Are you planning a trip to Vietnam? If you’re on a short trip, you are probably deciding where to go — Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi?

I had the same dilemma too on my first visit to the country.

Since I only had a couple of days to spend, I decided to go to Ho Chi Minh. Plus, coming from Cambodia, it was closer and cheaper to visit.

Popularly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is famous for French-colonial buildings, strong coffee/tea culture, exciting food scene, war-time history & chaotic bike-filled streets.

It’s also the gateway to Southern Vietnam, home to many natural & cultural spots worth the journey.

Traveling to Ho Chi Minh for the first time? this detailed travel guide blog will get you started on how to plan a trip. I’ve included helpful tips that can help you maximize your time and save money.

Get started

Here’s a quick glimpse of places to visit & things to do in Ho Chi Minh. Scroll down for must-know tips, sample itinerary, where to stay, budget breakdown, where to go, and lots of extra travel tips.

Heritage buildings & soaring skyscrapers rise side-by-side along Nyugen Walking Street in downtown Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Click here to see more trips.

For more, follow trip updates on: Instagram @detouristaHQ, Facebook @detourista & Pinterest.

How to go — Touchdown at Ho Chi Minh-Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), which serves flights from Manila (2h 35m travel time), Singapore (2h), Bangkok (1h 30m), Kuala Lumpur (1h 55m) & more. You can also fly directly from other destinations in Vietnam including Hanoi (2h), Da Nang (1h 20m), Hai Phong (2h), Hue (1h 20m), Nha Trang (1h), & Phu Quoc (1h).

Search cheap flightsManila to Ho Chi Minh

Visa-free travel for Philippine citizens — Filipino/Pinoy tourists (Philippine passport holders) do not need to apply for a visa before arriving in Vietnam. Filipinos usually get a maximum stay of 21.

Best time to visit — Go during the dry season from December to April for sunny weather. It’s also the peak tourist season, so expect prices to be higher, especially in the cooler months of December & February. The months of March, April and May are the hottest. Meanwhile, the rainy season lasts from May to November.

Book your hotel early — Reserve your stay as soon as you know you are going because prices rarely go down the closer you are to your trip. Not to mention, lower-priced rooms tend to get fully booked faster. Click below to compare rates & read reviews by other travelers.

See discounts

Pre-book tours & discount tickets — Check discounts on tours and attractions. Save money & avoid hassles of exchanging/bringing large amounts of cash by booking online.

See discounts

Top discounts booked by other travelers

Vietnam money/currency exchange — Vietnamese dong (VND or ₫) is the currency used in the country. You should be able to exchange your USD, EUR, GBP, SGD easily at most money exchange stalls. To be safe bring, USD (or any of the currencies above) instead of PHP. Exchanging Philippine Pesos to VND is not popular in Ho Chi Minh. Or, use an ATM card to withdraw VND.

Getting around Ho Chi Minh — A trip from the airport to downtown Ho Chi Minh takes around 45 minutes by car/taxi/bus/shuttle. Grab and Uber are popular for convenient & safe rides to/from the airport & around the city. As you know, you will need mobile internet to use ride-sharing apps. So, get a data sim card or 3G/4G pocket wifi. Most hotels & top attractions are located in District 1. It’s a fairly small area that can be easily explored on foot.

Vietnam internet pocket wifi/sim card

See discounts

Transport apps, car charter & private transport:

Ho Chi Minh on a budget — This city is one of the cheapest destinations in Southeast Asia. Affordable accommodations, local food & transport are very easy to find. I’ve included a lot of money saving tips on this guide in case you are traveling on a tight budget.

How many days is enough — One day is enough to go on a quick tour of downtown Ho Chi Minh. Plan a visit of 2 to 3 days (or more) if you want to tour Chu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta. With a 1 to 2 week trip, you can go farther to beautiful places to visit in South Vietnam including Dalat, Mui Ne, Nha Trang & Phu Quoc.

Ho Chi Minh by land — Direct buses are available from Phnom Penh (6 – 7h) and Siem Reap (13h – 18h), Cambodia. You can also travel by bus or train from other destinations in Vietnam including Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Nha Trang & Can Tho. Click below to see prices.

Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh

Top Vietnam & Ho Chi Minh travel blogs & guides

Ho Chi Minh Itinerary

Here’s an overview of how to spend 3 days & 2 nights (3D2N) in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Scroll down for more itinerary details, budget & extra travel tips.

Day 1

Arrival in Ho Chi Minh.

Transfer to hotel.

Ho Chi Minh – District 1 city tour.

Bui Vien Street & Ho Chi Minh nightlife.

Day 2

Mekong Delta river cruise full day tour.

Ho Chi Minh shopping / nightlife.

Day 3

Chu Chi Tunnels half-day tour.

Shopping

Transfer to airport

Departure

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh

The main tourist area in Ho Chi Minh is District 1. It’s the best places to stay if you want a convenient location near top tourist spots, restaurants, shopping & nightlife.

District 1 is packed with hotels & hostels that cater to any budget.

Most low-cost places & affordable hostels can be found in the area of Pham Ngu Lao & Bui Vien streets, the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh.

Meanwhile, excellent mid-range and luxury hotels are located near the riverside & Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

Ho Chi Minh hotels & hostels

Here’s a list of recommended hotels, hostels & places to stay in Ho Chi Minh. Click below to check prices, discounts & guest reviews.

Phan Anh Backpackers 

Budget | Pham Ngu Lao, District 1

Son Tung Hotel

Budget | De Tham Street, District 1

Phuc Khanh Hotel

Budget | Yersin, District 1

La Hostel Saigon

Budget | Nguyen Thai Hoc, District 1

Nguyen Shack Saigon

Mid-range | Ben Thanh , District 1

Cinnamon Boutique Hotel Saigon

Splurge | Le Thi Rieng, District 1

Tripwriter Hotel

Splurge | Pham Ngu Lao, District 1

Hotel Nikko Saigon

Splurge | Nguyen Van Cu Street, District 1

Liberty Central Saigon

Splurge | Pasteur Street, District 1

Caravelle Saigon Hotel

Splurge | Lam Son Square, District 1

Hotel Majestic Saigon

Splurge | Dong Khoi Street, District 1

Rex Hotel Saigon

Splurge | Nguyen Hue, District 1

Search more!

Compare all places to stay & promo rates by searching below.

Where to book

Book your stay online through these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently during my travels to grab the best deals & enjoy convenient bookings. Click below to see today’s lowest prices.

AgodaBooking.com

Here are some of the top reasons why I prefer to book online & why you should too:

Wide selection of hotels/hostels for all budgets.

Often cheaper prices than walk-in rates. Earn rewards points for every booking. The more you book, the more you earn!

Trusted by millions of travelers. Read reviews from actual staying guests.

Instant confirmation & free cancellation on most properties.

Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies. Convenient & secure payment by credit card or Paypal.

Fast customer support.

For home & apartment rentals. I book my stay online on:

Airbnb

How to find affordable yet decent hotels or hostels perfect for your budget

Step 1 — Go to Agoda.com.

Step 2 — View all properties within your price range by tapping on the “Filter” button. Then, scroll down to “Price per night” and select your price range. Tap on “Filter” to see the results. For desktop users, you can find the filters on the left side of the page.

Step 3 — See properties with the best reviews by tapping on the “Sort” button. Then, choose “Guest ratings” > “All guests” or any of the choices you like. For desktop users, the sort button is located on top of the results.

Pro tip — Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score. A higher number of reviews mean a more reliable review score.

By default, prices displayed do not include taxes/fees. If you want to see the total price (paid upon checkout), tap on the menu button found on the upper right corner of the page. Scroll down to the “Price view” settings and select “Total stay.” For desktop users, you can find it under the “Price per night” filter (left side of the page).

To view the best places to stay, simply sort the results by guest ratings.

To check the cheapest rooms/beds, sort the results by price from lowest to highest.

Again, be mindful of the number of reviews in addition to the review score to find the best options, as experienced by other travelers.

