Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the capital city of Vietnam. Located at the south end of the country and off Saigon River, it is the largest city in the country. The capital city is also known as Saigon, this is where solo travellers come and see war relics from the Vietnam War and the French colonial architecture influences all over the city.
And sampling Southern Vietnamese cuisine is high on everyone’s list. Meanwhile, traffic is in complete chaos, yet there is some organization where cars, motorcycles and pedestrians can coexist. The combination of the different sights and sounds can either overwhelm or excite you. Ho Chi Minh City is exciting for solo travellers, especially if this is your first time in the city.
This post covers all the solo travel tips for first-time travellers. Plus, I included a detailed itinerary to see all the best attractions while spending 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City.
Want to read this post later? Pin it on your Pinterest board!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read the disclosure for more info.
Solo travel to Ho Chi Minh: what you need to know
Before you start your 3 day Ho Chi Minh City itinerary, take a look at some of these useful travel tips first:
- Generally, Ho Chi Minh City is a safe city for solo female travellers.
- BUT pick-pocketing is a big problem in Saigon. Don’t wear flashy jewellery, put mobile phones in your pocket or bag, and carry a backpack instead of a messenger bag.
- Be aware of your surrounding at all times. Two guys on a scooter ripped my laptop and mobile phone from my hand during the day near Bui Vien Walking Street.
- Plan your solo trip to Saigon with the following festivals and events:
How to get to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Most international travellers will fly directly into Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), which is 6km northwest of the city.
The easiest way to get to the city centre from the airport is to take a taxi. Make sure to find a taxi queue and not get a ride from any random cab.
Alternatively, take a prearranged private transfer. Most hotels have airport pick-up service.
There are buses from the airport, but the taxi isn’t too expensive. And taking a cab is a more comfortable and safer option for solo travellers.
From other parts of Vietnam
If you are going to Saigon from different parts of the country, you could be coming from Central Vietnam like Da Nang or Northern Vietnam like Hanoi.
There are various transportation modes when it comes to travelling in Vietnam. Depending on your budget and timing, you can fly (Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, VietJetAir), take an overnight train or a sleeper bus.
How to get around Saigon as a solo traveller
Most of Ho Chi Minh City’s attractions are within District 1 where almost everything is easily accessible by foot.
However, you may not want to walk too much as the heat and humidity are brutal if you are not used to it. Companies like Grab make solo travel in Saigon very easy. You can order an inexpensive motorcycle ride on your Grab app. They even provide a helmet for safety and a raincoat if its raining.
Ho Chi Minh solo Itinerary: things to do in Ho Chi Minh for 3 days
Follow my Ho Chi Minh City 3 day itinerary if this is your first time visiting the city. It includes all the must-do in Saigon and the best places to eat around the city.
All the top Saigon attractions are pinned on the interactive map below. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin and reading the description below.
Day 1 in Saigon: best of Hoi Chi Minh attractions
1. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
The first attraction on your Ho Chi Minh City itinerary starts with the famous Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon.
The Catholic cathedreal with two 58m tall Romanesque bell towers is located in the heart of the city. It was constructed between 1863 and 1880.
As of November 2022, the cathedral is going through a major restoration. That means you can only see the outside of the church. Still not a bad way to start your solo trip in Saigon.
Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 8:00 am to 11:00 am, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm (temporarily closed) | Admission: free
2. Saigon Central Post Office
This is a post office designed by Gustave Eiffel. Built in a Gothic style in 1886, it is one of the most well-known buildings in Saigon. See the vaulted main hall from the colonial period and the portrait of Ho Chi Minh.
Address: 2, 125 Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 7:30 am to 5:00 pm; closed Sundays | Admission: free
3. Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace was the former home of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War era. This is also the same spot where the North Vietnamese invaded the city in 1975 and Ho Chi Minh City surrendered.
Walk around inside and see the historical and cultural significance. You can also pay an entrance fee to see the government offices and artifacts the inside of the historical building.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm | Admission: 40,000 VDN
4. War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum has several exhibitions on old military vehicles, period military equipment including helicopters, fighter jets and tanks. There are also other memorabilia including photographs, weapons & other objects from the First Indochina War (1946) to Vietnam War (1975).
The museum is dedicated to educating visitors about the atrocities of the Vietnam War.
Address: 28 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, HCMC | Hours: 7:30 am to 5:00 pm | Admission: 40,000 VDN
5. Try Vietnamese Coffee
- Maison Marou – lots of delicious coffee and chocolate treats.
- The Workshop – a cool spot in the city to sip coffee and do some work.
- L’Usine – an Instagrammable cafe that has great coffee and desserts.
- Cafe Runam – a classy cafe space with a great coffee selection and local food.
6. Try Vietnamese food
With influences from the French and neighbouring countries like China and Thailand, Southern Vietnamese cuisine has an eclectic mix of flavours that is addictive.
I only sampled some of the fantastic food in Ho Chi Minh City and here are some places I tried.
Vietnamese restaurants in Saigon
- Bánh Canh Cua 87 –
- Quán ăn Thanh Bình – try bún thịt nướng (grilled pork and rice noodle, a southern favourite).
- Bánh Mì Huynh Hòa – try their famous seven meat banh mi and be prepared to line up if you go in the evening.
- Nam Giao Restaurant – walk into the alley, and you will find this restaurant that serves southern and central Vietnamese cuisine.
- The Lunch Lady – made famous by one of the best travel shows, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. She is THE lunch lady in Saigon that serves fantastic Vietnamese food.
7. Bui Vien Walking Street (Beer Street)
Bui Vien Walking Street is the backpacker’s area where accommodation is plentiful and inexpensive. You are literally in the heart of all the action! This area comes alive after dark where you can find cheap food and cheap beer served on a low table and small stools.
Address: Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 7:00 pm to 1:00 am | Admission: free
Day 2 in Saigon: other things to see in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Vietnamese breakfast
Bánh Mì Hòa Mã – their breakfast, banh mi op la, is outstanding and comes with the ambience of sitting in an alley with motorcycles driving by.
2. Ben Thanh Market
The inside is the day market where you can buy and eat
After 5 pm, you can dine outside of Ben Thanh Market at one of the food vendors
Address: Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm | Admission: free
2. Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts
Designed by a French architect in 1929, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts was built in an early 20th-century French architectural style including some Eastern elements.
There are over 22,000 paintings, sculptures and other artwork in all three buildings, making this the largest art centre in Vietnam.
The museum focuses on two main areas: Ancient and Contemporary art. Don’t miss the artwork by Nguyen Gia Tri.
Address: 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm | Admission: 150,00 VDN
3. People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City
Address: 86 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: not open to public
4 & 5. Watch a cultural show or water puppet show
Walk along Dong Khoi Avenue (Scenic Avenue), the main road in the middle of District. And admire the French neo-classical architecture.
Watch the A O Show, an acrobatic show at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House. The contemporary show combines acrobatics and live traditional folk music and tells a story about urban and rural life in Vietnam.
Or watch a water puppet show at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre. The show tells a story of the spiritual life of Vietnamese people performed in water. This is one of the most unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City Opera House Address: 7 Cong Truong Lam Son Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 6:00 pm show
Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Kai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 6:30 pm show
6. Rex Hotel Rooftop Bar
A centrally located rooftop bar with an awesome view is and pricey cocktails.
Address: 141 Đ. Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, District 1, HCMC | Hours: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm
Day 3 in Saigon: day trip from Ho Chi Minh
On day 3, spend the day touring through Cu Chi Tunnel or Mekong Delta. You can find all the tour companies in the Bui Vien area or book ahead online.
Cu Chi Tunnel
Take a morning or afternoon tour to Cu Chi Tunnel and see the network of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War. During the half-day trip, see rural rice fields and remnants of the Cu Chi Tunnels and get a chance to fire an AK-47.
How to get to Cu Chi Tunnel: The tour includes a pickup from District I.
Mekong Delta and Vinh Trang Pagoda Tour
The day trip to Mekong Delta, My Tho and Ben Area Islands.
The full-day Mekong Delta tour includes a boat ride through the Mekong River and a walk around the villages.
How to get to Mekong Delta: The tour includes a pickup in District I and lunch.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for 3 days
If you are only in Saigon for 3 days, definitely stay within District 1 or close to the area. Most attractions are in walking distance. Plus, most tour companies will include a free pick-up if you are staying within District 1.
If you are sensitive to noise (like car honking all the day!), avoid Bui Vien and any main roads like Nguyễn Thị Nghĩa.
Here are some recommended accommodations for solo travellers in District I:
- Meander Saigon ($) – get a modern dorm bed or a studio city-view room if you are on a budget
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
- City House – City Oasis ($$) – the premiere studio room has a sitting area and a kitchenette
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
- The Myst Dong Khoi ($$$) – the luxury hotel has eclectic decor and furnishings
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
Are you ready to spend 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City alone?
I hope this solo Saigon itinerary can help you plan your first trip to Ho Chi Minh City. There is a lot to see so having an efficient itinerary can help maximize your time in this chaotic city.
And just because I had an incident while travelling solo to Saigon doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone. If you follow these solo safety tips, you will have a good and safe time in Ho Chi Minh City.
Let me know your thoughts on the itinerary or if you tried it. And if you have been to Saigon, please share your favourite solo travel tips for travelling to Ho Chi Minh or Vietnam.
Thank you for reading my Ho Chi Minh solo travel post
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:
- 3 weeks Vietnam solo travel itinerary
- Hanoi Solo Travel: 2 days in Hanoi
- Trekking in Sapa as a solo traveller
- Day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi
- Halong Bay 2 night cruise for solo travellers
- Hoi An 3 day itinerary
- One day in Hue Vietnam
- Things to do in Mui Ne Vietnam