There are many things to discover in Saigon; you will always find something new at each location in this beautiful city. Try our recommended itineraries for touring Saigon and get the best out of your adventure.
Some notes about the best time for touring Saigon itineraries are:
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If you only have half a day, whether it be morning, afternoon, or evening, check our recommended things to do in Saigon to make the most of the time. You can visit these places on your own or sign up on one of our private guided tours on the motorbike.
Duration: 3 hours and a half, starting from 8 AM or 1:30 PM (From these hours till the end of the trip, there is less traffic and it is still in the business hours of the attractions). The total traveling time between places is about 30 minutes (if there is no traffic congestion). The longest distance is from the famous attractions in the city center to the pagodas and temples as they are at least a 10-minute drive away.
Reunification Palace. Beautiful architecture used to be a president’s office and stayed during the Vietnam War. You should spend about 30 minutes to do a quick tour outside of the palace (don’t have to pay the fee if you don’t get inside the gate), or 1 hour too have a look inside the building and watching a documentary (the fee is VND 40,000/person).
Saigon Central Post Office. This building has been used since the end of the 19th century, and the postal service inside is still operating daily. You can spend about 30 minutes looking around and buying lovely postcards and send them home as souvenirs.
Saigon Central Post Office
Notre Dame Cathedral. Right next to Saigon Central Post Office is one of the oldest churches in Saigon. The park with Our Lady of Peace and the vivid red brick structure has made this cathedral an iconic city symbol. You would only need around 15 minutes to admire and take pictures outside because it is under renovation and does not allow irregular visitors.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Temples and pagodas. Temples and pagodas, big or small, are in many corners of Saigon. If you want to travel to nearby Buddhist architecture in the city center, there are Xa Loi Pagoda, and Jade Emperor Pagoda. But if you want to see more magnificent pagodas and temples, you must travel further to District 5, District 10 or Phu Nhuan District. You should spend about 30 - 45 minutes to grasp all the beauty and stories of these sacred places.
Xa Loi Pagoda and Jade Emperor Pagoda
War Remnants Museum. Last but not least, the War Remnants Museum is the place that shook most people when visiting because the horrible things about wars are displayed and narrated through pictures, remnants, and articles before 1975. You can have a look through over ten exhibition themes in here in about 30-45 minutes.
War Remnants Museum
Read more on Things to do in Saigon at day.
Duration: 4 hours, starting from 6 PM (when Saigon gets the most lively and street foods eateries are opened for business). Total travel time from place to place is about 30 minutes or more as the streets can be crowded at night with people coming home from work or dining out.
Ben Thanh Night Market. The market at night will be taken out of the building where you can go around and look at cute souvenirs or go to a street on the back of the Ben Thanh Market building (Thu Khoa Huan Street), and enjoy mouthwatering street foods from different countries, including Vietnam in the Ben Thanh Street Food Market. You can spend as much time here as you like because shopping and eating options are endless, but about two hours could be enough to make you happy.
Red-light District. Go to the famous backpackers’ district on the block of Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, and Do Quang Dau Streets. You can find many bars, clubs, and wildly fun activities here with good beer, some weird foods like balut and snails, and pump into some new friends, both locals and from other countries. You can spend the rest of the night here exploring the streets or take a ride to the Saigon River’s side afterward to chill.
Dining. You cannot exclude Vietnamese street foods from your itineraries for touring Saigon as it is the must-try attraction of the city. There are Vietnamese cuisine and drinks which you can enjoy, like Pho, Banh Xeo, Banh Mi or a BBQ with snails and fresh vegetables. You may also want to have a cool bear along with these delicious meals. As you will need to use chopsticks because the local places might not have forks ready for you. If you really enjoy it, you can spend up to 2 hours slowly exploring all the mouthwatering dishes and food culture in Saigon.
Pho Le (6 AM - 1 AM, VND 62,000/serving) and Banh Xeo 335 (4 PM - 10 PM, VND 40,000/serving)
Read more on Things to do in Saigon at night.
Duration: 3 hours, starting from 11 AM or 6 PM (lunchtime and dinner time). Note that, to travel from place to place, leave about 30 minutes of travel time as these are also the rush hours.
