Backpacking: 24 hrs in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) , Vietnam | DIY Travel Guide |

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Roaming around Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with just 24 hours to spare may seem quite meager. When in Ho Chi Minh City one should try to visit the Cu Chi Tunnel and the Mekong Delta River as some say. However,I read some negative feed backs on both places. For Cu Chi Tunnel, we just thought that the War Remnant Museum would be enough for us to have a glimpse about Vietnam War or Vietnam’s History in general. And for Mekong Delta River, we thought it wasn’t worth our time as Mekong delta tour would take 1 full day.We decided to have a quick tour of its city and a bit of Food Trip instead.

Ho Chi Minh City, is our 2nd stop in our South-East Asia Travel. With only around 24 hours to spare for this wonderful country, we visited as much attraction as we can while munching vietnamese foods along the way.Hahaha What I enjoyed in our city tour is that only one attraction we went to that has an entrance fee, the rest are free. Hahahah

Exchange rate: 1php = 500 Vietnamese Dong (VND) or 1 USD= around 23,000 VND

Expenses:

  • Ariport Pick up- 15USD divided by 3 = 5 USD Each
  • streetfood allowance – 100,000 VND
  • Breakfast – 20,000 VND
  • Dinner -50,000 VND
  • War Remnant’s Museum Entrance fee – 15,000 VND
  • Taxi Allowance – 20,000 VND each
  • Lunch – 100,000 VND each
  • Hotel – 460 php each
  • souvenir/shopping allowance -200,000 VND

TOTAL: if converted to Phil. Peso, it will be around 1,800php ALL-IN (if you include the van fare from HCMC to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it will be around 2,500php)

Upon Arrival:

  • 5pm arrival- Airport pick up by Hotel Car service. Before you would go out at the Airport, have your USD changed to Vietnamese Dong. Vietnam stores do not accept USD.
  • 7pm- arrive at hotel: Luan Vu Hotel, Address: 35/2 Bui Vien Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 70000 . I chose this Hotel mainly because of the good feedback I read in Agoda.com reviews. Not to mention that this Hotel is located at the heart of the backpackers district in Saigon. Lots of food and shops nearby.
  • 8pm- Have Pho Bo and Bhan Mi for dinner on the streets
    9pm- visit Starbucks to buy mug or stroll around District 1.
    11pm- Sleep

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NOTE: Ask hotel for a simple tourist map for your guide. Start your tour in War Remnants and then everything will be in walking distance.

Day 2:

  • 6am- wake up call
  • 7am- breakfast
  • 8am- start tour (War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame..etc)
  • 11am- Lunch
  • 12noon- assume tour
  • 2:15pm- Back to Hotel to get luggage

Take a cab to War Remnants. Flag down of cabs is 11,000VND,.. ranges from 15k-50k VND per cab ride.. and from there,everything is in walking distance. Just follow this sequence:

1st- War Remnant’s Museum

War Remnant’s Museum is a proof regarding crimes committed by the Americans during a war that happened several decades ago that provides such tragic incident to Vietnamese as they tried to colonize Vietnam. The museum will be able to show you how merciless with the hunger for power does the Americans had during those days. Well, upon going through all that’s what happened, it was actually kind of a one-sided story, but then it’s there history that they are trying to emphasize. Up to this date, the chemical known as “Agent Orange” that was released by the Americans into Vietnam soil still produce toxicity to its people. There are still locals born with congenital defects due to that chemical that has been spread out even it was already few decades ago. It made me realize how lucky I am to be born in a later decade and was not able to experience those tragic moments.

Entrance fee of War Remnant’s Museum is 15,000 VND. Around 30php only!

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In front of War Remnant Museum.

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2nd – Reunification Palace

We were informed that this palace holds another museum. Since, we thought that we had enough history lessons we had from War Remnants Museum, we made a pass in entering the palace.

