It can be said that a trip to Vietnam is not complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City. This big and interesting city, previously known as Saigon, attracts many tourists with a wide selection of things to see and do. Our 4 Days 3 Nights in Ho Chi Minh City trip itinerary can help you plan your journey to this magnificent city.
As we didn’t have much time to spend in Ho Chi Minh City, we just took a quick look at Saigon and its historic French-colonial landmarks. We’ve also traveled up the gorgeous Mekong River by boat and visited the fascinating historical tunnels reminding of the war.
Ho Chi Minh City Trip Itinerary
Check for the best things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City that we managed to fit into our 4 days 3 nights trip itinerary and how to take the most out of your limited time in the city.
Day 1: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
Evening: Our Ho Chi Minh City trip began in the evening as we were flying from Da Nang and arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) around 18:00. As we were running out of local currency (Vietnamese Dong), we’ve decided to exchange some money right at the airport. To our surprise, we’ve managed to get a really good exchange rate at Ho Chi Minh Airport.
During our travels, we often prefer using public transportation for getting around the cities so taking one of Saigon Airport Buses was our choice. As we’ve decided to stay in the backpackers’ area, taking Airport Bus No. 109 from Tan Son Nhat Airport to our hotel in the center of Ho Chi Minh City was the most convenient route. It cost us only 20,000 VND per person to get from the airport to city center.
As traffic was jammed in several places on the way, it took us more than 1 hour to arrive and finally check-in at the hotel. Our hotel was located in an alley nearby Phan Ngo Street but it was enough far away from the bustling and noisy road. The location was great but the same couldn’t be said about the hotel as we booked a room with the view and paid extra for it but we got one without any normal window.
Choosing the right place to stay is an essential thing during short trips as it helps not to waste much time for getting around the city. We’ve concluded the guide to the best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City where you can find not only best areas of the city bus also recommendations of budget, mid-range and luxury hotels so you could find a place to suit your price range.
If you are a first-timer in Ho Chi Minh City, choosing the hotel near the city center is recommended as it will help you to facilitate transportation and visit the main attractions easily. The center of Saigon is also the place where you can find various tourist targeting activities, organized tours, currency exchange booths, restaurants and everything else you might need during your stay.
After leaving our bags at the hotel, we went out for dinner.
Ho Chi Minh City is the sleepless city so late night is definitely the time to go out to enjoy the atmosphere of the bustling city. People say that visiting Saigon without experiencing city’s nightlife is like going to Hanoi not trying its worldwide famous Pho.
We headed to Bui Vien Street, the street filled with neon lights, bars playing music, and people having fun and eating all the culinary delights of Saigon cuisine as well as tasting local beers. This is definitely the place to spend the night out in Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight: Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City - Khoi 2 Hotel
We were not satisfied with our stay at this hotel but the location was really good so we would strongly suggest you to find another hotel in the same area. Some of the best rated affordable accommodations in that area:
Day 2: Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is not only an important economic, educational, cultural, and technological center of Vietnam but also a famous tourist destination with various tourist attractions. On the second day of our trip we went out to explore Saigon’s most famous landmarks and monuments.
Morning: We woke up early in the morning to enjoy the fresh and peaceful atmosphere before the city starts its hustle and bustle of daily life. We walked along the streets of Saigon to find the place for trying real local breakfast. Plenty of options can be found on the streets and local breakfast costs just from 10,000-25,000 VND.
After the breakfast, we started touring the city’s historical landmarks. We started from Saigon Opera House on Lam Son Street which has been used for political gatherings such as the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Next to it two exceptional hotels are located - Continental Hotel Saigon and Caravelle Hotel Saigon, which was the most popular hotel in Southern Vietnam among correspondents during the Vietnam War as they often gathered there to sip a glass of wine at the bar on the 10th floor.
Next, we went to Dong Khoi Street to see Notre Dame Cathedral, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Vietnam, built with red bricks imported from Marseille.
Close by is Saigon Post Office. This landmark is beautifully preserved by the Vietnamese people since French colonial times.
We also stopped by at Ho Chi Minh City's Book Street. This place is nice and cool area for a stroll and having a refreshment drink.
Afternoon: After lunch at the local restaurant, we went to War Remnants Museum on Vo Van Tan Street. This is a specialized museum for researching, collecting, storing, preserving and displaying of documents, military aircrafts, weaponry and images taken during two wars against France and the United States. If you are into museums, check the list of must-see museums in Ho Chi Minh City for other great places to visit during your stay.
