Ho Chi Minh City (known as Sai Gon) is an dynamic city, a center of culture, economy and politic in South Vietnam. The list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City seems to endless with lots of attractions, iconic sights, war relics, pagodas, markets, foods and lifestyle… Tourists can explore every aspect of to its fullest with available time budget. One day in Ho Chi Minh City is much too short, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a great day. To maximize your time experience Saigon, here are suggested itinerary covers things to do in Saigon in one day:
1.Enjoy the breakfast with noodle soup and sitting plump coffee in early morning
Enjoying the traditional noodle soup and coffee for breakfast are a perfect way to start a blessing day in Saigon. Waking up early in the morning, catching the first rays, you can easily find a restaurant or street food stall around your hotel to grab a hot noodle soup dish to fill your empty stomach. Saigon people love to have their breakfast with lots of different types of noodle soups: Pho, Hue noodle soup, clear rice noodle soup… Because they are flavorful, healthy and simple. All soups have noodle as main ingredients and various special spices that make them different from others. The soup are served in a bowl and a fresh plate of veggies (bean sprouts, lemon, spicy green peppers, cilantro and basil).
Hue noodle soup – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Saigon, known for its coffee culture. Saigon people take coffee seriously and it has become the most popular drink in the city. Office workers, vendors, businessmen, teachers…enjoy coffee every morning to begin a hard-working day. Ho Chi Minh City offers various environments to enjoy coffee: luxurious cafes and restaurants, drink stalls on the street and sitting plump coffee in the parks or on pavements. Sitting plump coffee is a part of Saigon coffee culture that makes this city unique. No air conditioner, no table, no cake, no music – just iced coffee in a plastic cup with drinking straw is served. After tasting delicious noodle soup, let order a coffee at drink stall on the street, sit plump and drink coffee like locals to immerse yourself into this unique culture. While enjoying coffee, you can see how Saigon people eat, work and live in the biggest city of Vietnam. Every morning students in white Ao Dai ride their bicycles to schools, workers drive their motorbike to working places, motorbike taxi drivers are waiting for first customer, street food vendors are preparing everything for the business and many more images… that would stay in your mind when you come back home.
Sitting plump coffee – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
2.Visit top attractions in District 1 in the morning and take a photo
District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City was designed by French architects during the colonial times with beautiful buildings and streets. Travelling to Saigon, tourists shouldn’t miss highlights in District 1: Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, National History Museum, City Hal, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Mariamman Hindu Temple…One factor that makes the city exceptional is the mix of the new and the old. Besides old establishments, a vast of modern buildings, which has been constructed in recent days, show a Ho Chi Minh City is growing up fast. The second tallest skyscrapers Bitexco Financial Tower is worth a look. District 1 is a must in the list of things to do in Saigon for anyone that travel to this amazing city.
Bitexco Financial Tower in shape of lotus bud in the morning – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
After spending your half day morning in District 1, you may feel hungry. Stop by a street stall in Ben Thanh Market to have lunch and take a rest. Here you can order a plate of broken rice with grilled pork and sweet sour fish sauce dip, carrot pickle… Then you can drink a glass of iced tea or refreshing sugar cane juice to quench your thirst and beat the heat.
Broken rice is one of the most favorite dishes in Saigon – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Cool and refreshing sugar cane juice
3.Explore Saigon China Town in District 5
Saigon China Town (or Cholon) is a place of great historical and cultural importance to spend at least half a day. Cholon is actually so huge, it takes up half of District 5. There are more chaotic things than downtown with distinctly Chinese character. Cholon is an interesting place to see classical Chinese architecture reminiscent of years gone by with plenty of Chinese restaurants, heavy wholesale Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Pagoda, Quan Am Pagoda and Cha Tam Church…
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Ending the trip around the sights in Saigon China Town, we recommend you can eat vegetarian foods at pagoda or Vietnamese pancake in Binh Tay Market. For dessert, you can eat sweet soup at 80 year old Chau Giang street food stall in Cholon area that are famous for foodies in Saigon.
Lots of Chinese sweet soups – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
4.Explore back alleys in Saigon
Saigon’s back alleys offer a different view of city. Hidden back alleys are home of most Saigon people in narrow houses. The life here is quieter and calmer than on busy main road with crowded traffic. But it doesn’t mean that there are lack of things to see. The alleys from the beginning to the end are filled with convenience stores, cafes, street food stalls… All is small business and mainly serve the neighborhoods. Exploring back alleys in Ho Chi Minh City, you will learn more about the real life of locals and a second city that most tourists would miss.
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
5. Experience Saigon nightlife with Water Puppet Show and Dinner on Cruise
The sun has gone to sleep but the Ho Chi Minh city never sleeps. At night, the city is covered by new coat with twinkle and colorful lights from the streetlights and buildings. It’s not time for you to stay in your hotel but to get around the city to experience Saigon nightlife.
We recommend the Water Puppet Show at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater at 5:00 pm. Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique folk art that originated in the Red River Delta a thousand years ago. This traditional art form closely connected with the long-standing spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. You will have chance to enjoy Vietnamese traditional music and water puppet performance like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment.
Finishing the show, you then enjoy Vietnamese traditional meals on wooden Indochina Cruise. You will have chance to survey a wonderful view of Saigon at night and listen to folk traditional music while the boat cruise along Saigon River.
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
If you don’t want to watch the Water Puppet Show and enjoy Dinner on Cruise, other option is A O Show. You will experience the richness of Vietnamese culture with a show mixing the acrobatics of contemporary circus with the theatricality of the stage, the musicality of a moon string instrument, and poetry.
6.Drink beer sitting plump in Saigon Backpacker Area
Saigon Backpackers Area is a hot spot for foreign visitors to stay in the city. The small area is bounded by 4 streets of Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, Bui Vien, and Do Quang Dau. Backpacker area the place where you can meet a lot of open and friendly people from all over the world. The atmosphere here is unique, all the nations in the world having beer together. Bars and restaurants are full of tourists and locals. The street is so packed with people that the tables reach all the way into the middle of the road. Come to this area and enjoy a crazy night, you end your fascinating day experience Ho Chi Minh city at its best. I hope that tips about things to do in Saigon helps you plan your trip as well. Ho Chi Minh city is looking forward to you.
You can check here for morning tour around Saigon, Saigon motorbike tour and Saigon nightlife tour with Water Puppet Show and enjoy Dinner on Cruise. Beautiful female guides of Scooter Saigon Tour are excited to drive you around Saigon to see the sights, eat the foods and make you like locals.
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