municipality in Vietnam
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Asia > Southeast Asia > Vietnam > Southern Vietnam > Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn) or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam (population and area) and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Understand edit

Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However the old name Saigon is still widely used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city to which most tourists flock. Although the capital of a united Vietnam is Hanoi in the north, Ho Chi Minh City remains Vietnam's main economic and financial centre. While it does not have the long history that cities like Hanoi and Hue have, it is Vietnam's most modern and cosmopolitan city, with influences from the French former colonial rulers and the ethnic Chinese community in Cholon deeply embedded in the local culture, perhaps most visible in its cuisine.

Though Vietnam has been united since the conclusion of the Vietnam War, cultural differences arising from the division of Vietnam can be seen to this day. To this day, locals in Ho Chi Minh City tend to be more business-minded and less ideological than those in Hanoi in the north. In addition, Southerners also tend to be more hospitable towards Western visitors than Northerners. The Vietnam War — called the "American War" in Vietnam — remains a sensitive topic, and it is advisable not to bring it up in discussions with locals. Do not assume that all Vietnamese think alike, as many Southerners are still bitter about having lost to the North.

History edit

The first evidence of a settlement in the area dates back to the Funan Empire (1st - 6th century AD). Following the fall of the Funan Empire, the area eventually came under the control of Champa, during which it was named Baigaur. With the rise of the Khmer Empire, the Chams were eventually forced out, and the settlement was incorporated into the Khmer Empire and renamed Prey Nokor. It grew to have an ethnic Khmer majority, which remained even after the fall of the Khmer Empire, and it was not until the 17th century that ethnic Vietnamese started settling in the area. In 1698, by which time it already had an ethnic Vietnamese majority, the Nguyễn lords sent Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh to the area to establish Vietnamese administrative structures, thus incorporating it into the Vietnam's Lê dynasty. In time, the city of Prey Nokor came to be known by the names Gia Định and Sài Gòn. The former was the name used for the city until French rule commenced, with the city officially called Saïgon in French.

Saigon was ceded to the French under the Treaty of Saigon in 1862, and became the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina, which covered most of what is today southern Vietnam. As a result, the city has a rich French colonial heritage, with many magnificent French colonial buildings in the city centre, along with a strong cafe culture. After independence in 1955, Saigon became the capital of the capitalist South Vietnam, with Hanoi becoming the capital of the communist North Vietnam. Saigon was captured by communist North Vietnamese forces in 1975, thus reuniting Vietnam under communist rule.

Future edit

The Thu Thiem district on the east side of the Saigon River was cleared around 2010 for high-rise redevelopment. The government plans to move the residents of District 1 into the new housing, and then rebuild much more of that district.

Climate edit

Ho Chi Minh City
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Sources: WMO and ADB. See weather forecast at National Hydro-meteorological Service of Vietnam
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate with wet and dry seasons. The dry season which is from December to May. The most pleasant time to visit is from December to February when temperatures and humidity are lower. March and April are the hottest time of the year with temperatures that can reach up to 40 °C (104 °F). The wet season is long, usually beginning in May and ending in October is characterized by high temperatures and humidity. Cloudy weather is more common although periods of sunshine do occur during the wet season.

Talk edit

As in most other parts of Vietnam, the main language is Vietnamese. The local dialect is the southern, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken in Hanoi, though speakers of both dialects are usually able to comprehend each other. Educated senior citizens and the well-educated middle to upper class are usually able to speak French, though generally speaking, English is far more present these days, especially among younger individuals.

Ho Chi Minh City is also home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese community, mostly around Chinatown (Cholon); many of them are bilingual in Cantonese and Vietnamese and many also speak Mandarin. After Cantonese, Teochew is the second most widely-spoken Chinese dialect in Ho Chi Minh City.

A few useful phrases:

  • Hello: Seen Chow (Xin chào)
  • Excuse Me, Sorry: Seen Loy (Xin lỗi)
  • What is this/that?: Day La Kai Yee (Đây là cái gì)
  • Thank You: Kam On (Cảm ơn)
  • Very Good: Rat Tot (Rất tốt)
  • Bye: Tam Bee-it (Tạm biệt)

Get in edit

By plane edit

You can get to the city center by taxi, but the buses are much cheaper. There are several routes, and all of the buses are air-conditioned and cost differently. Bus number 152 is a city bus (green colored) costs 6000 dongs and if you have a luggage it is payable extra. It departs every 15 mins. Bus number 109 is an express one less frequent and costs 20 000 dongs. When going from the airport to the center you can buy it at the terminal. If you are going from the city center, you will get to buy the ticket from a bus conductor.

By bus edit

If you take a bus into Ho Chi Minh City, you will end up at one of the following bus stations:

  • 2 Mien Dong Coach Station (Bến xe Miền Đông), Ben Thanh (You can take city buses #14 or #45 from/to this station (or #19 or #93 from the street Dinh Bo Linh just outside the station) to get to the city center from Ben Thanh.). Mostly buses heading north arrive and leave from here, but also Vung Tau is served through this bus station. Note that Miền Đông just means east and there is another bus station called Mien Dong Moi further out near the National University, often also called Suoi Tien Bus Station. It case locals or the bus driver want to know which one you mean, say "Mien Dong, Ben Thanh", Ben Thanh is the center, and say "Suoi Tien, no!".    
  • 3 Mien Tay Bus Station (Bến Xe Miền Tây), 395 Kinh Dương Vương, Phường An Lạc, +84 2838776594. To get to the city center, take buses #2, #10, #39 or #139.  
  • 4 Cholon Bus Station (Bến xe Chợ Lớn). To get to the city center, take buses #1 or #150.

From these stations, public buses into and around the city will cost you 6,000-7,000 dong per journey.

  • 5 Private bus companies, Pham Ngu Lao (just west of De Tham, right in the center). This is where most tourist buses will end and start, including buses from and to Cambodia for US$22–25. Many companies exist along Pham Ngu Lao in range of +/-500 m, including Danh Danh, Kumho Samco, Hanh, Futa and others.

