Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM FOR FIRST TIMERS: Itinerary, Helpful Tips, and Budget for Filipinos

12/13/2019


Ho Chi Minh isn't all about Mekong Delta. It is also the food, the culture and the people! 
Ho Chi Minh: City in Vietnam
Country: Vietnam
Coordinates: 10.8231° N, 106.6297° E
What to eat: Seafood, Pho (rice noodles), Banh Mi (Baguette Sandwich), Banh Xeo (Crispy Pancake), etc.
What to do: cultural discovery, nature and city exploration
Ideal time to visit: December to March for the drier months
Language: Vietnamese/English
Currency: Vietnam Dong. (1PHP = 437.5VND | 1USD = 23,000 VND rough estimate


HOW TO PLAN YOUR HCMC ITINERARY:
1. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF DAYS YOU WILL BE STAYING.

Three days is enough to explore HCMC. You can add more side trips like Mui Ne and other nearby provinces if you have time. 

2. DETERMINE YOUR HOTEL LOCATION
We recommend staying in the District 2 if you plan to do a DIY walking tour. Tourist spots are close to each other so you can save money on joining tours.
Prices starts at 120,000VND (111PHP/5USD) per person for one night in dormitories like Aloha Saigon. Double/Twin Rooms costs around 350,000VND (800PHP/15USD), cheapest ones are the Red Doorz Hostels in Bui Vien Street & Pham Ngu Lao Street and the Bui Vien Hotel.
Aloha Saigon
RedDoorz @ Bui Vien Walking Street
RedDoorz @ Pham Ngu Lao 3
RedDoorz Plus @ Pham Ngu Lao 2
Bui Vien Hotel


3. DETERMINE YOUR PREFERRED ACTIVITIES
There are a lot of activities you can do in HCMC. You can extend your trip to Mekong Delta to even a week. Side trips to Mui Ne and other nearby provinces can also be added. 

4. DETERMINE YOUR FOOD BUDGET
Vietnam has a unique taste. I would suggest trying them all! Food budget would start at 50,000VND. You can get cheaper food (starts at 10,000VND) in stalls along the streets.

5. DETERMINE YOUR PREFERRED TRANSPORTATION ROUTES
- Airport Transfers
We booked our airport transfers with Klook
- Getting around
We just walked during our stay in HCMC. Most establishments needed by short-term travelers are within a few minutes away from District 1. You can also use Grab Car and split it among yourselves. 

3 DAYS TWO NIGHTS IN HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

DAY 1: MUI NE
🚩MNL TO SGN: 2 hours via Cebu Pacific Air
🚩Mui Ne Sunrise Sand Dunes Tour From Saigon: 14-hour tour | 3,335,000VND (7623PHP/145USD) for solo or divided by 2 pax if pair; 3,565,000VND (8149PHP/155USD) divided by 6 if in a group of 6. This tour is good for 6 pax. Booked with Hai Tuan Tour
🚩Tan Son Nhat International Airport  to Mui Ne: 4 hours via private van | included in the tour
Breakfast: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩White sand dunes: included in the tour
🚩Red sand dunes: included in the tour
🚩Fishing Village: included in the tour
🚩Fairy stream: included in the tour
Lunch: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩Mui Ne to HCMC Accommodation: 4 hours via private van | included in the tour
🚩Rest/Check in at 3D2N Accommodation: 700,000VND (1600PHP/30USD) for 2 pax at Red Doorz Pham Ngu Lao.
Dinner: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩Explore Ben Vien Walking Street: free
🚩(Optional) Pub Crawl: 100,000VND(5USD) for men, 25,000VND(1USD) for female
🚩Sleep

DAY 1 TOTAL W/O PUB CRAWL:

4,185,000VND for solo travelers (9566PHP/182USD)
2,167,500VND for pair travelers (4578PHP/95USD)
1,094,167VND for group of 6 travelers (2501PHP/48USD)


DAY 2 MEKONG DELTA
Breakfast: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩Full Day Excursion To Mekong Delta: 10 hours via bus | 372,000VND (838PHP/16USD) Booked the Mekong Delta Tour with Klook
🚩Vinh Trang pagoda: included in the tour
🚩Boat ride along the Tien River: included in the tour
Lunch at Tortoise islet: included in the tour
🚩Boat ride to An Khanh in Ben Tre: included in the tour
🚩Enjoy seasonal fruits & honey tea while being serenaded by locals: included in the tour
🚩Visit a family business and sample coconut candy: included in the tour
🚩Dropped at Acommodation: included in the tour
Dinner: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)


DAY 2 TOTAL:
472,000VND per traveler (1079PHP/21USD)



DAY 3 WALKING TOUR
Brunch: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩Check out Accommodation: leave luggage at reception
🚩Accommodation to Ben Thanh Market: free
🚩Ben Thanh Market: free
🚩Shopping at Ben Thanh Market: shopping budget varies
🚩Ben Thanh Market to War Remnants Museum: free
🚩War Remnants Museum entrance fee: 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩War Remnants Museum to Independence Palace: free
🚩Independence Palace entrance fee:
40,000VND (92PHP/1.7USD)
🚩Independence Palace to Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon: free
🚩Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon entrance fee: free
🚩Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon to Saigon Central Post Office: free
🚩Saigon Central Post Office entrance fee: free
🚩Saigon Central Post Office to Municipal Theatre 's HCM City: free
🚩Municipal Theatre 's Ho Chi Minh City entrance fee: free
🚩Municipal Theatre 's Ho Chi Minh City to The Cafe Apartment at 43 Nguyễn Huệ Blvd: free
The Cafe Apartment at 42 Nguyễn Huệ Blvd to Saigon Skydeck: free
🚩Saigon Skydeck in Bitexco Financial Tower: 1-2 hours tour | 200,000VND (499PHP/8.65USD) Booked the Saigon Skydeck with Klook
🚩Saigon Skydeck to Accommodation: 15 minutes via Grab | 50,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD) for solo/divided by 2 pax if pair/divided by 6 if in a group of 6
Dinner: 50,000VND-100,000VND (115PHP/2.1USD-229PHP/4.4USD) for a good meal, food starts as low as 15,000VND (35PHP/0.65USD)
🚩Accommodation to 
Tan Son Nhat International Airport: 30 minutes via car | 230,000VND (516PHP/10USD) for solo/divided by 2 pax if pair/divided by 6 if in a group of 6 | Bookedfor  the Airport Transfers with Klook
🚩SGN TO MNL: 2 hours via Cebu Pacific Air

DAY 3 TOTAL:
635,000VND for solo travelers (1452PHP/28USD)
445,000VND for pair travelers (1018PHP/20USD)
401,666VND for group of 6 travelers (919PHP/18USD)


HO CHI MINH 3D2N BUDGET:
5,292,000VND for solo travelers (12,097PHP/231USD)
3,084,500VND for pair travelers (6,675PHP/136USD)
1,967,834VND for group of 6 travelers (4,499PHP/87USD)

TRAVEL TIPS:
A. ACCOMMODATIONS, TOURS AND PRE-TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
↠ ACCOMMODATIONS
Book your hotels through Booking or Agoda. These sites offer pay at the hotel or credit card payments. I highly suggest booking hotels in District 1. The second concern would be the amenities and overall aesthetics of the place. I prefer hotels with air-conditioning, own toilet and bath, WIFI and breakfast included. Pools, gardens and other amenities would be a plus. I look for cheap hotels since I only stay there for sleeping.
↠ TOURS
Book your tours with Klook.
Full Day Excursion to Mekong Delta with 
KLOOK
Is it worth it? Yes. Although the trip was a little rushed.
Saigon Skydeck w/ World of Heineken with KLOOK
Is it worth it? Yes. We ended our walking tour with this trip.

↠ INTERNET AND COMMUNICATION
We bought a sim card at the airport which includes date & local text & calls.
↠ TRANSFERS AND TRANSPORTATION
Airport transfers with KLOOK
↠ PH TRAVEL TAX 1620PHP
↠ Download applications you need for navigation as well as contacting drivers and hotels.

B. GETTING AROUND
↠ Walking

↠ Grab App

C. WHAT TO EAT
↠ Seafood

↠ Pho (rice noodles)
↠ Banh Mi (Baguette Sandwich)
↠ Banh Xeo (Crispy Pancake)
↠ Explore the streets to discover more!

D. TIPS
↠ Buy food at street stalls. These are more authentic & cheaper.
↠ Bring your water bottle.
↠ Know the places where you want to go and build your itinerary around it. Then cross off places that are too far away (unless you really want to go).




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FOOTNOTES:
Photos by Jovelle Palicpic, Renz Mina, and Cheloi Marasigan | Shot with Canon 70D, Samsung NX300 & Samsung Note 9 | Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam | September 2019

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