For budget travelers who may want to explore Vietnam's largest city on a DIY trip, here’s a comprehensive guide to make the most of your adventure.

Why travel to Saigon?

Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, is the center of commerce and trade in Vietnam. It's one of the most relaxing cities in Southeast Asia due to its breezy atmosphere, beautiful surrounding and affordable lifestyle. Public parks are everywhere and almost every street is covered with lush plants and blooms in season. Even if you just walk around, you would never feel uncomfortable because the place is just so cool with lush trees everywhere. Locals are very welcoming too. Saigon has almost no rush hour because locals used motorbike as their means of transportation. Traffic is not terrible and people are not into hurry.

Public park in Saigon

On our way to Notre Dame Cathedral 

French colonial buildings are everywhere so you would feel like being transported into a different time, just like the old days. Everything is affordable (except our experience in riding siklo), from food, souvenir shopping to bus transportation.

Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the French colonial buildings in Saigon

Another French colonial building, Central Post Office

Getting There:

If you are embarking into a budget travel from the Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Airasia are serving routes in Saigon daily. Tan Son Nhat international airport (Saigon) is not really crowded. Upon arrival, you will pass at the immigration area, don't bother looking for an immigration card to fill in, it is not required, just proceed to the immigration booth and present your passport.

Helpful tips: Do not buy Vietnamese Dong currency while you are still in your country because it is a bit expensive, at Saigon airport, foreign exchange is a lot cheaper. 

Choose the foreign exchange outlet just beside the immigration area. Usually, if you choose Cebu Pacific, arrival time is at early dawn. Most likely, your hotel check-in time is in the afternoon, you may take a rest/nap at the airport lounge (like what we did), it's not comfortable but it will do for backpackers and practical travelers.

From the airport to the city and Benh Thanh market:

Benh Thanh market is quite famous for travelers in Saigon and the top choice area when looking for hotels because this is nearer to night market, shopping stalls and top attractions like Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office.

Bus#152 outside the airport

In the morning, you can find bus#152 outside the airport, this would take you to the city and Benh Thanh market. Fare is VD5,000 (Php12.50). 

Where to Stay:

Lots of affordable hotels within the city and Benh Thanh market. During our travel, we chose Lan Lan 2 Hotel due to its ideal location near the bus stop. It's a three star hotel with complimentary breakfast, free wifi and freebies. Rooms are nice and all beds are queen size. 

Beautiful Attractions:

Saigon has many public parks with beautiful blooms, oriental plants and verdant trees, these alone are beautiful attractions to see around the city, others are the following:

Place Address District
Independence Palace 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành, Quận 1,  District 1
History Museum 02 Nguyen Binh Khiem St., District 1 District 1
War Remnants Museum 28 Võ Văn Tần, phường 6, Quận 3,  District 3
Saigon Opera House 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward District 1
Central Post Office 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp District 1
Jade Emperor Pagoda 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1 District 1
Notre Dame Cathedal Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh District 1
Suo Tien Theme Park 120 AH 1, Tân Phú, Quận 9, Saigon District 9

Reunification Palace, former home of the President of Southern Vietnam
before the Fall of Saigon in 1975. This stately home is now one of the top tourist
attractions in the city 

How much to Prepare:

Cost of living in Saigon is very affordable. You don't need to put extra cost on your transportation expenses because every attraction is accessible, you may stroll around and enjoy the scenery. Expenses for one day will be just around Php600.00 or US$13.00 including meals and entrance fees to attractions like Independence Palace and War Remnants Museum.

Entrance Fees (Conversion: 1 Philippine peso is .0025 VD)

For the above attractions, only four collect entrance fees:
1. Independence Palace   - VD30,000.00
2. War of Remnants of Museum - VD15,000.00
3. History Museum - VD15,000.00
4. Suo Tien Theme Park - VD50,000.00

You can check our budget and expenses 
during our trip, CLICK HERE

You can also read my actual experience visiting SAIGON HERE for your reference. If you have more questions, post your comments here or send us a message.

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