Are you planning your trip to Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon) – an amazing city with tons of things to do? What to pack for Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most frequent questions. Bringing enough things on your Ho Chi Minh City Day Trip helps you to maximize your time, efforts, and space for souvenirs. Let me share with you essential things to bring to the city. In addition, I also list some items which you can buy cheaply, easily and quickly when you are in the city.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Climate
There are 2 distinct seasons in Ho Chi Minh: the dry season (December to April) and the wet season (May to November). It is recommended to visit the city in the dry season so that the rain does not affect your travel plan. However, you may not need the thick clothing in Ho Chi Minh City whether it is sunny or rainy. Certainly, you should not miss raincoat and dry bag in the wet season. Sunglasses and sunhat are useful accessories in the dry season.
The most popular activities in Ho Chi Minh City
Visiting must-see tourist attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market is a must in Ho Chi Minh. Most of the above attractions are located in District 1 – the city center, indoor and comfortable to visit. The Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc sites of legendary 200-km long underground Cu Chi Tunnels are in forests, you will walk on the dirt paths and crawl the tunnels. Mekong Delta Tour is one of the most popular trips from Ho Chi Minh City. There are dirt paths, rivers, and channels, rice fields, fruit orchards, floating markets. So that you should wear appropriate clothes and bring bug spays on the trip to Cu Chi and Mekong Delta. There are many other interesting activities in the city but they do not affect the packing lists for Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Travel essentials
Passport and Visa
Make sure to have your passport with you 🙂 if you do not want to run back home to get it when you have already been at the airport. Check if the passport is valid for more than 6 months prior to the trip. Passport is a must and the first in your packing list for Ho Chi Minh City.
There are some ways to get a Vietnam visa: applying for the visa at Vietnam Embassy and Consulate offices in your home country, applying online and getting an E-visa, and getting the visa on arrival (VOA) at airports in Vietnam. VOA is convenient and cheaper than the others so that many travelers prefer VOA. But it may take some time waiting if you are not the first in the line at the busy VOA desk at the airport. Make sure to prepare an approval letter acquired at least one month before the trip. The visa requirement may change so that check carefully before deciding how to get the Vietnam visa. Besides, a few passport-sized photos can help to save money and time at the VOA desk. If you do not have the photos ready, you may queue in a long line to take the photo.
Money (Cash in USD, credit/ATM cards)
Withdrawing cash from ATMs in Vietnam is easy and simple. Just make sure to notify your bank before the trip so that they do not freeze your credit card when you are in Vietnam. You can pay at your hotels, restaurants, coffee shops by credit cards. It is better to pay in VND cash to avoid scams. However, you should carry around 100 USD. Some travel agencies or shops accept USD. Besides, you can exchange USD to VND at the airport to pay for Sim card, taxi (or bus) fare to get to your hotel, buy some foods and drinks.
Tourist Sim card and 3G/4G costs from 150,000 VND (6 USD) in total. In case you choose to get VOA, you will pay for the fee (10 – 135 USD). If you do not have photos ready, they will take the photos for you and charge you 5 USD. A taxi transfer costs 120,000 – 250,000 VND (5 – 11 USD). The bus fare costs 6,000 – 40,000 VND (0.25 – 1.74 USD). A burger at Burger King costs less than 10 USD, and a cup of coffee cost a few USD. It is more expensive if you pay in USD at Tan Son Nhat airport. You should sell enough USD cash at the airport because the exchange rate there is always lower than that in the city center.
In case you have a driving license and would like to convert it into Vietnamese license in order to drive motorbikes legally in Ho Chi Minh City. They require 3 (or more) 3×4 photos, 3 copies of passport, original driving license, translation of driving license for converting the driving license. Some motorbike rental requires the driving license when you rent a motorbike.
Photocopies of documents
Make some copies of your passport, cards, and hotel, tour bookings/vouchers. Leave one set of the copies at home, bring the other with you on the trip. Some hotels, tour agencies, motorbike rentals accept the copy of your passport. It is dangerous to bring the original documents around Ho Chi Minh City where snatch theft and pickpocket are popular. The copies are useful in the situation in which you are the victim and lose your bag or purse and all the documents.
Write down essential information including name, address, phone of your hotel, tour agencies, a list of things to do in the notebook. Many travelers prefer using Note applications on smartphone instead of a notebook and pen. However, a notebook is better in case the smartphone is broken or runs out of battery during the flights and day trips.
Clothing is a big part of your packing list for Ho Chi Minh City. As mentioned, Ho Chi Minh City is quite warm, even hot. Therefore you should bring thin and light clothes that dry quickly. This is one of the best ways to save space in the luggage as well as save your money and time on laundry. You can bring coats if you would like to avoid the strong sun in the dry season and cold wind in the rainy season. Check the weather prior to the departure so that you pack the proper clothes. There is no dress code for this city. You may prefer dresses and skirts because they make you comfortable and pretty. However, do not miss jean trousers, shorts, T-shirt, tank tops because they are light and comfortable. They are smart choices for Saigon motorbike tour, Mekong Delta Tour, and Cu Chi Tunnels Tour.
