When it comes to travel, those who can make most out of their weekend are called Weekend Warriors. They are skillful on travel and always want to make the best of their weekend to a nearby destination. Fly on Friday night and go back on Sunday night just in time before another work week starts.
For those who are currently in South East Asia, Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon in Vietnam is one of the most doable cities in the region for a weekend trip.
1. Stay in a Boutique Hostel
Leaving the comforts of your home doesn’t mean going out of your comfort zone and spending a fortune. Check out The Common Room Project in District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City. It offers an affordable and luxurious hostel experience. Not the usual backpacker crowd but this place caters to any travelers.
Situated in a residential area close to shops and restaurants and a short ride from the busy District 1, taxi is just about $2. They have high-quality, comfortable beds in their dorm rooms, the sheets and towels are custom made and high quality as well. Individual lockers with keys are provided too. There’s a nice rooftop lounge complete with a bar, tables, chairs, a DJ station and a jacuzzi, perfect for a weekend party for a big group of friends. They also have luxurious private rooms (if you’re the type who needs privacy but still think checking in at a hotel is boring) which still goes well with a hostel’s comfy feel of hospitality.
Bonus in staying at this place is they offer occasional cooking classes. It’s free! You just need to contribute a minimal amount for the ingredients and the staff will be very happy to teach you how to prepare whatever is in the menu of the day.
Checkout The Common Room Project’s Facebook for promotions and more information. (Here’s also our list of cool budget hotels in Vietnam)
2. Feast on your Favorite Local Food
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the more popular Asian dishes in the world, and there’s no place to get it cheaper that in Vietnam, of course! Checkout Pho 2000, situated just in front of Ben Thanh Market. This place is popular for travelers and locals alike and amongst the most famous in Ho Chi Minh City. Even former US President Bill Clinton dined in this restaurant. They have the best marinated fried pork and spring rolls I have tasted! Of course, don’t miss your hot bowl of favorite Pho!
After which, go for the street food and grab a delicious banh mi while walking around the street. Grab a stool in any of the coffee shops around and order a variety of local Vietnamese coffee. Checkout the Coffee Factory Pasteur near the Notré Dame Cathedral.
If you’re looking for a more casual and fine dining experience, check out Latest Recipe and Le Meridien Hotel Saigon. Check out our review of this restaurant.
3. Chill Out and Have a Drink
You don’t want to party hard and be wasted before you go back to work on Monday. You just need a drink and some place to chill and have an awesome time with strangers or your friends. Checkout Broma: not a bar, a rooftop lounge and a perfect place for chilling out with a good live music or DJ acts and a variety of signature cocktails and beers. The place gets comfortably crowded on weekends, and the staff is really doing great at their service. It’s one of the places to be in Ho Chi Minh City!
4. Pamper Yourself
Massage in Saigon is not as cheap as what you can get from Bangkok but still very affordable. For as low as 15 dollars you can get a decent and high-quality massage from any of the spas around. The spas are mostly in one area near the red light district part of the city. Check out Miu Miu Spa and try their relaxing foot massage. Don’t get confused during the treatment as they will massage your whole body too with more concentration on your legs.
5. Shop Wisely
Change your money at the money exchange centers in the city, since they offer better rates. When shopping at the Ben Thanh Street Market,
make sure to haggle with the vendor for the final price. Like in any other tourist night markets, sellers have this strategy of getting more money from unsuspecting buyers, so be on the lookout! Like in any other tourist night markets, sellers have this strategy of getting more money from unsuspecting buyers.
Most people who visit Saigon shop for “branded” jackets and bags. Most shops can be found in Saigon Square 2. Go on a shopping spree as you wish but always make sure that you keep your possessions in mind as there are a lot of pickpockets in the area.
Most itineraries in Saigon will tell you to visit the countryside, checkout the Chu Chi Tunnels or the Mekong River. I didn’t recommend this for a weekend trip in the city, Saigon itself has plenty of things to do, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road to spend only a few hours on the countryside. If you have plenty of days on your vacation, checkout this DIY guide in visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
About the Writer
Jaypee Licudan is a Filipino Expat based in Singapore. He’s a traveler and writer for Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog and has been to over 30 countries across four continents. He’s major long term goal is to go back to the Philippines for a long time travel to discover the hidden gems of his home country. Follow his blog: The Rustic Nomad
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