As you hop out of the bus, taxi drivers will surround you with questions like "Where you go?" You might be confused about your location in the city and consequently some taxi drivers will try to take advantage. You will most likely already be in Pham Ngu Lao and when you tell taxi driver to head to the same place, he will just zigzag around a few blocks to inflate the fare.

By train edit

The train timetable at Saigon Station, effective from 26 Jan to 26 Feb, 2024
See also: Vietnam > By train
  • 6 Saigon railway station (Ga Sài Gòn), 1 Nguyen Thong St (On Cach Mang Thang Tam (CMT8) northwest of the city centre, a short taxi or public bus ride away from the main hotel districts, or less than 3 km on foot.). Tickets can be bought from the official Vietnamese Railways website. There is also a ticket office at the train station with limited English proficiency. Furthermore, it is possible to purchase from the official train ticket office at 275C Pham Ngu Lao, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1. In both latter cases beware of scams.    

There are five daily departures from (and to) Hanoi along the "Reunification line". Although several of the trains are called "express", all journeys take 30–35 hr. The fastest train is SE3 departing from Hanoi at 23:00 and arriving at 05:00 two days later.

Get around edit

Map of Ho Chi Minh City

By taxi edit

See also: Vietnam#By taxi

The easiest way to get around by taxi or motorbike taxi is by using any of the popular ride-hailing apps: Grab (Android, iOS), Xanh SM[dead link] (Android, iOS), or the mostly in HCMC available beTaxi (Android, iOS).

The English UI with address search makes navigation a cinch, fares are fixed and typically slightly cheaper than (motorbike) taxis, and you can pay by cash or credit card.

By metered taxi edit

Regular taxis with meter are numerous, and it's usually not hard to flag one down anywhere in the city centre from early morning until about 01:00, though finding one in the rain or during workday rush hours can be difficult.

Taxi rates are not regulated by the city government, opening the door for opportunistic drivers to overcharge foreigners. As a tourist, you are generally advised to stick to Mai Linh and Vinasun, the two largest companies, as the risk of getting ripped off is much higher with the other companies. Make sure your taxi driver turns on the meter when you get in — otherwise just leave. Both taxi companies also have their smartphone own apps that you can download and use to call a taxi.

Taxis are mostly Toyota Vios sedans (up to four passengers) and Toyota Innova minivans (up to six passengers), which are assembled in Vietnam and inexpensive to buy. Fares are almost always the same regardless of car model, although anything larger than an Innova generally costs more. Some older cars might lack working air conditioners.

Taxi drivers are likely to drive too fast when given the chance. Rush-hour traffic in the city has become so bad that you might consider just planning not to go anywhere between 07:00-08:30 and 16:30-18:00.

Drivers usually do not speak English, so be sure to have the names and addresses of your destinations written out in Vietnamese to show your taxi driver, and have your hotel's business card on hand in case you get lost.

For trips outside of the city or for the convenience of having a private vehicle for the day, hiring a car with a driver for the day is a good option. Many of the taxi companies such as Mai Linh and Vinasun offer these services.

By xe ôm edit

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City

Regular motorbike taxis (xe ôm, literally hug-vehicle) are plentiful (get used to hearing "you want moto?" everywhere), but as a tourist as you are likely to get scammed if you just take a random one in the street. To protect yourself from getting scammed, use a reliable ride hailing app like Grab or be to call one. These are a cheap and safe way to get around provided you avoid getting scammed.

Agree on a price before you set off. Short hops around town shouldn't be more than 20,000 dong, if you go between districts this increases and all the way to the airport around 70,000 dong. Drivers are generally quite friendly and will go slower upon request. They are also not adverse to a bear hug if you are really struggling to hold on to the motorbike.

Many of the moto drivers, especially in District 1, speak some English and like many Vietnamese will repay you in a flood of smiles, and probably point out all the sights, if you make a little effort to get to know them.

By cyclo edit

Not really a taxi replacement, but a ride on a cyclo through HCMC is a great way to see the city the way the locals do. Cyclos resemble a backwards tricycle, with the passengers sitting in front and the driver peddling at the rear. The sights, sounds and smells are a large part of the excitement of the city, and are best experienced at the relaxed pace of a cyclo.

Be careful with cameras, purses and watches while cyclo riding as these items are easily stolen by drive-by motorbike thieves.

For many reasons, not least the government's insistence on restricting cyclos on busy urban streets, this form of transportation is dying. But at around 50,000 dong per hour (Jan 2019) and given their leisurely pace, they are a good choice for taking in the city. Be sure to bargain hard with the cyclo driver beforehand. Some drivers have been known to try to change an agreed price at journey's end. Another ruse is to stop unbidden at places where the driver earns a commission. To avoid these problems, make sure all are clear on price and destination at departure.

By bus edit

Bus station
  • 7 Local bus terminal, Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1. Local buses start here. Clear indication of timetables on a updated screen. Pay fare in the bus. Bus 109 to the Airport leaves here.
  • 8 Cho Ben Thanh Bus Station (Bến Thành Phạm Ngũ Lão). This station is in the center of HCMC, within walking distance of accommodation options and tourist sights.

Bright green public buses serve 150 routes throughout the city. You can find maps of the bus system at the large Ben Thanh bus station across the street from Ben Thanh Market in District 1. Go into the waiting room to the desk in the middle. The buses are cheap, safe and not too crowded. Many are modern and comfortable, with such amenities as air conditioning, music, and even television. Finding the right line can be a challenge if you don't speak Vietnamese, but with the help of maps and your hotel staff you can get where you want easily. If you cannot find your way, ask the locals nicely, they will try their best to help. At the biggest bus stations you can read bus destinations at every single stop (useful, for example, if you need to get to Cholon).

A bus route can also be found using Google Maps. The number of the bus route will display along with its frequency and time to destination.

The buses are efficient and fast. Most are staffed by two employees: the driver and a conductor. The driver keeps the bus moving while the fare collector interacts with the passengers. If you show the collector your trip on your phone, they'll charge you the correct fare and flag you when it's time to get off. Locals claim, plausibly, that buses are even faster than taxis. The reason is that buses have an informal right of way on the streets of HCMC; when another vehicle sees a bus coming, that vehicle gets out of the way. Taxis know that they are supposed to back down from confrontations with buses. Buses are also cheaper, 4,000-8,000 dong per ride, and safer than many of the alternatives. The biggest problem is that when you get off the bus, you become a pedestrian (see below).

