Only 24 hours in Saigon? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
You have 24 hours in Saigon to check out the city and you’ve only got time for the best stuff. Maybe you’re a tourist passing through on the way to your final destination, or you’re a Vietnamese from another part of the country and you’re in town for business with only one free day for recreation. Either way, you want to make the most of your stay.
We’ve put together a plan of things to do that ticks all the boxes. Here’s an itinerary to get your 24 hours in Saigon started!
Get ready — it’s going to be a long day.
Chances are, you’re staying at an Airbnb or hostel/hotel either on/near Bui Vien or in the District 1 area. Start your day the Vietnamese way with a delicious bowl of pho. Or if you’re keen for an equally tasty alternative, try a bowl of bun bo Hue.
Some spots we recommend in the city center are;
1. Pho Hoa: 260C Pasteur, District 3
2. Pho Phu Vuong: 120 Nguyen Thai Binh, District 1
3. Bun Bo Nam Giao: 248 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
Duration: approximately 30 min
Spend: 23,000 to 75,000 VND
2) Coffee stop
Ca phe sua da is a must-try.
After your first meal of the day, you must try the Vietnamese drip coffee. Order a ca phe sua da, which is the chilled version, perfect for the Saigon climate. Packing a powerful punch, made with condensed milk and served on ice, it’s a great way to caffeine up and cool down.
There are literally coffee shops everywhere, but a few you might want to check out near the center are:
1. Cong Ca Phe: 1st floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, District 1
2. Vy Cafe: 278 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
3. Shin Coffee: 13 Nguyen Thiep, District 1
Either sit back and enjoy, or get it to go as you make your way to the day’s attractions.
Duration: 30 to 45 min
Spend: 20,000 to 40,000 VND
3) The War Remnants Museum
Take a walk through time and explore the War Remnants Museum. Artillery, fighter planes and tanks are displayed out front. Look out for the tiger cages and guillotine exhibition while you’re outside. Indoors, the museum spans three floors. Some of the photography is gut-wrenching, with the third floor being the most confrontational of all.
Duration: 90 min
Spend: 40,000 VND per adult
4) Lunch at…
Make your way to either Au Parc for a European fusion meal that suits the afternoon’s theme. Alternatively, try out Propaganda (right next door) for a local dinner. These restaurants are located in the heart of District 1, handy for the Saigon attractions lined up for the afternoon.
1. Propaganda: 21 Han Thuyen, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
2. Au Parc: 23 Han Thuyen, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Duration: 45 min
Spend: varies, depending on your appetite
5) Saigon’s best sites
Located conveniently in District 1 are a number of Ho Chi Minh’s architectural wonders. Make your way to the Notre Dame Cathedral to get a few obligatory travel snaps of the beautiful structure. Look out for the statue of the Virgin Mary on the same square.
Right next door to that is the Central Post Office. The exterior of the building is another photographic favorite. Inside, look out for the famous portrait of Ho Chi Minh.
Merely a hundred meters from these two landmarks is the Reunification Palace. This is the site where the end of the war was made official, when a Northern army tank crashed through its gates in 1975. The building is stunning, and the grounds are well-maintained. Check out the old presidential quarters at the rear of the building where you’ll find gifts that include severed elephants feet among other exciting treasures. Check out the war command room where maps still line the walls. The casino is on level 4, and there’s also a helipad on the roof.
Duration: 2 hours
Spend: 20,000 VND admission for the Reunification Palace
6) Smoothie stop
Sinh to is the Vietnamese fruit smoothie. Made of fruit, milk, ice and sugar, these are a sweet and refreshing way to cool off on a busy day out.
An absolute must-try is sinh to bo, which is a Vietnamese avocado smoothie. Sweet, creamy and delicious, you’ll never see avocados the same again.
Recommended sinh to stops…
1. Five Boys Number One Smoothies: 85 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District
2. Guanabana Smoothies: 23 Ly Tu Trong, District 1
3. Fresh Box: 52 Hai Ba Trung, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Duration: 30 min
Spend: from 20,000 VND
7) Time to relax
After a full day of being on your feet, we suggest grabbing a massage. The selection out there is overwhelming, but some firm favorites from expats and travelers alike include…
1. Bui Vien’s AAA Spa — best for travelers on a budget
2. Miumiu spa — best for midrange with several locations around the city
3. Saigon Heritage Spa — premium spa in the city center
Duration: from 30 min to as long as you like
Spend: from 200,000 VND
8) Evening food tour
After an action-packed day exploring the city and a pampering session, sit back and enjoy the culinary delights that the streets of Saigon have to offer.
We recommend getting on the back of a bike with an expert and have them take you around to Saigon’s best spots. Tours we recommend are…
Duration: 4 hours
Spend: 1.3 million to 1.5 million VND
You should be. You just maximized your 24 hours in Saigon. Aren’t you glad you came?