Vietnamese famous dishes and exotic foods. You may be too familiar with names like Pho, Banh xeo, and Banh mi, but in Saigon, you can find more foods such as Bun thit nuong, Banh canh, and delicate Hue cuisine, Banh beo. You can spend about 1 hour for a dish or two and then go for the food challenge with the scary but scrumptious balut in about half an hour.
Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (3 PM - 11 PM, VND 40,000/serving) and Bun Thit Nuong Chi Tuyen (7 AM - 9 PM, about VND 42,000/serving)
Bun Cha Ho Guom (7 AM - 9 PM, VND 47,000/serving) and Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau (9 AM - 10 PM, VND 83,000/serving)
Snacks and drinks. On the two sides of the streets, there are many restaurants for street eats as well as some carts selling snacks and drinks you can surely enjoy at any time of the day like Banh Trang Nuong and Banh Trung Nuong. Find beer and even coffee to go along with all the savory foods. You can spend about 30 minutes or more if you get the craving for other snacks.
Banh Trang Nuong and Goi Cuon
Duration: 3 hours and a half, starting from 8 AM or 1:30 PM (It is less crowded on the streets and you can see the locals’ everyday life). The destinations of this type of adventure are usually quite far from the city center, so you will need more than 30 minutes to get there from the city center and travel between places.
Hidden pagodas. In Vietnam, Buddhism has been long established since the 2nd century, and up until today, 12% of the population is Buddhism followers. Many pagodas, from centuries-old to recently built each have its unique design and story behind them. Only when going off the beaten paths in Saigon will you get to see the hidden gem and listen to local tales, especially in the mystic Chinatown. You may want to spend an hour at one of the pagodas to admire its beautiful architecture and pay respect by offering incense like the locals.
An alley and an old apartment in the Chinatown
Local market. You can also visit a local market to buy souvenirs or simply join in the place's bustling atmosphere. You can find almost anything here from fresh produce to dried foods, clothing, and cosmetics. If you are not a shopaholic, about the 30 minutes looking around should be enough.
Inside Binh Tay Temporary Market
Floating market. You may have heard of the famous floating markets in Mekong Delta, but you may not know about the floating market located right in Saigon, the modern metropolitan. At this market, you can easily buy the Mekong Delta’s produces because these fruits are transported here daily from the early morning from the Mekong Delta. About 30 minutes in this market might be enough for you to see how some of the locals make their living but might never be enough if you want to listen to their whole stories and everyday struggles.
The floating market in Saigon
Refreshment. You can choose to have the refreshing coconut juice right at the spot in the floating market and enjoy the fresh air by the canals. Or another option for you is drinking Vietnamese coffee the local style, sitting on small stools, and waiting for every drop of coffee to drip down from the aluminum filter. About 30 minutes would be enough to make a stop for this drink and refresh yourself after a long journey to the less traveled districts.
Fresh coconut juice and Vietnamese coffee
Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
If you have one whole day for Saigon touring, these are the top places you must include in your itinerary.
See the detailed of one-day itineraries for touring Saigon here.
Day 1: See the one-day itineraries above
See the detailed of two-day itineraries for touring Saigon here.
Day 1 and 2: See the two-day itineraries above
For lunch and dinner, you should take this chance to try every food we have recommended in the first and second days but you haven’t tried.
See the detailed of three-day itineraries for touring Saigon here.
Day 1,2, and 3: See the three-day itineraries above
Day 4: Explore the Mekong Delta
Find where to stay in Saigon:
If you have one more day in Saigon, you should choose a day trip to the nearby famous beach of many Saigon locals.
Day 5: Vung Tau Beach
Find out more options and details in our Vung Tau Travel Guide.
Saigon is an exciting city with bustling streets, beautiful old architecture, sacred religious sites, and many beautiful natural sceneries in the suburbs. With our recommended itineraries for touring in Saigon, we hope you can enjoy the best of the city whether you are staying for a couple of hours, one, two, or even five days. But you can always find out more interesting places in Saigon in our other Vietnam travel guides.
If you would like to have a local guide to take you to places when touring Saigon, check out motorbike tours in Saigon and tours to locations near Saigon at i Tour Vietnam.
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Thanks to our local guide Minh, we spent a really fulfiling day exploring a lot of attractions the city. If you don't know how to spend your one day in Ho Chi Minh, I'd advise to join a private tour