All your burning questions about solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh answered!

I had the pleasure of experiencing life in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam for 2 months as I taught English at a summer camp in the heart of the city. Before arriving, I’d heard nothing but glowing reviews of Vietnam, and I was anxious to experience solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh!

Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! I followed your Southeast Asian adventures in 2011 and I was super amazed on how you are still traveling up to now! I am starting my solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh and will go all the way to different SEA countries. I know you are an expert on this but I’d love to ask some questions! Is it safe? What are your essential tips? I hope you’ll get to answer this question! More power to your blog!

Annika, USA

Hi Annika,

I am glad you choose Vietnam for your solo female travel escapade! I love Ho Chi Minh and it’s one of the countries I’ve visited more than once. I have a lot of articles about Vietnam but in this post, I invited a fellow solo female traveler who has experience in Ho Chih Minh Vietnam

Brittany Varano runs the blog Life of Brit where she shares her adventures as an American woman traveling solo. If you have more questions, please feel free to reach out with me via Instagram, @psimonmyway.

Good luck and I hope you make it to HCMC! Now I give the floor to Brit.

Xx,
Trisha

Table of Contents 🔻 show

🇻🇳 Ho Chi Minh solo travel recommendations

🪭 Solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh

solo female travel in ho chi minh

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s bustling capital in the south. Home to a dark yet fascinating history comprising of French colonization and the Vietnam War, today it’s a modern hub in the country where the traditional and new collide.

I had the pleasure of living and experiencing life in Saigon for two months as I taught an English summer camp in the heart of the city. Before arriving, I’d heard nothing but glowing reviews of Vietnam, and I was anxious to experience solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh City for myself!

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with life in Saigon. The city has a lively and vibrant ex-pat scene making it so easy to make friends, an abundance of insanely delicious street food, and an affordable and straight-up fun standard of living.

But before I knew it, my two months in Saigon were up, and it was time to say goodbye to my lovely little life in Vietnam. Now I’m here advocating all my fellow solo female travelers – Ho Chi Minh City is worth the hype, and I have a feeling you’ll fall in love just like I did!

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📅 Best time to visit Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

ho chi minh vietnam
Be aware that December to April is the peak tourist season, so popular sites may be crowded, and prices for accommodations and tours might be higher. | Deposit Photos

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is during the dry season of December to April. This period is generally considered the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City weather-wise. The dry season sees less rainfall and humidity, making it more comfortable for exploring the city and engaging in outdoor activities.

During these months, temperatures range from a comfortable 21°C (70°F) to 34°C (93°F). The cooler months, particularly December and January, are especially pleasant.

The cheapest time to visit Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is during the wet season of May to November. Travel costs, including hotel and flight prices, are generally lower during these months. It’s an excellent time for budget-conscious travelers.

The wet season is characterized by short, heavy afternoon showers. Mornings often remain sunny and clear, so sightseeing is still very feasible.

The countryside and natural landscapes around Ho Chi Minh City are particularly lush and beautiful during the rainy season.

👉🏽 See also: Traveling Vietnam alone for 1 month: local family stay, volunteering, and more!

🛺 Getting around Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Getting around Ho Chi Minh Vietnam offers a variety of options, each providing a unique experience of the city’s vibrant and bustling nature. Here are some of the most common and convenient ways to navigate this dynamic metropolis:

One of the most popular and quintessentially Vietnamese modes of transport is the motorbike taxi, locally known as Xe Ôm. These are not only ubiquitous and flexible but also quite affordable, typically costing around $1-$3 for short trips.

You can book a motorbike taxi using the apps Grab and Gojek (formerly Go-Viet). Please note that Uber is not widely used in Vietnam as they have their own taxi apps.

Traditional taxis are another convenient option, particularly suitable for longer journeys or when traveling in groups. Offering the comfort of air conditioning and safety, reputable companies like Vinasun and Mai Linh charge around $0.50-$0.70 USD per kilometer.

The city’s public bus network, while not as fast, is an economical choice, costing as little as $0.30 per ride. Buses provide a more eco-friendly way of travel and are equipped with English signage, making them fairly tourist-friendly.

