I’ve long heard about Ho Chi Minh, the most famous city in Vietnam. It’s also known for its French colonial landmarks, including Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France, and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Since I had never been there before, I decided to make it the last stop of my trip. In this post, I’m going to share with you the Ho Chi Minh budget travel guide.
Ho Chi Minh Budget Travel Guide
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Located in the middle of downtown, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the late 1880s by French colonists. It is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Measuring almost 60 metres in height, the cathedral’s distinctive neo-Romanesque features include the all-red brick façade (which were imported from Marseille), stained glass windows, two bell towers containing six bronze bells that still ring to this day. It makes the perfect photo spot right in town!
Central Post Office
Saigon Central Post Office is a post office right next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century. Till date, the post office is still functioning.
But to be frank, there’s nothing much to see nor do inside, so most people just snap some pictures outside. I even saw a couple taking wedding photos there. How lucky!
Want to get some souvenirs for families and friends at a cheap price? Head to Bến Thành Market! Inside the market, you’ll see more hundreds of stalls selling different kinds of handicrafts, clothes and souvenirs. Do bear in mind that the locals will always start with a very high price. So always BARGAIN to get the best deal! The general rule is cut the asking price by half. If they disagree, just pretend to walk away. The next second, they’ll ask you to come back and agree to sell you the goods.
Few museums anywhere convey the brutal effects of war on its civilian victims so powerfully. While some displays are one-sided, many of the most disturbing photographs illustrating US atrocities are from US sources, including those of the infamous My Lai Massacre.
Entrance fee: 15000 VND ($0.7 USD)
Củ Chi Tunnel Tour
If you have time and don’t mind going farther to explore an historical site, check out Củ Chi Tunnel. During the Vietnam War, in order to combat better-supplied American and South Vietnamese forces, Communist guerrilla troops known as Viet Cong (VC) dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels, including an extensive network running underneath the Cu Chi district northwest of Saigon. When you are there, you’ll get to experience crawling in the tiny tunnel and hear all the interesting stories happened back then.
To get there, most people will book a half-day tour from a local tour company. It generally costs $35 USD per person and includes all the necessary transportation, tour guide and entrance fees.
Where to stay?
During our trip, we chose Airbnb and stayed with Michelle, who is a super awesome host. Although her house is not in town (District 1), it’s really comfortable and clean. The nearby amenities are pretty good too, with a convenient store and super market right downstairs. With just $30 a day, we basically had the whole house by ourselves, which include 2 bedrooms and 1 comfortable sofa bed. It’s perfect if you are travelling with a big group.
Before we left for airport, Michelle even gave us a gift. Trust me, she’s the sweetest host I’ve ever met! If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh, do check out her apartment here. 🙂 Have a great time!