" /> 48 Hours In Ho Chi Minh (Part 1) - Jetlag & Mayhem

48 Hours In Ho Chi Minh (Part 1)

Ho Chi Minh (also known as Saigon) in the South of Vietnam, is a lively, chaotic city and a fun place for a minibreak.  The city is a foodie lover’s dream and also pleases any history buff.  But does it cater to the family traveller?  Well judging by the fun Jetlag & Mayhem had, I think the answer is yes!  We spent 3 days / 2 nights and our itinerary was jam-packed.  So much so that I’m splitting this blog post in to two parts.  We traveled in mid June, which in theory is during their rainy season although it only rained heavily once.  The best time to visit Saigon is between November and March.  We also took advantage of relaxed visa rules for British travelers to Vietnam (ie we didn’t need one).

Where did we stay?

Ho Chi Minh is divided into 19 districts and 5 communes.  Most attractions are concentrated between Districts 1 and 5.  Yet again airbnb came up trumps with an amazing, inexpensive apartment centrally located near some superb restaurants and shops. What made this place stand out for me were the attentive hosts Cat and Alexandre. They went to huge trouble to recommend restaurants, street food and attractions prior to our visit.  The 2 bed apartment has a lovely balcony and even better for those with kids, a rooftop pool!

Airbnb Saigon

Getting around

Although we had downloaded Grab (they bought Uber in SE Asia), we found taxis weren’t that responsive. We did try hailing some from the street but there weren’t as many as we had hoped. Luckily we were staying centrally so we walked to many attractions and also experienced a cyclo and motorbike (more on that later!). Our airbnb host organised airport transfers for us which was very helpful.

Day 1 

Morning

We flew with Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh, approx. 2 hrs flight.  We were met at the airport by our knowledgeable airbnb host, Alexandre. 30 minutes later we were admiring the views of Ho Chi Minh from our balcony.

View of Saigon

Lunch

Highly convenient, we ate at Di Mai Restaurant in the ground floor of our apartment block. Delicious Vietnam fare in a colourful setting.

Di Mai Lunch Saigon

Afternoon

We walked off lunch with a stroll around the neighbourhood admiring the street food sellers and local boutiques. We took a taxi approx. 15 mins to the War Remnants Museum, one fo the city’s most visited sights.  I had previously visited as a backpacker around 20 years ago. I remembered the harrowing images of children with deformities caused by Agent Orange.  I wasn’t sure how appropriate it would be for children but they have very thoughtfully placed a children’s playroom on the third floor.  My husband and I took it in turns to view the exhibitions whilst Jetlag & Mayhem played dress up in the playroom.

War Remnants Dress up

Surrounding the entrance are many military vehicles from helicopters to tanks. There’s also an exhibition regarding the prison on Con Dao, which you may want to skip with young kids.

War Remnants Tank

Do take a note of the museum’s opening time as it closes during lunch hour.

After the Museum, we were enthusiastically touted by the cyclo drivers outside (three-wheel bicycle taxi that appeared in Vietnam during the French colonial period after a failed attempt to introduce rickshaws).  They took us for a spin around the neighbourhood and dropped us off at Turtle Lake, formerly known as Soldier’s Park. There’s not much to see here but there a few interesting street food sellers lining the pond.

We returned to our apartment (after devouring an ice cream from Ralf’s Artisan Gelato opposite) for some much needed rest and a swim.

Dinner

Of course we couldn’t go a whole day in Vietnam without slurping down some ‘Phở, a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, herbs, and meat.  We set off for Pho Quynh which has several locations around the city.  The pho was warming after seeking out the restaurant in a downpour. Jetlag & Mayhem happily munched on fried eggs and a baguette!

Pho Quynh

Evening’s Entertainment

We rounded off the day with a trip to the beautiful Saigon Opera House built in 1898 by the French architect Eugene Ferret. The building itself is beautiful but what awaits you inside is even more magical. We were there to see a show by Lune Production who rotate 4 shows around Vietnam (A O Show being their most well-known).  That weekend the Saigon Opera was home to ‘Teh Dar‘, a show featuring live tribal music, bamboo cirque and acrobatics.  Our ticket price included some drinks and canapes before we took our seats.