For rock-bottom prices & promo rates on luxury hotels, filter the results by showing only “4-stars” and/or “5-stars,” then select “Hotels” as the property type. Lastly, sort by price from low to high. See more on the deals tab & clicking on the “Insider deals” or “Agoda secret deals.”

Ho Chi Minh 3 Days Itinerary

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh city tour

AM — Flight to Ho Chi Minh & arrival.

Ho Chi Minh Airport to city/hotel transfer.

Ho Chi Minh hotel check-in.

Start Ho Chi Minh city tour.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall.

Saigon Opera House.

Saigon Norte-Dame Basilica.

Saigon Central Post Office.

PM — The Lunch Lady.

Jade Emperor Pagoda.

War Remnants Museum.

Reunification Palace.

Saigon Skydeck.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

Ho Chi Minh nightlife.

Day 2: Mekong Delta

AM to PM — Mekong Delta/My Tho full day tour.

Day 3: Chu Chi Tunnels

AM — Chu Chi Tunnels half-day tour.

PM — Ho Chi Minh shopping.

Ho Chi Minh city center/hotel to airport transfer.

Ho Chi Minh Airport.

Return/onward flight from Ho Chi Minh.

If you only have 2 days (2D1N) in Ho Chi Minh, simply pick one you like better — (1) Mekong Delta, (2) Chu Chi Tunnels, or (3) More time in the city for sightseeing/shopping.

If you want to visit other destinations in South Vietnam, consider a longer trip of 4-5 days, 1 week or more.

Ho Chi Minh budget

Your travel budget in Ho Chi Minh will largely depend on activities you plan on enjoying, how much you’re up to spend on activities, accommodations & food. For your reference, here are the budget estimates if you follow the itinerary posted above.

3 days Ho Chi Minh budget

Estimate for budget travelers.Price per person
Transport — Airport transfers. See expenses breakdown below for details.VND 150,000
Accommodations — 3D2N stay in backpacker dorms. VND 120,000 per bed per night x 2 nightsVND 240,000
Food — Daily budget of VND 150,000 x 3 days.VND 450,000
Total (excluding activities).VND 840,000

Total above is approx. USD 37 / PHP 1,880. Or, a daily budget of USD 12 / PHP 630 / VND 280,000.

The total budget above is for the entire 3 days trip, excluding flights, attractions/activities & short rides/transport within the city. I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can travel.

If you have money to splurge on hotels/food and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted on this page to calculate your own budget.

Here’s the total budget plus entrance/admission fees on selected activities in Ho Chi Minh.

Including activities.Price per person
Reunification Palace — Entrance fee per adult.VND 15,000
War Remnants Museum — Entrance fee per adult.VND 15,000
Mekong Delta/My Tho full day tour — Including guided group tour, transport, boat cruise, entrance fees & lunch.

VND 344,000
Chu Chi Tunnels half-day tour — Including guided group tour, transport & entrance fees. Per person.

VND 344,000
Total — VND 718,000 attractions expenses + VND 840,000 transport, accommodations & food budgetVND 1,558,000

Total above is approx. USD 69 / PHP 3,480. Or, a daily budget of USD 23 / PHP 1,160 / VND 519,000.

Don’t let all zeros fool you. The budget above is really cheap considering it includes 2 guided tours outside the city — Mekong Delta & Chu Chi Tunnels. 1 million Vietnamese dong is just USD 44 or PHP 2,200.

Expenses breakdown

Transport breakdownPrice
Ho Chi Minh Airport to city/hotel transfer — By Uber/Grab. Per carVND 130,000
Shuttle bus to Ho Chi Minh city — Per person.VND 20,000
OthersPrice
Short Uber/Grab car rides within the city — Estimated per trip/car. 4 people max.VND 20-40K
Short UberMoto/GrabBike within the city — Estimated per trip. Per person.VND 12-20K
Saigon Skydeck — Admission fee per person.

VND 200,000
Vietnam 3G pocket wifi — Unlimited 3G data/mobile internet, 3 days rental. Connects up to 8 devices. VND 115,000 per day per device.

