Saigon Adventures: 5 Must-Do Activities for Solo Traveler
Saigon or you know it as Ho Chi Minh city, just a short 1 hour 43 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. It home to over 8 million people and Vietnam's most populous city. It's known for being a backpacker paradise, small cafes and rich in history. There are so much things to do in Saigon depend on your budget as well, but below some my top things to do as solo traveler who want to stay on budget but still experiencing the local cultures. So, below are the top things to do if you visiting Saigon. This is based on my experience.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
The first stop the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon . HCM has quite a friendly pedestrian walk along with the city with trees shades in some areas. So no worries about sunburn! At Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, I spent around 15 minutes to see the building from outside and take few photos. All the original building materials were imported from France according to the local. The church initially named it the Church of Saigon by French colonist at that time.
Tips : The best time to visit is during Sunday mass at 09:30 if you would like to get near and see all the action. However, that time I went Monday which fewer people.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Opening hours: 0800AM to 1100 AM and 1400 PM to 1600 PM daily
Every Sunday Mass: 0530 AM; 0645 AM; 0800 AM; 0930 AM
Weekday Mass: 0530 AM and 1730 PM
Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon Central Post Office
Next, just 2 minutes walk from Notre Dame is the Saigon Central Post Office. This building was built in the 19th century, so it is pretty old and it is now still functioning as a post office and tourist place at the same time. The entrance is free. You can buy a stamp, take a tour inside and snap a few pictures. This is on of the famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, so you would expect many tourist and locals as well.
Central Post Office
Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 19:00
Location: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: +84 83 822 1677
Tan Dinh Church Saigon or Pink Church
Check out another famous church - Tan Dinh Church Saigon or Pink Church. I walk to this church for approximately 30 minutes from Central Post Office. The entrance is free and easy to spot due to its pink colors. Recommended to visit on Monday and around 11.00 am to avoid congestion. I like the building design and colors, definitely instragramble and worth visiting. If you are tired to walk back, do Grab bike.
Tan Dinh Church
Opening Hours: Daily 05:00 – 17:30
Location: 289 Hai Ba Trung, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City
When in HCM, the museum is a must place to visit. This is the best way to learn about the history of the place you visit. The museum is within the city, you can reach it just by walking.
One particular museum that I would suggest you to visit is the Museum of Vietnamese History, to witness with your own eyes the infamous 200 years old mummy Mrs Nguyen Thi Hieu, an aristocrat of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Opening Hours Daily : 8–11:30 am, 1–5 pm
Location : No. 2, Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.
Entrance Fee : VND30.000 /ticket
Ben Thanh Market
Don't forget to visit the most touristy place in HCM, every taxi driver will know it, the Ben Thanh Market. It is the largest market selling souvenir, local handicrafts, food product and Vietnamese local dishes. It is located in District 1. The market is big, don't get lost. As at night time, surrounding areas will turn to busy and vibrant night street market. From my observation, some shops close late afternoon and to beat the heat, advise to all of you to shop at morning time.
Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 – 24:00
Address: Le Loi, Ben Thanh, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden.
That one day, I decide to visit the Zoo - Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden. It is the largest zoo in Vietnam and the 8 oldest zoos. Some trees are more than 100 years of age! Like many other zoos, you can see different types of animals. The park has games as well.
Entrance fees are from 2.5 USD for an adult
Open every day from 7.00 am to 6.30 pm.
Tips : I would recommend going at 4.00 pm because people are less and the weather a little bit cool down.
Ho Chi Minh Book Streets
I love books and during my walking the street, I stumble upon this aesthetic street - Ho Chi Minh Book Streets . It is a pedestrian-only street with Vietnamese & other language bookstores and small cafes for al fresco coffee. The place is very pretty. Totally worth checking out and it is free! The street is small but very calm. No cars or motorbike allowed on the street and you can see many people read books and drink coffee! What a nice environment. Ho Chi Minh Book Streets is just 1-min walk from the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
Address: Đường Nguyễn Văn Bình, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Entrance Fee : NA
Operation Time : 8.00 am to 10.00 am
Water Puppet Show
If you have more time to spend at Ho Chi Minh city, kindly attend the famous Water Puppet Show at Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theathre. It refreshing experience to learn legendary story form the show.
Operation Day : Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday
Opening hours: 5 PM & 6:30 PM
Showtime duration: 45 minutes
Entry Fee: VND 170,000 - VND 230,000
Tips : It's free seating , however it would advise you to seat at 2nd row, so that you can have nice view and also not too near the water podium.
You can buy the ticket at the counter and you can book online via klook aps.
I think Vietnamese food is underrated. It much more diverse than I think it would be and definitely worth to experience it. You may experiencing all foods list below. This must try foods when you are in Saigon.
Phở bò (Beef Noodles Soup) from Pho 24
Banh Mi Op La from Bánh Mì Hòa Mã
Vietnamese Coffee at Cafe Apartment Saigon
Vietnamse Spring Rolls at Ben Thanh Market
Grilled meat at the Ben Thanh Night market
Vietnamese Steam Rice Cake
Bánh Chuoi(Banana Cake)
Bánh bo nuong (Vietnamese sponge cake)
If your budget is healthy, you may opt to go on fun foodies adventure on motorbike tour! You may check this website for more info.
Saigon or Ho Chi Minh is a mix between modern and classic Vietnamese culture which still intact today through foods, building and outfits. It is a vibrant city with great people and motorbikes!
Pack you bag, hop on and enjoy Saigon! Worth to visit! And I will be back. As I wrote this post, I already miss the city!