Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) is an interesting destination. It might take you some time to like it but the city has a lot to offer. Of course, it is big (largest city in Vietnam with 7.5 million inhabitants) and very busy (more than 7.5 million motorcycles registered) but don’t stop here. On top of the historical and architectural points of interest in the city (from the French colonial heritage to the Vietnam war), the city can be quite pleasant. One foot in the past and another one in the future, Ho Chi Minh is worth a trip and definitely a good destination for a short weekend.
Given its proximity and affordability combined with a decent night life, Ho Chi Minh is a classic spot for all night long party weekends with friends, bachelor and bachelorette parties. Foodies and history fans will also be in a for a good stay.
How accessible is it from Singapore?
Ho Chi Minh is a great destination for a regular 2-day weekend (or longer). There are direct frequent affordable flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City. It’s one of the cheapest routes from Singapore.
The total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel will take you about 4 hours 5 minutes. The trip includes flight, and taxi transfers.
How much is this going to cost us?
Vietnam is a relatively inexpensive destination in terms of food and accommodation. However, if you have to get a visa (depending on the passport you hold, see the country tab for more info.
Transportation wise, return trip for 2 will cost you around SGD 365 (before the visa)
Accommodation and activities wide you can find a wide range of options from very cheap to luxury.
How remote and risky is it?
Ho Chi Minh is a safe destination. The medical infrastructure is not exceptional but you can get a decent hospital in case of serious problems. Expect a few scam attempts but nothing too serious. Traffic is a real challenge and crossing the street may be a stressful experience.
What about the kids?
You can bring toddlers and children to Ho Chi Minh. However walking around the city may be a challenge with young children given the traffic. Probably good to have a baby carrier rather than a stroller as sidewalks are often occupied by shops and cafes.
When should we go?
Did you know?
The Notre Dame cathedral was made of 100% imported French building materials. The Saigon General Post Office was designed by a certain Gustave Eiffel…
Connections from Ho Chi Minh
From Ho Chi Minh you can easily go explore the Mekong Delta (2hour drive) or fly to other destinations in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Hoi An (Danang), or visit the amazing Tam Coc – Ninh Binh, or Halong Bay. If you want to visit the other end of the country, you can go to Sapa via Hanoi (but that would be a very long journey)
Getting from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
There are many flights and options to fly from Singapore Changi airport to Ho Chi Minh City Tân S?n Nh?t International Airport airport (SGN)
Getting there: Jetstar – Singapore to HCMC: 7:35 PM – 8.35PM (2h flight)
Coming back: Jetstar – HCMC to Singapore = 9.15PM- 0.15 AM
Return ticket from SGD 145.
Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares.
Ho Chi Minh City airport is pretty modern and large. You’ll find the usual facilities of a big airport. (Many) money changers and restaurants are available at the airport.
Getting to Ho Chi Minh City from the airport
The airport is 7km from the city center. Taxis are the best way to get from the airport to the city. You can get one at the taxi counter where an English speaking staff will help you explain your destination to the driver. It will cost you around VND 100,000 – SGD 6.
Backpackers can find good accommodation in the Pham Ngu Lao area. The streets are full of backpackers and small restaurants and bars. It’s not as bad as you think. Can also be a good option for mid range hotel (SGD 50). You can also take a look at this nice little hotel: Little Saigon Boutique Hotel
If you are looking for a higher end hotel, check out the Dong Khoi area on Agoda
or, if you prefer, use .
To see & to do in the Ho Chi Minh City
If you feel there are not enough things to do and see in Ho Chi Minh to keep you busy for a couple of days, take time to enjoy the restaurants and cafés. Vietnamese food is delicious. One of the reasons is that Vietnamese use a lot of fresh vegetables and herbs in their cuisine. You can also go for a massage after a long day wandering in the city. If you are more into history or if it’s a rainy day, visit one of the museums. Now, Ho Chi Minh (like many other cities) is a place that requires a bit of effort before you can actually start to understand how it works and like it. Wandering in the streets and watching the busy life is always a good option.
War Remnants Museum
Open from 7.30 AM to 12AM and from 1:30 PM to 5PM. Entrance fee: VND 15000 – SGD 1
The South Vietnam Presidential palace was damaged by the first communist tank in 1975 when the South surrendered to the North. Interesting visit.
Open from 7.30 AM to 11AM and from 1PM to 4PM. Entrance fee: VDN 30,000
Visit this museum to learn about the story of Ho Chi Minh City.
Open from 8AM to 4PM. VDN 15,000 per pax
Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post office
On the same place, you will see the Cathedral and its imposing facade and the Post office (designed by Gustave Eiffel, who build the eponymous tower in Paris). Both are interesting architectural pieces. However, neither the Cathedral nor the Post office have much charm.
Ao Show Saigon
If you are looking for a nice performance, head to AO Show Saigon for a circus experience with bamboos. It is in the Saigon Opera House, 07 Cong Truong Lam Son, Dist. 1. There are 2 shows per day, 6 and 8 pm. You can find details and book on the AO Show website.
Chu Chi Tunnels
Visit the tunnels in either Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc. The network has been heavily bombarded by the Americans during the war. You can explore the tunnels (forget about it if you are claustrophobic). You can arrange the transport from HCMC to Chu Chi with an agency/café in HCMC for around SGD 10 per pax
More info to prepare your trip
Wifi is available in all hotels and guesthouses.
What to pack for Ho Chi Minh City
Your main bag
That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.
- Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
- Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
- Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
- Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
- Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
- Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
- Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
- Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
- Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
- Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
- Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
- Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
- Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
- Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.
Your small bag
That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.
- Your passport, cash, credit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
- Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
- Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
- Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
- Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
- Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
- Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
- Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
- Camera and its protection.
Immigration and airport taxes on arrival
Depending on your nationality you may need to get a Tourist Visa to enter Vietnam. ASEAN passport holders and nationals from a few European countries (including France) are exempt of Visa.Getting a visa to Vietnam is quite simple and easy now. There are 2 options:
- On Arrival Visa at the airport immigration checkpoint. You’ll need an Approval letter BEFORE you travel; you can either ask a Travel agent or apply online on Vietnamvisa. There will be fees for processing to the Approval letter and then for the visa itself check the rates here. The “on arrival visa” is only possible at International Airports (Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City) and Danang Airport (Danang)). If you are travelling by land the Approval letter will not be accepted, then you need to contact the Embassy. At the airport immigration counter you need to pay cash 45 USD for single entry (95 USD for multiple-entry) and bring along 2 photos + your passport + the Approval letter. To save time, you can print the form that you will need to fill in and give to the counter when you arrive. You can download it here
- Or, Before flying to Vietnam. You can contact the Vietnamese Embassy and apply for a visa. In Singapore, 10 Leedon Park 10, 267887. Visa Hours: Mon-Fri (9AM – 12PM noon)
National Public Holidays in Vietnam
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|February 17-22||Tet Nguyen Dan (Chinese New Year)|
|April 28||Hung Kings Commemoration|
|April 30||Victory/Independence Day|
|May 1||Labour Day|
|September 2||National Day|
* check the exact date on this website as it varies from one year to another.