VND 345,000
Philippine Travel Tax — For Filipino outbound tourists only.PHP 1,620

Top Ho Chi Minh Spots

Here’s a list of top Ho Chi Minh tourist spots & things to do.

1. Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Ho Chi Minh City Hall in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam. Click here to see more on Instagram.

Formerly the Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon, this elegant building is one of Ho Chi Minh’s most iconic landmarks. It was built during the early 1900s in French-colonial style and later renamed as the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. A popular time to visit is during nighttime when the building & grounds are lit up.

Location — 86 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1 (See map).

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free to take pictures from outside.

How to get to Ho Chi Minh City Hall — Found at the heart of the city, the Ho Chi Minh City Hall is easily reached from hotels/hostel in District 1. From Pham Ngu Lao, you can get there on foot (20 minutes walk;1.7km) or by taxi/car/motorcycle. Don’t break a sweat by taking a taxi/Uber/Grab car, which should cost VND 20,000 to 30,000. By UberMoto/GrabBike, the fare is VND 12,000 to 15,000.

1. Saigon Skydeck

City view from Saigon SkyDeck, in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam. Click here to see more on Instagram.

Location — Bitexco Financial Tower, 36 Ho Tung Mau St. (See map).

Opening hours — 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Admission/entrance fee — VND 200,000 per person.

How to get to Saigon Skydeck — Getting there from the Reunification Palace on foot takes around 15 minutes (1.5 kilometers). You can find the Bitexco Financial Tower near the riverside end of Nguyen Hue Walking Street. The entrance to Saigon Skydeck is located along Ho Tung Mau Street.

2. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Nguyen Hue Walking Street in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam. Click here to see more on Instagram.

Nguyen Hue used to be one of the main thoroughfares of Ho Chi Minh. Now, it’s totally closed to traffic and a must-visit attraction of the city, especially at night when you can see French-colonial style & modern buildings lit up. Stretching from Ho Chi Minh City Hall to the Mekong River, it’s almost a kilometer in length.

Location — Nguyen Hue St., District 1 (See map).

Opening hours — All day/night.

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free.

How to get to Nguyen Hue Walking Street — Right in front of Ho Chi Minh City Hall. You can’t miss it!

3. The Lunch Lady

Shrimp noodles at The Lunch Lady, in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam.Click here to see more on Instagram.

If you want to try delicious local Vietnamese food, this is one of the best places to go. The Lunch Lady was made famous when it got featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations” in 2009.

Location — 23 Hoang Sa St., District 1 (See map).

Opening hours — 9 am to 3 pm.

Prices — Mains from VND 40,000 per dish.

How to get to The Lunch Lady — You can find it on a quiet corner near Hoang Sa Street. The Lunch Lady can be hard to find for first-timers & a long walk away from Saigon Central Post Office/Ho Chi Minh City Hall. So, better get there by Uber/Grab/Taxi & check Google Maps for directions.

4. Saigon Opera House

Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Location — 7 Lam Son Square, District 1 (See map).

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free.

Opening hours — 7 am to 7 pm.

How to get to Saigon Central Post Office — Like most city attractions in District 1, Saigon Opera House is within an easy walk from Ho Chi Minh City Hall. In fact, it’s just right around the block. Follow Nguyen Hue Walking Street eastwards & turn left to Saigon Opera House.

5. Saigon Norte Dame Basilica

Notre Dame Basilica in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Location — End of Dong Khoi Street, District 1 (See map).

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free to take pictures from outside.

How to get to Saigon Norte Dame Basilica — From Saigon Opera House, follow Dong Khao street until you reach Saigon Norte Dame Basilica. You can’t miss it!

6. Saigon Central Post Office

Central Post Office Interiors in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Location — End of Dong Khoi Street opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, District 1 (See map).

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free.

Opening hours — 7 am to 7 pm.

How to get to Saigon Central Post Office — Facing the front/facade of Saigon Norte Dame Basilica, you can find the Saigon Central Post Office on your left.

7. Emperor Jade Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Location — 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1 (See map).

Opening hours — 7 am to 6 pm.

Admission/entrance fee — None/Free.

How to get to Emperor Jade Pagoda — If you feel like taking a walk after a full meal at The Lunch Lady, you can go to the Emperor Jade Pagoda on foot. Walk towards the riverside and turn left at Hoang Sa Street. Turn another left once you reach the bridge. Cross to the other side of Dien Bien Phu Street (at the roundabout), turn left and walk towards Mai Thi Luu Street. Once you reach the corner, turn right and walk a couple of meters to the Emperor Jade Pagoda.

8. Ho Chi Minh shopping

Ho Chi Minh is a shopper’s paradise, especially for bargain-hunters looking to buy items from top international brands at a fraction of the price. If you didn’t already know, Vietnam is home to factories of many famous clothing/bag brands including The North Face, Nike, Under Armour, Kipling, Forever21, Mango, Zara and more. Bags & active/sportswear clothing are sold at shocking rock-bottom prices in Ho Chi Minh.

Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ben Thanh Market — A large marketplace housed in the historic Central Market building. It’s probably the most popular place to buy souvenirs, Vietnamese art, branded goods & local handicrafts. Sellers often offer higher prices to non-local, so bargain hard & shop around before buying. Not keen on shopping? There are many good food stalls here that serve local Vietnamese dishes. Ben Thanh Market is located on Duong Le Loi Street, District 1 (See map).

Saigon Square — Sellers are not as aggressive as those in Ben Thanh Market & prices are often cheaper too. This air-conditioned mall is packed with stalls selling clothing, bags, accessories, and jewelry. Here, you can buy Nike dri-fit shirt for around USD 5 / PHP 250 & The North Face bags/jackets for USD40 or less. Shocking, right? Most of the items are factory overruns or class A imitation. So, check the quality of the items before buying. Saigon Square is located on 81 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1 (See map)..

9. Ho Chi Minh nightlife

Bui Vien backpacker & nightlife Street, in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

For a fun night out & drinks, head to Bui Vien Street, Ho Chi Minh’s version of Khao San Road in Bangkok. It is the famous backpacker area filled with bars, restaurants & dance clubs.

If you’re looking to splurge & enjoy views overlooking the city, here’s a list of cool rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh:

Alto Heli Bar & EON 51 — 52nd & 51st floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu Street, District 1; bitexcofinancialtower.com.

Chill Skybar — 26th floor, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai Street, District 1; chillsaigon.com.

Top of the Town Bar — 25th floor, Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5.

Level 23 Wine Bar — 23rd floor, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi Street, District 1; sheratonsaigon.com.

Shri Restaurant & Lounge — 23rd floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1; shri.vn.

Grand Café — 20th floor, Grand Hotel, 8 Dong Khoi Street, District 1; grandhotel.vn.

Saigon Saigon Bar — 10th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19-23 Lam Son Square, District 1; caravellehotel.com.

Breeze Sky Bar and M Bar — 5th and 8th floor, Hotel Majestic, 1 Dong Khoi Street, District 1; majesticsaigon.com.vn.

Rooftop Garden Bar — 5th floor, Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1; rexhotelvietnam.com.

Broma — 4th floor, 41 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1; facebook.com/bromabar.

10. Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Also known as The Independence Palace.

Location — 106 Nguyen Du, District 1 (See map).

Opening hours — 7:30 to 11 am, 1 to 4 pm

Admission/entrance fee — VND 15,000 per person.

How to get to Reunification Palace — From the War Remnants Museum, follow Le Quy Don Street eastwards (on your right after exiting) until the dead end. Turn left to the next intersection and another right to get to the entrance gate of the Reunification Palace.

11. War Remnants Museum

Location — 28 Vo Van Tan St, District 3 (See map).

Opening hours — # am to # pm.

Opening hours — 7:30 am to 6 pm

Admission/entrance fee — VND 15,000 per person.

How to get to War Remnants Museum — It’s around 1 kilometer or a 15-minute walk away from Norte Dame Basilica/Central Post Office. If you’re coming from The Lunch Lady/Emperor Jade Pagoda, the War Remnants Museum is better reached by Uber/Grab/taxi.

