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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann Issac

How to spend 24 hours in Ho Chi Minh City

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Ho Chi Minh city is a dynamic city with a personality quite unlike any other city in the world. Here, the old mixes with the new seamlessly, yet retaining its charm.

The city is divided into 7 districts, and knowing what each district has, makes navigating through the city a lot easier.

But if you are in Ho Chi Minh just for a day, then follow the list below, for an ideal day in this vibrant city!

Check out my Practical guide to Vietnam for information about the currency, buses, taxis, domestic travel, visas, & more!

1. Wake up early

Have breakfast at around 7am, like the locals do, where the locals do! Step out of your hotel or hostel, and walk to a crowded roadside eatery (it’s best to eat where there is a crowd, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so you can be sure the food is fresh and good! ), and choose from the breakfast dishes on offer. (typically, banh mi, pho, bun bo). Prices range between VND 20000-35000.

2. Don’t forget the Vietnamese coffee!

The Vietnamese coffee is a strong brew, that is served hot or on ice, with a generous serving of sweetened condensed milk. Since it was quite strong for me, I always asked for extra condensed milk, until a few days in, I realised how much condensed milk I’d been putting into my system! The realisation made me stay away from Vietnamese coffee for a few days!

Vietnamese coffee is available everywhere, so wherever you are, it won’t be difficult to get yourself a cup!

Don't know what food to eat-my food guide to Vietnam breaks down the names of the popular food to make it easy for you to order food in Vietnam!

3. Visit the sights

It helps that most of the sights that a first timer to Ho Chi Minh must see is near each other. It can be covered in a 2-3 hours as well.

Start with the Old Post Office, quickly get a few pictures of the facade, walk in browse through the souvenir stalls, and finally send a postcard to someone back at home!

Next, Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral which is just a couple of minutes walk from the Post Office. If you are there at a time when the cathedral is open, do go inside, else, admire the facade, get some mandatory pictures, and walk on to your next stop!

Reunification Palace, which is a museum now, should be your next stop, for a lesson in Vietnamese history.

Else, you can choose to go to the War Remnants museum to get an insight into Vietnam’s painful war memories.

If history is not your cup of tea, head over to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts. I love this museum, more for its architecture, than the exhibits! The building is bright yellow and beautiful, making it a great backdrop for some really great pictures!


When planning to visit the museums, have a look at the operating hours, as some of them may be closed during lunch hours.

The air conditioned museums make a comfortable break from the scorching heat outside, so, you may want to factor that in, even though you aren’t in the mood for a visit to the museum.

4. Go Shopping!

Shop at Ben Thanh market to get a feel of a traditional Vietnamese market, but be aware that this place is extremely popular with tourists, so the prices are high. But if one market is all you have time for to buy all your souvenirs, this is the place to come to-but bargain hard!


Browse through multiple stalls to get an idea of the prices and to get yourself the best deal.

Go to Takashimaya and Vincom Centre for a world class shopping mall experience.

Saigon Square- for export rejects, and wholesale clothing, shoes, luggage, swimwear, and handbags- some stalls you can bargain at, while others don’t budge from their prices. It is 5-7 minute walk from Benh Thanh Market.

To get a detailed shopping guide for Ho Chi Minh City, click here!

5. Take a break at the cafe apartments

If cafe hopping is a your favourite pastime, you are going to love the cafe apartments! This is truly a gem of a find, and definitely one of my favourite places! Hip cafes, boutiques, and restaurants have breathed life into this otherwise ordinary building. The old building still keeps an unfinished look to it to retain a rustic charm.

The best way to explore as much of the cafe apartments is to eat something small at every cafe or restaurant that looks interesting to you!

Also, most of the shops and cafes are air-conditioned which makes it the best rest stop at any time of day! All restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, are beautifully decorated, and so the ideal spot for some great pictures for your Instagram account!

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The Cafe Apartments

6. Hit the streets for the night food & party scene!

Bui Vien street, or the travellers’ street is the best place to go for good food and a great vibe! It is usually packed by late evening with locals and tourists alike.

You could also opt for a street food night tour- a quick google search will help you find multiple options from which you can choose based on your interests and budget. A tour is ideal for a solo traveler who wants to be initiated into the Vietnamese food. Once you know what you like, it’s easy to choose for yourself the rest of your trip!

7. Go for a massage!

It is not uncommon for women to stop you on the road and show you a menu of the different massages they offer. The massages are good, and reasonably priced! This is the best way to reboot and energise to continue exploring the city.

8. Party the night away!

Ho Chi Minh has a vibrant night life, especially over the weekend, and there are a number of bars and clubs for you to pick from!

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