When boarding and exiting a public bus in Ho Chi Minh City, do not expect it to “stop” at the bus stop. This means two things: first, you often need to flag a bus to stop; to do this, watch for the correct bus number and when the correct bus is about 20 meters away, make a motion with your arm as if you were hailing a taxi. Second, buses often do not come to complete stops, but slow down just enough to let passengers on and off; this is especially true the farther you get from the city center. The bus is more likely to come to a complete stop if there are elderly persons entering or exiting or a large group waiting at a bus stop. Also, if you are trying to catch a bus during rush hour traffic, it may not always be able to make its way to the side of the road where the stop is, so it may stop for passengers towards the middle of the road.

The website of the bus authority includes bus direction finder and real-time departure times. Routes and schedules are also available in apps including Google Maps.

By motorbike edit

See also: Vietnam by motorcycle

You can rent your own motorbike (called a Honda, regardless of the brand) in many places, especially around the backpacker area (Pham Ngu Lao) in District 1. 110,000 dong should get you a decent 100-110cc manual bike. Automatics are more expensive.

Driving in Saigon is best left to experienced drivers. The traffic is intense and has its own rhythms and logic. Drivers with limited experience should consider renting an automatic bike (usually a bit more expensive), as at busy crossroads there is not time for worrying about how to change gears.

Beware of thieves: always keep your motorbike in sight or parked with an attendant. Most restaurants have guards/parking attendants out front who will issue you a numbered tag and take care of your motorbike. Independent parking lots are scattered around the pavements, alleys and basements of the city. Look for rows of neatly-parked motorbikes or signs that say giu xe.

By bicycle edit

43 bicycle stations have been set up on sidewalks along major streets, namely Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Nguyen Hue, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, and Le Duan around the district, with each station housing nearly ten bicycles.

The bicycles are equipped with smart locks and GPS services which can be operated via 3G, and 4G connections, or Bluetooth.

Users can download the TNGO app on their phones to find the nearest station and register to rent bicycles, then scan a QR code to unlock the bike. Each bicycle is rented out for 5,000 dong (0.22 USD) for 30 minutes or 10,000 dong per one hour.

By boat edit

Saigon Waterbus operates a service on the Saigon River from District 1 into Tu Duc District in the north of the city. It is geared more towards local commuters than tourists, but one of its stops is located near the Hotel Majestic, making it easily accessible from the Opera House and other downtown attractions.

On foot edit

See also: Vietnam#On foot

Crossing the road in HCMC can be a nightmare and scary. If ever in doubt, HCMC's "Tourist Security" officers (in green uniforms) will happily help you across. A quicker way of getting across is to simply follow the lead of a local crossing the street.

The traffic police occupy themselves with random roadside checks and do not bother motorbikes who are running red lights or driving on the pavements. Instead police have recently cracked down on red-light walking pedestrians. While this does not mean that they will hassle you, it's possible you will be held responsible if you are involved in an accident.

Some motorbikers will use the footpath to get ahead of the traffic, so don't assume that the footpath is a safe place to be. Keep an eye out for cycle traffic coming up from behind.

