As Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis nearby the Saigon River. Also known as the nation’s largest city, they account for almost 30% of the industrial output of the country overall.
South Vietnam’s fall from power in 1975 led Saigon’s name to be changed to Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh was the name of the Vietnamese ruler of North Vietnam at the time.
When visiting Ho Chi Minh City, there are many tourist attractions and restaurants to visit with many activities to help plan a 5-night itinerary.
What Is Ho Chi Minh City Best Known For?
Ho Chi Minh City is best known for its pho and pork rolls. Pho is an authentic Vietnamese soup that features vegetable or meat broth, pho noodles, herbs, and a variety of meats. Some pho dishes can also be made vegan or vegetarian.
Be sure to try one or both of these signature dishes when visiting Ho Chi Minh City so you can get a true taste of the homeland.
Night 1: Pham Ngu Lao Street
Since you will be getting off the plane from Cathay Pacific at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, you can start your first night at Pham Ngu Lao Street, which is in the same District.
Schedule a bus tour to kick off visiting Ho Chi Minh City. The hop on hop off bus tour will stop at this street for you to off-board and explore the area.
Pham Ngu Lao Street is the namesake of an army general who lived in the mid-1200s to early 1300s. He resisted the armed forces of Kublai Khan who ruled the Mongolian empire at the time.
Tourist attractions on or near this street include the Remnants Museum, Tao Danh Park, Museum of Fine Arts, and Ben Thanh Market.
If you need to find a local hostel to board for the night, this street is a great place to start. Many backpackers dwell in this area as well according to TripAdvisor reviewers, so you can connect with fellow adventurers while you are here.
Night 2: Walk Nguyen Hue Street
Before you arrive at Nguyen Hue Street, take a route that is on the same path as other nearby tourist attractions.
Just around sunset, Turtle Lake looks that much more beautiful. Take a stroll through September 23rd park nearby. Maybe dash in a quick trip to the Notre Dame Cathedral before you start walking Nguyen Hue Street.
Nguyen Hue Street boasts wonderful night views adorned with more than 200 trees and over 100 flower pots of budding creepers that decorate the sides of the walking street.
There are plenty of attractions and places to dine on Nguyen Hue Street. Whether you want a quick drink or a delicious bite to eat, you have options galore.
Apartment 42 is the central hub of the street where you can dine including a coffee shop called Saigon Oi or an English tearoom known as Partea.
Nguyen Street is home to many restaurant street stalls as well. Cotton milk tea is one of the specialties in which you can indulge at Boo Coffee. If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path place to get smoothies, grab one from an alley nearby the street.
Night 3: Go To a Local Nightclub and Rooftop Bar
Your visit to Ho Chi Minh City would not be complete without going to one of their local nightclubs.
KASHO is a nightclub located in the Lapen Asset Building of District 1. Dance to hit Vietnamese music until as late as you desire as they close at 3 am.
After enjoying a night on the town at KASHO, travel 10 minutes over to the Rooftop Garden Bar for a bite and a drink.
Rooftop Garden Bar inside District 1’s Rex Hotel is one of the many higher echelon rooftop bars
that you can experience during your time in Ho Chi Minh City. Known as one of the top rooftop bars throughout Southeast Asia back in the late 90s, Rooftop Garden Bar still lives up to the hype almost two decades later.
Enjoy live musical entertainment as you grab a small bite, a meal, or sip on your favorite cocktail.
Consider staying the night at Rex Hotel on this night so you can immediately retire to your room after your adventures.
Night 4: Watch a Show at the Opera House
You might be tuckered out from all the partying and good food and drinks last night. Let’s take it down a notch for the fourth night.
Let’s go back to the location we started on the first night. You can sit back and relax as you watch a live performance at the local Opera House in District 1.
The venue is only a few minutes of walking distance from Nguyen Hue Street. If you want to revisit anything you may have missed on the first night browsing Nguyen Hue Street after the Opera House performance, now is your chance! You can pick up a bite to eat from one of the vendors on Nguyen Hue Street on your way back to your hotel or hostel or try another local venue.
Call or visit the Opera House website to find out about the upcoming shows to plan accordingly. They host a wide variety of live musical performances including concerts, ballets, orchestras, and Vietnamese-based cultural performances.
Night 5: Go to Crescent Mall
Crescent Mall is located in District 7. Shop internationally acclaimed brands such as the Banana Republic, Levi’s, Gucci, Giordano, and Daniel Wellington for clothing, accessories, perfumes, and colognes.
Son Tum Thai, Sushi Uraetei, and Azabu Sabo are a few of the Asian restaurants that you can enjoy in between shopping.
Before you leave Crescent Mall, don’t forget to check out the Starlight Crescent Bridge. The other name for this landmark is the Rainbow Bridge.
On Thursdays through Sundays from 5:30 pm to 10 pm, you can see the bridge in its rainbow form hence its alternative name. Be sure that your last night falls on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so that you can see the bridge lit up like a rainbow.
Final Thoughts About Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is filled with beautiful and busy walking streets with vendors selling their wares and delicious authentic Vietnamese dishes. The nightlife at clubs, rooftop bars, and malls also have their appeals to tourists.
Be sure to book your flight to Ho Chi Minh City to get your trip planning started!