Known as the biggest and most populated city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is not only the economic capital of the country but also a place that is full of excitement. If you only have 36 hours in Ho Chi Minh City, here is what you should do to make the most of your time visiting. And you are in for luck because you will be surrounded by the variety of delicious Vietnamese food. Moreover, you will have chances to learn about the culture and the history of the city throughout the suggested itinerary below.
7:30 AM - 8:30 AM: Breakfast: Banh mi + coffee
For the first breakfast to start your 36 hours in Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend one of the most delicious sandwiches in the world known as the 'banh mi'. A guide to the Banh mi consists of various ingredients inside a baguette. Although originally the main stuffing in banh mi is meat, there are now various ways of ingredients coordination depending on your taste. It could be meat, omelet, or tuna with vegetable, mayonnaise, and soy sauce. Banh mi is a very popular breakfast of Vietnamese since it is considered a convenient breakfast sold at an affordable price.
If you are a fan of coffee, there is no reason for not trying a cup of coffee in the local style - Vietnamese drip coffee known as a ca phe sua. Time seems to slow down its speed when you enjoy every drop of coffee to drop down. It gives you a peaceful atmosphere to escape from the fast living pace out there for a while. The majority of Vietnamese enjoy coffee every morning to be waked up or to enjoy one of the most delicious drinks of the motherland.
Vietnamese drip coffee
8:30 AM - 12:30 PM: Morning: 4 hours
Reunification Palace: 2 hours
Notre Dame Cathedral: 0.5 hour
Central Post Office: 0.5 hour
Nguyen Van Binh Book Street: 0.5 hour
Saigon Opera House: 0.5 hour
After breakfast, pay a visit to three famous tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City: Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Central Post Office. These are especially notable buildings of the city. Visiting these places, you will learn about a part of history that gives pride to Vietnamese people. The traces of France left on those buildings will be introduced to you. If you go there on the weekend, you will have chances to observe how local people spend their weekend at these places.
Besides historical buildings, there is a place that was established in 2016. This is an ideal place for book lovers. Located in the center of the city, Nguyen Van Binh Book Street attracts lots of people every day. Publishers gather there selling their products with discounts. An interesting place for you to come and buy some books regarding culture or history of Vietnam. You can also see some very old books displayed there. There are also airy and cute coffee shops on the book street, you can have a seat and take a rest under the shady trees.
Nguyen Van Binh Book Street
To help you get the best of this morning, we provide a Day Adventure private motorbike tour. Sign up for an adventure to sightsee the city with a local on the scooter.
1 PM - 2 PM: Lunch: Bun thit nuong, bun bo Hue: 1 hour
After a morning with culture and history, it's time for lunch. For lunch, you can try some distinguish dishes in Vietnam such as 'bun bo Hue' or 'bun rieu.' These dishes are made in a very special way with local ingredients.
Bun Bo Hue
2 PM - 6 PM: Afternoon: 4 hours
Fine Arts Museum: 1.5 hours
War Remnant Museum: 2 hours
Turtle Lake: street food: 0.5 hour (evening from 6 PM onward)
In the afternoon, pick two famous museums to pay a visit. They are the War Remnants Museum and Fine Arts Museum. In the Fine Arts Museum, you can expect another atmosphere, more artistic but also no less obsessive. The building which is now Fine Arts Museum used to be the house of one the richest gentlemen of old Saigon. His name is Hui Bon Hua, and he was originally from Fujian. Back then, he was a very successful businessman. There are a lot of stories about him and his family for you to discover when you visit the museum.
In War Remnants Museum, you will learn about the Vietnam War, the famous war with the involvement of the US. You learn from the Vietnamese side of the war through pictures, artifacts, and stories told by the docents of the museum.
After a deep dive into history and culture, the Turtle Lake is a perfect place for refreshment. You can find local street food and drinks there. People often gather around Turtle Lake from 6 PM until late at night. Turtle Lake is considered one of the symbols of Ho Chi Minh City.
6 PM - 7:30 PM: Dinner: Vietnamese traditional meal: 1.5 hour
There are a lot of choices for dinner in Ho Chi Minh City since the city is a place that encompasses various dishes from different countries. You can choose to have whatever kind of dinner you like from the traditional Chinese food to the modern Western fast food. However, if you want to fully experience the spirit of Vietnam, a traditional meal of Vietnam would be an optimal choice. There are many restaurants served this kind of meal for tourists such as Cuc Gach Quan, Secret Garden, and Chi Hoa Vietnamese Cuisine. You can easily pick one from those. Otherwise, you can spend the rest of your day exploring Vietnamese food by joining in our I love food motorbike tour (from 6 PM to 9 PM).
