Day 1:  Discover the Heart of Ho Chi Minh City – Kickstart Your 4 Days in Ho Chi Minh City

Morning in Ho Chi Minh City

Start your first of 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City with a flavorful adventure! I'm not talking about Pho - the most well-known beef noodle soup - but another beef noodle soup known as Bun Bo Hue. This aromatic and spicy soup has tender beef and thinly sliced pork, with a rich beef broth infused with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili. Bun Bo Hue's noodles are thicker and rounder than ordinary rice noodles, giving the meal a distinct texture. Toppings including bean sprouts, lime wedges, fresh herbs, and thinly sliced banana blossoms complete the bowl.
bun bo hue
This vibrant bowl of Bun Bo Hue is the best way to start the day. | Source: Freepik.
Start your day with Bun Bo Hue for an unforgettable burst of flavors and a satisfying kick to wake up your taste buds. It's a great choice for those wanting a hearty and authentic Vietnamese breakfast on their first day in Ho Chi Minh City.
Here are some of my recommended restaurants for Bun Bo Hue:
  • Bun Bo Hue Dong Ba - Since 1998: 207B Nguyen Van Thu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1. Opening hours: 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
  • Bun Bo Hue 31: 31 Mac Dinh Chi Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1. Opening hours: 6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Bun Bo Xua: 48 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ward 6, District 3. Opening hours: 6:30 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Bun Bo Hue Song Anh: 36 Nguyen Thuong Hien Street, Ward 5, District 3. Opening hours: 6:00 AM - 2:00 PM; 4:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Now that you have the energy to explore the city, shopping at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City is a must for both locals and tourists alike. This bustling market provides a lively and authentic shopping experience. Find a wide variety of clothing, accessories, handicrafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce – the choices are endless! The market is recognized for its lively environment, where you can see the hustle and bustle of local vendors and customers. 
ben thanh market location
Exploring the heart of Saigon at Ben Thanh Market. | Source: Freepik.
However, when visiting Ben Thanh Market, keep in mind that many merchants expect customers to negotiate the price. Bargaining may get you a better price –  it's also part of the fun, and could even save you money during your 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City.
Furthermore, Ben Thanh Market is a foodie's heaven. Inside the market, you'll discover an abundance of food stalls and cafés serving a wide variety of local cuisine. Immerse yourself in the tastes of Vietnamese cuisine by trying street foods like Banh Mi and Pho, as well as regional delicacies like Banh Xeo and Com Tam. Trying local food at Ben Thanh Market not only delights your taste buds but also allows you to explore Ho Chi Minh City's unique culinary culture.

Afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City 

If you appreciate eating real Vietnamese food, why not learn how to prepare these local delicacies at home with a cooking class? A culinary class teaches you authentic dishes that have been passed down through generations. The teachers will share their knowledge and expertise to guarantee that you understand the traditional techniques and flavors utilized in Vietnamese cooking. Furthermore, some culinary lessons include excursions to local markets or ingredient-gathering expeditions, allowing you to interact with local vendors while also enjoying the busy ambiance of the city's food markets as a true local. 
Below are some of our recommended cooking classes in the city center that are most convenient to travel to:
  • Hoa Tuc Cooking Class is nestled in a beautifully renovated French colonial building and provides a unique culinary experience. Their workshops are centered on using fresh, organic products and traditional cooking methods. Participants can also have a guided tour of the local market prior to the class.
    • Address: 74/7 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
    • Sessions: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM; 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (3-hour class)
    • From: Tuesday to Sunday 
    • Fee: 36 USD/Adult; 25 USD/Children
  • Saigon Cooking Class is located in the center of HCMC and provides a variety of culinary classes, hosted by expert chefs who have a thorough grasp of Vietnamese ingredients, methods, and tastes. The courses frequently include a trip to the local market to purchase fresh products.
    • Address: 80/1 Nguyen Trai Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
    • Sessions: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM; 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM (3-hour class)
    • From: Tuesday to Sunday 
    • Fee: 39.5 USD/Adult; 25 USD/Children
cooking class
Discovering the flavors of Vietnam at Saigon Cooking Class. | Source: Saigon Cooking Class.
You should visit Bui Vien Waking Street on your first evening in Ho Chi Minh City for an exhilarating and energetic introduction to the city's nightlife scene. Also known as "Western Street", Bui Vien is located in the heart of Saigon and comes alive when the sun sets! It's a buzzing mix of pubs, restaurants, street food booths, and stores, providing a dynamic ambiance that appeals to both visitors and locals. 
Visitors to Bui Vien can immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere, eat wonderful street cuisine, and enjoy a range of entertainment options such as live music and cultural events. Bui Vien has a distinct combination of foreign influences and local charm, making it an excellent place to interact, meet other tourists, and enjoy the bustling energy of Ho Chi Minh City's nighttime scene. You can come around 7 pm and stay as late as you like – the party never stops!
things to do in ho chi minh at night bui vien walking street
Embracing the vibrant nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City. | Source: Freepik.
If you want to know more about where to go or what activities you can do at night in Ho Chi Minh City, check out this "Exploring Saigon Nightlife - Top 9 Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh At Night” article for more options!

Day 2: Explore the Historical Heritage and Street Food Delicacies in Ho Chi Minh City

Begin your second day in Ho Chi Minh City by discovering the history and importance of notable landmarks such as the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Independence Palace all located within walking distance of each other in District 1. 
However, please note that the Notre Dame Cathedral is currently under construction for renovation until 2027, so while you cannot go inside, you can still admire its historical look from afar. And if you want more insights from the local guides, our Saigon City Tour will show you to these places, nearby local markets and more, with the added insight of our expert local tour guides.
In the afternoon, head to the War Remnants Museum, which offers a distinct Vietnamese viewpoint on the battle, emphasizing human suffering, civilian casualties, and long-term consequences. You'll gain a deeper understanding of the hardships, sacrifices, and fortitude of the Vietnamese people throughout this horrific time, and how the country and its people have prospered since the end of the war. 
End your day with a dinner cruise down the Saigon River to experience the best views of the metropolis and its illuminated landmarks. Indulge in a buffet-style supper or a 5-course meal while enjoying the gentle breeze on this smooth journey with these two most recommended Saigon cruises:

Day 3: Uncovering Vietnam's Rich History at the Cu Chi Tunnels

Situated 70 kilometers northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the 250-kilometer-long Cu Chi Tunnels complex is a prominent historical and cultural relic in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, Viet Cong guerilla forces depended largely on tunnels, which provided a unique viewpoint on the war's history and tactics. During the tour, you will get the opportunity to experience crawling in the tight tunnels,  learn about the different types of traps used, participate in outdoor activities such as shooting on a range, and watch locals demonstrate traditional crafts and abilities. 
Returning to the city, visitors can unwind with a relaxing massage or explore the bustling marketplaces and retail stores that the city has to offer. Ho Chi Minh City provides a diverse range of massage choices, ranging from rejuvenating spa treatments to traditional Vietnamese massage techniques. For an exceptional shopping experience, you can venture to local markets such as Saigon Square or the vibrant Central Market where you will discover one-of-a-kind shopping treasures hidden underground.
The Saigon by Night Tour provides a unique gastronomic experience in Ho Chi Minh City by taking visitors through bustling marketplaces and narrow alleyways on the back of motorcycles. This immersive experience mixes the excitement of the city, the thrill of riding a motorcycle, and the tantalizing flavors of Vietnamese street food.

Day 4: Explore the Cultural Beauty and Traditional Cuisine of the Mekong Delta

mekong delta exploring
Floating through the vibrant markets of the Mekong Delta. | Source: Freepik.
In Vietnam, The Mekong Delta is a major region for farming and fishing. This region is recognized for its complex network of rivers, canals, and natural terrain. A full-day Mekong Delta tour provides an all-around experience, allowing tourists to experience the region's natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary delights. The excursion includes a river ride past lush rice paddies and coconut trees, as well as visits to traditional villages. The tour also includes a visit to a lively floating market to taste the region's distinctive cuisine.
As your 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City come to an end, treat yourself to an unforgettable farewell at one of the best rooftop bars below:
  • The View Rooftop Bar
    • Address: 8th & 9th Floor, 195 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1.
    • Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 AM –1:00 AM
    • Price range: 80,000 - 180,000 VND ($3.21 - $7.22)
  • Banana Mama Rooftop Bar & Kitchen
    • Address: 10th Floor, 102 ABC Cong Quynh Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1.
    • Opening hours: 4:00 PM –2:00 AM (closed Monday)
    • Price range: 200,000 - 350.000 VND ($8.00 - $15.00)
  • Mít Rooftop Bistro
    • Address: 7th Floor, 35 Dong Khoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
    • Opening hours: 10:00 AM –12:00 AM
    • Price range: 300,000 - 400.000 VND ($12 - $18)
Take in breathtaking views of the city skyline and vibrant streets below. The rooftop ambiance is comfortable and refined, allowing guests to reflect on their stay in the city. Sip a refreshing beverage or savor a local wine while witnessing the city's transformation from day to night. Admire the vibrant energy and architectural wonders - this rooftop experience is the perfect way to say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and create lasting memories.

After providing a detailed itinerary for Day 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, you may wonder why the subsequent three days follow a more general agenda, right?

The reason behind this is to offer you the freedom and flexibility to explore Saigon based on your own preferences and interests without getting overloaded by reading too much information. And, although day 1 sets the foundation for your adventure by exposing you to authentic foods and cultural practices, we encourage you to personalize your experience by selecting activities and places that appeal to you the most through the general agenda provided above. 
So if you're looking for more precise and thorough plans for the other days, check out the "What to do in Ho Chi Minh City in 3 Days?" articles dedicated to each single day.
There, you can find detailed itineraries that dive deeper into the city's hidden gems, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. Whether you're interested in historic buildings, local markets, or immersive cultural events, these additional resources will inspire and enlighten you on how to make the most of your stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
Author: Vy

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