This summer I took my first extended holiday since uni! A bunch of my friends had been accepted to do their medical rotation in Ho Chi Minh city for five weeks… so I decided to join them! This was my first trip to Vietnam so it was a bit of a shock unlike the resort style holidays usually grammed, our holiday was decidedly more urban. Here is a run down of my itinerary and tips for travelling in Ho Chi Minh a Ho Chi Minh City Guide if you will!
What to do:
Do a city tour – we did one with Saigon Free Walking Tour who are students of tourism. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship you get to learn about Ho Chi Minh and they get to practice their trade and it’s free! BUT, it’s not actually a walking tour. We were a little shocked to have our guides rock up on motos and tell us to hop on the back – definitely thrown in the deep end!
Eat with the locals – Street food can be scary to some travellers but it is both the best food you’ll have and the cheapest. We had amazing street food in our block which meant we often didn’t have to go far. For your average meal expect to spend 30,000 dong or about $2AUD.
Hang out at your local coffee shop – They are everywhere! From blended iced coffees to the traditional Vietnamese set with condensed milk, you should grab at least one a day. Even me, a non-coffee drinker, had a go! Although I’m not converted I did try a lot of iced-teas and blended cookies and cream milkshakes. Our favourite retreat was Saigon Oi in District 1. Climb the stairs to reach this oasis and chill out on the balcony overlooking the city and people watching – perfecto!
Go explore, district one has enough to sustain you the whole time but visiting other districts give you a better perspective of the city! District 5 has a lot of temples and local markets that are amazing to look at. Also hang out in one of the many roof top bars and scope out the city.
Shop your little heart out – I found the shopping around the Opera House with lots of local boutiques and markets nearby and bargain your little heart out. The city is also converting some old apartment blocks to mixed use centres that have coffee shops, boutiques and local designers. My favourite shop was Tu By Catu.
Cooking school! – I wanted to do a cooking school in every town and if I go back I’d like to actually do that. Vietnam has so many regional foods. We splurged and went to the Luke Ngyuen cooking school GRAIN and I can’t recommend it enough.
Treat yo’self! – Beauty treatments and spas are so cheap in Vietnam (too cheap, let’s you in on what you are missing out on). Do a bit of research and find one that is known for hygiene etc. Then walk around all day rocking your knew spa look – see above.
Day trips from Ho Chi Minh – From Ho Chi Minh you can travel to the Mekong Delta and visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. We missed out on the Mekong due to a tour mishap but just an excuse to go back!
Where to stay:
We stayed in district 1 at CuCu Boutique Hostel that has both private and dorm room! They were extremely helpful, especially when one of us had our wallet stolen! If you stay there longer than five nights you can also opt in for a free cooking class. Because we stayed so long they had a going away party for us!