For years Asia has attracted the traveler with a strict budget. If you are from a Western developed country your currency is likely to go a long way in the countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. These four countries are located so close together that they practically write their own amazing budget Asia experience. In fact, so many people have now gone on backpacking holidays through these countries that the travel plan has been written many times. For most people the most popular country is Vietnam. The friendly people, low cost, beautiful scenery, and amazing cities all combine to offer tourists everything they could want. While there are many places that must be on your Vietnam bucket list you must ensure that Ho Chi Minh city is one of them, especially if you are on a budget.
Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon until 1975 when North Vietnamese troops captured the city and renamed it. The city is one with an illustrious history that provides an incredible insight into the Vietnam war and how it impacted the lives of the Vietnamese people and still is today. While in Ho Chi Minh it would be well worth your time to visit The War Remnants Museum to learn about the war and its impact on the communities of Vietnam. Another popular attraction is to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels which will actually let you crawl through the same tunnels that the Viet Cong crawled through. Tunnel warfare was a key form of combat during the Vietnam war as it allowed small pockets of fighters to ambush larger groups. Don’t worry about your budget with either of these visits, entrance tickets are about $2 for each activity.
It seems strange recommending a budget traveler to spend money while in Ho Chi Minh but sometimes you have to spend money to save money. The shops of Ho Chi Minh are full of North Face clothing at low prices. While the legitimacy of these clothes could be questioned the price can not. Rain jackets and warm fleeces can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of the US market and although the quality is not the same it is still an excellent purchase. We highly recommend picking up supplies here for the remainder of your trip and even thinking further ahead if possible. While there I purchased a jacket and pants for snowboarding. The jacket was perfect, waterproof, and has been with me for years although the pants were useless.
Accommodation is another great option in Ho Chi Minh. You can find places to stay for as little $5 if you are willing to share a dorm and if you feel you need a room to yourself you can find incredible hotel rooms for around $25. What my group usually chose to do was have a few nights in a dorm hostel and then treat ourselves to one or two nights in a more expensive hotel. While traveling Asia it is important to stick to a budget but also important to experience everything there is.
Transport is also cheap and our best tip here is to avail of the overnight trains. These are comfortable and will save you one night’s accommodation. However, don’t expect a lot of sleep. Chairs are stacked so that you can’t put your legs up high if you want to and the noises the train makes means you sure definitely bring some earplugs with you if you are hoping to get some R&R.
These are our top tips for the city of Ho Chi Minh. A great place to stop for a few days on your backpacking trip through Asia.