It may be surprising to many, but Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon to the old folks) is even nearer by air than Bangkok. As the crow flies, as you can see from the map below, the flight takes less than two hours. That makes the destination a great get-away for long 3-day weekends. Hop on to the plane after work on a Thursday evening and you will find yourself comfortably settled in way before midnight. There is even time for a quick snack before turning in.
So three days is more than ample to quench into the sights and sounds of HCMC. My recommendation is to plan properly and follow a schedule as follows:
There are several must-see sights around the town area. My suggestion is to plan round the Independence Palace as this place closes at 11:00am and reopens at 1:00pm. It is best if you arrive just before it closes and stay awhile as there will be less people inside. Set aside about an hour or two to go through the various reception rooms in the Palace.
Just a short 5 minutes' walk away are other tourist spots. Be sure not to miss the Notre Dame of Saigon. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations when I visited it in April 2018.
Across the road is the Central Post Office. It is a working post office and you can send a post card from there. Also, stop by the souvenir stores inside the building and pick up some fanciful memorabilia.
Stop by the City Opera House to admire the French Colonial architecture. Better still, pick up tickets for a show in the evenings.
Along the way, stroll down the City Hall and walk round the statue of Ho Chi Minh.
For day two, rise early to beat the crowd to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Then follow the tour to the Mekong River for lunch and visit a the many local attractions such as bee farms, fruit plantations and coconut factories. Stop by for a local cultural performance as part of the tour.
Try your aiming skills at the shooting range inside the Cu Chi area.
Rice paper demonstration. Just some of the things that the Viet Cong eat inside the tunnels.
If you are up and early, you can even sneak in a trip to the Mekong River, have lunch in one of the many islets and visit some local farms and factories.
Depending on your schedule, you might just be able to fit in another day in HCMC.
So perhaps the one place I highly recommend is a visit to the War Remnants Museum. Be ready to brace yourself from breaking out in tears. The place is not for the faint-hearted and will move even the most hardened of souls.
It is M.K. Wong's dream to visit at least 50 countries before his feet can carry him no more. With over 35 countries under his belt, M.K. is planning for his next escapade.