More and more tourists choose to travel the world by cruise ship. Cruise vacations are one of the most rapidly growing areas of tourism in the world. Cruise vacation benefits include safety, cost savings, convenience, and fun. Thousands of cruises are scheduled to visit ports in Vietnam every year. There are not less than 10 Vietnam cruise ports of call: Chan May, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Halong Bay Cai Lan, Phu My, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, etc. Many cruises stop for Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam’s biggest city where there is a large number of things to learn and explore. I am going to share with you essential information about Ho Chi Minh City Cruise Ports of Call, including how to get out of the port, how to travel the city at its best.
I. Ho Chi Minh Cruise Ports of Call
At this time, there are 3 ports of call from where you can visit Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces including Vung Tau and Mekong Delta province. 3 Ho Chi Minh ports of call include Nha Rong Port, Hiep Phuoc Port, and Phu My Port. Depending on the size of the cruise ship, it will dock at one of the 3 ports above. The Nha Rong Port and Hiep Phuoc Port, which are a few kilometers far from the city center are for small cruises. Larger cruises must dock at Phu My Port, which is about 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City center. More information about the cruise ports are as below:
1. Nha Rong Port (or Nha Rong Khanh Hoi Port)
Location: on Saigon River, 157 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 18, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City; about 3.5 km from Ben Thanh Market.
What is near Nha Rong Port?
About 1km from Nha Rong Port, Nha Rong Wharf is located at 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 12, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. The wharf was built in 1864 and retains the unique architecture with the harmonious combination between Vietnamese and French culture. It is famous worldwide for witnessing Nguyen Tat Thanh (former name of Ho Chi Minh) started his journey seeking ways to save the country in 1911. Next to the wharf is the Ho Chi Minh Museum where you can see many exhibits, photos, and historical documents.
Xom Chieu Market is located at 1 Dinh Le Street, Ward 12, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. This local market is worth visiting because you can see many strange things including live animals and how local people sell and buy products. There are tens of food stalls serving amazing Ho Chi Minh foods and drinks.
Nearby ATM and banks where you can exchange currency and withdraw VND cash from your credit cards.
Vietcombank ATM and Vietcombank branch, 39602 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 13, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City; 500 m from Nha Rong Port.
Agribank branch, 170 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 13, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City; 800 m from Nha Rong Port.
The distances between the port and must-see attractions such as Nha Rong Port Bitexco Financial Tower, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Central Post Office, People’s Committee Building, Saigon Opera House, War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace, Ben Thanh Market are less than 7 km.
Cu Chi Tunnels is about 60 km from Nha Rong port. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Cu Chi from the port.
How to travel Ho Chi Minh from Nha Rong Port?
To reach places within 1 km, you can walk. On the way, you can see and learn more about the unique lifestyle of local people. On the pavements, they may park motorbikes or sell street foods so that you have to walk on the streets. The traffic on the street is crazy so that be careful when you walk on both the pavements and the streets.
The bus fare is quite cheap in Ho Chi Minh City, the ticket prices range between 5,000 and 20,000 VND. However, it is convenient for travelers who stay in the city for a few days. Because you must return to the cruise and have limited time in the city, you should not spend your time waiting for the buses at bus stations.
Taxi is safer and more convenient but it is more expensive. The taxi fare is about 17,000 VND in Ho Chi Minh City. You may spend at least two hundreds of thousands of VND (10 USD) if you take taxis to attractions in District 1. For example, it takes about 100,000 VND from the port to Ben Thanh Market. You can walk from the market to other attractions. Finally, you pay 100,000 VND for the taxi returning you to the port. It costs about 160,000 VND to reach Saigon China Town from the port.
By private car or booking a tour
Your cruise operator offers tours around Ho Chi Minh City, to Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta. And it is the simplest choice. However, there are many better choices on the Internet. There are many interesting itineraries or tour programs which meet your expectation. It is better to book a tour including pick up at the port so that you do not reach the pickup location yourself. Another choice is booking a private car and travel the city yourself with a driver (and a guide).
2. Hiep Phuoc Port (or Saigon Hiep Phuoc Port)
Location: on Soai Rap River, Hamlet 2, Hiep Phuoc Commune, Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City; about 16 km from Ben Thanh Market.
What is outside the port?
The nearest ATM is Techcombank ATM, C7 Block, Area C, Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park, Hiep Phuoc Commune, Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City.
There is no worthy attraction around the port so that it is better to reach the city center and see the attractions. It takes less than 1 hour to reach District 1 – the city center.
How to reach the city center from Hiep Phuoc Port?
The nearest bus station is “Nhà Tưởng Niệm Liệt Sĩ Huyện Nhà Bè” (Nha Be Martyrs’ Memorial), which is about 4 km from the port. There you can take bus #72 to reach the end of the route – 23/9 Park. The bus fare is 6,000 VND. However, walking for 4 km and sitting on the bus for 55 minutes is not a good idea.
