Ho Chi Minh City travel guide

Ho Chi Minh City Tourism | Ho Chi Minh City Guide

You're Going to Love Ho Chi Minh City

Prepare to be dazzled by Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's economic and cultural powerhouse. This is a city full of energy, where past and present come together, and where a new experience waits around every corner.

The city formerly known as Saigon came to prominence decades ago during the Vietnam War, and before that it was a French colony. You can still find traces of the past in modern Ho Chi Minh City, from the spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral to the decorative Central Post Office that dates from the 1800s.

Today the city of over 8 million thrives. Sleek skyscrapers give way to centuries-old alleyways, where you'll find temples and street stalls. It's a foodie's paradise, and there are entertainment options like the Dam Sen Water Park, motorbike tours of the city and area, and Urban Tales Cholon, a cross between treasure hunt and city tour.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Ho Chi Minh City

1. Local Culture

Whether you choose to stroll through the city's historic alleyways, try some snake wine - yes, a wine made with snakes in the fermenting process - or attend the famous Night Market, you'll be enchanted by Vietnamese traditions.

2. The History

There is so much history to discover in Ho Chi Minh City. Checking out the Vietnam History Museum and War Remnants Museum are obvious choices, along with French colonial architecture like the Ho Chi Minh City Municipal Theatre, formerly the Saigon Opera House. Many of the city's prominent temples are also historic sites, such as the Jade Emperor Pagoda that dates from 1909.

3. Unparalleled Shopping

Vietnamese silks are world renowned for their quality and style, and along with the fabric, you'll find many local designers who make gorgeous items from it. You can also get bargains on electronics in the area of Huynh Thuc Khang, but beware of counterfeits.

4. The Foodie Scene

Along with local flavors, there are many Chinese, French, Japanese, and other options in a fast-moving dining scene. You can take tours of the city's world-renowned street food to help you sort out the dizzying number of options, including the Night Market that takes over when Ben Thanh Market closes each night.

5. The Nightlife

From cocktails in a sophisticated rooftop lounge to a noisy street bar full of backpackers, you'll find nightlife options for every taste and every price point in Ho Chi Minh City. There are high-rolling casinos, live music bars, and dance clubs to keep you up all night.

Where to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City

You can get a good fix of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese-style street food like Pho noodles or sticky rice at Nha Hang Ngon, set up in a garden with a number of food stalls. Mains start at just ₫60,000. Bloom Saigon Restaurant offers creative fusion cuisine in a restored mansion, with mains starting at ₫100,000. Soul Burger serves up creations named after American music legends like Little Richard, along with wings and other North American-style fare starting at ₫165,000.

When to visit Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City in October
Estimated hotel price
$41
1 night at 3-star hotel
Ho Chi Minh City in October
Estimated hotel price
$41
1 night at 3-star hotel

Ho Chi Minh City enjoys warm weather all year round, with daytime temperatures that average between 87 in December to 94 degrees Fahrenheit in April. The rainy season extends from May to November, with September the wettest month. It is a year-round destination, with an uptick in visitors between December and March, the sunniest time of the year.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Ho Chi Minh City

Plane

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is Vietnam's largest, and it is about four miles from District 1. Taxi is your best option to get into the city, with a main taxi queue just outside the terminal. A trip to District 1 should cost about ₫150,000 to ₫170,000.

Train

The Saigon Railway Station in District 3 is Vietnam's largest and a major railway hub. There are multiple trains daily that make the trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and back via Vietnam Railways. It's about a 34-hour night trip that meanders along the coast for leisurely sightseeing.

Car

Foreigners are permitted to drive in Vietnam with a valid International Driver's License and local insurance. Highway 1 runs between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but be advised that many people find driving in Vietnam chaotic and there are many accidents along the route.

Bus

Bus is a cheap option for travel between major centers in Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City, which has two main intercity bus terminals: Mien Dong and Mien Tay. There are many private companies offering varying types of service, from luxury air-conditioned models to budget-priced options. Hoang Long is one of the largest.

Airports near Ho Chi Minh City

Airlines serving Ho Chi Minh City

United Airlines
Good (2,279 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,737 reviews)
KLM
Good (258 reviews)
Air France
Good (262 reviews)
British Airways
Good (730 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,519 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (915 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (831 reviews)
Iberia
Good (517 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (432 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (559 reviews)
Finnair
Good (328 reviews)
LOT
Good (206 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (171 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (24 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (547 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (89 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (112 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (121 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (97 reviews)
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Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

There are many value-priced hotels in the city such as Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon, with modern amenities and furnishings. At the high end of the scale, the An Lam Saigon River hotel offers resort-style luxury and you can even fish from the river while you're there. Luxury can still be affordable at places like the Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences, or Hôtel Des Arts Saigon MGallery Collection, where stylish rooms come with a reasonable price tag.

Popular neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City

District 1 - this is the city's hyperactive center, where you'll find upscale hotels along with casinos, glamorous rooftop bars, and restaurants. Dong Khoi Street and Nguyen Hue Boulevard form the city's main commercial area.

District 3 - this is the city's mecca for backpackers and young travelers. Here, you'll find a lively and youthful scene of bars and budget-priced restaurants centered around Pham Ngu Lao.

District 5 - this is the city's Chinatown, where you'll find a great street food scene. It is also home to many of the city's most prominent pagodas and temples.

Most popular hotel in Ho Chi Minh City by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Ho Chi Minh City

Most booked hotels in Ho Chi Minh City

Hotel Nikko Saigon
Excellent (9, 781 reviews)
$92+
Grand Hotel Saigon
Excellent (8.6, 1424 reviews)
$61+
Pullman Saigon Centre
Excellent (8.5, 519 reviews)
$82+
Hotel Majestic Saigon
Excellent (8.4, 1104 reviews)
$80+
Doha 1 Hotel Saigon Airport
Good (7.5, 41 reviews)
$33+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Ho Chi Minh City

Public Transportation

There is an extensive bus service in Ho Chi Minh City, but the distances between stops can be significant, and some routes run infrequently. Fares vary by distance and range from ₫3,000 and ₫10,000.

Taxi

There are many taxis available in Ho Chi Minh City and they can be hailed from the street. Taxi service is unregulated in Ho Chi Minh City but is a good option for getting around town. Be sure to use metered taxis. A trip of about five miles should run approximately ₫124,654.

Car

As a visitor, you can drive in Vietnam with an International Driver's License, but the city's traffic is typically congested and chaotic, and rental cars are extremely difficult to find. Hiring a car with a driver is a good alternative, with rates starting at about ₫1,692,825 per day.

The Cost of Living in Ho Chi Minh City

Shopping Streets

For locally produced artisan crafts and goods, like lacquered bowls and plates, along with smaller fashion boutiques, you'll find the best bargains and quality around Dong Khoi and the surrounding streets. Ben Thanh Market is the city's largest outdoor market, with stall after stall of souvenirs. Cho Binh Tay, a market in Chinatown, has spices, silks, and other textiles.

Groceries and Other

You'll find multiple locations of Citimart and Co.op Mart Supermarkets with good selections and prices. Supermarkets selling Western products, like Parkson or Diamond Plaza, are generally much more expensive. A quart of milk costs about ₫30,410 and a dozen eggs is about ₫27,560.

Cheap meal
$1.11
A pair of jeans
$41.03
Single public transport ticket
$0.27
Cappuccino
$1.76
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