48 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City
What to See and Do in Saigon in Two Days
This mini guide of 48 hours in Ho Chi Minh City helps you experience some of the city’s must-visit landmarks, vibrant markets, and diverse nightlife offerings. Vietnam’s financial hub, Ho Chi Minh City is home to a contrasting mix of modern shopping malls, five-star hotels with fine-dining venues, French colonial buildings and cathedrals, as well as ornate temples and war remnants.
If you’re a first-time visitor and don’t have the luxury of a week-long holiday in Saigon, it’s crucial to bypass some not-so-important tourist attractions and activities to make the most out of your short stay. From partying at a swanky rooftop club to crawling through tight tunnels dating back to the Vietnam War, read on for our comprehensive guide on what to see and do in Saigon in two days.Read More
Morning: Explore Saigon’s Local Markets
Take advantage of Ho Chi Minh City’s cool mornings by exploring the local markets, where you get to experience the daily lives of its local population. Mostly set within the tourist-friendly Districts 1 and 5, popular venues such as Ben Thanh and Binh Tay (or Cholon) open as early as 06:00 with local vendors selling fresh produce, household supplies, prepacked food items, and handicrafts. We also highly recommend visiting on an empty stomach as you get to enjoy authentic Vietnamese street food such as pho noodles, spring rolls, banh xeo (crispy pancake), and banh bao (steamed bun with pork filling).
Afternoon: Visit Historical Landmarks in District 1
District 1 houses most of Saigon’s historical landmarks, from classic French architecture to preserved wreckages of American war planes. Whether you’re exploring on foot or opting for a cyclo tour, make sure you visit the Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral on Nguyen Du Street, the War Remnants Museum on Vo Van Tan Street, the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City on Ly Tu Trong Street, the History Museum on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, and the ornate Saigon Post Office on Cong Xa Paris.
Evening: Watch an Orchestra at Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House is an elegant colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1. Built in 1897, the restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre close by.
Night: Bar-hopping at Pham Ngu Lau Street
Housing boisterous street bars and pubs, cheap eats, live music, and a casual ambience, Pham Ngu Lao Street is a popular place for backpackers looking to mingle with fun-loving locals. As there is always something going on in Pham Ngu Lao Street, many visitors prefer to enjoy local street food or people-watching while enjoying cheap bia hoi (Vietnamese beer) on the roadside. Must-visits here include The View Rooftop Bar, Glow Skybar Saigon, Go 2 and Crazy Buffalo Nightclub.
Half-Day Tour to Chu Chi Tunnels
Joining a half-day tour to Chu Chi Tunnels lets you experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. Located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, there is an informative movie to watch, exhibits displaying a variety of weapons, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle. Burnt out tanks make for a great photo prop, and then everyone gets to crawl through a small section of the tunnels which has been widened and supported with concrete.
Evening: Party the Night Away at a Rooftop Club
The best way to end your two-day holiday in Ho Chi Minh City is by partying the night away at a swanky rooftop bar. From the colonial charm of Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar to the ultra-modern EON Heli Bar, rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City are rated as some of the best in the world, where you get to mingle with fun-loving locals, expats and travellers whilst dancing to renowned DJs spinning a diverse range of music genres.