One day in Ho Chi Minh city – How to plan a perfect itinerary?

Are you on a Vietnam tour and interested in taking a quick trip? Then, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is the perfect place for a one-day adventure! This exciting city has a lot of things to offer, even if you’re short on time. In this travel blog, we will provide you with a complete itinerary to help you make the most of your time for one day in Ho Chi Minh City. Get ready for yummy food, amazing sights, and a real taste of Ho Chi Minh City with Indochina Voyages!

one day in ho chi minh city
Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Fun facts about Ho Chi Minh City

  • Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam
  • The city was previously known as Saigon, but it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 after the country’s revolutionary leader. Many locals and long-time travelers still use the name Saigon, while others prefer the official name of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Ho Chi Minh City is known for its vibrant street life, with motorbikes and scooters zipping through the crowded streets.
  • One of the city’s most unique features is its mix of old and new, with modern skyscrapers standing alongside historic French colonial buildings.

Top 10 recommended things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Must-see War Remnants Museum

  • Address:  28 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  Daily from 7 AM to 6 PM
  • Ticket price:  40.000 VND/person (~1.6 USD)
  • Estimated visiting duration:  90 minutes – 2 hours. (visiting all floors and the outside)

The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a must-visit spot for anyone spending a day in the city. This powerful museum offers an insightful look into Vietnam’s history, especially the Vietnam War.

The museum’s collection includes a variety of artifacts and exhibits that vividly portray historical events. You can see tanks, aircraft, and other military equipment used during the war, as well as impactful photographs and personal stories from individuals who lived through the conflict. The museum’s displays are informative and moving, providing a deeper understanding of the challenges and sacrifices endured by the Vietnamese people.

War Remnants museum
Displayed war artifacts in the museum

2. Ngoc Hoang Pagoda

  • Address:  73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  Daily from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM, On the 1st and 15th days of the lunar calendar: 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM 
  • Estimated visiting duration:  30 minutes – 1 hour.

If you have a strong interest in religious architecture or seek a moment of quiet contemplation, the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda is a must-see on a one-day itinerary in Ho Chi Minh City. Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, also known as Dien Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu, is one of the famous spiritual sites that once welcomed the former U.S. President, Barack Obama.

Also known as the Jade Emperor Pagoda, this intricate Buddhist temple dates back to the late 19th century and provides a serene retreat from the bustling city streets. Visitors can admire the richly decorated altars and shrines dedicated to various deities and figures from the Taoist and Buddhist traditions.

The most striking feature of the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda is the impressive statue of the Jade Emperor, a powerful deity in the Taoist belief system. The temple’s intricate carvings and vibrant colors create a visually stunning environment, transporting visitors to a different time and place. As you wander through the pagoda’s peaceful halls and courtyards, you can gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s rich spiritual heritage and the country’s diverse religious practices.

 Ngoc Hoang Pagoda
The unique architecture of Ngoc Hoang Pagoda

3. Cafe apartment on Nguyen Hue Street

If you are seeking a unique thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City, then pay a visit to the Cafe Apartments on Nguyen Hue Street. This unique urban space provides a glimpse into the city’s vibrant and ever-changing culture. The Cafe Apartments consist of a series of buildings that have been transformed into a lively hub of cafes, boutiques, and artisanal shops, all within the same complex.

As you wander through the narrow alleys and climb the stairs of the Cafe Apartments, you’ll find a diverse range of local businesses and creative spaces. From cozy coffee shops offering delicious Vietnamese brews to independent fashion designers showcasing their latest collections, the Cafe Apartments offer an authentic and dynamic experience of Ho Chi Minh City’s thriving creative scene.

cafe apartment on Nguyen Hue Street
You shouldn’t miss cafe apartment on Nguyen Hue Street

4. Vespa Tours

For travelers with limited time, taking a Vespa tour is an exciting and authentic way to explore the city. These guided tours allow you to ride through the busy streets on the iconic Vietnamese scooter, just like the locals. As you navigate the traffic and visit different neighborhoods, you’ll gain a unique insight into the daily life and culture of Ho Chi Minh City.

Vespa tours often include stops at famous landmarks such as the historic Notre Dame Cathedral and the lively Ben Thanh Market. However, the real highlight of these tours is the chance to uncover hidden gems and lesser-known areas that are often overlooked by traditional sightseeing activities. Your knowledgeable guide will take you to charming local cafes, colorful street food stalls, and bustling alleyways, providing fascinating insights into the city’s rich history and vibrant present.

vespa tour
The Vespa tour is a unique way to discover the city

5. The A O Show

  • Address:  73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Performance time:  18:00
  • Duration:  about 1 hour
  • Suitable for:  children 5 years and older.

The A O Show, which showcases the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam, is a must-see performance for one day in Saigon that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. This breathtaking production blends traditional Vietnamese art forms, such as water puppetry and bamboo circus, with modern dance and acrobatics to create a visually stunning and deeply meaningful theatrical experience.