Beyond Ho Chi Minh

Mekong Delta

Mekong floating market and river cruise, in Can Tho, Vietnam

See the beautiful countryside of Mekong Delta including iconic fishing villages with stilt houses, rice paddies, floating markets. The most popular destinations in the Mekong Delta include My Tho (nearest & most accessible from Ho Chi Minh), Vinh Long & Can Tho. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh to My Tho is 1h by bus. To Can Tho, travel time is 3-4h.

Tours & discounts

Chu Chi Tunnels

Famous underground tunnels that were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots and location of several military campaigns. It’s an easy day trip away from Ho Chi Minh City.

Tours & discounts

Dalat

Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its cool climate. Dalat is known for its elegant French-colonial buildings, pine forests, lakes, waterfalls and coffee/tea farms. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h by flight or 6-8h by bus.

Mui Ne

This beach resort town is home to the famous red and white sand dunes of South Vietnam. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 5-7h by bus.

Nha Trang

One of the Vietnam’s major beach destinations, Nha Trang is especially popular among local weekenders from Ho Chi Minh and foreigners who want to enjoy great-value resorts. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h by flight, 8h by train or 8-9h by bus.

Phu Quoc

Located off the southwest coast of Vietnam near the Cambodian border. Phu Quoc is one of the country’s emerging island destinations known for white-sand beaches and resorts. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h by flight or 9-11h by bus+ferry.

Tours & discounts

Hanoi & Ha Long Bay

Cruise boats and blue sky, in Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh, Vietnam

In contrast to modern and high-energy Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese capital city is remarkably less busy and has an old-town feel with scenic lakes & more traditional style of life. Hanoi is the gateway to Ha Long Bay and North Vietnam. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 2h by flight, 36-38h by train.

Tours & discountsTravel tips

Hoi An & Da Nang

Hoi An is known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Meanwhile, Da Nang is a popular beach destination & the main gateway to Central Vietnam. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h20m by flight, 16-19h by train or 20-22h by bus.

Da Nang Tours & discountsTravel tips

Hoi AnTravel tips

Phnom Pehn

Angkor Wat replica at the Royal Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia’s capital city. Home to the Royal Palace & Killing Fields. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h by flight or 5-6h by bus.

Tours & discountsTravel tips

Siem Reap

Gateway to Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s #1 tourist spot. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh is 1h by flight or 10-13h by bus.

Tours & discountsTravel tips

Travel tips before you go

How to get to Ho Chi Minh?

Ho Chi Minh Flights

Flights to Ho Chi Minh arrive at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), the gateway to South Vietnam & busiest airport in the country. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh airport to the city center/downtown area is usually 45 minutes. Or, more if traffic is heavy. You can go via the airport bus, taxi, Uber/Grab or private car.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Click below to see prices on Ho Chi Minh flights & compare airlines.

Philippines-Manila to Ho Chi Minh flights

Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airline & AirAsia operate direct flights from The Philippines to Ho Chi Minh. Travel time from Manila to Ho Chi Minh by plane is 2 hours and 35 minutes.

As an alternative, you can search more options and cheap airfares on connecting flights via Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Hong Kong.

How to get from Ho Chi Minh Airport to the city center/downtown area

By bus — Ride Bus #109, which has a stop at Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1. The fare is VND 20,000 per person. This route operates from 5:30 am until 1:30 am. You can also go on Bus #49, which also passes by Pham Ngu Lao & popular hotel areas beyond. The fare is VND 40,000 per person. The cheapest way to the airport is via Bus #152, which departs from the bus station near Ben Thanh. This route only runs until 6 pm. The fare is VND 5,000 per person.

By Taxi/Grab/Uber — Metered rates range from VND 150,000 to VND 170,000 per ride. Ride-hailing/sharing apps are also popular. Use Uber or Grab for convenient & safe rides in Ho Chi Minh.

Get UberGrab (iOS)Grab (Android)

By private car — For hassle-free transfers, book a private car with a convenient drop-off to your hotel or Ho Chi Minh Airport (if coming from the city). You can hire a car that can seat up to 4 people or a van for bigger groups (up to 7 people per car). Click below to see discount prices.

See discounts

How to find cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh?

