HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) TRAVEL GUIDE 2018 with a ₱5,000 DIY Itinerary and Budget

Ho Chi Minh Saigon Budget Travel Guide 2018 Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Travel Guide 2018 with Budget and Itinerary

Vietnam is a country that is so special to me because it is the very first country that I visited abroad. It was in 2014 when I was invited for a familiarization tour in Hanoi and Halong Bay. That is why, I am so happy that I finally get the chance to visit again. This time, we explored the City of Ho Chi Minh for 3 days, as our entry point for our Vietnam-Cambodia trip last December.

With this, let me share to you this simple and easy-to-follow Ho Chi Minh Budget Travel Guide 2018. It will provide you with useful information on how to get there, visa requirements, things to do, top tourist spots and attractions, where to stay, DIY itinerary, budget, expenses, and more.

Travel Guide to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam


Visa Requirements for Filipinos

Visa is not required for Filipinos to enter Vietnam. You just need to have a valid passport with 6 months left before expiration. Philippine passport holders are allowed to stay for up to 21 days Visa-free in Vietnam.

Tourist Spots and Attractions in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City Hall

How To Get to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam?

Cheap Flights to Ho Chi Minh from the Philippines

Local airlines such as Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia have several flights daily from Manila and Cebu to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. To search for cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh, I highly recommend booking via Traveloka.com - one of Southeast Asia's leading travel booking sites. I've been using it in my travels and I can assure you that you'll always get the best deals and promos on hotels and flights! And don't forget to use their weekly promo codes to get more discounts!


Download the Traveloka App now! https://www.traveloka.com/en-ph/traveloka-flight-ticket-hotel-booking-app

Airport to Ho Chi Minh City Center/Saigon

Flights from Manila land at Ho Chi Minh Airport also called Tan Son Nhat Airport. You can get to the Ho Chi Minh city center or Saigon by taking the bus, Uber, Grab, or by Private Airport Transfer Service. Depending on the time of your arrival, if it's day time, you may take the bus as it is the cheapest way to get to Ho Chi Minh city center. But is you're arriving at night or very early morning, I highly suggest that you take Uber, Grab or book a private car transfer.

In our case, we took a late evening flight from Manila to Ho Chi Minh and arrived at past 12 midnight. To get to the city center, we booked a Grab Car to our hostel located along Pham Ngu Lao in District 1. Fare is around 120,000 VND or 243 pesos good for 2 persons. Travel time from the airport to Pham Ngu Lao is around 20 minutes.

For security and convenience, especially when traveling with kids or when you're a big group, you may also book a Ho Chi Minh Airport Transfer via Klook.com. The car can accommodate up to 12 passengers - a convenient transportation option for those traveling in groups or with bulky luggage. Here are the rates:

  • Group of 3 - PHP 609.00 per car
  • Group of 5 - PHP 710.00 per car
  • Group of 12 - PHP 1,268 per car

BOOK AND RESERVE HERE: Ho Chi Minh Airport Transfers (SGN Pick Up)

How to Get Around Ho Chi Minh City?

Taxis are highly recommmended when going around the city center. It's pretty cheap and convenient, especially if you're traveling with a travel buddy or a group since you can split or divide the cost. If you're traveling alone, Grab Bike is also a good option.

Tourist Spots and Attractions in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City's Skyline

How to Stay Connected?

You can buy a local sim or rent a portable pocket WiFi. For solo travelers, buying a local sim is a good choice. You can buy it in advance via Klook.com and just get it upon arrival at your hotel. Below are the rates:

  • 2.4GB Data (Total) - PHP 228.00
  • 5GB Data (Total) - PHP 304.00
  • 2GB Data (Per Day) - PHP 710.00

BOOK AND RESERVE HERE: 3G/4G SIM Card (HCMC Hotel Delivery) for Vietnam

But if you're traveling with a group, I recommend booking a Pocket WiFi. You can pick it up or drop if off after your rental right at your hotel's front desk in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hanoi, or Hoi An upon check-in or check-out of the hotel. With a pocket WiFi, you can connect up to 8 devices and enjoy unlimited WiFi access provided by Vinaphone, one of the most reliable phone service providers in Vietnam. WiFi Rental is 254.00 pesos per day. So, if you're traveling with a group, you can divide the cost of the rental to save on travel expenses.

