In 2018, one of my best friends traveled across the world for 4 months exploring all over Australia, Oceania, and Asia. Another friend and I knew we had to take this opportunity to visit Morgan during her journey. We had both really wanted to visit Vietnam and when we saw an amazing flight deal we just had to book it right away!
We started and ended our Vietnam trip in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon).
Getting to Ho Chi Minh City
Trista and I flew in to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, conveniently located right in Ho Chi Minh City. I’m not sure if this is typical, but going through customs and getting our visa at arrival was a relatively quick and painless process.
We decided to get a Visa On Approval letter several weeks prior to our travels, as we read this is the easiest and cheapest method of obtaining a visa for those visiting from the United States.
We used the Vietnam Visa Center website and they emailed us a copy of our Visa on Approval within just a few business days. With the VOA letter, we were also provided instructions on what to bring to the immigrations desk.
When we went to Vietnam, we needed to bring US cash for stamping fees and 2 passport size pictures (you can get your these at a Walgreens Photo – they’ll take your photo and print the small prints for you).
Other Important Information
Vaccinations: Make sure to check with your physician before your trip to discuss which vaccines are recommended for travel to Vietnam. My physician recommended I get several vaccines, including Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
Currency: 1 Vietnamese dong currently equates to .000043 US dollars. You can check with your bank to see if you can get Vietnamese dong before your trip. We did this, but the bank to order it which took several days so I would recommend doing this well in advance of your trip!
What to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Relax at the spa
After 3 flights and 2 long layovers, we started our first day in Vietnam at the spa. I think spending our first morning at this spa was honestly the only reason we were able to pack so much in the 5 days we had in Vietnam without getting burned out. Highly recommend!
We spent an entire morning at the l’Apothiquaire Spa in Ho Chi Minh City where we enjoyed a fun and relaxing morning complete with a massage, facial, pedicure, and delicious lunch by the pool. The facial and massage were the best I had ever had and everything was so much cheaper than similar services in the US.
l’Apothiquaire Spa offers several Haute Couture Packages. We opted for the Half Day of Beauty package which also included transportation to and from our hotel.
Explore the city
Saigon Central Post Office
Ho Chi Minh City is a unique city to explore. From historic districts filled with street vendors to religious temples, there are so many different pieces of history and culture to observe and admire.
The Saigon Central Post Office is a stop-worthy historical landmark. It was built in the late 19th century while Vietnam was a part of a French colony.
In addition, you’ll find modern cafes, American businesses, and skyscrapers with rooftop bars.
Tour the Mekong Delta
One of my favorite things we did in Vietnam was a Mekong Delta Tour. We booked this affordable all day excursion through TripAdvisor here, which conveniently included transportation to and from our hotel.
On this tour we took a boat cruise along the River Ham Luong, stopping along the way at several local work shops. We witnessed locals weaving mats by hand, turning coconuts in to food products (wasting almost nothing), and brick making. There was also an incredible lunch with delicious local fruit.
We had an amazing tour guide that was super knowledgable and kept us laughing all day. I’m not sure if all of their tour guides are funny, but Honey Typhoon was hilarious! This tour was an experience I won’t forget.
Ho Chi Minh City is an exciting, bustling city that was so much fun to explore. With it being my first time in Asia, I was a little shocked that I didn’t see many American tourists (barely any at all) during our visit. And from our experience, most people we encountered did not speak any English aside from those in hospitality jobs like hotel front desk concierges, waiters, and tour guides. This made us feel like real world travelers immersed in the city and culture as opposed to tourists.
I would highly recommend putting Vietnam on your bucket list if it’s not already!
While we were in Vietnam, we also went to Hanoi and took an incredible cruise around the breathtaking natural wonder, Ha Long Bay.