Let’s say Vietnam isn’t really part of your itinerary for this trip. You could be on your way to Cambodia or Laos, and you will need to spend a day in Ho Chi Minh City to wait for your next plane or bus ride. A lot can happen in one day, so we’re here to make the most out of your 24 hours in the bustling city. You may not really have proper plans for going around in a day, but we’re here to make you not spend your waiting time lying senseless in your hotel room.
These are the things that you can do and places you must visit when you just have 24 hours (or less) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Surely a day is not enough for exploring this city, so we strongly suggest going on a separate trip for at least 4 days if you really want to see the best that this vibrant city has to offer.
Saigon Botanical Gardens
This is one of the first things that you can do in the morning. The Saigon Botanical Gardens opens at 7 am, so rising early will be a great idea if you wish to relax and to have a hearty, Vietnamese breakfast. Chances are you’ll be surrounded by so many French-influenced breakfast places upon exiting your hotel/guest house doors, but we suggest you have the authentic stuff. There are nice little restaurants and cafes around the Botanical Gardens where you could have the amazing Pho and of course, Vietnamese coffee.
Cu Chi Tunnels
This is another activity that you can do in the morning. Lots of different tours to the tunnels are offered by travel companies and guest houses, so you won’t have any difficulty arranging a trip. It is in these tunnels where you’d get a glimpse of Vietnam’s history. These served as passageways built by the Viet Cong to serve as supply lines during the Vietnam War. However, if you’re not a fan of enclosed spaces, this may not be for you, for the mazes and tunnels available for viewing and crawling are very narrow. Going here may take up half a day, so make sure you don’t have anything arranged until lunch time.
War Remnants Museum
Vietnam has been through so much tribulation, and though it remains tough through all these years, its past still remains etched in its people’s minds. By visiting the Ho Chi Minh War Remnants Museum, you will be able to walk through pieces of the country’s history. This place is huge, and aside from the planes and tanks you’ll see upon entering the gates, you’ll be able to see different exhibitions in each floor of the whole building, all exhibiting photographs, relics, and other historical pieces that plagued, aided, and molded the country’s history.
You’ll find a place to eat Pho (pronounce as “fuh”) in every corner of the city, but this is arguably one of the best ones you’ll find. Pho 2000 has been around for so many years now, and continues to serve some of the best kinds of the Vietnamese staples to visitors and locals alike. Reasonably priced and clean, this place is where you’d want to have a nice lunch. Also don’t miss their Vietnamese coffee, the thing that you’d need for that little jolt of energy for that afternoon of shopping and walking around the city.
Ben Thanh Market
This is the one place where you can get practically every souvenir you want. This market is home to everything you need to give to your friends and family back home. It’s okay if you don’t have Vietnam dong with you, for most shops accept US dollars. The things that you’d easily find in this market are: different kinds of Vietnamese coffee (there’s simply too much of them that you could get dizzy just by deciding on what to buy), bags with different traditional designs, accessories, souvenir shirts, paintings, etc.
Have you ever been to Ho Chi Minh? What other places and attractions would you suggest to those who will only have a day here? We’d be happy to hear your suggestions on the other spots to visit to maximize a very short stay in this beautiful city. Give us some of your comments, or share some of your experiences with your fellow travelers.