It takes about 260,000 VND to reach the center from the port by taxi. Taking taxis is not a bad idea if you are from Nha Rong Port. In case you are docked at Hiep Phuoc Port, the taxi fare is rather high and you may encounter any taxi scam.
By shuttle bus
Your cruise may arrange shuttle buses to popular destinations nearby the port. They may charge you or offer free shuttle buses. The buses usually drop you off at a place in the center of the city. And you must come back to the pickup location on time. This is a minus of this choice.
By private car or booking a tour
Private car or a tour including pickup/drop off at the port is a smart choice. A transfer from Hiep Phuoc Port to the city center and vice versa by 4-seat car costs about 400,000 VND/one way.
3. Phu My Port
Location: Cai Mep-Thi Vai linking-port Road, Phu My District-level Town, Tan Thanh District, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province; 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City center.
What is outside Phu My port?
Bad news for you if you are going to be docked at Phu My Port. There are no passenger facilities, including ATMs around the port. In addition, you must walk for about 10 minutes to reach the gate where private drivers or taxi drivers wait for passengers. You will pay an extra 20 USD/person for permission to pick up inside the harbor.
How to reach the city center from Phu My Port?
By public bus
At this time, taking public buses is not an option because there is no bus stations or bus routes which goes straight from the port to nearby popular tourist destinations. Hopping on and off a few buses to reach Chi Minh is a real hassle for both locals and foreigners.
Do not take the hydrofoil/fast ferry to Saigon since it is old and unreliable.
The taxi fare is around 17,000 VND. The cost of the taxi ride from Phu My Port to Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 1,200,000 VND. Certainly, you also take a taxi to return to the cruise after visiting the city. The total taxi fare is 2,400,000 VND.
By shuttle bus
Your cruise may arrange shuttle buses to popular destinations nearby the port. They may charge you or offer free shuttle buses. The transfer from the port to Ho Chi Minh City by shuttle bus costs around 59 USD (~1,360,000 VND)/person/one-way. The buses usually drop you off at a place in the center of the city. And you must come back to the pickup location on time. This is a minus of this choice.
By pre-arranged private car
Similar to Hiep Phuoc Port, private car or a tour including pickup/drop off at Phu My Port is a smart choice. A transfer from Hiep Phuoc Port to the city center and vice versa by 4-seat car costs from 1,500,000 VND/one way. If there are more than 2 people in your group, the price is lower than the shuttle bus provided by your cruise.
If you are going to be docked at Phu My Port, check out the Ultimate Phu My Port Travel Guide.
Note: Citizens of most countries will be issued a loose-leaf visa on arrival at the port and the fee will be charged to their shipboard account.
II. Itinerary and Tours from Ho Chi Minh Cruise Ports of Call
1. Which is the best among 4 choices to travel Ho Chi Minh?
You have 4 choices if you are docked at one of Ho Chi Minh Cruise Ports of Call:
Book a Ho Chi Minh shore excursion from your cruise operator
The benefits of this choice include convenience and simplicity. However, better choices are abundant on the Internet. There are many interesting itineraries or tour programs which meet your expectation. In addition, the minuses include the high cost. I would like to recommend this option for old travelers and travelers have never been in Ho Chi Minh City.
Book a Ho Chi Minh shore excursion, including pickup/drop off at the port from a trusted tour agency
I have no comment on this choice because it is my favorite. I would like to recommend this option for everyone.
Book a Ho Chi Minh shore excursion, excluding pickup/drop off at the port from a trusted tour agency. Reach Ho Chi Minh City yourself and join the tour
Sometimes, the tour agency does not offer pickup and drop off at the port. Thus you must reach the pickup location yourself. It is a little inconvenient.
Reach Ho Chi Minh and travel the city yourself
This choice is recommended for young travelers, adventurous travelers, travelers who have been in the city before and would like to see something different and hidden. You can save your money with this choice, I think so.
2. Which Ho Chi Minh Shore Excursion should I choose?
There are not less than 10 Ho Chi Minh Shore Excursions for your choice. I would like to share the best tours as below:
Ho Chi Minh City Half Day: the tour shows you must-see tourist attractions in District 1 such as Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Saigon Opera House, City Hall, Ben Thanh Market, sometimes Jade Emperor Pagoda.
Cu Chi Tunnels Half Day: the tour takes you to the legendary underground tunnels which has a total length of about 200km.
4- hour Ho Chi Minh Tour by Motorbike: this is a unique tour which takes you around the city to see both tourist attractions and hidden places in narrow alleys on a motorbike.
Mekong Delta Tour (My Tho – Ben Tre) Full Day: on the tour, you will learn more about the unique lifestyle, enjoy the beautiful sights and local foods. This choice is not available for travelers from Phu My Port and only have one day.
3. This is for travelers who would like to explore the city themselves
You have limited time to see the city so that you should be smart to save your time and money. In this post, I could not write all the essential information for you. Follow the links below to learn more about connection (Wifi, Sim card, 3G/4G), currency exchange, transportation: