Ho Chi Minh City is one of Vietnam’s metropolises that has recently become a tourist sensation. One can choose a way to discover the city from various options, such as a private motorbike tour, or simply walk their way to a memorable experience. Read on to find some ideas for your 1-day walking itinerary in Saigon city center.
Introductory to Saigon City Center
Saigon city center is a commercial hub, home to numerous iconic landmarks and heaven for compulsive shoppers. Being the sleepless part of the city, this is where you can find all sorts of activities for both your day adventure and night discovery.
As the most populated city in Vietnam, Saigon has nearly 7 million motorbikes. You can expect heavy traffic and, you will need to first master the art of crossing the streets in Vietnam before attempting this walking itinerary in Saigon.
Detailed Route for 1-Day Walking Itinerary in Saigon City Center
Tips for 1-Day Walking Tour in Saigon City Center
- Bargain before buying: Instead of accepting the first price you hear, try to bargain when you shop at Ben Thanh market or small stalls.
- Be careful while walking: Saigon’s sidewalk is usually narrow and occupied by small stalls as well as vehicles. Therefore, you should look carefully for safety.
- Wear sun protection: As you will walk all day under the sunlight, apply sunscreen constantly to avoid sunburn.
- Ask before taking pictures: Ask locals or tour guides before taking pictures in tourist attractions.
1-Day Walking Itinerary in Saigon City Center: The Morning
8 AM: Breakfast with Hu Tieu at Xuan Hoa Diner
Hu Tieu is an affordable yet filling breakfast to start an energetic day. As our next stop is the Fine Arts Museum, we choose Xuan Hoa, a nearby family-run diner. At this dinner, you can either choose to pour the broth over Hu Tieu or have the broth in a separate bowl. Also, remember to tell the waiter your favorite proteins and herbs.
Address: 63 Nguyen Thai Binh, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Price: VND 45,000 – VND 60,000
You can choose to add chopped pork, pig kidney, pork tripe, fish,…
9 AM: Fine Arts Museum
Built during the French colonial time by Mr. Hoa – the wealthiest man in Saigon at that time, the Fine Arts Museum mansion preserves artworks of Vietnamese and international artists. There are three floors of exhibition space and each one is dedicated to an era of Vietnam’s history. After admiring masterpieces, stop at the souvenir shop on the first floor or art galleries on the ground floor to pick up some gifts.
Address: 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Entrance fee: VND 30,000
The museum still remains the charming look
11 AM: Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a symbol of Saigon, where you can find all sorts of things from fresh produce to fashionable clothes. Shopping for souvenirs is recommended as you will find many unique items like lacquerware, handmade accessories, ready-to-wear ao dai, etc. but remember to bargain beforehand. Since Ben Thanh Market is also famous for its food, have lunch there before you move to the next spot of this itinerary.
Address: Le Loi, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Each food stall in Ben Thanh Market offers a Vietnam’s specialty
1-Day Walking Itinerary in Saigon City Center: The Afternoon
1:30 PM: Saigon Opera House
With a meticulously designed archway, the Saigon Opera House looks like a gigantic gate from a distance. Its interior is embellished with stone-carved ornaments, crystal chandeliers, and shiny granite imported from France. Apart from being a tourist spot with aesthetic values, the theater also serves as a venue for many high-profile events and cultural activities.
Address: 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Saigon Opera House can hold up to 1,800 audiences
2 PM: Notre Dame Square
Notre Dame Cathedral
Though not frequently opened, Notre Dame Cathedral still serves as a religious institution for Saigoneses. However, it is now under restoration so you can only view it from the outside. Like any other Christian place, you might see worshippers praying before the Our Lady statue in front of the cathedral. Thus, be careful while taking pictures and try not to disturb them.
Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Notre Dame Cathedral is most crowded at Christmas
Saigon Central Post Office
Just a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office impresses you with its signature yellow appearance. Once you get inside, you will feel like being transported back to the 19th century with looping arches, patterned marble floors, and antique telephone boxes. On the walls, there are two maps of the region; one of them shows the telegraph lines of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the other displays Saigon in 1892.
Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Saigon Central Post Office features a French Architectural Design
3 PM: Independence Palace
Built as the house and workplace for the Governor of Cochinchina, the palace has luxuriant plants, airy rooms, antique furniture, and a command bunker. It is famous due to the Spring Victory in 1975, when a tank of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War. At present, it is not only a must-visit spot in Saigon but also a venue hosting important events.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Entrance fee: VND 40,000
APEC summits are held on this historic site
1-Day Walking Itinerary in Saigon City Center: The Evening
5 PM: Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street
Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street is a combination of modern space and classic buildings. There are French architectural sites like the People’s Committee Building, Rex Hotel, and National Bank. In other corners, there are skyscrapers, McDonald’s stores, and newly-built hotels. Among those, Apartment 42 Nguyen Hue significantly shows how current trends blend in with historic values. This 50-year-old apartment is now home to trendy brands’ stores and stylish cafés.
Address: Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
The 42 Nguyen Hue Apartment is a gathering place for Saigon’s youth
6 PM: Dinner on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street
Apart from the tourist attractions, this walking street provides you with many restaurants offering delicacies across the country.
SH Garden is a well-decorated restaurant specializing in home-cooked foods. Coming here, you are highly recommended to order a Vietnamese family meal. As usual, that consists of a vegetable dish, a meat or fish dish, a bowl of soup, and last but not least, a large bowl of rice. If you are more into specialties, this place provides local seafood like crabs, lampreys, plaices, sturgeons, etc. grilled in banana leaves or stir-fried with garlic. Especially, in case you are fond of vegetables, SH Garden also offers a vegetarian menu.
Address: Rooftop 98 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 10 AM – 11 PM
Price: VND 150,000 – VND 850,000
A corner of SH Garden
Cocochin Food Court
This 1,000-square-meter food court is a dining space portraying the typical image of Vietnamese culture and architecture. It gives diners the opportunity to experience the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine from North to South. Once you enter, the staff will give you a card to swipe every time you order food. Then, when you have finished and decide to leave, you will pay the total bill based on the card data.
Address: 77 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 10 AM – 10:30 PM
Price: VND 70,000 – VND 300,000
Cocochin’s decor for the holiday season
Enjoy Your 1-Day Walking Tour in Saigon City Center!
We hope that our suggested route above gives you some ideas to plan your memorable 1-day walking itinerary in Saigon city center. If you’re interested in finding a guide for future tours, check out our offered experiences. Stay tuned for more insider’ guides into Vietnam travel.