3D2N DIY Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) Vietnam Itinerary with Expenses 2023

This international trip was just for fun. We got the one-way airfare for free when our flight back to Manila from Bangkok was delayed, and we weren't planning on spending much to we booked a very short trip to Ho Chi Minh. Finally ticked off my 6th International country and I've got a LOT more to visit soon!

Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam. Pulsing with energy, innovation, and traffic - lots of traffic. The dynamic cityscape of HCMC, a freewheeling, global metropolis, brings together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of areas, signifying the city's past as well as its future.

Important Things to prepare before your trip:
  • Passport should be valid for at least 6 months
  • Secure your travel insurance - this is helpful because you can claim a certain amount for any travel inconvenience. I availed of travel insurance via GCash - GInsure. Minimum amount to avail is 350php. You can also install the Standard Insurance app via iOS/Android in case you are going to file a claim.
  • Return ticket - Immigration office is strict when asking for a return ticket to ensure that there will be no illegal immigrants overseas.
  • Confirmed and paid hotel booking
  • Any other supporting documents such as COE, Approved Leaves, Bank Certificates/Bank Statements, etc to support that you can fund your international travel to back you up in case needed.
  • Pocket money
Photo at The Cafe Apartments - Ho Chi Minh City

The Cafe Apartments - Ho Chi Minh City
We didn't climb up the 9-storey apartments as we had coffee already prior to going here, but this old-apartment turned into cafes, restaurants, and co-working spaces is definitely a cutting-edge idea.

Location: 42 Nguyen Hue Street (Walking Street)


Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:

1. View the most important landmarks.

Take a stroll down ng Khi street to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the city's Central Post Office, and the Saigon Opera House. Local attractions include Bn Thành Market and the Jade Emperor Pagoda.

2. Visit little boutiques.

A slew of derelict apartments and previous office buildings have been converted into commercial malls in and around District 1. Buildings dating back decades, such as 22 L T Trng and 42 Nguyn Hu, are teeming with interesting shops.

3. Get on your motorcycle.

Do as the locals do and hop on the back of a motorcycle to explore the city from the ground up and experience its electric pulse. Motorbike trips depart in the evening, when the city is at its most romantic and the sidewalk sellers are in full swing.

4. Eat street food and get coffee.

Locals in Ho Chi Minh City like gathering around crumpled metal tables for spectacular roadside feasts. Highlights include bánh m, southern-style savory pancakes (bánh xèo), and broken rice (cm tm).

5. Party at night.
Vietnam may not be recognized as a nightlife innovator, but it knows how to party, and it's home to an ever-growing crop of craft beer tap-rooms, rooftop bars, speakeasy cocktail lounges, and convivial beach bars. 

BEST TIME TO VISIT HO CHI MINH CITY:
If you want to take better photos with natural light, it's best to visit Ho Chi Minh during the dry season from December to March/April. It's a humid country so make sure to put on sunscreen if you're going to walk while strolling.


SAMPLE ITINERARY:

Day 0
Departure from Manila to Ho Chi Minh
Check-in at Hotel (Nhat Ha 1 Hotel
Dinner at Lua Dai Viet Seafood Restaurant
Party / Night Life at Pho Di Bo Bui Vien Walking Street
Return to Hotel

Day 1
You can DIY or book a city sightseeing double decker bus tour from nearby travel agencies, but we opted to walk around the city since our hotel is nearby all of the attractions below

Breakfast at Hotel
🌸 Korean Embassy
🌸 Independence Palace
🌸 Notre Dame Cathedral (Under construction as of April 2023)
🌸 Ho Chi Minh Post Office
🌸 Cong Vien Saigon Center
🌸 Ho Chi Minh Ballet and Symphony Orchestra & Opera
🌸 Ben Nghe Cafe Apartments
🌸 War Remnants Museum
🌸 Must try! Mia Dessert and Fruit
🌸 Saigon Square
Back to Hotel
Dinner
Party at Bui Vien Walking Street
Back to Hotel
Rest