For those seeking a more cultural experience, cyclos or pedal rickshaws, offer a leisurely way to see the city. Ideal for short distances and slow-paced sightseeing, a typical cyclo ride might cost around $5-$10 USD, depending on the distance and your negotiation skills.

Alternatively, renting a car with a driver, a more comfortable option for families or groups, especially for day trips outside the city, can vary in price but typically starts at around $50 USD per day.

For the more adventurous, bicycle rentals are available, offering a unique and eco-friendly way to explore the city at your own pace. Rental costs are usually around $1-$2 USD per day.

Lastly, Ho Chi Minh is a walkable city for short distances, especially in the central districts, allowing you to immerse themselves in the local atmosphere at no cost. However, given the city’s dense traffic and limited pedestrian infrastructure, be very cautious when walking.

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🧭 Best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Known as a very cheap city, activities in Saigon are super cheap with tours starting from $29 USD. Here are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh where you’ll get the opportunity to meet fellow travelers:

1. See the Classic Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Attractions

As with any new travel destination, visiting the main tourist attractions is a must! Some of the best things to do in Saigon include:

  • Snapping a pic in front of the Tan Dinh Pink Church.
  • Sending a postcard from the Old Post Office.
  • Marveling at the French-built Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Seeing the bright yellow City Hall and the historic Ho Chi Minh Statue.
  • Taking a tour of Independence Palace to learn the Vietnamese side of history.
  • Visiting the Jade Pagoda and Buu Long Pagoda.

🛵 The best way to see the top attractions of Ho Chi Minh is through a motorbike tour with locals! These motorbikes are safe as accident insurance is also covered.

2. Explore the nightlife in Bui Vien

ho chi minh vietnam
On certain days, Bui Vien becomes a pedestrian-only zone in the evenings, allowing visitors to roam the street freely and enjoy the vibrant night scene. | Deposit Photos

Bui Vien Street is Ho Chi Minh’s crazy backpacker street and where the action happens as the sunsets. Here you’ll find the best hostels to meet fellow solo travelers, fun bars and clubs, and delicious food.

The street is famous for its nightlife, with a plethora of bars, nightclubs, and pubs that stay open until the early hours of the morning. It’s a place where the party atmosphere is almost always in full swing, attracting a diverse international crowd.

Bui Vien offers a wide range of dining options, including Vietnamese street food, international cuisine, and cafes. It’s an excellent place to sample local dishes at reasonable prices.

While it’s a hotspot for international tourists, Bui Vien Street also attracts locals, offering a unique mix of Vietnamese and global cultures.

🎉 If you are doing solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh, this is the best way to meet people. A nightlife tour in Saigon is a must-do, and it’s also very fun and affordable!

3. Eat street food and buy souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market

ho chi minh vietnam
Bargaining is a common practice here, and it’s expected in most transactions. It’s part of the shopping experience and can be quite enjoyable once you get the hang of it. | Deposit Photos

Ben Thanh Market is one of the city’s oldest surviving landmarks and hosts a local market selling various wares and goodies. At night the market transforms into a street food fest where you can sample many Vietnamese classics.

Ben Thanh Market offers a vivid glimpse into the local culture. It’s a place where locals shop and socialize, giving visitors a real taste of daily life in HCMC.

One of the highlights of Ben Thanh Market is its food section. Visitors can indulge in a variety of Vietnamese street food and traditional dishes, making it a fantastic spot for food lovers.

The market operates all day, with different sections opening at different times. The daytime market runs from early morning until early evening, while the night market, located outside the building, starts in the late afternoon and continues well into the night.

🍲 The market can get quite crowded, especially during peak hours and on weekends. For a more authentic experience, try this street food tour in Ben Thanh with a local.

4. Explore Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown in District 5

In District Five, you’ll find Ho Chi Minh City’s colorful Chinatown and more fantastic Saigon sightseeing opportunities! Be sure to check out Thien Hau Temple and Binh Tay Market and sample some delicious dim sum at Tien Phat Dim Sum.

5. Grab a coffee in the picturesque Cafe Apartments on Saigon’s Walking Street

solo female travel in ho chi minh

An apartment complex that once housed US military personnel during the war and then Vietnamese officers after the war, today you’ll find only cute and trendy boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants.