Enjoying an off-the-beaten-path Vietnamese meal with our local guide!
7:30 PM - 11 PM: Evening: 3.5 hours
Ben Thanh Night Market: 1 hours
Bui Vien Street: 2.5 hours
In the cooler evening, get some fresh air by walking around the Ben Thanh Night Market on Thu Khoa Huan Street. You can expect to find very cute souvenirs there including non la, ao dai, magnet, etc. Then, it's time to rock the night. You might have heard about Bui Vien Street before. This is the place where the majority of foreign visitors in Ho Chi Minh City gather at night; you can find a plethora of services there ranging from food, beer, massages, to manicures and pedicures. We bet that you will have fun on this street.
Bui Vien Walking Street at night
8 AM - 9:30 AM: Breakfast: 1.5 hours
If you want to try something apart from your continental hotel breakfast, we suggest the breakfast on day 2 is broken rice or 'com tam' in Vietnamese. Like the banh mi, broken rice is among the most popular dishes for breakfast in Vietnam. It is also considered a nutritious dish for breakfast. The wonderful taste of broken rice is attributed to the grilled rib and the sauce. Every Vietnamese is attracted by the smell of grilled ribs every time they cross a broken rice restaurant.
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM: Morning: 3 hours
Getting around the city by motorbike or visit the Cho Lon Chinatown: 2 hours
Ben Thanh Day Market or the Saigon's Square nearby: 1 hour
You can spend the rest of the morning getting around the city by motorbike. As you may know, the main vehicles of Vietnamese are motorbikes. If you want the real experience like local people, you definitely should try getting around the city, exploring the off-the-beaten-path locations by motorbike like cool hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City. Riding a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the must-try experience when you visit Vietnam.
After a short motorbike trip, stop at Ben Thanh Market. There are thousands of things sold in Ben Thanh Market including jewelry, clothes, souvenirs, food, etc. The special thing in Ben Thanh Market is that the owners of the shops in the market can speak many languages such as English, Mandarin, and French.
12:30 PM - 2 PM: Lunch: Ben Thanh Market: 1.5 hours
As mentioned above, there are various kinds of foods in Ben Thanh Market. Some of them are widely known and are the local's favorite. You can have lunch there. After that, try some sweet soup at the market. Sweet soup (or "che" in Vietnamese) is the best dessert of southern Vietnam.
Vietnamese signature dessert "che"
2 PM - 5 PM: Afternoon: 3 hours
Ho Chi Minh Museum at Nha Rong Wharf: 2 hours
Viet Nam Quoc Tu: 1 hour
In the afternoon, let's visit one more museum which is Ho Chi Minh Museum. This museum is located at Nha Rong Wharf. Nha Rong Wharf is the place where Ho Chi Minh left Vietnam on a French boat to seek a way to save the nation. After that, you can pay a visit to a pagoda called Viet Nam Quoc Tu which means the national pagoda of Vietnam. The pagoda was built in 1964 by architect Ngo Viet Thu (same architect who designed the Reunification Palace). Originally, there was only a 7-story tower in the shady site of the pagoda. In recent years, new and huge buildings have been built within the pagoda premises, making this pagoda one of the largest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City.
5 PM - 6:30 PM: Dinner: Vegetarian food or Vietnamese Grilled dishes
For dinner, try either a vegetarian meal Vietnamese style or these Vietnamese grilled dishes. The majority of Vietnamese people, whether they are Buddhists or not, they are known to eat healthy due to the variety of herbs used in their cooking. Vegetarian food has long been a distinguished part of Vietnamese cuisine. Why not give Vietnamese vegan food a try?
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM: Evening: 2 hours
Nguyen Hue Walking Street and coffee at Nguyen Hue old apartment known as the Cafe Apartment
The last destination you should visit is Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Since it was established in 2015, it has become a popular place for any walks of life to come here for a walk at night. A long, broad street lying in front of the City People's Committee will definitely bring you unforgettable memories. Nguyen Hue Walking Street has now become one of the symbols of the city.
On Nguyen Hue Street, you can easily find Nguyen Hue old apartment building lightened by the colored banners of many coffee shops and restaurants inside. In the apartment building, there are many shops decorated in vintage styles. You can pick one, enjoy your drink while having a look at the center of Ho Chi Minh City from above, slowly recall your past 36 hours in Ho Chi Minh City.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Above is our suggested itinerary for 36 hours in Ho Chi Minh City. It would be much better to have a local accompany you through this journey. You can check out our tours for more information, and we wish you a wonderful time in the city.
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