Day 2 - 
Breakfast at Hotel
🌸 Mekong Delta
🌸 Chu Chi Tunnels
🌸 Landmark 81 Skydeck
🌸 Benh Thanh Market
Pack things
Dinner
Rest at Hotel

Day 3 - 
Breakfast at Hotel
Last Minute Shopping
Massage or Spa along Benh Thanh
Check out at Hotel
Departure from Ho Chi Minh to Manila

For DIY Itineraries, you can be spontaneous on the side trips you want to have. There are lots of coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh that you can just look around and see aesthetic coffee shops, or you can opt to try coffee made by the locals.

I recommend buying the Trung Nguyen coffee! One of the best coffees I have tried!

ATTRACTIONS:

1. Korean Embassy - Not really an attraction but I find it nice to take a photo with this Korean wall.


2. Independence Palace & Park - Also publicly known as the Reunification Convention Hall. This landmark is the home and workplace of the Vietnamese President.


3. Saigon Central Post Office - The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of the French Indochina in the late 19th Century. It has a French architecture and a stunning facade. You can buy post cards with iconic buildings of Ho Chi Minh City from the gift shop in the center and send them home using mailing service.

Interesting things to do: 
You can write letters and post cards and send it anywhere in the world.

How to get to Saigon Central Post Office:
The Central Post Office is located near Diamond Plaza and Notre Dame Cathedral. If you are checked in within Ho Chi Minh District 1, you can just walk around the city or join a guided city tour from a travel agency.

If you are commuting from the other districts, you can ride Grab or buses number 03, 120, 19, 30, and 93.

Admission is FREE
4. Night Life at Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Street
It's surprising how Ho Chi Minh rocks the nightlife with this street. I kinda missed my life as a party girl in my early 20s when I walked past this street. This is considered a nightlife "heaven" for foreigners as this street is filled with so many bars, pubs, and clubs along the street.

VISAVNTOURS
5. Parks near Independence Palace
We walked around the city and just stopped by these parks. I am amazed to see so many greens around Ho Chi Minh City and there are huge parks like this where you can hang out with people.
6. MIA Dessert and Fruit Cafe - This is not really an attraction, but I find it worthy to share especially for people who is fond of places and cafes with aesthetic vibes, this is a must-visit! They have good food and a very chill place. We were given access to the VIP area and I can't help but be too happy with this setup. Everything we bought are just perfect!

We spent a total of 500,000 VND (around 1.2K in peso) for the food we bought here.
Experience a panoramic view of Saigon 390M above with Landmark 81's Saigon Skyview - Vietnam's tallest building. See the outdoor area and its advanced LED screen effect, a spectacular floor lighting and water effects.

Buy your Landmark 81 tickets here: Landmark 81 Klook Voucher
  • Enjoy the 360-degree view of Saigon from the 81st floor, plus get 2 8R Printed photos and a VR Experience climbing and going down Landmark 81



8. Saigon Opera House
This building is also called as the Municipal Theater and stands an impressive sight night and day. The theater is a venue for most high profile events such as cultural and entertainment activities. You can simply take a photo of the beautiful stone-carved building outside or watch a theater play while enjoying the Vietnamese bamboo circus - the folk harmony of the Vietnamese countryside mixed with youthful melodies - while seeing the eye-catching combination of rustic homegrown props such as basket boats and bamboo baskets.

Buy Opera Tickets at Saigon Opera House here: Saigon Opera House Tickets

How to go there: The Saigon Opera House is just located on the city's center axis, around Ben Thanh market.







EXPENSES:
Out of all the Asian countries I have visited, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is the most affordable. I exchanged 10,000php for this trip and another 10,000php was exchanged by my travel buddy but we were only able to spend around 7,000php each! I can’t believe it. 7,000php in the Philippines for a travel is not enough. But I was able to make it enough for this trip, plus I bought pasalubong. 

You can see below sample expenses we had. We even took Grab rides and bought a lot of pasalubong.







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