After you take a stroll along Saigon’s famous Nguyen Hue walking street, stop for lunch or a cup of coffee at the Cafe Apartments.

6. Go to the top of Bitexco for sweeping city views

The Bitexco Financial Tower is a hallmark of Ho Chi Minh’s skyline and once held the title as the city’s tallest skyscraper. At the top of the building’s 68 floors, you’ll find the Bitexco Skydeck, an observation platform open to travelers. Entry is $8 USD.

Pro tip: Visit the Eon Heli Bar located one story below the observation deck instead. Here you’ll pay about $9 USD for a cocktail, and you’ll get to enjoy similar city views while sipping a cocktail!

7. Go on a food tour of Ho Chi Minh’s best eats

It’s no secret that Vietnam has a reputation for killer dishes and street food, so obviously eating all-you-can should be at the top of the list for things to do in Vietnam! There are many organized street food tours you can choose from or opt to hop around yourself!

Some must-try restaurants in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam include:

  • Ban Xeo 46A: Vietnamese seafood savory pancake
  • Banh Mi 362: classic banh mi chain
  • Cong Caphe: Vietnamese coffee chain, get the coconut coffee!
  • Pho Hoa Pasteur: some of the best Pho in the city
  • Propaganda: trendy Vietnamese restaurant
  • Be adventurous and visit the local Seafood street market.
  • Vinh Khanh is one of Saigon’s best places for local street food and fresh seafood.

Experiencing street food culture in Vietnam is so much more than just buying food from a street vendor – it’s a way of life. In the evenings, massive groups of friends sit at low hanging plastic chairs, sipping Tiger or 333 beer, ordering plate after plate of classic Vietnamese dishes.

🍲 I highly recommend trying anything and everything from classic sea snails, large grilled prawns, expertly seasoned clams, fresh crab claws, and more! Check out this cool backstreets of Saigon food tour!

8. Take a day trip to the Chu Chi Tunnels

On the outskirts of the city, lie the Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground pathways that were once used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. The tunnels acted as hiding spots during combat and as a means to transport supplies and messages between fighters.

Today you can take a tour and try squeezing into the tiny tunnels yourself! Tours are often in conjunction with a trip to the Mekong Delta, where you will sail along a maze of waterways set against beautiful green rice paddies and rural villages.

⚔️ I visited Cu Chi tunnels on a scooter but you can also go on a car or better yet, a luxury ferry ride that includes a visit to the villages.

9. Traverse through the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is a vast network of rivers, swamps, and islands with a unique landscape that is both picturesque and diverse. It’s home to a rich biodiversity, including various bird species, reptiles, and aquatic life, making it a haven for nature lovers.

The delta offers a glimpse into the traditional Vietnamese way of life, particularly the rural and agricultural lifestyle that is central to the country’s heritage.

One of the highlights is the region’s floating markets like Cai Rang and Cai Be. These bustling markets are not just tourist attractions but vital aspects of local commerce and daily life.

🚣‍♂️ It’s relatively close to HCMC, making it an ideal destination for day trips or longer stays. If you are only visiting for a day, sign up for this Mekong Delta full-day tour!

10. Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market

ho chi minh vietnam
For the best experience, rent a small boat (sampan) to navigate through the market. It allows for closer access to the vendors’ boats. | Deposit Photos

Cai Rang Floating Market is one of the largest and most authentic floating markets in the Mekong Delta. It offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the region, where trade and daily activities are intertwined with the rhythms of the river.

The market is a dynamic place where vendors sell a variety of goods from their boats, including fresh produce, household items, and local delicacies. It’s a unique shopping experience unlike any typical market on land.

🌸 The market is most active in the early morning, around 5 AM to 9 AM. To catch the market at its peak, plan to arrive early. I did a Cai Rang Floating Market tour with a visit to nearby villages for a full day!

This list only scratches the surface of the many incredible things to do in Saigon! But it’s a great place to start first-timers excited to see Ho Chi Minh City’s main attractions.

🚫 What should I be careful of in Ho Chi Minh City?

Alright, so we’ve already established that solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is totally safe and recommended, but there are still a few key things to remember when visiting.

You know how it is when you’re a solo woman traveling around the world!

Be mindful of how you dress

solo female travel in ho chi minh

A standard safety travel tip for women, but just be mindful of the way you dress. Vietnam is a bit of a conservative place, so you may get some stares if you have a lot of skin showing, and you’ll also need something that covers your shoulders and knees when visiting temples.

All that to say, I didn’t have any problem wearing shorts or tank tops in the city, but I wouldn’t push it much farther than that. And you’re definitely going to want shorts and some short sleeves because it’s a hot place!

Petty theft is common

As safe as I felt in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam, petty theft is probably the most important thing to watch out for. You’ll want to keep your eyes on your expensive items like your phone, wallet, and bag. Scooter grab and runs and pickpockets are quite common.

The best thing to do is to keep your phone tucked away from the outside world and to avoid wearing any flashy jewelry or expensive things. I would put my phone in the waistband of my shorts, out of my hands and pockets, and it was fine. I also wore a backpack, so it wasn’t so easy to grab off of me.

Petty theft is nothing to fear, really just something to know so you can prepare yourself! I never had any personal experience myself of pickpockets or theft, and if you take minor precautions, you’ll be all good!

You will get a lot of attention for being different

solo female travel in ho chi minh

If you’re not Vietnamese, you’ll very likely get a lot of attention no matter what you do. It’s usually not negative but involves a lot of staring, people interested in chatting with you, and probably requests for photos.

If you’ve never traveled to Asia before, this can be a very overwhelming experience at first! I know it made me a little uneasy – like why were these people paying so much attention to me?

But it gets easier, and a polite firm no is your best tool to avoid photos you don’t want to take. And if that fails, confidently walk away.

Be careful of taxi scams

A rite of passage while visiting Vietnam is to hop on a Grab motorbike taxi to get across the city. They’re exhilarating, extremely cheap, and honestly a little scary at first. The main traffic rule in Vietnam is that there is no traffic rule, creating a chaotic frenzy of bikes on the road!

But just be wary of any taxi scams or motorbike drivers trying to pick you up that aren’t your actual driver or from an official company. I recommend downloading the Grab App and using that to book your rides.

The app tells you the driver’s reviews and license plate number and lets you share your location with a friend. The drivers also should have official Grab gear, so you know they’re legit and safe.

Nights out are ok and super safe

One of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is to indulge in the vibrant night scene on Bui Vien and beyond, and thankfully you don’t need to worry about going out as a woman.

Just follow standard female safety protocol when out drinking – don’t let your drink out of your sight, try to meet friends at the hostel to go out with, and avoid walking alone at night on your way back to the hostel.

Drugs are a big thing in Vietnam too, and you’ll probably run into people on the streets offering them to foreigners walking by.

While laws in Vietnam are quite strict against drugs, police tend to look the other way and don’t strictly enforce drug laws like in other SE Asian countries.

But please be wary, these drugs aren’t always what you’re told they are.

📍 Which district is best to stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

solo female travel in ho chi minh

Choosing where to stay in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is a daunting task because of how large and spread out the city is. There are 24 total districts/neighborhoods, and each one has its own distinct vibe and list of things to do.

As a tourist, I recommend staying in District 1, 3, or 5. These are the hot spots (1 and 3 are the city center, 5 are close to the center but less crowded and quiet) and will provide the best place to stay in Saigon.

Each district in Ho Chi Minh City offers a distinct experience:

District 1 is best for first-time visitors and those who want to be close to major attractions

District 1 is the city center, home to major tourist attractions, bustling markets like Ben Thanh, and landmarks such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Opera House.

Travelers who want to be in the middle of the action, close to shopping, dining, nightlife, and cultural sites. You’ll find a range of options from luxury hotels to budget hostels. Below are the best hotels in District 1:

District 2 is ideal for a more westernized, expat-focused experience

District 2, especially the Thao Dien area, is popular among expats. It’s known for its tranquil residential streets, international restaurants, and trendy cafes. Travelers seeking a more upscale and international environment, or those on extended stays.

