100% imported French building materials. It is located in downtown Ho Chi Minh City and was finished being built in 1880. Saigon General Post Office: Situated opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral, it was designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel.. you guessed it, the guy who the Eiffel Tower is named after! The Opera House: The Opera House is also known as the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City. It is also a really great showcase of the French Colonial Architecture in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bui Vien Street: This street is where the nightlife is in Ho Chi Minh City. After dark, the place turns into a party place with numerous bars and clubs opening up, performers on the street and street vendors selling food and other bits and pieces.
Exploring the Mekong Delta
For a full review of our two-day, 1-night tour of the Mekong Delta, click here. We highly recommend Innoviet as they took us outside the standard tourist areas and the home stay we stayed at was incredible.
Getting to the Cu Chi Tunnels
This is something you really need to do when you visit Ho Chi Minh City. It is certainly worth the trip out there. Click here for a full review of our half day trip with Innoviet Travel.
Where to eat & drink in Ho Chi Minh City
Cuc Gach Quan: This is one restaurant we were recommended a few times, so we had to check it out. It is a Vietnamese restaurant and the building itself has such lovely architecture. The food, well it is probably the best we had in Vietnam. It was so fresh, it came out quickly and the flavours were amazing. It isn’t easy to find, you sort of have to go out of your way to get here, but I can promise you it’s worth it! It’s located at 10 Dang Tat, District 1 (off Hai Ba Trung). I also ordered a Vietnamese Iced Coffee with condensed milk. YUM is all I have to say about that! NGON: This is a large restaurant and has a massive menu so there is something for everyone. It serves traditional Vietnamese food as well as many other cuisines. The service was average, but the food was delicious. It is located at 160 Pasteur, District 1. They don’t take bookings (well at least they didn’t when we went there) but they are pretty quick so you only normally wait for 15 – 20 minutes. Food Markets: We ate here on our first night in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a number of food stalls to choose from and all traditional Vietnamese food. It is a great place to go if you are a group of people and all feel like something different! You won’t be disappointed. The View Rooftop Bar: The View Rooftop Bar is a pretty chilled bar to grab a drink and observe what’s happening down Bui Vien Street which is the nightlight, backpackers street of Ho Chi Minh City. The service was a little slow, but in terms of being in the middle of things, this is the spot!
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City
District 1 is where it’s all happening. If you stay in this area, you can pretty much walk anywhere (if you wanted to!). We stayed at the Sofitel Saigon Plaza and all I can say is WOW! We are Accor Plus and Platinum members which is why we booked with an Accor hotel to start with, however, this hotel is truly something special. We were greeted immediately and were taken to the Executive Lounge for a speedy check in and complimentary afternoon tea and drinks while we waited. This is a standard upgrade if you’re a platinum member, which we were. The room was spacious, the bathroom fantastic and the hotel amenities were great. The best part for us was the executive lounge – we were starving after our flight, so to be able to head to the executive lounge and enjoy some food and drinks, it was nice. They also provide some hot nibbles at dinner time and include complimentary cocktails and whiskey. It was definitely worth it! There is also a lovely rooftop swimming pool if you fancy a relaxing afternoon! Breakfast was amazing. You could pretty much choose to have whatever you wanted. From local Asian cuisine to pizza, to western food and freshly cut fruit. The staff were incredible, we checked out to head out on our Mekong Delta tour, they offered to store our large suitcases for us and when we returned for another night after the Mekong, they all remembered us and welcomed us back like we were their friends or family. It was great.
Do you have travel insurance?
Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.
If you’re looking for alternative accommodation to either save some money or share with friends or family, click here for information on Air B&B ($50 discount on your first booking), hotel price comparison websites etc.
“When overseas you learn more about your own country, than you do the place you’re visiting.” – Clint Borgen