Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling city in southern Vietnam. It’s the largest city in Vietnam and offers many attractions for tourists to enjoy. If you’re only planning on spending a day in Ho Chi Minh City, there are still plenty of things you can do to make the most of your time there. Here, we’ll discuss five ideas for a day tour in Ho Chi Minh City that will help you experience its rich culture and history.
- The Ultimate Guide to Day Trips from Ho Chi Minh City
- Suggested Itinerary explorer Ho Chi Minh City in 1 week
Ho Chi Minh City Walking Tour
A walking tour is a great way to explore the city’s streets, discover hidden gems, and immerse yourself in the local atmosphere. Here is a suggested walking tour itinerary for Ho Chi Minh City:
1. Start your walking tour at Ben Thanh Market, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This bustling market offers a wide variety of goods, including clothing, food, souvenirs, and fresh produce.
2. From Ben Thanh Market, head towards the Opera House. This beautiful French colonial building is an architectural gem and often hosts cultural performances and events.
3. Take a leisurely stroll along Dong Khoi Street, one of the city’s main commercial streets. Here, you can admire the grand colonial buildings, shop at high-end boutiques, and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee at one of the many charming cafes.
4. Continue walking towards the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. This stunning cathedral, built in the late 19th century, is a symbol of Catholicism in Vietnam. Admire its beautiful architecture and peaceful atmosphere.
5. Adjacent to the cathedral is the Saigon Central Post Office, another striking French colonial building. Step inside to admire its interior, including the grand vaulted ceiling and intricate mosaic artworks.
6. From the Central Post Office, walk towards the Independence Palace (also known as Reunification Palace). This historic building played a significant role in Vietnam’s history and offers guided tours to explore its opulent rooms and underground wartime bunkers.
7. After visiting the Independence Palace, take a short walk to the nearby War Remnants Museum. This powerful museum showcases the history of the Vietnam War and its impact on the country and its people.
8. For a relaxing break, head to Tao Dan Park, a green oasis in the heart of the city. Take a seat on one of the park benches, watch locals practicing Tai Chi, or enjoy a tropical fruit shake from one of the nearby stalls.
9. Finish your walking tour at the Bitexco Financial Tower, the city’s tallest building. Take the elevator to the observation deck on the 49th floor for panoramic views of Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy the breathtaking views as you wrap up your walking tour.
Note: This walking tour covers some of Ho Chi Minh City’s most famous landmarks. However, feel free to explore other areas or attractions based on your interests and preferences. Additionally, be mindful of the weather conditions and stay hydrated during your tour.
Ho Chi Minh City Cooking Class
Another way to experience Ho Chi Minh City’s culture is by taking a cooking class. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide, and learning how to cook some of its signature dishes can be a fun and interactive experience. Many cooking classes in Ho Chi Minh City include a trip to a local market to buy ingredients, followed by a hands-on cooking lesson.
One popular cooking class is the “Vietnamese Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc.” This class starts with a market tour and then takes you through the preparation of four traditional Vietnamese dishes, including nem cuon (spring rolls) and banh xeo (sizzling pancakes). At the end of the class, you’ll get to enjoy the dishes you prepared.
Visit Cu Chi Tunnel
A Cu Chi Tunnels Day Tour is a popular tourist activity in Vietnam. The Cu Chi Tunnels are an extensive network of narrow underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City. These tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War as hiding spots, supply routes, communication paths, and even living quarters.
A typical Cu Chi Tunnels Day Tour starts with a pick-up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. From there, you’ll make your way to the Cu Chi Tunnels site, which is approximately a 1.5 to 2-hour drive away. Along the way, your guide will provide you with interesting historical and cultural information about Vietnam.
Once you arrive at the Cu Chi Tunnels, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the tunnels firsthand. You can crawl through a section of the tunnels (which have been widened to accommodate tourists), visit underground bunkers, see trapdoors, and even fire an AK-47 rifle if you wish.
During the tour, your guide will also provide you with insights into the conditions and hardships faced by the Viet Cong soldiers during the war. You’ll learn about their resourcefulness, survival techniques, and guerrilla warfare strategies.
After the tunnel exploration, most tours include a Vietnamese lunch or snack. You can also explore the nearby forests and villages, interact with locals, and learn more about Vietnam’s rural life.
At the end of the day, you’ll be driven back to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, with your head filled with the fascinating stories and experiences from the Cu Chi Tunnels.
It is recommended to book a Cu Chi Tunnels Day Tour with a reputable tour operator to ensure safety, informative guides, and a well-organized itinerary. Prices may vary depending on the tour operator and the specific inclusions/exclusions.
Mekong Delta Tour to Visit Cai Be Floating Market
Cai Be floating market is one of the most popular destinations in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a day tour to visit Cai Be floating market:
1. Depart from Ho Chi Minh City: Start your day early in the morning by leaving from Ho Chi Minh City. The drive to Cai Be takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.
2. Arrive in Cai Be: Upon arrival, you will board a local boat and cruise along the Mekong River to reach Cai Be floating market. Enjoy the scenic views of the river and the lush green surroundings along the way.
3. Explore the floating market: Once you reach Cai Be floating market, witness the vibrant and lively atmosphere with boats filled with various fruits, vegetables, and other products. Take your time to observe the trading activities and even try buying some fresh produce directly from the boats.
4. Visit local workshops: After experiencing the market, visit some local workshops nearby to see how traditional products like rice paper, coconut candy, and handicrafts are made. You will have an opportunity to observe the process and maybe even try making some products yourself.
5. Enjoy local culinary delights: Take a break for lunch and enjoy some authentic Vietnamese cuisine. You can try regional specialties such as “hu tieu” (a type of noodle soup) or “banh xeo” (Vietnamese pancake). All dishes are usually prepared using fresh, local ingredients.
6. Visit fruit orchards and gardens: After lunch, visit some local fruit orchards and gardens to explore the variety of tropical fruits grown in the Mekong Delta region. Enjoy tasting ripe fruits straight from the trees and learn about the farming techniques used in this region.
7. Return to Ho Chi Minh City: After a full day of exploring, it’s time to head back to Ho Chi Minh City. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery on the drive back.
Note: It’s worth mentioning that Cai Be floating market is most active in the early morning, so it’s advisable to start the tour as early as possible to fully experience the market’s hustle and bustle.
Side trip to Can Gio/ Vam Sat Mangrove Forest
If you’re looking to get up close and personal with Vietnam’s wildlife, a side trip to Can Gio/Vam Sat Mangrove Forest is worth considering. Located about 50 km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, this UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve is home to a variety of animals, including crocodiles and monkeys.
A boat ride through the mangrove forest is a great way to see the wildlife up close, and you can also visit the “Monkey Island” sanctuary, where you can feed the resident macaques. A side trip to Can Gio/Vam Sat Mangrove Forest can be combined with a visit to the nearby Rung Sac Military Base, which was used as a supply depot during the Vietnam War.
Ho Chi Minh City has so much to offer its visitors, even if they only have one day to explore. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just want to escape the city and experience rural Vietnam, there’s something for everyone. By taking a walking tour, cooking class, or visiting one of the many attractions, you’re sure to have an unforgettable day in Ho Chi Minh City.