Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam, and this metropolitan city was formerly known as Saigon. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, it was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. But the old name of Saigon is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners.
If you are planning to be in HCMC for a short time, I would say 4D/3N is ideal. For starters, here are some activities you could do on your first day.
Accommodation in Ben Thanh Market Area
It is recommended to stay at District 1 of the city because of its close proximity to the main sights of HCMC. Apart from the CBD area where the major international banks and luxury shops are, the main backpacker hangout is also in District 1, approximately 10-15 mins’ walk from Ben Thanh Market.
I chose to stay away from the backpackers’ scene and opted for a 3-star hotel which was only 5 mins’ walk from Ben Thanh Market. The hotel was called Blue Diamond Hotel and for a deluxe room at a rate of USD50 a night (and a huge bathroom) inclusive of breakfast and taxes, it was a good bargain. It was very clean, quiet and the services provided were of a 4-star hotel standard.
Dine at Quan An Ngon Restaurant
When my friends and I travelled in Hanoi, we dined at this restaurant twice because the food was absolutely delicious and affordable.
I didn’t realize that Quan An Ngon Restaurant has an outlet in HCMC and is located close to my hotel (only 10 mins’ walk) until I asked the hotel reception to recommend places to eat. The restaurant has 2 outlets in HCMC and the one I went to was at 160 Pasteur Street. The ambience of the restaurant is set in an old French villa and they have decorative lights in the garden at night. If you don’t mind the humidity at night, then do sit outside under the lights. The restaurant is quite popular and you may have to wait for a table during peak hours.
Spoilt for Choices in Ben Thanh Market
If your hotel accommodation is close to Ben Thanh Market, so why not spend some time there on your first day?
Ben Thanh Market is very popular with tourists in HCMC because it sells almost anything and everything, and the best part is that it’s really cheap. For example, you can buy a good quality cotton t-shirt at a price of 30,000 Vietnamese Dong (USD1.50)! Some tourists complain that the market is too touristy. Well, like it or not, we will always be targeted wherever we go but at the end of the day, you just can’t resist to buy a couple of souvenir items as keepsakes of your trip 🙂
The market closes at 7pm but you can still continue to shop and eat around the market. They have food stalls at night and more stalls selling fruits, local handicraft, t-shirts and souvenirs.