Commonly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) is a bustling city in Vietnam. It is also the former capital of Vietnam, as well as the largest city in the country. Two or three days in the city will allow for plenty to see the sights, however if you have an extra day spare, be sure to take a day trip to the nearby Mekong River to appreciate rural Vietnamese life. Here’s what to see, do, and discover in our guide to Ho Chi Minh City!
Population: 7.982 +
City Motto: Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City
Climate: Tropical climate, 78-82% humidity
A Guide to Ho Chi Minh City
Prior to Arrival
Before coming to Vietnam, be sure to research your visa requirements as many nationalities are required to have a visa prior to arrival. There are also visa waivers and visa-on-arrival, depending on your nationality (and are subject to change without notice – be sure to check with your consulate for up-to-date information).
Once here, your primary modes of transport are taxi and tuk-tuk. For arriving into HCM, if you’re on a budget consider taking the No. 152 (air-conditioned!) airport bus to arrive in the city centre for just 50 cents including a ticket for yourself + your bags.
If staying centrally, the best way to get around is on foot or to rent a bicycle (though be prepared for chaotic traffic nearly 24 hours of the day).
Otherwise, taxis are relatively cheap or hiring a motorbike is popular among backpackers staying for a longer period (though again, beware of the chaos on the streets!!!)
If this is your first visit to a Southeast Asian country, be prepared for a culture shock! Nearly everything will be different and exciting – including the culture, food, language, customs and more. Vietnamese is the official language and locals speak limited English. To show your respect, try memorising the following phrases:
Excuse Me, Sorry: Seen-Loy
Thank You: Gam-Un
What to See
Interested in the history of Vietnam? You’ll be spoiled for choice here in Saigon! Here are a few points of interest not to be missed: War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Museum of Vietnam’s History, City Hall.
Just after a damn good view over the city!? Head to Saigon SkyDeck.
Architecture more your style!? Check out the National Opera House and perhaps see a show.
Want to embrace the local culture and chaos!? Head for the Ben Tanh Market.
What to Eat & Drink
Ho Chi Minh has excellent coffee (try the Vietnamese special – sweet iced coffee with condensed milk), cheap beer, cheap eats, PHO, and fresh summer rolls. You’ll be spoiled for choice.
Ready to see Vietnam beyond the chaos and craziness of Saigon!? If you have a spare day, consider taking a day tour to the nearby Mekong River.