See edit

Historical sites and museums edit

People's Committee Hall
Reunification Palace
The tank that ended the war, outside the Reunification Palace
  • 1 People's Committee Hall, Nguyen Hue St. Built as the Hôtel de Ville, it's a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night. No entry, but the statue of Uncle Ho in front is a very popular place for photos.    
  • 2 Ho Chi Minh Museum, 65 Lý Tự Trọng, Bến Nghé (in the center of the city, a few blocks from Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace, and Notre Dame Cathedral). The museum, housed in a French colonial-era building, narrates the history of Ho Chi Minh City from pre-history to the present and also has exhibits on local culture and traditions. Outside, on the museum grounds, you will find cars and military vehicles of historical significance. The museum also relates the life of the modern-day father of Vietnam. The exhibits include various personal possessions of Ho Chi Minh but are mainly photographs. You may find it a little jingoistic. 30,000 dong (Feb 2020).    
  • 3 Museum of Vietnamese History, 2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Bến Nghé, Quận 1 (at the intersection of Le Duan St and Nguyen Binh Khiem, just inside the zoo gates). Daily 08:30-11:30, 13:30-17:00. The museum has a fine collection of Vietnamese antiquities. Read up on Vietnamese history first or you'll have no idea what you're looking at. Outside, the Botanical Gardens are very nice and a good place for a cheap lunch away from the crowds. Six times a day, you can see a 20-minute water puppet show (adult 50,000 dong, child 35,000 dong). It's quite amusing, even for adults. 30,000 dong.    
  • 4 Reunification Palace (Also known as Independence Palace (the old name)), 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, +84 8 969 3272. Daily 07:30-11:00, 13:00-16:00. This is a restored 4-floor time warp to the 1960s left largely untouched from the day Saigon fell to the North; construction started in 1962 and finished in 1966. It was South Vietnam's presidential palace. The war ended on 30 Apr 1975 when Tank 843 crashed through the gate. A replica of that tank is now parked on the lawn outside. Be sure to check out the impressively kitschy recreation room, featuring a circular sofa, and the eerie basement, full of vintage 1960s phones, radios and office equipment, supposedly left exactly as it was found when the North took over. There is also a photo gallery and a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese supporters and American imperialists succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's indomitable revolutionary forces, at which point the South Vietnamese supporters were forgiven and everyone lived happily ever after. Tours are available and are free, but not necessary. There is a nice outdoor café on the grounds outside the palace. 65,000 dong.    
  • 5 War Remnants Museum, 28 Vo Van Tan St, +84 8 930 2112, +84 8 930 6325, +84 8 930 5587, . Open daily 07:30-12:00, 13:30-17:00, last admission 16:30. The museum was opened in a hurry, less than five months after the fall of the South Vietnamese regime. It has moved to new premises with 3 storeys of exhibits and various US military hardware (tanks, jets, helicopters, howitzers) on display outside the building. This disturbing display of man's cruelty during the Vietnam (American) War includes halls full of gruesome photographs, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deformed foetuses attributed to contamination by Agent Orange. An exhibit on the 3rd floor tells the story of the war journalists from all over the world who documented, and often disappeared or died in the war. Watch out for the amputees who will try and sell you their wares. It's a short walk from Reunification Palace — see the museum pamphlet for a map. Entry 40,000 dong.    
  • 6 Southern Women’s Museum, 202 Võ Thị Sáu, District 3 (close to the War Remnants Museum). Daily 07:30-11:30 and 13:30-17:00 daily. Often overlooked by tourists, this museum celebrates the women’s role in the society, economy, and revolutionary history of the southern part of the country. It offers informative exhibits that include photographs, historical documents, and artifacts such as statues, combat equipment used by women, paintings and dioramas, tools used in the traditional production of textiles, and ao dai worn by famous women. As of a February 2018, the second floor had an exhibit on the history of the ao dai and another on textile production, the third floor detailed women’s revolutionary contributions, and the fourth floor was under renovation. free admission.  
  • 7 FITO Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, 41 Hoàng Dư Khương, District 10 (a bit far from the city center but is easily accessible by taxi or bus). Daily 08:30-17:00. A small museum owned by the FITO company (they produce traditional pharmaceuticals) about the history of traditional medicine in Vietnam. The rooms are filled with items ranging from ingredients to tools used to produce and prepare Vietnamese medicine. Each ticket includes an informative tour of the museum and the opportunity to sample some products. The bottom floor also has a gift shop with competitively priced and high-quality traditional remedies. 120,000 dong.
  • 8 Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, 97A Phó Đức Chính, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, District 1 (south of Ben Thanh Market, just past the blue construction walls). Tu-Su 08:00-18:00. Museum displaying art mainly from the 20th century by Vietnamese artists. Two floors of permanent collections are in the main building and the first floor of the second building has a special exhibitions space. The architecture of the French colonial buildings that house the museum is another impressive feature. They were designed by a French architect for the Hua family. 30,000 dong.    
  • 9 Saigon Opera House (Nhà hát Thành phố or Opéra de Saïgon), 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, +84 1245 18 11 88. An opera house built by the French during the colonial period, and without a doubt one of the finest performance venues in Southeast Asia. In modern times it is home to the critically acclaimed AO show, an acrobatic show that fuses Vietnamese traditions with modern Cirque Nouveau performances. Occasionally hosts classical music performances when the AO show is not being performed.
  • 10 Ton Duc Thang Museum, 5 Tôn Đức Thắng, Bến Nghé, District 1 (near the financial district along the Saigon River). Daily 08:00-11:30 and 13:30-16:30 daily. A museum detailing the life and achievements of politician Ton Duc Thang, known for his role as president. The first floor has a special exhibit (as of February 2018 about his time on the infamous prison island of Con Dao) and the second floor has a biographical display featuring artifacts, dioramas, and photographs telling the story of his life; there is also a painting gallery. free admission.  
  • 11 The Venerable Thich Quảng Đức Monument, intersection between Cach Mang Thang Tam & Nguyen Dinh Chieu streets. A monument dedicated to the Buddhist monk Thich Quảng Đức, who self-immolated at the site in 1963 in protest against the persecution of South Vietnam's Buddhist majority by the Roman Catholic-dominated Ngô Đình Diệm government.

Religious sites edit

Jade Emperor Pagoda, the most famous temple in Ho Chi Minh City
  • 12 Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chùa Ngọc Hoàng or Phước Hải Tự), 73 Mai Thi Luu St. A Taoist temple considered by many to be Saigon’s finest, dedicated to the Jade Emperor, the king of the gods in Chinese mythology. Built by Cantonese immigrants in 1909. Check out the room filled with unusual figurines, to the left of the main hall. There are many turtles in a concrete pond in the courtyard. A calm place to rest from the city noise.
  • 13 Xá Lợi Pagoda (Chùa Xá Lợi), 89 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Võ Thị Sáu, Quận 3. The largest Buddhist temple in Ho Chi Minh City, and the headquarters of Buddhism in South Vietnam prior to the Fall of Saigon, said to house relics of the Gautama Buddha. During the Vietnam War, it was known for being a centre of resistance against the oppression of Buddhists by the Roman Catholic-dominated Ngô Đình Diệm government, and was raided several times by the South Vietnamese military in 1963.    
  • 14 Giác Lâm Pagoda (Chùa Giác Lâm), 565 Lạc Long Quân, Phường 10, Tân Bình. Built in 1744, this is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Ho Chi Minh City. On the temple grounds is a bodhi tree that was gifted by a Sri Lankan monk in the 1950s. There is also a 7-storey tall pagoda that is said to house relics of the Gautama Buddha that were gifted by the same monk that gifted the bodhi tree.    
  • 15 Central Mosque, 66 Dong Du, +84 8 8242903. 08:00-20:00. One of 12 mosques in Ho Chi Minh City, the Central Mosque was built in 1935. It was constructed for worshipers from southern India then resident in Saigon, but now Muslims from as far as Pakistan and Indonesia come to pray. Friday has the biggest congregations. The shaded veranda and cool stone floors make it an ideal place to sit, read, or even nap in the heat of the day. As with most mosques, remember to take your shoes off before entering and dress conservatively if you wish to enter.
  • 16 Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà or Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame), Han Thuyen St (facing down Dong Khoi, it's next to the Post Office). It is closed for renovations as of Feb 2020. A French-built Catholic cathedral in the city center. Free.    
  • 17 Mariamman Temple (Đền Bà Ấn), 45 Trương Định, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1. Hindu temple build by Tamil Indian immigrants in the late 19th century. Although most of the Tamils fled Vietnam following the Fall of Saigon, the temple remains in active use, and today most of the devotees are ethnic Vietnamese or Khmers.    

There are several Chinese temples in Cholon, the Chinatown district of old Saigon. Only a few are listed here.

