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Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam travel guide: How to see the best of the city in 48 hours

Ho Chi Minh is known as a food haven, and we couldn't wait to try the many dishes that reflect its cultural diversity.

Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is a food lover's wonderland. The 'city that never sleeps' is also a very populous city, with a dense population of 9.3 million. Ho Chi Minh boasts a mix of skyscrapers and charming French colonial structures that make for a picturesque visit.

Recently, over a short weekend break, my husband and I flew into the city after deciding at the last minute to fly to a country that's only a two-hour flight away. Ho Chi Minh is known as a food haven, and we couldn't wait to try the many dishes that reflect its cultural diversity.

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Day 1: Friday

Photos of The Myst Dong Kho, a boutique hotel in Ho Chi Minh. (PHOTO: The Myst DOng Khoi; Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
Photos of The Myst Dong Khoi, a boutique hotel in Ho Chi Minh. (PHOTO: The Myst DOng Khoi; Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
Chicken pho and banh mi at Propaganda Restaurant; coffee with croissant at Cong Caphe. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
Chicken pho and banh mi at Propaganda Restaurant; coffee with croissant at Cong Caphe. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • For lunch, we head straight to Propaganda Restaurant & Bistro, a fun and lively eatery with vibrant drawings of livelihood in Vietnam. The chicken pho and banh mi were tasty and perfectly cooked!

For local fashion, check out Joe Thriftshop and The New Playground. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
For local fashion, check out Joe Thriftshop and The New Playground. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • We checked out the local fashion and found some cool streetwear brands. Head to The New Playground, a basement filled with small, independent brands for the cool kids to shop from, Joe Thrift for secondhand finds, Paradise Saigon for their Supreme-inspired wear and Compound Garment for sleek lines. Now, a quick stop at Cộng Cà phê for some cool iced coffee by the balcony.

Street food tour on scooter in Ho Chi Minh

The writer in Ho Chi Minh; Book Street has an array of little bookshops with Vietnamese literature and souvenirs. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
The writer in Ho Chi Minh; Book Street has an array of little bookshops with Vietnamese literature and souvenirs. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • On our way to Book Street (a haven for book and art lovers!), we walked past the Independence Palace and the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon which were filled with tourists and locals.

  • Another place we stopped by was The Café Apartment building on 42 Nguyen Hue Street. This nine-storey building houses a mix of cafés and retail shops, and if the stairs scare you, you could opt for the rustic elevator with a fee of 3k Viet Dong. There weren't a lot of shops open when we arrived there by late evening, but some of the standout shops we've seen are Meraki Café, Orientea and Arabica %.

The writer at French-Viet Square One restaurant located at Park Hyatt Saigon. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
The writer at French-Viet Square One restaurant located at Park Hyatt Saigon. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • For dinner, my husband picked Square One, a Michelin 2023 Selected Restaurant located inside Park Hyatt Saigon, which serves French-Viet fine dining cuisine. The main dishes, beef Wellington and Vietnamese-style lobster with rice were delectable. The perfect place to celebrate date nights and anniversaries! Other recommendations: Try the Seafood Buffet at Lotte Hotel Saigon.

Try the Seafood buffet at Lotte Hotel Saigon Buffet at 5-star La Vela Saigon Hotel Book a night at Park Hyatt Saigon

  • As the night was still young, we took a cab to Legato, a jazz bar hidden in a small alley. There are three live performances in a week, so we were lucky to catch the live band and appreciate the cocktails and extensive whiskey drinks list. All that walking, eating and shopping – I'd definitely recommend a spa massage to soothe your aching muscles.

SG Telegram banner. (PHOTO: Yahoo Life Singapore)
SG Telegram banner.

Day 2, Saturday

  • Because it was our last day in the city, we didn't have enough time to check out sights outside like Cu Chi Tunnels Tour or a full-day excursion to Mekong Delta. Perhaps, a longer trip the next time! We spent some time instead, taking it easy with strolls around different neighbourhoods.

A photo of Saigon Japan Town during daytime; lattes, tea and cake at Tokyo Moon Cafe Noir. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
A photo of Saigon Japan Town during daytime; lattes, tea and cake at Tokyo Moon Cafe Noir. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • The Saigon Japan Town is perfect for a stroll at night as it really comes alive with all the bars, but when we checked the place out in the morning, we found a quaint cafe called Tokyo Moon Cafe Noir that serves delectable cakes and coffee.

A photo of Michelin-recommended restaurant, Hoa Tuc, in Ho Chi Minh. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
A photo of Michelin-recommended restaurant, Hoa Tuc, in Ho Chi Minh. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • For lunch, we opted for Hoa Tuc, which is located in a previous old opium refinery. Now a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant, the restaurant was recommended by Michelin for its tasty and harmonious combination of flavours. The restaurant also offers cooking classes and a street food tour.

Soak in the city views at Saigon Skydeck Book a massage at Yuri Spa, Saigon Tour the Nam Cat Tien National Park

A photo of the writer at the Ho Chi Minh Opera House. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
A photo of the writer at the Ho Chi Minh Opera House. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
  • By evening, we booked a bamboo circus show at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House. It's a well-known spot for wedding shoots as well! The bamboo circus show combines the folk harmony of the Vietnamese countryside with the youthful melodies of the Vietnamese city. I must say, some of the artists performed some gravity-defying stunts that had my jaw dropped!

Watch the bamboo circus at the opera house Dinner Experience at Elisa Floating Restaurant

Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia
Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia