Going to Saigon and don’t have much time to spend there? Here’s a brief guide to 10 things to do in Saigon in just 3 days!
I visited Saigon for the first time in March 2016. I have been wanting to go back since I have left. There’s so many things to do in Saigon that I have yet to experience.
The latest book I have read made me wish to go back even more. “From Rome to Saigon” – that’s the title. I literally devoured it. It was a present from a dear friend, who read it before me and thought the story would resonate with me.
He was right. I enjoyed reading the adventures of Giorgio Bettinelli, the late author, who crossed 10 countries on a Vespa scooter. I would love to visit some of the places he mentions in his book, sometimes. And I wouldn’t mind returning to some of the others he talks about and which I have visited already.
Needless to say, one of them is Saigon, the ending point of Giorgio’s incredible adventure. I have been there during a trip that took me from Bangkok to Vietnam, which I have crossed from North to South, then to Siem Reap in Cambodia and eventually back to Thailand, in Koh Chang. I’d enjoy exploring the city (nowadays called Ho Chi Minh) through the author’s eyes. I’d head straight to those Ho Chi Minh City attractions that I didn’t have time to see during my first visit.
Saigon: Love At First Sight
I haven’t spent enough time in Saigon. I only had a 15 days tourist visa for Vietnam, and by the time I made it there, it was about to expire. I regretted not factoring in a bit more time to explore it, because there’s really a lot of things to do in Ho Chi Minh.
When I had put it on my itinerary, I intended it as a quick stop on my way to Cambodia, thinking it would be just another big city where I’d feel overwhelmed by the traffic and the crowds. I figured 3 days would be enough to enjoy Ho Chi Minh City attractions.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with Saigon the minute I lay foot in the city. I felt immediately captured by its energy. It was so different from the capital, Hanoi. People here seemed more cheerful, more interested in communicating with travelers (indeed, meeting the locals is what to do in Saigon!). It may well be the sunny weather, that made it pleasant to walk around.
People were welcoming, indeed. They smiled at me and always made an effort to help me find the place I was looking for. They were glad to pose for pictures. Whenever they saw me take out my camera, they called out and asked to be photographed (and taking pictures of the every day life of the locals is one of the nicest things to do in Saigon). They seemed way more cheerful than their cousins from the North.
Sure enough, I vowed to make the most of my limited time in Saigon. I did all the most fun things to do in Saigon, and I left with a note to myself to go back one day to explore more of it.
Meantime, here’s ten things to do in Saigon in just three days. They seem like a lot for such a limited time, but they are more than doable!
Admire the French colonial architecture
At some point in its history, Saigon was colonized by the French, who left a clear mark in the look of the city. One of the nicest things to do in Saigon is searching for examples of the French colonial architecture. All it takes to admire it is walking around.
Examples of such architecture are scattered around the city. The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the best kept buildings, not to mention one of the most important Ho Chi Minh City attractions; but I would not skip the Central Post Office and the National Theater. They are all located in the area known as Dong Khoi.
See Saigon from above
Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Saigon is pretty much flat. But it can be admired from above at the Bixteco Financial Tower. All it takes is a $10 USD elevator ride to get to the Saigon Skydeck. I wholeheartedly recommend it as one of the coolest things to do in Ho Chi Minh.
On clear days, the view is spectacular. There also is a small museum inside, with a nice exhibit on the Ao Dai, the traditional dress worn by Vietnamese women. It is a nice way to learn a bit more about the culture and way of life of the country.