Flying- Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the largest airport in Vietnam. From there you can take a cab into District 1.
Bussing- It’s an easy border crossing from Cambodia and a short 6 hour ride. I recommend going through a travel agency for arranging your bus and Vietnam visa as it is usually cheaper than going through your accommodation.
Once here, take cabs or motor taxis as there is no public transportation in Saigon (but a metro is currently in construction). Beware, they will probably try to overcharge you by a LOT. If you’re sticking in District 1 you’ll be able to get around by foot. Just be careful and ALWAYS pay attention. Traffic is INSANE and people will ride their motorbikes on the sidewalk in traffic so always be alert. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!
Sleeping: Stayed with a friend of a friend out in District 7 and then treated myself to my own hotel room when I had one solo night. District 1 is where you’re going to see all of the backpackers and travelers. Check out hostels HERE.
For my solo night I stayed at New Sunny Hotel which had a great location and nice clean rooms and a friendly staff for a great price. No breakfast.
Overall: 9/10 Price: $20/night Expensive compared to dorms
Eating: Pho and Bahn Mi. You will be eating a lot of this throughout your time here. And if you’ve been in Asia for a while and are craving a little change there is a plethora of international food as well.
Doing: Cu Chi Tunnels, Ben Than Market, wander the streets, and breweries
Cu Chi Tunnels: This is a must. I learned more about the Vietnam War in one afternoon than I learned in 13 years of American schooling. There is no shortage of companies running tours to Cu Chi Tunnels. Shop around for pricing or take public transit to get there on your own. It’s located a ways outside the city so it was just easier to take the tour. The tunnels are less crowded in the afternoon so full day tours will stop at a Cai Dao temple in the morning.
Cai Dao is a religion specific to Vietnam that is a mix of 5 different religions. It was something I had no idea even existed before now and it was interesting to learn about and the architecture was stunning. I felt a little uncomfortable and intrusive observing their meditation, though so I didn’t stay long to watch.
The tunnels themselves are extremely interesting. Learn about the war from the Viet Cong perspective and get a peek into the insane things the people of this country had to endure during the war. It was extremely humbling.
You also have the option of shooting AK-47’s with bullets from the war. This is an additional cost.
Price- Check with companies for tour prices, entrance is 110,000 VND (<$5 USD) if you're going on your own + transportation
Ben Than Market is a giant market in the heart of Saigon and a quintessential Vietnam experience. Be prepared to be overwhelmed. It’s huge and has almost anything you can imagine! Barter, barter, barter!!!!! You should be getting 50-60% of the original asking price. Everyone is going to be aggressive and they might even go so far as to grab your arm to get your attention. Even so, be polite. More people speak /understand English than you may expect and a smile can go a long way. It’s a bit claustrophobic and can be frustrating but if you embrace it for what it is you’ll see the beauty.
Price- Free, unless you buy things
Wander: Here you can find some awesome self-guided walking tours!
If you’re like me and love craft beer, Asia is not the first place that comes to mind. However, there are some great breweries located in Saigon. Pasteur Street Brewing Company is located in District 1 and easy to get to. I also went to BiaCraft which has some good food and an open air storefront which has a nice vibe in the evenings.
Mekong Delta Tour- Not worth it. The area they take you to was littered with garbage and everything you visit was strictly built for tourists. Spend your time drinking beer at the above instead, at a cafe, or moving onwards to have more time in another place.
Staying: I stayed 5 full days and enjoyed my time there, but in reality a 2-3 days should do it.
Going: If you’re just starting, head north. You can also visit the island of Phuc Quoc. If this is your last stop then take a bus into Cambodia or fly out of the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.