Next, we went for sightseeing at the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace) which was the residence of the President of South Vietnam until the end of the war in April 1975.
Lastly, we ended up at Ben Thanh Market. The market is selling everything you might need from clothing, household items to food so you can definitely find souvenirs here to bring back home.
Not far from Ben Thanh Market, you can visit Mariamman Temple. This Hindu temple stands out with its special Indian architecture.
Evening: We headed to Bitexco Financial Tower, once the tallest building in the city. This building has an observation deck that offers some of the most impressive views of Ho Chi Minh City. We took the elevator to the 49th floor to Saigon Deck, where we could see the 360-degree view of city streets, rivers, and most famous landmarks. There are also several bars and restaurants in the tower, but their prices are quite high.
We prefer more local food experience so we went to Ben Thanh Street Food Market, where you can find all kinds of Vietnamese food at very reasonable prices. The food in Saigon is delightfully different from other regions in Vietnam so make sure to try as many as you can from the list of Must-Try Dishes in Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight: Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Thanh Retreats Hotel
Day 3: Day Trip to Mekong Delta
On our third day in Saigon, we decided to explore the region to experience the uniqueness of Mekong Delta canals. We booked the Full Day Excursion To Mekong Delta online and got a great discount for the trip to see the natural beauty of Southern Vietnam.
Morning: We departed from Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho City by air-conditioned bus. Along both sides of the road, we could see endless rice fields and the countryside of Vietnam.
It took us about 2 hours to reach the first destination on our trip which was Vinh Trang Pagoda, the largest and most distinctive temple in the Mekong Delta.
After leaving Vinh Trang Pagoda, we headed to My Tho wharf, boarded the boat, cruised along Tien River and stopped at Tortoise Island for lunch.
Afternoon: After lunch, we got back to the boat and went to visit local coconut candy makers and got a chance to try local scorpion wine as well as get some photos with the local python.
After that, we were taken by rowboats through small canals to explore the surroundings up close.
Later we visited the homestay, enjoyed seasonal fruits and lemon honey tea there. We also got a chance to listen to Southern folk music before going back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Full review of our journey to Mekong Delta can be found here: Mekong Delta Day Trip from Ho Chi Minh City [Review].
Evening: Depending on your inspiration (as well as your budget), there are many amazing things to do in Ho Chi Minh City at night.
You can learn more about Vietnamese culture through the show. If you want to experience a water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh City and marvel at this form of traditional Vietnamese art, you can visit Golden Water Puppet Theatre. There are daily shows at 17:00 and 18:30 that last about 50 minutes in the theater that can be found behind the Independence Palace.
Another extraordinary show in Ho Chi Minh City that you shouldn’t miss is A O Show. A O Show tells a captivating story of the transition from the peaceful life of the countryside to the fast-paced metropolitan life of modern Southern Vietnam. Tickets to A O Show can be booked online here: A O Show Ticket. The show at Saigon Opera House takes place at 18:00 and 20:30.
Overnight: Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City - Ngoc Linh Hotel
Day 4: Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels
On our last day in Ho Chi Minh City, we took the half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels to discover the hidden underground world of Vietnam. These 250 km long tunnels are located 70 km away from Saigon so getting there by public transportation is quite time consuming. That’s why we’ve opted to join the tour this time.
Morning: After breakfast, we were transferred to Cu Chi, a small community located northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. It took approximately one and a half hour to reach Cu Chi Tunnels.
Before exploring the tunnels, a short introductory video about how the tunnels were constructed and how the people survived during the war time was displayed.
The best experience at Cu Chi Tunnels was going down to tunnels as the tunnel system is uniquely designed for revolutionary activists and includes specially constructed living areas with kitchens, bedrooms, storages, weapons factories, field hospitals, and command centers. Inside the tunnel complex, there are also many hidden trap doors and dangerous traps used for security purposes during the war.
Before transferring back to Ho Chi Minh City, we’ve tasted some of the main dishes of Viet Cong soldiers such as cassava served with tangy tea.
Cu Chi Tunnels has become a very popular tourist attraction but it is not for the claustrophobic.
Afternoon: After coming back to Ho Chi Minh City, we headed to the bus station and departed to Phan Thiet City. Our next destination was Mui Ne, which is one of the most beautiful eco-tourism sites in Binh Thuan Province.