Here, you will find a mix of mid-range and boutique hotels:

👉🏽 See also: How living in Ho Chi Minh City changed this American family’s way of life

District 3 offers a quieter stay with easy access to the city center

District 3 is known for its French colonial architecture, charming streets, and a more laid-back atmosphere compared to District 1. It’s best for those looking for a central location with a quieter, more local feel.

Serviced apartments and upscale hotels are common here:

District 5 immerses you in the cultural richness of the city’s Chinese community

District 5 is famous for its vibrant markets, especially Binh Tay Market, and Chinese temples. It offers a glimpse into the city’s multicultural heritage. This area is best for those interested in culture, history, and food.

In this district, there are more budget-friendly options and traditional guesthouses:

🫱🏿‍🫲🏻 How to meet people in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

The best part of solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh City is meeting other travelers from all walks of life! And it’s actually quite easy to meet new friends here if you know where to look. Here are some tips on how to meet other people in Saigon.

Stay in a hostel

One of the absolute best ways to meet fellow travelers on the road is by staying in a hostel, and it’s even better if you stay in a shared dorm.

In a hostel, you’re put face to face with other like-minded people also itching to explore the city and make friends. And most hostels have shared lounges that can help connect you with others who may not be staying in your room.

Visit expat hangout spots like Saigon Outcast, Indika Saigon, etc.

solo female travel in ho chi minh

Saigon Outcast and Indika Saigon are two prime examples of killer places to meet other expats. Saigon Outcast hosts a variety of events every month and has a Facebook page you can follow to stay up to date.

Indika is a hopping bar famous for their free flows (all you can drink) evenings and is a great place to meet new friends.

Join Ho Chi Minh Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with fellow solo female travelers either after you’ve arrived or before you take off! Fexpats is solely for female expats looking to live in the city long or short term and has tons of helpful advice.

And I love the Solo Female Traveler Network for any solo travel adventure because it’s a community of other avid solo travelers with tons of experience and connections throughout the world. Join a few of these groups and put out a post to organize a meetup!

Go on an organized tour

I’ve always found that going on an organized tour is a great way to meet people because you’ll be spending a few hours with other backpackers, allowing you to strike up some conversations and hopefully make some good connections.

Some of the best tours in Ho Chi Minh City are the Chu Chi Tunnels I mentioned above, a city food tour, and a traditional Vietnamese cooking class.

There you have it! My ultimate guide to solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general. Safe and happy travels!

🆚 Is it better to stay in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh Vietnam?

Choosing between staying in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam depends largely on your personal interests, the experiences you’re seeking, and the atmosphere you prefer.

Both cities offer rich cultural experiences, but they have distinct characters and attractions. Hanoi, the capital city, is known for its centuries-old architecture, a rich history deeply embedded in its streets, and a more traditional and cultural ambiance.

It’s home to historical sites like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Old Quarter, and numerous temples. The city is also famous for its street-side cafes, puppet theaters, and the scenic Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi is renowned for its traditional Vietnamese cuisine, with famous dishes like Pho and Bun Cha.

The city experiences four distinct seasons – a hot summer, a cool and dry winter, and transitional periods of spring and autumn.

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is the commercial hub of Vietnam, known for its dynamic and rapidly modernizing character. It’s more Westernized and bustling compared to Hanoi.

Famous for landmarks like the Cu Chi Tunnels, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and War Remnants Museum. The city also boasts a vibrant nightlife and a thriving food scene. The culinary experience here is diverse, with a blend of traditional Vietnamese and international influences.

Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate, generally hotter and more humid, with two main seasons – the wet and the dry season.

If you’re more interested in exploring Vietnam’s rich history and traditional culture, Hanoi might be the better choice. For those seeking a more modern city experience with lively nightlife and a cosmopolitan atmosphere, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam is preferable.

Consider other destinations in Vietnam you plan to visit. Hanoi is a gateway to Northern attractions like Halong Bay and Sapa, while Ho Chi Minh City is closer to the Mekong Delta and beach destinations like Phu Quoc.

If you have a strong preference for cooler weather, Hanoi’s winter might be more comfortable for you, whereas Ho Chi Minh City is generally warm year-round.

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