Ho Chi Minh City Travel Tips
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the country’s capital. As Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony and only renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1976. With its city centre located on the banks of the Saigon River, the metropolitan area is home to more than 9 million people. Like Malaysia hotels, hotels in Vietnam may vary in quality so it’s advisable to choose a hotel brand committed to exceptional service, quality and comfort for all of its guests.
Tan Son Nhat is located in Ho Chi Minh City and is Vietnam’s largest international airport. Direct flights are available from major regional hubs in East Asia as well as airports in Europe and Australia. Tan Son Nhat is only 8 kms from the city centre. Buses and taxis are numerous, and rental car services are available.
Taxis are the most convenient way to get around Ho Chi Minh City with modest rates charged and plenty of taxis in the city, except for workday rush hours or on rainy days. There’s no standard fare for taxis that’s set by a government or a regulatory body, but the vast majority of taxis are operated by companies with similar rates. Most drivers won’t speak English so do have your destination and the address written down in Vietnamese just in case they have problems understanding you.
Speedboats are common around the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta. Some offer jungle canal tours around Ho Chi Minh City. Sunset is a great time to tour the city on a speedboat and your guides will take you around the narrow jungle canals where you can catch sights of villagers with traditional houses.
Historical Sites to Visit
Reunification Palace, or Independence Palace, has been restored to how it was in the 1960s, from the day before Ho Chi Minh City fell to the North. It was the presidential palace for South Vietnam. Highlights include the photo gallery, the basement filled with vintage electronic equipment, and the recreation room. Follow a free tour for an explanation of each section of the palace.
Other places of interest:
- City Hall, or People’s Committee Hall, is an excellent example of French colonial architecture. Although entry is not permitted for the general public, It is especially striking to behold at night.
- The Museum of Vietnamese History is filled with Vietnamese antiquities and surrounded by the striking Botanical Gardens, a great place for a quick lunch and a pleasant stroll.
- The Ho Chi Minh Museum is located near the dock of Saigon and tells the story of Ho Chi Minh.
Places of Worship
The Central Mosque was built in 1935 and serves the city’s Islamic population, with Fridays being the most crowded day. The Notre Dame Cathedral was built by the French and admission is free. For some Chinese temples, visit the Thien Hau Pagoda, which is dedicted to the sea goddess; the Quan Am Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in the city; or the Phung Son Tu Pagoda, with atmospheric and relaxing grounds.
Markets and Shopping
For Vietnamese arts and crafts, try Dong Khoi and surrounding streets. Cho Binh Tay is the local Chinatown area, with a huge variety of Chinese goods, spices, medicines, and dried foods. Ben Than Market (also known as Cho Ben Thanh Market) is another popular market for locals and tourists alike. Saigon Square is another alternative. Binh Tay is noted for its silks and velvets. Cheap electronics can be found in Huynh Thuc Khang. Never forget to haggle for a better price at markets.
There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to food in Ho Chi Minh City. Whether it’s authentic Vietnamese, Chinese, or French-colonial cuisine, bargains are easy to find.
Other Places of Interest:
- For something different, try the Dam Sen Water Park, which has some exciting water slides. There is also Water World or Ocean Water Park.
- If you feel like catching a movie, there’s the MegaStar Cineplex that show the latest Hollywood blockbusters or the Galaxy Cinema.
When it comes to accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City, like Doha hotels or hotels anywhere in the world, it’s best to carefully consider where you’ll be staying to ensure a pleasant and comfortable time on your trip.