The city is also known as Saigon and it is very famous among tourists for its amazing tourist attractions. You ca6n see the beauty, architecture and memorials of Vietnamese war along with trying some of the delicious Vietnamese foods. The city also has a lot of destinations to plan a day trip.
Why should anyone visit the city?
The Mangrove forest is listed in the UNESCO world heritage site. This is an amazing animal reserve and natural wonder filled with gibbons, monkeys, crocodiles and many other beautiful species to observe. Visitors can also enjoy the Mekong Delta, palms and other plants. The natural reserve of the city is worth enjoying.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
Ho Chi Minh city is on the top of the list of many tourists so there are different ways to reach the city.
The city is near to the Tan Son Nhat Airport that welcomes flights from all around the world. It welcomes flights of Qatar airways, Royal Brunei airlines, Lufthansa, Eva air and many more.
Almost every city of Vietnam has the facility of trains to the Ho Chi Minh City but it is not feasible and quick. The journey can also be planned to and from Beijing or Nanning.
There are not much bus options to and from the Ho Chi Minh City. However, you can get the convenient option to go from the city.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
It is generally a very safe city whereas precautions like taking care of belongings in public places is needed. Entertainment places remain open till late night and they are safe whereas it is necessary to stay in the city to enjoy the fun. At some crowded and tourist places, there are pick pockets and thieves who snatch and run. Do not carry your belongings in hands because people snatch it and run.
What’s the weather like?
There are two types of seasons in Saigon.
- Rainy season remains from May to November. There are heavy rains during the entire period. Visitors should plan properly according to the rainy season because there are floods in the month of October. Never forget your rain coat and waterproof backpack.
- Dry Season is from December to April and it is the most convenient time to explore the city. There is no rain and it has chances of heatstroke so it is necessary to take care during the noon.
- Best months to plan the trip are November and December. Try to avoid the rains season because some areas become dangerous to explore.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
The official language of Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnamese whereas different dialects are spoken in different parts. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas whereas the people of Vietnam focus on learning English for business purposes.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
The official currency is Vietnamese Dong that is used in Ho Chi Minh city. All the big hotels, restaurants and shops accept US Dollars. You can keep some dollars with the local currency to use them anywhere. Never forget checking the exchange rate before doing payment in US Dollars.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
- Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi is filled with luxury boutiques, shopping malls and high end restaurants. This is the center of the city and you will find many luxury places to stay in this area. It is a very expensive district.
- Ben Thanh is very famous among the regular visitors and backpackers of Vietnam because this area is also located in the city center and has many mid-priced places. It is very busy and crowded because a lot of tourists try to stay in this area.
- Pham Ngu Lao can be called as the backpackers favorite place because it has a lot of low priced hotels, hostels and eateries. There is a plenty of nightlife options and many other entertainment places.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
There are a lot of places to stay in the city whereas there are three best hotel options to
- Roseland Inn Hotel is the budget hotel located near Dong Khoi. It also has many other shopping streets and eateries near it. Staying at this budget place is a very good deal because it is very well decorated with luxuries and amenities.
- Sunny Serviced Apartment is the best option to stay with family and for a long term visit because it is moderate budget hotel with kitchens, different types of rooms and cooking equipment in each kitchen. It is located near the Japan town and Dong Khoi area.
- Pullman Saigon Centre is a luxury hotel located near many shopping areas, eateries and entertainment places like Pham Ngu Lao area. It also has a very convenient access to the different business places that makes it the best option for the business travelers.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Taxi is the most reliable and best way to roam around the city. However, the scams are pretty common in unauthorized taxis. There are two types of car services from which you can choose to stay safe and protected from scams. These are Vinasun (+84 83 27 27 27) Mai Linh Taxi (+84 83 92 50 250)
- Xe Om motorcycle taxi is a very interesting mode of travelling by leaving the traffic behind. It is a very low cost way to travel to different places in short time.
- Cyclo is the three wheeled transportation found near all the tourist landmarks, temples, restaurants and bars. At some places, cyclo is a fun transport so it is very expensive. Never sit without negotiating.
- Bus is the best way to travel in budget and backpacking to randomly pick places to explore. The buses are clean, comfortable, budget friendly and air conditioned. There are different bus stations and you can get the required bus from different terminals.
- Bicycles and motorbikes are rented by a large number of people because it is the most independent way to explore the city and suburbs. You can rent them from different rental shops throughout the city. Do not forget your helmet.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
- War Remnants Museum is among the most popular destinations of Vietnam. It is visited by almost every tourist of the city. This museum shows the happenings and horrors of the war. There are artifacts and displays of tiger cages, guillotine, photographs and many more. The courtyard of the museum has the weapons and battle vehicles display.
- Cu Chi Tunnels are the best plan to make for a half day. It is a vast tunnel network that was made for the military operations in the war. They were used as the communication bases, hiding place, hospitals, supply routes and living quarter. You can have a meal at the eatery located at this place.
- Thien Hau Temple, China Town is the oldest Chinese temple that belongs to the 19th It is visited by a large number of tourists and locals. This is a well adorned place and the materials were brought from China. You can see goddess statues, altar, porcelain dioramas, Roof with Chinese life paintings and many more to explore the Chinese life.
- Mekong Delta is a best experience of exploring the rivers, islands, palms by a cruise trip. This is the best area to learn about the life of people who have waterway as the main source of living and earning. The most fascinating thing is the floating markets selling different products.
- Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is the best traditional entertainment for families. It started more than a thousand years ago in the waters of the red river. The show goes for around 50 minutes and show the culture, traditions, animals, beliefs and many more things related to Vietnam. The back ground music is also played with the traditional instruments of the country.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
There are a lot of places to click wonderful photos whereas the best one is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and post office. It is the Neo- Romanesque architecture belonging to the eighteenth century. This is an amazing exterior and interior to keep as a travelling memory.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
- Shri Restaurant and Lounge is located at the top of the center tower. You can get the best home cooked European food in a very relaxing ambiance with amazing panoramic views of the surroundings.
- Skewers is the amazing Mediterranean food place. The menu also includes the finest cigars and whiskey of the city with delicious Bar Be Cue from the open air kitchen. The atmosphere is very calm and relaxing with candle lights and cozy surroundings.
- Secret Garden is the wonderful place to enjoy the home cooked traditional Vietnamese food. The surroundings are very beautifully decorated in the form of a garden with the Vietnamese traditional lanterns. You can sit and enjoy the skyline of the Ho Chi Minh City.
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
- The Old Compass Café is the amazing spot to have a healthy breakfast with the delicious toast, avocado, mushrooms, eggs and bacon. This is a nice place to try the Vietnamese drip coffee.
- Godmother Bake and Brunch has the best coffee of the city due to the fanciest coffee machine it has. This is a place with large windows and bright lights, designed for the crowds of tourists and locals.
- Parc is a very calm, nice and relaxing place to enjoy a morning. You can have delicious English, French, Turkish and Californian breakfast. There is a sister restaurant of this place named Propaganda that serves the best Vietnamese breakfast.
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
You will fall in love with the huge variety of Vietnamese food in the city. The best thing to try is the bun thit nuong that is made with the vermicelli rice noodles. These noodles are served in the grilled but tender pork shoulder with freshly cut vegetables like lettuce, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, carrot, sliced cucumber and different herbs. Deep fried egg rolls are also served with it at some places.
What about food markets?
- Ben Thanh Market is a very popular market of the city. It is the best place to find fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seafood, household supplies and many more. You will find huge crowds of locals at this market. There are many shops of handicrafts, textiles, accessories, electronics and food as well.
- Cholon or Binh Tay Market is the best place to see the Chinese architecture and Buddhist culture with the vibrant atmosphere. You can find something delicious in the food court of the market. There are many shops and stalls selling international and local foods of Saigon.
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
There are a lot of bars, restaurants, clubs and casinos in the city to enjoy a wonderful nightlife. You can visit two best places to have fun.
- Pham Ngu Lao is the street that remains filled with backpackers and locals because of the low priced beers, foods and many economical night clubs. You can find many live music bars and dance floor clubs.
- The other option is the Saigon River cruise. The night trip is the ‘not to miss’ option for all the visitors because it is the best chance to explore the real beauty of the city, suburbs and villages. You can also have a wonderful dinner and drink at the cruise.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
There are a lot of rooftop bars and restaurants in the city.
- Chill SkyBar Saigon is the first sky bar of the city located on the 26th floor of the AB tower. You can see the wonderful panoramic views of the city and it amazing sunset. The restaurant serves delicious food and fantastic cocktails.
- Social Club Saigon is the amazing club located on two floors. If you want to sit indoors then the 23rd level of the building whereas the stairs lead to the rooftop terrace on the 24th This terrace provides the breath taking views of the skyline of Ho Chi Minh city.
- Epic Sky Lounge is the chic and trendy bar and cocktail lounge. This is the best place offering the panoramic views of the Saigon river, Ho Chi Minh city and skyline. The atmosphere is vibrant and fun with live Dj’s and chill out music.
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
- Vincom Center is located on two buildings. It is the largest and luxurious shopping mall of the Ho Chi Minh City. You can find almost 250 shops belonging to many local and international brands.
- Bin Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market) is the wonderful place to buy handicrafts, textiles, accessories, fresh products and lacquerware. You can enjoy Vietnamese traditional foods and other international cuisines in the open air food court of the market. This is a wonderful place to witness Buddhist and Chinese culture.
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
There are different out of city trips that you can plan in a day from Ho Chi Minh City.
- Vinh Trang Pagoda and Mekong Delta Guided Tour
- Cu Chi Tunnels full day trip
- Cao Dai Temple and Black Virgin Mountain
- Cai Rang Floating Market day trip
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
There are many casinos and gambling places in the city that also have drinks and food options. The Grand Club is the best casino that remains open 24 hours. Guests can earn points by playing games and then redeem them for prizes. The Grand club is located in the grand hotel that also has a spa and restaurant in it for the guests.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Be careful about the luggage and belongings at the tourist places and public transport.
- Bring plenty of money because there is a lot of shopping, food and many more to spend.
- Leave some space in the luggage to keep your purchased items.
- Many shopping places and eateries are very expensive so learn about their prices.
- Prepare yourself for the weather because there are unexpected rains, dryness and peak summer after noon is very hot.