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.

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Day 1

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).

Markets to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City

Binh Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market)

Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown Read More...

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market

Situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, bustling Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local Read More...

5 Best Markets in Ho Chi Minh City

The best markets in Ho Chi Minh City are must-visits for shopping enthusiasts and first-time visitors looking to Read More...

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.

Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

In a quiet corner of bustling downtown Ho Chi Minh City stands Notre Dame Cathedral, the one remaining stronghold of Read More...

Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City

Central Post Office

The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the Read More...

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

The iconic Reunification Palace made its name in global history when in 1975 a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed Read More...

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.

Watch an Orchestra at Saigon Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

The Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant, colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in Read More...

Ho Chi Minh City Districts

Ho Chi Minh Districts

Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is one of the fastest developing cities in Southeast Asia, yet it still retains Read More...

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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.

Pubs around Pham Ngu Lau Street

Top 10 Nightlife Experiences in Ho Chi Minh

10 Best Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh

Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh means very different things depending where you are in the city. Downtown in District 1, Read More...

Rooftop Bar at The Duc Vuong Hotel

Rooftop Bar at The Duc Vuong Hotel

There is no better way to experience Ho Chi Minh City than from a lofty rooftop with buildings and streaming cars spread Read More...

Glow SkyBar Saigon

Glow SkyBar Saigon is a trendy rooftop venue that has gained massive popularity amongst expats and trendy locals since Read More...

Day 2

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.

Join an Activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels are basically a huge war museum offering visitors a sneak peak at the underground life of Viet Read More...

5 Best Activities in Ho Chi Minh City

5 Best Activities in Ho Chi Minh City

There are activities in Ho Chi Minh City to cater to any type of traveller, whether it’s exploring the underground Read More...

8 Cheap or Free Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City

This section of cheap or free things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is ideal for budget-conscious travellers looking to enjoy Read More...

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.

Rooftop Club around Ho Chi Minh City

EON 51 Fine Dining Saigon

EON 51 Fine Dining Saigon is where you can savour international cuisine with stunning panoramic views of the city, Read More...

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar at Caravelle Hotel

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar on the ninth floor of the Caravelle Hotel will be forever immortalised for its role in the Read More...

10 Best Rooftop Bars in Ho Chi Minh City

When it comes to nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s no better place to party in style than a sleek rooftop bar. Read More...

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