The easy way is to search on airfare comparison sites that can show you the lowest fares on multiple airlines in one go.

I use these sites often to find the best prices on flights. Check as many sites as possible because not all may display the same results. Click below to start your search.

MomondoSkyscannerWegoTripAdvisor

Also, check Ho Chi Minh promo alerts several weeks or months ahead of your trip if you are planning your trip early. The cheapest promos are sold several months to a year in advance of the travel/flight departure date.

To learn more, visit the guide on how to book cheap flights.

Where to book bus & train tickets online?

Traveling by bus or train to Ho Chi Minh from Cambodia, Thailand or other places in Vietnam? Check the price on sites below that offers the best rates, schedule & comfort. Buy your tickets well ahead to avoid fully-booked seats.

12go.asiaBookMeBus

Do I need a Visa to travel to Ho Chi Minh?

Visa for Philippine citizens — Filipino/Pinoy tourists (Philippine passport holders) do not need to apply for a visa before arriving in Vietnam granted that the purpose of the visit is for tourism or transit only. Simply show up at the immigration checkpoint and get your passport stamped. Filipinos usually get a maximum stay of 21 days.

Always remember that all countries have the right to refuse entry to any person. Even if you are eligible for the free tourist visa or already have one in hand at the border.

For a hassle-free trip, make sure that you are able to provide the following:

Valid passport not expiring within 6 months.

A confirmed travel itinerary — Including a confirmed flight ticket back to your home country or onward destination that you are allowed to enter.

Proof of accommodation — Hotel reservation or letter of invitation from your friend/family residing in Vietnam.

Evidence that you are able to fund your stay for the entire duration of your visit — May it be in the form of cash or bank account statements.

Evidence that you are visiting for travel or holiday purposes only — You may show tours/activities that you have pre-booked online.

How to get Vietnam money?

Vietnam’s currency is called Vietnamese Dong (VND or ‎₫). You should be able to exchange your USD, EUR, GBP, and SGD easily at most money exchange stalls. Don’t exchange a lot at the airport. Branches found in the city usually offer better rates. It’s best to get enough VND at the airport for a ride to your hotel or first 1-2 days expenses. Then, shop around at the city center for the best rates.

Philippine Pesos (PHP) to Vietnamese Dong — Exchanging PHP to VND is not popular in Vietnam. Rates are often not favorable. Also, you might waste a lot of time finding currency exchange stalls in the city that accept Philippine Pesos. Better bring USD in cash. Or, find a way to get Vietnamese Dong before arriving.

ATMs — I often use my ATM card when I travel abroad. It’s way more convenient than to worry about exchanging cash. Because banks charge a fee per withdrawal, I make sure to withdraw large amounts (once, if possible) instead of several smaller ones.

Before your trip, it’s important to contact your bank and request to activate your card for international withdrawal. Your card might not work otherwise. I use a Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) ATM card and it takes 24-hours for the bank to complete the activation. Call your bank at least 1 day before your trip! My ATM card has the Cirrus logo on it & could use it on any ATMs that also display the Cirrus logo.

Credit cards — Go cash-less whenever possible if you want to avoid paying/exchanging cash. This is easily done by pre-booking online for hotels, tours, transport etc. I opt to pay in my home currency, if available. That way, I know exactly how much is charged to my account. Credit cards are also accepted in many establishments in Vietnam. Of course, except for small shops & local transport.

When is the best time to visit?

The best months to visit Ho Chi Minh is during the dry season from December to April. Traveling at other times of the year are generally okay depending on what places/holidays you like to enjoy. And, whether you want to visit when prices are lower. Here’s a quick guide on what to expect during different seasons in Vietnam:

  • Cool & dry season — December to February are the best months to visit. It’s not as hot and rains are less frequent compared to other times of the year. This is the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices. Book your accommodations/tours ahead especially during major holidays.
  • Dry season — March, April & May are the hottest months. Better bring sun protection.
  • Wet season — Heavy rains are more frequent but usually does not last all day. Prices are lower during these months.

How to get around Ho Chi Minh?

You can get around by taxi, xe om (motorcycle taxi), public bus or by using ride-hailing/sharing apps. Ho Chi Minh currently does not have a metro (train) or mass rapid transit (MRT/LRT/subway) system. Construction of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro is still ongoing and is due for to be completed in 2020.

I used Uber & Grab frequently for affordable & hassle-free rides around the city. Taxis are easy to find, but it may be hard to communicate with many drivers because of the language barrier. Make sure to insist that the driver use the meter. Reliable taxi companies include Mai Linh and Vinasun.

District 1, the main tourist & hotel district, is a compact area that is easy to explore by walking. It can get tiring and hot though, so I use Uber/Grab/Taxi often because rides are very cheap. A short Uber/Grab ride within the city can be as cheap as VND 20K to 40K (only USD 1 to 2 / PHP 50 to 100!).

You can even travel at half the cost by taking an UberMoto/GrabBike, which is their motorcycle taxi service. Yes, never ignore the risks of getting around by motorbike in Vietnam. But it is undeniably faster than traveling by car and getting stuck in traffic. It is cheaper too. The fare for short rides in District 1 is usually VND 12K to 20K or less than USD 0.5 to 1 / PHP 25 to 50!

Useful travel apps

Google Maps — This travel app will make it a lot easier to navigate around Bangkok on your own. Download the offline maps before you go so you can check the map even if you don’t have mobile data. Bangkok train & bus routes are displayed in the directions feature but it only works if you are online.

Maps.me — Excellent offline maps & Google Maps alternative.

Uber & Grab ( iOS / Android ) — Reliable ride-sharing apps.

XE Currency — Free & easy currency converter.

Google Translate — Very useful to communicate with locals who do not understand/speak English.

Agoda & Booking.com — My go-to for convenient hotel bookings & cheap room rates. To display the total price (including taxes & fees) on Agoda, click here to download the app. Tap the menu on the top left corner of the screen. Scroll down and tap on “Price display”. Then, select “Total stay”.

Airbnb — Home/apartment rentals.

12go.asia & BookMeBus — Online booking for bus, train & other transport in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & beyond.

Momondo & Skyscanner — Top flight search & price comparison apps.

TripAdvisor — Reviews on the best places to eat & where to stay. Download the app on your iOS or Android device.

Where to get Pocket WiFi or buy a mobile data SIM card?

Stay connected online during your whole trip. Not only does it make it possible to share your travel moments instantly, you can also travel better by having access to all your favorite travel apps anytime. If you can’t get a good roaming data plan from your current provider, pre-book a local/roaming SIM card online.

See discounts

Vietnam 3G pocket wifi — Pick up or drop off your rental right at your hotel front desk in Ho Chi Minh City. Connects up to 8 devices. Unlimited data/mobile internet.

See discounts

Where to book tours & attraction tickets?

Go to Klook for easy, fast, and convenient bookings. I often book online to enjoy discount rates and reliable tours. Click below to see today’s lowest prices.

See discounts

Pro tip — Use promo code “DETOURISTA” upon checkout to get an extra PHP 65 off your first booking on Klook. Valid until December 2018. For Philippines & first-time users only.

Here are some of the top reasons why I like to book tours online & why you should consider it too:

Maximize your trip & avoid wasting time walking around town shopping for tours.

Get a good idea what to expect. Knowing all the inclusions/non-inclusions & reading user reviews is very helpful to make an informed decision.

Grab bargain prices often cheaper than booking on-site.

Free cancellation (check if available).

Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies. Convenient & secure payment by credit card or Paypal.

If you’ve already finalized your travel dates, it’s important to book well before the trip. For join-in & private tours, Klook closes the booking period 1-3 days before the tour date. Also, the number of participants is limited on each tour & day. So, reserve early, especially if you are traveling in a group to lock-in those open slots for your group.

Top discounts booked by other travelers:

Click below to see more tours & discounts on:

See discountsExpedia

Don’t stop here

Did you find this travel guide helpful? Share your trips & tag #detourista. Follow updates on:

See more Vietnam blog tips & travel guides:

Check out these pages for more inspiration on places to go in Asia: