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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) by cruise ship - can we do this on our own?

We are going to Ho Chi Minh City in March - arriving at 8 am on day 1, leaving at 4 pm on day 2. Our ship is scheduled to dock at Nha Rong Wharf - close to the city. So, we have 2 days to explore. We might do one ship excursion on the second day.

Questions
We are experienced travelers. Can we do the main sites in HCMC on our own? Including War Remnants Museum, Post Office, Notre Dame?

Is there any public transportation (buses) or should we take taxis?

Any comments/recommendations about motorcycle tours? We are seeing great reviews for half day sightseeing tours - riding on the back of a motor bike with a guide.

If we do an excursion from the ship on the second day - our choices for outside the city include Chu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta River cruise. Any comments - which would you recommend?

thanks!

Posted by
8001 posts

Saigon ( as it commonly called) is easy to do on your own. We walked most places on a three day visit. Don't miss visiting the former S. Vietnamese Presidential Palace that fell to N. Vietnam in 1975.Either the Mekong or the tunnels would be interesting to visit..

Posted by
15058 posts

I had a similar schedule. 4-5 of us arranged a private tour to the Mekong River for the first day that included lunch and took longer than what you have for the second day (remember if you're sailing at 4, you'll have to be back on board well before that. On the second day, 2 of us hired a taxi from the center (where the ship's shuttle bus dropped us). The driver was so nice (the second one we approached) that we negotiated with him for the rest of the day. I know lots of people take motorcycle taxis, but after watching the crazy traffic in Saigon . . . .

If you don't take the ship's excursion, you're better off taking a tour on your first day and not risking being late for the ship before it sails. Have you checked in with your roll call on cruisecritic.com? You may find a smaller private tour that you could join.

The Mekong experience was enlightening, having lived through the war years. I would have liked to see the tunnels too, but there just wasn't enough time. The country is beautiful, I hope to return.