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3rd- Notre Dame Cathedral

An iconic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. This church is probably the grandest catholic church throughout the city, knowing that Vietnam is a communist country. Since this church is one of the fundamental tourist spot for travelers, we didn’t slip the chance to have tons of photo ops.😜😁

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4th- Central Post Office

Central Post office is another indication of french architectural repercussion to the city. The building is still operational, and with in you can find some souvenir shops, refreshments, ATM’s and even money changers. We just had a very quick peak inside the building, it has a very classic European vibe to it.

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Central Post office

After which, you may have lunch in this Restaurant which is just a few blocks away from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Lunch: Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant address: 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, HCMC
(you can find this restaurant just few blocks away from Notre Dame Cathedral)
To order: Cha Ca –chunk of fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric in a hot pan table side
Banh Xeo – crispy crepe with meat inside and veggies
Nem Ran/ Cha Gio – fried spring rolls

After Lunch, you may head East to explore more of Saigon:

5th- Ho Chih Minh Square
6th- City Hall
last stop- Saigon Square for shopping. You can buy the cheapest original factory made North Face bag in this Mall.

1:30pm- back in hotel
3pm- departure to Phom Penh Cambodia via Mekong Van Express Limousine. You can book a seat via there website: https://catmekongexpress.com/Booking.aspx
It costs 14USD with 1 bottled water, a cold wet wipes and a meat bun is included.

For all the foodie out there, this is the one that you should try to eat while in Vietnam:

1. Banh Mi @ Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa (Banh Mi Huynh Hoa) address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam open at 3:30pm to midnight –Sandwich!!
Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa ADDRESS: 62 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam… Open in the morning
2. Bún riêu (bun rieu) @ Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân – Noodle soup with tomato base
Address: 18/5 Nguyễn Cảnh Chân, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
3. Bánh xèo (banh xeo) – address: Banh Xeo 46A, District 1. – Vietnamese crepe
4. Bánh tráng trộn (banh trang tron) – (you can find this one in the plaza near Benh Than Market at night) It’s basically a snack or junk food, and when I was in Saigon, I noticed that it’s especially popular with youth and the younger generation, and often available at parks and public places, and nearly always served in a plastic bag.
a snack of shredded rice paper, seasoned with a chili sauce, and filled with herbs like Vietnamese coriander and basil and supplemented with pieces of squid, salty fish, and quail eggs. There are probably about ten more ingredients I’m forgetting to mention in the mix as well.

5. Pho Bo – it would seem as Vietnam’s National Dish. Fairly common. You can find this noodle soup in evey corner across the city of Siagon.

TIPS:
Mode of transportation:

Tansportation to Hotel:
-If you do not want to take an airport pick up from your hotel, you can just get a taxi outside the airport. Just be sure to take any of these to types of taxi as they are legit and reliable and avoid getting scammed:
Mai Linh/Vinasun Taxi – more or less 150,000-170,000 Dong to the City (taxis are found on the left side of the airport)
-The cheapest way is to take public city Bus # 152 parking in a lane few steps away on the right side from the Arrival’s entrance.
It takes you downtown to the Bus Station on the opposite side of the traffic round about from Ben Thanh market, at a cost of 5000 dong per person and per piece of big luggage. It runs every 20 minutes from 6 am until 6 pm.
-what we did is that we just had the airport pickup service in our hotel just to be safe and to avoid unforeseeable hassle/problem. We don’t want to have a headache from the start of our trip. It was 15 USD for the service fare (you may use dong in paying the hotel).
-never ever ride the trike (a pedaled tricycle) as they will really try to rip you off. Its better to take the taxi. It looks like this:

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spot the tag.😅😅😂

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-when getting in a taxi, always tell them to get it metered.
-If you go on Shopping, I advice you to buy at Saigon Square rather than in Benh Than Market. Benh Than Market is famous amongst expats to really ripped the tourist off.
-take the taxi when going to the Mekong Van Express from the Hotel. It wouldn’t cost you that much. Or if you want, you can walk, just ask your hotel receptionist for directions.

 

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