BOOK AND RESERVE HERE: 3G WiFi (VN Hotels Pick Up) for Vietnam

Tourist Spots and Attractions in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Riding a Cyclo in Ho Chi Minh

Where to exchange money?

Vietnam's currency is called Vietnamese Dong or simply VND. When visiting Vietnam, you can be a millionaire. Exchange rate is 1 Peso equals 0.0020 Vietnamese Dong. For example, if your budget for your Ho Chi Minh trip is 5,000 pesos (around $100 USD) and you exchange it to VND, you'll get 2,246,010.97 VND.

Upon arrival at the airport, exchange a few pesos or dollars to VND so that you could have local currency to buy food at the airport (in case you're hungry upon arrival) and to pay for taxi or bus. The exchange rate in the airport is not so good, it's better if you change most of your money at the many money changers at the city center.

Top Budget Hotels in Ho Chi Minh Saigo Vietnam
Double Room at Saigon Backpackers Hostel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh

Since it's my first time in Ho Chi Minh, I asked some friends on where is the best area to stay in the city. Most of them suggested that I stay in District 1 because that is the liveliest part of the city and a famous area for backpackers.

I used the Traveloka App in booking our accommodation in Ho Chi Minh. I really like using Traveloka because it gives you so many choices, and you can sort the search results by price. So, if you're traveling on a budget, you can easily find a hotel that will fit your budget. More to that, you can also use their weekly promos to get additional discounts on your bookings!

During our whole stay in Ho Chi Minh, we stayed at Saigon Backpackers Hostel located in an alley filled with backpacker's hostels in Pham Ngu Lao. We enjoyed our stay here because it is near to almost everything we need - street food kiosks, coffee shops, convenience stores, souvenir shops, and bus station. Ho Chi Minh's famous walking street, bars and night clubs in Bui Vien are also just a few strides away.

Saigon Backpackers Hostel @ Pham Ngu Lao

Address: 373/20 Pham Ngu Lao, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Pham Ngu Lao ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 711278

Room Rates per night via Traveloka:
  • 1 Bed In 8-Bed Mixed Dormitory Room - PHP 299.38 per night
  • 1 Bed In 4-Bed Female Dormitory Room - PHP 349.28 per night
  • Private Double Room - 1,097.744 per night for 2 persons


Note: Room rates are subject to change and depends on your booking dates.

Ho Chi Minh Vietnam - Tourist Spots, Attractions and Things To Do and Experience

Ho Chi Minh Vietnam - Tourist Spots, Attractions and Things To Do and Experience

For a more detailed post on these Hoi Chi Minh tourist spots and attractions, you may read my previous article "TOP PICKS: 15 Best Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam".

Enjoying Vietnamese Coffee

Sample Ho Chi Minh DIY Itinerary

For for our initial itinerary, you see it here: Vietnam-Cambodia Itinerary + Travel Planning Tips.

But, here's what really happened.

DAY 0 - Departure
  • Depart from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

DAY 1 - Arrival + City Tour Part 1
  • Arrival in Ho Chi Minh Airport
  • Take a Grab Car to Pham Ngu Lao in District 1 (Saigon)
  • Check-in or leave your bags at the hotel/hostel
  • Breakfast (a hot bowl of Phở)
  • Sleep/rest
  • Enjoy coffee at the street side coffee shops
  • Lunch
  • City Tour Part 1
    • Reunification Palace
    • Saigon Cathedral of Notre Dame
    • Shop at Ben Thanh Market
  • Walk around the streets
  • Dinner
  • Coffee again. Hahaha!
  • Back at the hostel

DAY 2 - Chu Chi Tunnels + Cultural Evening Tour
  • Breakfast at the hostel
  • Travel to Chu Chi Tunnels
  • Chu Chi Tunnel Tour and Handicapped Handicrafts
  • Back in Ho Chi Minh City Center
  • Late lunch (Bánh Mì or at any local restaurant)
  • Saigon Cultural Evening Tour
    • Water Puppet Show
    • Cyclo Ride
    • Dinner Cruise along Saigon River
  • Have coffee
  • Back at the hostel

DAY 3 - City Tour Part 2 + Departure
  • Breakfast at the hostel
  • City Tour Part 2 + Shopping
    • War Remnants Museum
    • Ho chi Minh City Hall
    • Souvenir Shopping
  • Lunch
  • Check out at the hostel
  • Travel back to Manila

This is just a sample itinerary. You can use this as your guide and adjust it depending on the things you want to do in Ho Chi Minh, places you want to visit, and how many days you plan to stay in Vietnam.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things to Do and Places to Visit in Phnom Penh Cambodia

Top Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh Saigon Vietnam
Saigon Cathedral of Notre Dame

Ho Chi Minh Trip Budget and Expenses

Budget and expenses for a trip to Ho Chi Minh depends on your spending habits. It also depends on how many are you in the group, what is your preferred accommodation, where you want to eat, the places you want to visit, and how many days you want to explore the city. Here's a list of basic expenses when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City.

List of Basic Expenses

  • Accommodation: PHP 300 - 5,000 per night
  • Food: PHP 300 - 500 per day
  • Transportation: PHP 100 - 200 per day
  • Saigon Cultural Evening Tour with Water Puppet Show and Dinner River Cruise: PHP 2.028
  • Cu Chi Tunnels Half Day Tour:PHP 660
  • War Remnants Museum Entrance Fee: PHP 89.00
  • Pocket WiFi Rental: PHP 254 per day

Snacking on Bánh Mì

Sample Expenses for 5,000 PHP Budget

If you will follow the DIY Itinerary we did above, stay in a hostel, and share some of the expenses with a travel buddy, here's a sample computation of expenses for a 3 days / 2 nights Ho Chi Minh Trip for 5,000 pesos.

  • Grab Car to Ho Chi Minh - PHP 243.00 / 2 = PHP 121.00 each
  • Hostel - PHP 300.00 (1st Night)
  • Food Expenses (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) - PHP 500.00
  • City Tour Transportation - Free (We just walked to the destinations)
  • WiFi Rental (Day 1) - PHP 254.00 / 2 = PHP 127.00 each
  • TOTAL - 1,048.00

  • Hostel - PHP 300.00 (2nd Night)
  • Breakfast at the Hostel - Free
  • Chu Chi Tunnel Half day Tour - PHP 660.00
  • Saigon Cultural Evening Tour with Water Puppet Show and Dinner River Cruise - PHP 2,028.00
  • Food Expense (Lunch only) - PHP 150.00
  • WiFi Rental (Day 2) - PHP 254.00 / 2 = PHP 127.00 each
  • TOTAL - PHP 3,265.00

  • Breakfast at the Hostel - Free
  • City Tour Transportation - Free (We just walked to the destinations)
  • War Remnants Museum Entrance Fee - PHP 89.00
  • Food Expense (Lunch and Dinner) - PHP 300.00
  • WiFi Rental (Day 2) - PHP 254.00 / 2 = 127.00 each
  • Grab Car to Airport - PHP 243.00 / 2 = PHP 121.00 each
  • TOTAL - PHP 637.00

Grand Total - PHP 4,950 ($ 100 USD)

  • Round trip airfare Manila-Ho Chi Minh-Manila
  • NAIA terminal fee and travel tax
  • Budget for pasalubong and tips
  • Food expense for snacks

Please note that ticket prices, airfare, hotel rates, entrance fees, and other expenses are subject to change and depend on the date of your booking.

I hope this Ho Chi Minh Budget Travel Guide 2018 will help you in planning an awesome Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Adventure! Enjoy and have fun!

ALSO READ: Halong Bay and Hanoi Vietnam Budget Travel Guide with DIY Itinerary

Don't Leave Yet...

Check out these blog articles for more travel guides for your future travels:

This trip to Ho Chi Minh City was made possible by Traveloka and Klook Travel. Cảm ơn! Thank you!




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