Audiences are transported to a world of wonder as they witness the skilled performers of the A O Show bring to life the stories and traditions of the Vietnamese people. From the graceful movements of the dancers to the intricate manipulations of the puppets, each element of the performance is meticulously crafted to create a cohesive and immersive narrative.

The show’s talented cast members use their physical prowess and artistic expression to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Vietnamese culture. You will be captivated by the intricate choreography, the mesmerizing use of traditional Vietnamese instruments, and the awe-inspiring acrobatic feats that are seamlessly woven throughout the production.

A O Show
The amazing performances in the A O Show

6. Central Post Office

  • Address:  No. 1, Cong Xa Paris Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  07:00 AM – 07:00 PM (Monday to Friday); 07:00 AM – 06:00 PM (Saturday); 08:00 – 06:00 PM (Sunday)
  • Ticket price:  Free of charge
  • Estimated visiting duration:  15-30 minutes

Visit the Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is a must-do for travelers interested in exploring the city’s history and architecture. This beautiful building was constructed in the late 19th century during the French colonial era and reflects the city’s diverse cultural influences.

When approaching the Central Post Office, you are immediately struck by its impressive neo-Renaissance style facade, featuring towering arched entryways and intricate decorative elements. The interior of the building is equally impressive, with high ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and beautifully preserved details that transport you back in time.

You can go around the grand halls of the Central Post Office, admiring the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into its design. They can also explore the various services and amenities still offered within the building, including a post office, souvenir shops, and a small museum showcasing the history and significance of this architectural gem.

7. Notre Dame Cathedral

  • Address:  1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  Daily from 5 AM – 5 PM
  • Ticket price:  Free of charge
  • Estimated visiting duration:  15-30 minutes

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City is an outstanding architectural masterpiece that attracts travelers from around the world. This stunning cathedral, located in the heart of the city, is renowned for its inclusion on the list of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals, making it the only one from Southeast Asia to receive such recognition.

The cathedral’s design showcases a unique blend of neo-Romanesque and Gothic styles, creating a visually striking and eye-catching structure. Its towering twin bell towers, colorful stained-glass windows, and bright red brick walls all contribute to its breathtaking appearance, making it a prime destination for photography enthusiasts and those seeking a moment of peace and reflection.

8. Cu Chi Tunnel

Cu Chi Tunnel is named after its town, located about 70 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. This is a defense system of tunnels up to 250 km in length. Tunnels were associated as cobwebs, creating underground villages where the locals, as well as army forces, could hide and work during the French colonial period. The structure has three floors ranging from 3 to 10 meters in depth. Traveling to Cu Chi, you will have memorable experiences of trying to move inside the narrow tunnels and certainly be surprised at such a sophisticated and creative transport system.

Besides, you should also visit Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station, located about 1 km from the tunnel complex. With a total area of 4.000 square meters, the station is home to many endangered species rescued from illegal animal trade. Through the display of images and information on illegal trade and hunting of wildlife animals, the station largely contributes to raising visitors’ awareness of biodiversity protection.

Due to its proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily reach Cu Chi by motorbike or by bus. It takes you about 2 hours to travel there by car. Interestingly, you can see the local life and enjoy specialties along the road. For those who like to use public transport, you need to catch bus No. 13 at Ben Thanh bus station or bus No.94 at Cho Lon bus station. After arriving in Cu Chi, catch bus No. 79 to get off at Ben Duoc Memorial Temple, then walk another 100 meters to Cu Chi Tunnel.

Cu Chi tunnel
Tourists play paintball in Cu Chi

9. Ben Thanh Market

  • Address:  Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  7 AM – 7 PM
  • Estimated visiting duration:  1 hour

Ben Thanh Market is a bustling trading center in Saigon that is a must-visit for first-time travelers. You can find a wide variety of goods such as local handicrafts, food, clothes, footwear, and souvenirs.

The market attracts both tourists and locals. While tourists come to shop for souvenirs, locals visit the market for fresh ingredients for their meals. To experience the authentic vibe, it’s best to visit the market early in the morning.

Food lovers will be delighted by the array of Vietnamese dishes available at the market. In the back section, you’ll find hawker-style food stalls offering noodles, rice dishes, spring rolls, pancakes, desserts, and drinks.

If you’re looking for a good deal on clothes, shoes, or lacquer art, head to the central area of the market where you can haggle with the vendors. However, if you prefer fixed prices, check out the gazebos surrounding the market.

10. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Saigon at night on Bui Vien Street

  • Address:  Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours:  7 AM – 7 PM

As the sun sets over Ho Chi Minh City, the streets come alive with pulsing energy, particularly Bui Vien Street. This lively thoroughfare becomes a hub of activity, attracting both locals and visitors eager to experience the city’s bustling nightlife.

Upon stepping onto Bui Vien Street, you immediately feel the lively atmosphere. The street is lined with a diverse array of bars, restaurants, and shops, each offering a unique vibe and experience. Neon lights dance across the facades, music spills out onto the streets, and the air is filled with the laughter and chatter of people enjoying the evening.

Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing cocktail, a delectable Vietnamese meal, or simply people-watching, Bui Vien Street has something to suit every taste. Street vendors selling street food and street performers entertaining the crowds add to the lively and vibrant ambiance, creating an unforgettable sensory experience.

Bui Vien street
The vibrant atmosphere on Bui Vien Street

Must-try dishes for a day tour in Ho Chi Minh City

  • Banh mi:  The Vietnamese sandwich is a delicious blend of French and Vietnamese flavors. It’s made with a crispy baguette, tasty fillings like grilled pork or chicken, and tangy pickled vegetables, creating a perfect on-the-go snack.
  • Com tam:  This traditional Vietnamese dish includes broken rice served with grilled pork chops, a fried egg, and various accompaniments like pickled vegetables and a savory fish sauce. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal that highlights the vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Hu tieu nam vang:  This noodle soup features a clear, pork-based broth, chewy rice noodles, and a variety of toppings, such as shrimp, pork, and crunchy bean sprouts.
  • Caphe sua da:  Savor a rich and strong Vietnamese iced coffee, brewed with a special filter and sweetened with condensed milk. It’s a great energizing drink for a busy day of exploring the city.
  • Che:  a sweet Vietnamese dessert called Che, which includes a variety of jellies, beans, and tapioca pearls in a sweet, flavored liquid. It’s a unique and refreshing treat to enjoy.
Must-try com tam
Com Tam – a must-try dish in Ho Chi Minh City

Suggested 1-day itinerary Ho Chi Minh City


  • Start your day with a classic Vietnamese breakfast of Banh Mi. This includes a crisp baguette filled with savory meats, tangy pickles, and fragrant herbs.
  • After breakfast, head to the bustling Ben Thanh Market. Explore the stalls and shops where you can find a variety of local handicrafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce.
  • Next, visit the War Remnants Museum to gain insights into Vietnam’s history and the impact of the Vietnam War.
  • For lunch, enjoy a hearty plate of Com Tam, which features broken rice, grilled pork, and a fried egg.


  • Explore the neoclassical architecture of the Central Post Office and the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, both stunning examples of French colonial influence.
  • Continue your cultural immersion by visiting the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, a beautiful Buddhist temple known for its intricate design and serene atmosphere.
  • End your day with a refreshing Cafe Sua Da, a Vietnamese iced coffee made with strong, robustly brewed coffee and sweetened condensed milk.


  • As the sun sets, head to the lively Bui Vien neighborhood to experience the bustling nightlife and vibrant atmosphere of Ho Chi Minh City.

You can also customize your one-day Ho Chi Minh itinerary by contacting us. Our team of travel experts will always welcome you warmly and help you plan a perfect journey for your preference!

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Extra Travel Tips for one-day in Saigon

  • It’s important to note that theft and robberies are common issues in HCMC. Typically, motorbike drivers target tourists, grabbing their bags and cell phones while driving past. To avoid this, you should avoid unnecessarily taking your phone out in public. Using a cross-body bag or backpack is advisable, keeping it away from the street and in front of you.
  • It is common to bargain over prices when shopping in markets and smaller shops in Ho Chi Minh City. You can feel free to negotiate the price. A good practice is to start by offering around 50% of the quoted price and aiming to settle at a price between 50 and 70%.
  • For convenient transportation, I recommend downloading the Grab app on your phone. Taxis are readily available in Ho Chi Minh City, with Mai Linh and Vinasun being the most reputable cab operators. Make sure the meter is running, or agree on a fare if you use any other operator.
  • To plan your journey effectively, check the Saigon weather forecast in advance.
  • Vietnamese is the official language in Ho Chi Minh City, and while English is spoken in most places, many locals do not speak English. I suggest downloading the Vietnamese language on Google Translate to your phone before you leave.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ho Chi Minh worth visiting?

Yes, Ho Chi Minh City is definitely worth a visit. This is an exciting and diverse destination that offers a unique travel experience. The city has bustling streets, a lot of historical sites, delicious local cuisine, and beautiful colonial-era architecture, making it a great place to visit.

Is 1 day enough in Ho Chi Minh City?

If you don’t have much time, then 1 day will take you to all the highlights of this modern city. However, because the city is large and vibrant, with its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and exciting food culture, to truly enjoy the highlights and discover the city’s hidden gems, travelers may want to consider staying for at least two or three days.

Should I visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City?

When planning a trip to Vietnam, many people find it difficult to choose between visiting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Both cities have unique experiences that cater to different interests. Hanoi is known for its well-preserved historic charm, while Ho Chi Minh City is a lively modern metropolis with dynamic energy, a thriving food scene, captivating historical sites, and vibrant nightlife. The decision of which city to visit ultimately depends on the traveler’s preferences. Those seeking a more immersive cultural experience may prefer Hanoi, while those interested in a fast-paced, urban setting may find Ho Chi Minh City more appealing.

From Indochina Voyages Team!

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