With cast of Teh Dar

I have seen many shows, including Cirque de Soleil but this was the BEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN.  The skill of these dancers/acrobats (in fact I should really call them athletes) is immense.  We were all entranced and there were certain points where our jaws were on the floor.  The show does a beautiful job of bringing to life characters from Vietnamese tribal folklore in an interesting way.

If you are in Saigon for the weekend, you must check out what is playing that weekend and buy a ticket. Best of all, tickets are a fraction of the price compared to similar shows overseas and they also offer a Family Package. We loved the show so much we were tempted to go again the next night but we had already booked an evening foodie tour!

 

 

 

 

14 Comments
  • Cathy (Mummytravels)

    Reply

    What an amazing AirBNB that sounds – making a note of that for when I finally get to Vietnam. Somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages, but I hadn’t realised how much there was in Ho Chi Minh City – it struck me as less family-friendly, like Phnom Penh was (if you can’t take smaller ones to the war museums) but definitely enough to tempt. Including Pho! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  • Kids of the Wild

    Reply

    This is great to read as we have friends who recently moved back to Vietnam and we need to plan a visit. That show sounds very entertaining and in amongst the culture I love the idea of a rooftop pool for wild kids to relax in! #FarawayFiles

  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    Reply

    Vietnam is at the top of my travel wish list – I’m so desperate to visit with my kids and I know we’ll get to Ho Chi Minh City one day. That show sounds absolutely amazing. Will be making a note for when we do get there. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  • Paul

    Reply

    I love Ho Chi Minh, it has such a great vibe and energy. Looks like you packed a lot into day 1. The views from the Airbnb look fantastic too. How was the pho?

  • Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

    Reply

    I’ve wanted to go to Vietnam for ages and actually had to cancel a trip there a couple of years ago. Looking forward to rebooking at some point. Will be taking note of the AirBnB apartment! Love the photo of you with the performers! Thanks for linking #citytripping

  • Katy

    Reply

    Awww I love Vietnam. Can’t wait to take our kids there. I always thought we would give HCM a miss (a bit too crazy) but it looks like a lot of fun – especially the show. How good is the food? Oh my goodness, you just cant stop eating in Vietnam can you! #farawayfiles

  • annette

    Reply

    What a lot to pack in. Thanks for sharing so many details – noted in my trip planner just in case I visit. #FarawayFiles

  • Sara

    Reply

    Wow, that’s a beautiful apartment! Do AirBnB hosts usually meet their guests at the airport? That’s certainly hospitable! I know that I was completely overwhelmed on my first trip to Asia. We had such a hard time communicating with our cab driver to get to our hotel. It got easier once we had the cards written out by our hotel, but it would have been nice to have a friendly face to meet us!

  • Scarlett

    Reply

    You had me at Saigon Opera House! How lucky were you to get a photo op with the cast. Shame about the lack of cabs, but sounds like the rest of your trip was a resounding success! Thanks for linking up with ‘CULTUREDKIDS

  • Nancy | MapandFamily

    Reply

    I’ve wanted to visit for years and it sounds wonderful! I’m definitely making a note of that apartment and the show is a must-see too. #culturedkids

  • Megan - truly madly kids

    Reply

    Your accommodation looked amazing! Such a brilliant place to explore, thanks for showing how great it can be with kids #culturedkids

  • Zenbabytravel

    Reply

    I looked at Vietnam with the kiddies and Ho Chi Minh and wasn’t entirely convinced before reading your post! The airbnb looks great and the show sounds fab – can’t believe there is such thing better than Cirque du Soleil! Thanks so much for linking with us on #CulturedKids!

  • Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays

    Reply

    This looks amazing andI love that Poang the chair has made it to Ho Chi Minh City! #CulturedKids

  • Scarlett

    Reply

    I would dearly love to visit Saigon one day. Will make a note of the fantastic Air B and B apartment. And the show sounds fantastic too. Thanks for sharing with #CULTUREDKIDS

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