Ho Chi Minh is an energetic and exciting city. We spent 7 nights there in October and I can’t wait to get back there to visit again. When I think of Ho Chi Minh, I think about the motorcycles swarming around you like bees as you cross the street (be predictable and don’t step backwards!), the warm and friendly people, fascinating history, and the wonderful food.
We stayed at the Little Saigon Boutique Hotel (846,120 VND / 40 USD per night) and could not have been happier with the staff, location, and wonderful buffet breakfast. Most of the attractions that we wanted to see locally and the bus station were all within walking distance. Other than to and from the airport, we only had to hail a cab once for a destination within the city.
War Remnants Museum (15,000 VND / .75 USD each) – Fascinating museum for Viet Nam war buffs. Well designed and worth spending a couple of hours exploring.
Independence Palace (15,000 VND / .75 USD each) – This building had fascinating architecture and more Viet Nam War history to explore.
Ben Duoc Tunnels (90,000 VND / 4.25 USD each) – We took the bus to and from the tunnels. There are many tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels available. Whenever possible, we choose to use local public transportation. Not only is it a big money saver, it also provides a glimpse into everyday life and makes the journey there an experience in itself!
From the Ben CV 23/9 Bus Station we took Bus 13 to Cu Chi station.
At Cu Chi station ignore all of the aggressive touts and hop onto bus 79. Pay very close attention to the road – this is where your GPS helps to ensure that you to get off at the right stop. The stop is at a T-intersection in the roads, where a blue sign points to Ben Dinh to the right, and Ben Duoc to the left.
Return to Ho Chi Minh by retracing your route on the same number buses. Note that bus 79 stops running at 5:30 pm.
River Tour on the Saigon River (300,000 VND / 14 USD) – We walked down to the water front and negotiated a tour. It was just us on the boat. Very scenic and relaxing!
AO Show (630,000 VND / 30 USD each) at the Saigon Opera House.
Caravelle Hotel – We had a cocktail in the famous Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar and then spent some time in the hotel casino. Remember if you are looking for cash that casinos are the best place to find ATM machines!
Can Gio Monkey Island (30,000 VND / 1.5 USD each) – About 50 kilometers from HCMC. From Ben CV 23/9 bus station, take bus 20 to Nha Be. At Nha Be take the Binh Khanh Ferry across the river.
After crossing the river, catch bus 90 (really a mini-van). Try to communicate your destination to the attendant. There is a high likelihood that no one on the bus will speak English. Use your GPS to watch for your stop.
After exiting the bus, walk down the road (about 5 minutes) following the signs. The entrance for Can Gio Monkey Island will be on your right. Make the right and continue down the lane. Make sure you secure your belongings! Put your caps, eye glasses, water bottles, and food securely in your pack. The monkeys can be very aggressive. We witnessed one grab a pack of tissues from a woman’s hand and were astonished how quickly they move!
Can Gio Beach – Once done at Can Gio Monkey Island, you can take another bus 90 to go to the beach. Just stand on the side of the road where you hopped off the bus and flag down the first one you see.
Ask the driver to stop near 30/4 beach. Use your GPS to watch for your stop. After you exit, you will have a 15 to 20 minute walk to the beach. You can hire a motorcycle taxi if you desire.
Return to Ho Chi Minh by reversing the directions. Take Bus 90 to the Binh Khanh Ferry. Take bus 20 to Ben CV 23/9.
If I were to do this day over, I would cut out the trip to the beach. There was not a lot going on when we were there and, while it does not take too much time out of the day, I would have preferred to spend that time back in Ho Chi Minh.
Museum of Ho Chi Minh City (15,000 VND / .75 USD each) – Wow! This was my favorite museum. So much history. Highly recommend.
Golden Dragon Water Puppets Show (150,000 VND / 7 USD each) – One of the best puppet shows that we have seen.
Mekong Delta Tour (950,000 VND / 45 USD each) – We arranged this tour through our hotel. The trips that are offered by hotels can frequently change. You can check here to see what the hotel we stayed at is currently offering: Little Saigon Hotel Tours. It was a fantastic tour that began with a pickup at the hotel in the morning. We visited a market (John finally got to try betel nut!), took a boat to the wholesale market, were rowed along a canal to a village where we took a bike tour, had a cooking class, and much more! We were dropped back at the hotel in the evening exhausted!
Saigon Heat vs Bangkok HiTech Professional Basketball Game (70,000 VND / 3 USD each) – I have never seen a more enthusiastic fan base, bar none!
Our time in Ho Chi Minh flew by, and we never ran out of new adventures. On our early morning taxi ride to the airport, we reflected that we would return for the food alone! We fell in love with Vietnam and the friendly Vietnamese people. After a wonderful week in Ho Chi Minh, we are now eager to plan a trip to Hanoi to explore the north!
- Time of Year: October 2014
- Length of Stay: 8 Days, 7 Nights
- Total Trip Cost – 2 People: 1120 USD*
- Cost Per Day / Per Person: 70 USD*
- Visa Information: Vietnam Embassy
*Excluded from the cost analysis:
- International Airfare – International airfare is not included because fares vary depending on your starting location.
GPS Coordinates: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 7
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HCMC Airport @ 10.815636,106.66427
Little Saigon Boutique Hotel @ 10.774526,106.70027
War Remnants Museum @ 10.779422,106.69207
Independence Palace @ 10.777062,106.69539
Ben CV 23/9 Bus Station- to Tunnels @ 10.76786,106.69002
Cu Chi Tunnel Bus Stop @ 11.149802,106.46037
Cu Chi Tunnels @ 11.141317,106.46188
Saigon Opera House @ 10.776459,106.70303
Caravelle Hotel @ 10.776103,106.70357
Rex Hotel @ 10.775882,106.70128
Ben CV 23/9 Bus Station- to Can Gio @ 10.76786,106.69002
Binh Khanh Ferry for Can Gio @ 10.673643,106.76651
Bus Stop for Can Gio Monkey Island @ 10.407761,106.89823
Entrance to Can Gio Monkey Island @ 10.404688,106.88964
Bus Stop for 30/4 Can Gio Beach @ 10.395269,106.91874
Can Gio Beach @ 10.386064,106.92016
Museum of Ho Chi Minh City @ 10.77594,106.69968
Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre @ 10.776189,106.69215
Basketball Game- CIS Int School @ 10.714362,106.72985
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You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.