There are thousands of cheap and high-quality clothes in Ho Chi Minh which has tens of shopping malls, markets, and fashion areas. You can also have your clothes tailor made in the city. Do not worry so much about clothing. You can pack some of the following items:
– T-shirt, tank top, trousers, shorts, socks, dress, skirt, underwear, light sweater, wind coat.
– Bathing suits if you would like to swim at your hotel or do a Vung Tau City & Beach Tour Full Day or Phan Thiet Tour Full Day from Ho Chi Minh.
High heels are favorite accessories of many women. I wonder what if more splendid than a dress and high heels at beautiful French architectural works in the city. Bring a pair of high heels for the best photos. However, walking shoes and sandals are 2 best choices for the trip to Vietnam as well as Saigon. Getting on and off of transport, walking outside and inside the must-see buildings, museums, pagodas, markets are more convenient. You could not crawl the Cu Chi Tunnels and hop on a boat and sampan easily on high heels. You can bring flip flops although you can find them available in your room. It is more comfortable to wear flip flops to walk around your hotel to eat, drink, or shop.
Hat (or cap), sunglasses
Hat and sunglasses are great accessories which not only makes you look cool and attractive but also protect you from the sun as well as the harmful UV rays, especially in the afternoon (from 11:00 to 15:00). Brim sun hat, cap are good choices.
If you do the Ho Chi Minh City trip in the wet season, do not forget an umbrella and rain poncho. No need to buy too strong and heavy umbrella but short and light. You will use it when the rain is light. If the rain is heavy, stay at your hotel. In case it rains suddenly when you are on the street, find somewhere to hide or take a taxi. You will use the poncho if it rains on your Cu Chi Tunnels Tour or Mekong Delta Tour. The rain poncho should be neither too long nor short so that it protects you well but makes you comfortable to walk on dirt paths or get on/off a boat.
Camera, charger, memory card, camera dry bag, camera shoulder strap.
Taking nice photos of attractions and hang on to beautiful memories a little longer. Remember to pack one or more memory cards. You need the camera dry bag if you travel in the rainy season or you go on a boat. The camera shoulder strap is very useful in the country where snatch thieves are everywhere. Certainly, a charger is a must and do not forget to charge the camera before the departure.
Cellphone, charger, case, cellphone dry bag, finger ring for cellphone, headphones
A cellphone (or smartphone) helps you to contact your family, friends, partners, hotels, and tour agencies. The prices of Sim card, rates for international and domestic calling and SMS are not very high. You can access free Wifi at your hotel, restaurants, coffee shops, and public places such as Nguyen Hue Walking Street and surf the Internet. Same goes for camera, you should pack your cellphone dry bag. A case for your phone protects it from any damage on your Ho Chi Minh City trip. Snatch thieves love to snatch your bag, camera, and cellphone which are valuable. Place your finger through the ring to securely hold the phone. Music helps you relax on buses/taxis so that headphones should be in your packing checklist.
It may not essential because a smartphone is enough. However, it is comfortable to search for information on a tablet with a larger screen.
To make sure you can charge electronic devices, you can bring a 220-volt adapter. Most sockets accommodate plugs with two round prongs.
Hairdryer, hairbrush/comb, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin cleanser, shampoo, shower cream/soap, cotton swab, facial tissue, nail files, aloe vera, sunblock/sun screen, travel-size hand sanitizer, lipstick. Although some hotels give you these items for free, you are not sure about the quality. It is better to use your favorite toiletry products.
Bring a mini first aid kit, which should include at a minimum: Neosporin (aka bacitracin to clean infections), Immodium (diarrhea stopper,) band aids, aspirin, and hydrocortisone cream for itchy bites. Do not miss a bug spray which is helpful in Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta.
6. Luggage, lock, packing cubes, lock
There are different types of luggage: wheeled duffel, wheeled luggage, carry-on luggage, wheeled backpack, bag, backpack, sleeve, duffel bag. Wheeled luggage and wheeled duffel are for long-term travel. Wheeled duffel is the best choice for overpacking or packing some oddly shaped items. Carry-on luggage, wheeled backpack, and duffel bag are for short-term travel. Bag, backpack, sleeve are for carrying some essential items on your day trip around and out of the city. Dry bag is useful in the rain season.
Packing your items in packing cubes, you can easily and quickly find them. A lock should not be missed if you will stay at hostels, guest houses, homestays, or in a shared accommodation space. It is safer to lock your backpack on public transportation such as bus.
7. Foods and drinks
A few chocolate bars, cups of instant noodles can satisfy your hunger at the airports and on your day trips.
9. Which items you should not buy from your home but in Ho Chi Minh City?
Sim card, 3G/4G.
Facial cleanser, toothbrush, toothpaste.
Poncho, tissues, sanitizer, notebook, pen.
Snacks, instant noodles, bottle of water.
Now you know What to pack for Ho Chi Minh City and I hope this guide helps you as much as possible on your trip to Ho Chi Minh City.