Incense, Thien Hau Pagoda
  • 18 Phung Son Tu Pagoda, 408 3 Thang 2 Blvd (on the outskirts of Cholon), +84 28 3829 6684. Dedicated to the god of happiness and virtue. The pagoda is dusty and dwarfed by high-rises under construction nearby, but the small, sculpted grounds are a good place for a rest from the hectic city.
  • 19 Quan Am Pagoda, 12 Lao Tu, Cholon (just off Hung Vuong, close to Thien Hau Pagoda). 08:00-16:30. The oldest pagoda in town, dedicated to the Buddhist Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (known as Quan Am in Vietnamese), home of a lot of incense and a cheerful puppy. Originally built by Hokkien immigrants in the traditional Hokkien architectural style. Free.    
  • 20 Thien Hau Pagoda, 710 Nguyen Trai St, Cholon. Dedicated to Lady Thien Hau, the Chinese sea goddess (known as Mazu in Chinese), who left two giant turtles to keep an eye on things in her absence. A festival is held in her honour on the 23rd day of the March lunar month. Don't miss the gorgeous sculptures in the walls of the courtyard outside the temple. Originally built by Cantonese immigrants in the traditional Cantonese architectural style. Free.

Other edit

Bitexco Financial Tower
View of Ho Chi Minh City from Bitexco tower
View from Bitexco Financial Tower
  • 21 Bitexco Financial Tower, 36 Ho Tung Mau St, +84 8 39156156. Skydeck viewing platform (daily 09:30-21:30) with a 360° panorama of the city. Adult 240k VND, child (4-12) / senior (65+) / disabled 160k VND.
  • 22 IMAX cinema, Vivo shopping mall. Vietnam's IMAX cinema.
  • 23 Landmark 81 (The Landmark 81 Central Park), 720A Dien Bien Phu, Ward 22, District, +84 9 81601620. 09:00-22:00. The highest tower of Vietnam with 81 floors which is 461.3 m, it has a big mall inside which includes a CGV cinema. Landmark 81 are also surrounded in a complex of apartments as part of Vinhomes' Tan Cang, or Central Park. Access the views by paying for SkyView (top 3 floors; 300k/500k weekdays/weekends, children/elderly half price; 200k for VND students on weekdays) or by patronizing one of the restaurants/cafes/lounges on the upper floors (prices vary, but tend to be 100k+ VND, high for Vietnam but about average for global HCOL cities; these are accessible through the Marriott Autograph Collection hotel by transferring elevators at the hotel's skylobby). There's also reasonably priced local and international food in the food court on the lower level. No entry fees but has parking fees for vehicles.    

Ethnic neighbourhoods edit

  • Cholon - This is Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. While many of the ethnic Chinese fled Vietnam for Western countries such as Australia and the United States as a result of persecution following the Fall of Saigon, a large number of them continue to reside in the district. Many signs of the Chinese heritage can still be found in the form of Chinese clan temples, as well as stalls selling Chinese food. While everyone speaks Vietnamese as well, many ethnic Chinese residents here speak Cantonese as their mother tongue, and there is also a significant Teochew-speaking minority.

Do edit

  • 1 Dai Nam Tourist Park, Hiệp An Ward, Thủ Dầu Một city, Binh Duong (about 40 km from HCMC; catch Bus 616 from the Ben Thanh bus station and take it all the way to the end (90 minutes, 25,000 dong as of Dec 2015), or talk to a travel agent), +84 650 3 891 389, +84 650 3 845 878. This is one of the largest tourist attractions in Vietnam. It features the Dai Nam Van Hien Temple, an entertainment site, open range zoo, shopping areas, hotels, local and Western cuisine, and the largest man-made mountain range in Vietnam. Costing over 50 billion dong to build, this park is the beginning of mass tourism in Vietnam, although it is aimed at tourists and locals, and comes highly recommended. Transport options to the park are quite convoluted. As the park is new, online information is scarce. According to the locals, it is very much worth a visit, purely just to view the temple. Adult/child between 1 m and 1.4 m: zoo 80,000/50,000; amusement park 100,000/50,000 dong; waterpark 100,000/60,000 dong; all three 200,000/120,000 dong.
  • 2 Dam Sen Water Park, 03 Hoa Binh, Ward 3, District 11 (take Bus 11 from Ben Thanh bus station), +84 8 858 8418, +84 8 865 3453, fax: +84 8 858 8419, . M-Sa 08:30-18:00, Su and holidays 08:00-19:00. Close to the city centre. This water park offers some unique water slide experiences, including the amazing "Space Bowl". Restaurant, health services and animatronic dinosaurs are on the premises. Admission is based on height and time of arrival; under 0.8 m free, others 40-110,000 dong (90,000 after 16:00).
  • Happy Ending Massage Yuan, 15B8 Le Thanh Ton St, District 1 Ben Nighe Ward (on Le Thanh Ton between Thai Van Lung and Ngo Van Nam. Across from Sky Garden), +84 8 3825 0795. Despite the name, legitimate foot and body massage, hostess will explain pricing to you at the beginning, usually offering 30% discount. 223,000 dong.
  • 3 Twenty-Three September Park (across from Ben Thanh Market and running the length of Phan Ngu Lao St). Running along Phan Ngu Lao St are a number of parks which fill up with locals before sunset, after work. They play a variety of games which you can participate in: badminton, kicking a shuttlecock and women's group aerobics to music are all very popular, and are great to watch. If you sit down by yourself in the open area near the Ben Thanh market a number of young university age locals will come and ask to practice English with you, this is a great way to spend an evening and the best way to meet intelligent interesting youth, they will question you either individually or in groups and share with you a lot about their country. Beware of those men who want to introduce you to their "sister" who's working as a nurse and wants to move to your country. They will try to make you come into their home so you can reassure their parents, but will actually gamble and cheat at cards with you and/or ask you for money after telling a sad and fake story about some dying relative.
  • 4 Nguyen Hue Flower Street. Beautiful assortment of flowers during Tet (Lunar New Year) along the popular boulevard in District 1. Free.

Shows edit

Ho Chi Minh City is a good place to experience traditional Vietnamese performances in a tourist-friendly way. The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is a popular place for tourists to watch traditional Vietnamese puppetry. For those who prefer more modern interpretations of Vietnamese culture, Lune Production stages several shows in the magnificent colonial-era Saigon Opera House, the most famous of which is the aforementioned AO Show.

Learn edit

It is a good idea to pick up the Vietnamese language.
  • Vietnamese Language Garden, 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh District. The school offers one-on-one study,focus on intensive classes to get fluent in Vietnamese in a short time, or 1-2 weeks classes for tourist & homes stay to experience the local lifestyle
  • Vietnamese Language Studies (on the edge of District 1 and 3 next to the HTV Broadcasting station). Private school with comprehensive courses from beginner to advanced composition. Students can take private courses or join group classes.
  • VNS University. In District 1, the University of Social Sciences has comprehensive university-style courses in Vietnamese, group classes typically 6-10 people.

Buy edit

Money edit

See also: Vietnam#Money

For exchanging money try your luck with the gold shops around Ben Thanh Market. Also, many travel agents will offer to exchange your foreign currency, though their rates are usually not as good as the gold shops.

In case you are heading to Cambodia next and generally don't use US dollars but ATMs, you might get some very competitive rates if you help merchants (like gold shops or travel agent) to get rid of their Cambodian riel.

Shopping edit

Vietnamese arts and crafts, or mass-produced resin knock-offs thereof, are sold by dozens of shops around the central tourist district. The best, most expensive items can be mostly found on Dong Khoi or the immediate side streets. The goods tend to get progressively simpler and cheaper as you move west toward Ben Thanh Market (though the best wood-carving shop is a stall on the back side of Ben Thanh). A few shops have authentic woven silk textiles from Sapa and the north. Lacquered paintings, plates, bowls, etc., are quite striking and unique to Vietnam. Vietnamese propaganda posters can be very impressive and offer a taste of history.

There are two good guide books for shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City: the Luxe City Guide and the MySherpa Guide which also includes a map with shops cross-referenced.

Artworks edit

  • Galerie Quynh, 65 De Tham St, District 1 (between Co Bac and Co Giang), +84 8 3836801. Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00. A serious contemporary art gallery in District 1. Unlike the galleries that focus on more decorative works, this gallery represents innovative local and international artists including Tiffany Chung, Do Hoang Tuong, Hoang Duong Cam and Sandrine Llouquet.
  • Oil-Paintings, Bui Vien St (near the backpackers area in De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao). There are several shops along this street selling oil paintings. If you want a portrait of a Vietnamese painting or even have your own photograph oil-painted, shop around here. You can get a portrait within a day or two. 450,000-5,000,000 dong.

Books and newspapers edit

  • Fahasa. Several locations around the city.
  • Tri Books, Dong Khoi (corner of Ly Tu Trong). Stocks a wide range of English language textbooks and reference books.
  • Book Street (next to the post office, one block long, between Notre Dame Cathedral and the Hard Rock Cafe). Book Street has a number of book shops, both run by individual vendors and some of Vietnam’s publishing houses. You can find books in both English and Vietnamese, as well as a few other languages. Prices vary from bargain used book racks to pricy illustrated volumes hot off the press. There are two cafes on the street that are a nice stop for coffee while exploring a newly-purchased book. The centre of the street often has art exhibits or special displays and there is a stage that is occasionally used to hold live talk shows and other events.

Clothing edit

Vietnamese silk is excellent quality. Buying a suit can be fun and relatively cheap, but do your research first, and remember that you get what you pay for. Labour costs are not what make suits expensive. Tailors frequently use fabrics whose quality is exaggerated, for example the common claim of wool being "Italian/English Super 180". Cheap local suits don't compare to just having an US$80 H & M suit altered by a tailor. Any suit should contain 0% polyester. Any tailor should have multiple fittings, preferably three (with the third just being a check-up that probably won't require further alteration).

  • Ginkgo T-shirts, 10 Le Loi, District 1, +84 9 05493148. 08:00-23:00. Souvenir T-shirts with creative designs inspired by Asian cultures. 210,000 dong.
  • 1 Bum Shop, 85 Tran Quoc Tuan Phuong 1 Go Vap, +84907872866. 09:00 - 20:00. Shop Specializes in selling unisex clothing such as loose-fit T-shirts, hoodies, jogger pants for men and women. Special sizes for foreigners. Tshirt 100,000 dong, Jogger Pants 180–260,000 dong, Hoodie 200,000 dong.

Markets edit

Ben Thanh Market
Afternoon siesta, near Ben Thanh Market
  • 2 Ben Thanh Market (Chợ Bến Thành) (southwest end of Le Lai). Till 18:00. A den of thieves, but great shopping for tourists — locals rarely head here for their every day needs. Ben Thanh is recognizable from its clock tower on the large roundabout. Due to its popularity with tourists, the market is now divided between tourist goods (jeans, T-shirts, smaller souvenirs in abundance) and regular items (fruit and vegetables, rice, kitchen wares, flowers, meat, fast food and local-style pickled fruits). Most items are not price-marked, and vendors always quote a 50-100% higher price to tourists, so bargaining hard will save you money. The chief method of parting visitors from their money is ambiguity: for example, never making it quite clear how much you are being quoted or what the exact price is or what exchange rate is being used to calculate your change. Be ready for these ruses (often by a sweet, smiling young lady), or be prepared to part with more cash than you need to. At the north side (back) of Ben Thanh Market are some shops that are operated by Ben Thanh Group and they sell goods at fixed price and much cheaper than the stalls in the market. No bargaining needed. If the good selection of knock-offs here just won't do, there's plenty to be had in the surrounding side street shops or night market later. If retail warfare isn't your cup of tea, you could skip the touristy Ben Thanh altogether and go to Chợ Bình Tây.
  • 3 Chợ Bình Tây (in Chinatown). The underrated twin of Ben Thanh, selling everything from fruits, meat, spices, Chinese medicines, and silk to obscure varieties of fermented fish, dried seafood, and jerky. If you are searching for a variety of Vietnam silks and velvets, skip the tourist trap Ben Thanh Market and go to Bình Tây instead. Most of Chợ Bình Tây is wholesale goods. Much of Ben Thanh Market's goods are from here.
  • 4 Thái Bình Market (Chợ Thái Bình). Not that large but got all the things locals need on a daily basis. Head inside the market where you can also find food stalls.
  • Night Market (Just outside of Ben Thanh Market). Daily 18:00-late. Here you can enjoy many kinds of different foods and drink and do your shopping as well. But it is just a small street with traffic passing and pushy sellers, not the nicest place to hang around.
  • 5 Saigon Square (A stones throw from Ben Thanh Market). A good place for a visit. It is a twin of Ben Thanh but with air conditioning. Haggling your way through this place is the rule of thumb. Local middle-class Vietnamese shop here on the weekends too. Consider planning your shopping here during the day and go to Ben Thanh for the night market. The daytime Ben Thanh can be planned as a sightseeing trip instead of a shopping spree.
  • 6 War Surplus Market (Dan Sinh Market), Yersin, District 1 (Intersection with Nguyen Cong Tru). Sometimes called the American Market or "Cho Cu" or "Khu Dan Sinh". Hidden behind rows of hardware and electric supplies shops, just brace yourself and enter. Dense warrens of stalls include those selling old American military gear of indeterminate authenticity (e.g., "nice collection of so-called authentic GI's Zippo lighter from the war era"), cheap T-shirts and military paraphernalia: just don't hope to find a genuine US wartime Zippo, they're all fakes now. Despite the name, most stalls now specialise in various industrial-type products such as hand tools and personal safety equipment.

Supermarkets edit

  • ÆON Citymart, 96 Cao Thang Phuong 4 Quan 3. 05:30-22:00. It has 22 supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • 7 Bách Hóa XANH. A inexpensive supermarket in the center with evening specials of fruits, meat and fish.
  • Co-op Mart Supermarkets (In District 1 can be found at the corner of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Nguyen Dinh Chieu, about 1 km from the centre or in Cong Quynh, walking distance from the end of backpacker street, Pham Ngu Lao.). Daily 07:00-22:00. Co-op Mart can be found everywhere around HCMC. Prices are reasonably lower, though the selection leans more toward Vietnamese foods. 32 stores in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Giant Supermarket, 506 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Ward 4 District 3, +84 8-54121416. 09:00-21:00. Part of dairy farm Hong Kong which has supermarkets all over Asia.
  • Lotte Mart, Nguyen Thi Thap Tan Hung Quan 7.

Malls and department stores edit

Malls and department stores selling luxury brands can be found throughout central Ho Chi Minh City. And indeed you can find most of the same goods at other malls and department stores throughout the world. Even if you are not planning on buying luxury brand items, there is a reason every visitor should know the locations of some malls and department stores: their free and meticulously clean public restrooms. Also, if you are travelling just before or during Tet, some of these establishments put up decorational impressive displays.

  • 8 ÆON Mall Binh Tan. In Binh Tan district, a large shopping mall with the food hall where you can get some Japanese food.
  • 9 ÆON Mall Tan Phu Celadon. The first branch of Japanese retail chain Aeon in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • 10 CGV Giga Mall Thủ Đức. In Thu Duc district, a large shopping mall with numerous options to keep the kids occupied.
  • 11 CGV Vincom Center Landmark 81. Located at the bottom of the tallest building in Vietnam, with numerous mid tier luxury brands
  • 12 Crescent Mall. In District 7, a large shopping centre primarily filled with mid-ranged international brands. Also home to a gaming stadium where you can watch some e-sports.
  • 13 Diamond Plaza. A department store behind Notre Dame Cathedral, across the street diagonally.
  • 14 Saigon Center. A mall near Ben Thanh Market, just across the street from Saigon Square. Look for the Takashimaya sign. Many high-end luxury brands have branches here.
  • 15 SC VivoCity. In District 7, a large shopping centre with a rooftop garden and a playground to keep children occupied.

Eat edit

Typical Vietnamese Pho

You're spoiled for choice in Saigon, which offers the country's largest variety of Vietnamese and international food. Bargains are getting harder to find, however, and restaurant prices have been rising at up to 30% per year due to a combination of higher food prices, rising wages, and soaring real estate costs. Land in the city centre now sells for around US$16,000/m2, so even a modest-sized restaurant sits on real estate worth more than US$1 million. Authentic local food at bargain prices is one of the glories of Vietnam, but it's getting harder to find in Saigon as the city becomes ever more upscale and cosmopolitan.

The local food shows influences from French colonial times. Bakeries have fresh and excellent baguettes, which they will fill with cheese (typically of the "La Vache Qui Rit" or "Laughing Cow" brand), potted meat, ham, and onions, or any combination thereof, cheaply. Beef is used in various dishes - whether in any of the many variations of pho, or in a regional specialty such as "bun bo hue" or Hue beef soup. Be sure to try, aside from pho, dishes such as the above-mentioned Hue beef soup, or "banh xeo". Vietnamese savory crepes, consisting of a delicious filling of your choice (various options included bamboo shoots and enoki mushrooms, along with meat, prawns, or both) in a crispy outer crepe-like casing.

The Chinese community has also left their mark in Ho Chi Minh City, and the neighbourhood of Cholon continues to have a large number of ethnic Chinese residents, making it a natural place to go to for some Chinese food, though much of it has been adapted to suit Vietnamese palates. That being said, Chinese food is fairly popular among many upper class Vietnamese, so there are also many upscale Chinese restaurants throughout the city.

For halal food, seek out the alleyways off Duong Ba Trac street in District 8 around the Jamiul Anwar Mosque, where there are a large number of Muslim Cham residents, and numerous food stalls selling halal versions of popular Vietnamese street dishes to cater to that community. A more centrally-located area would be Nguyen An Ninh Street near Benh Thanh Market, where there are numerous halal Malaysian and Indonesian restaurants catering to expatriates from those countries.

Local food at bargain prices is very easy to find in Saigon. Banh mi thit (pork sandwiches) can cost as little as 10,000-15,000 dong. Com tam, a plate of rice with grilled pork (or with different meats) and a bit of vegetables for 18,000 dong.

Street food edit

  • 1 Ben Thanh Market, Lê Lợi. It's a rather touristy market where you still can enjoy the most authentic Vietnamese pho.
  • 2 Bánh Mì 37, 185 6-8, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão. Absolutely delicious even though a bit different than the traditional. Popular among locals, there might be a queue.

Budget edit

Food stalls are scattered all over the city, but there's a fair collection in the Ben Thanh market (see Buy). For local fast food, try the ubiquitous Pho 24 chain (though it can be more the twice the price of local fare).

The setback of eating street food or food prepared in holes-in-the-wall in any town or city in Vietnam is dodgy hygiene. Street hawkers are not only cooks but they are also cashiers. They touch money and often flip over the notes with their fingers moistened with their saliva. If a bun or baguette is dropped in the pavement, it is picked up to be mixed with the rest. A hawker may cough or sneeze and while preparing food, cover their mouth with their bare hands then resume what they were just doing. Food may have unwanted items such as hairs. Utensils may be washed from the same portable ice-cream container washing basin, without detergent. Debris on spoons are just wiped off from the water on that small dish. Drinking glasses may just be dunked two or three times and ready for the next user.

At holes-in-the-wall, if there is shortage of counter space, contained food is placed on the floor. Floors are mostly wet and muddy. Utensils are washed on the floor itself. Waiters tossed used chopsticks and other dishes like bowls and if they don't get in the tub, they fall to the floor to be picked up later. Vegetables and meat parts are also cut in the floor and if they fell off, they are picked up again. Big quantities of vegetables are placed in plastic buckets and cleaned in the toilet tap. The plastic buckets may have been used as bathing or toilet flushing pail. And when they are not used, they may be stacked together and stored in the toilet.

However, street food and holes-in-the-wall food are flavourful, fascinating, exotic, ingeniously contrived, and cheap with all the elements of the nutrition pyramid and all the flavours: sweet; sour; salty & hot are well represented. Despite the vastly lower prices, street food is often tastier and more flavourful than the same dishes when served in the posh hotels or tourist restaurants.

In multiple locations edit

  • Pho 24. Clean modern chain found everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. Excellent beef noodle soup, very cheap. Watch out for the fake Pho 24/24 on Pham Ngu Lao St, which does not belong to the chain and serves terrible and expensive food.

Around the Ben Thanh Market edit

  • 3 Pho Quynh, 323 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1. 24 hours daily. Their specialty is pho. Locals come regularly and lucky backpackers stumble upon it. It is air-conditioned on the second and third floors. They also have decent banh mi bo kho, which is beef stew with carrots, served with French baguette. 40,000 dong.
  • 4 Nhà Hàng Chay Ngọc Thọ, 175/9 Phạm Ngũ Lão. Incredible range of delicoius veggie options, but also meat and chicken. Clean place, friendly staff, tasty food and satisfying portions.
  • 5 Nhà Hàng Asian Kitchen, 185 6-8, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão. Very good place for delicious and diverse food, big choice. Kinda hidden, kinda great. Also lots of vegetarian options.
  • 6 Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa, 54 Nguyễn Văn Tráng. Banh Mi with local taste. Fresh bread (Vietnamese baguette) with various choices.
  • 7 Bún Chả 145, 145 Bùi Viện. Typical restaurant in the most amazing street of the city. Very good place for Bun Cha.

Elsewhere in District 1 edit

  • 8 The Lunch Lady (Nguyen Thi Thanh), 23 Hoang Sa. 11:00-15:00. The famous Lunch Lady was featured on Anthony Bourdain's show. Different noodle dish every day. 30,000 dong.

Mid-range edit

  • 9 Barbecue Garden, 96B Lê Thánh Tôn (100 m from Ben Thanh Market, behind the General Sciences Library), +84 8 823 3340. A barbecue restaurant offering both Vietnamese and international foods. USD5–7.
  • 10 Bi Saigon, 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1 (in an alley just off the main tourist street, Bui Vien). Extensive menu with a choice between Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican and other styles. Open plan kitchen so you can see your food being prepared.
  • 11 Hoa Khai Vegetarian Restaurant, 124 126 Nguyen Cu Trinh St, Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (about 500 m west of the backpacker area). Tasty Vietnamese vegetarian food although with surly service. Be careful of being charged for unexpected items, such as the disposable hand towels that are presented to you without asking as you sit down. 100,000 dong.
  • 12 Hủ Tiếu Hồng Phát, 391 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3, +84 28 3839 0187. Restaurant selling Hủ tiếu Nam Vang, a flat rice noodle dish that is a specialty of the city. The dish is often called "Cambodian noodles" in English, even though it cannot be found in Cambodia.
  • 13 Quan An Ngon, District 1. Two different restaurants operate with the same name within a few blocks of each other, one at 160 Pasteur Street, and the other Quán ăn ngon Sài Gòn on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia across from the Reunification Palace. Set in atmospheric old French villas, with similar menus Vietnamese food, including regional specialities prepared in numerous independently-operated food stalls around the perimeter. Both are popular and both tend to be jammed at peak hours requiring a wait for a table. (The name literally means "restaurant of delicious eating".) The one on Pasteur has dozens of kerosene lamps burning for ambience at night, so if you have asthma or pulmonary issues or feel you've had enough pollution already, better to try the other one. Mains from 45,000 dong.
  • 14 Bloom Saigon Restaurant, 3/5 Hoàng Sa, P. Đa Kao, Quận 1. 11:00-22:00. Temporarily closed as of August 2022. Non-profit restaurant run by Aid to Children Without Parents (ACWP) and serves as a culinary training facility. Very nice staff, excellent food, terrace on the 3rd floor. Situated a bit in the North and in a small calm community. Worth to go by foot, 20 mnin walk from the Jade Pagoda.

Splurge edit

  • Au Lac do Brazil, 238 Pasteur (Between Dien Bien Phu and Vo Thi Sau.). Just to prove that Saigon has everything, here is a Brazilian-style churrascaria (all-you-can-eat restaurant featuring barbecued meat), with live Latin music Tuesday to Saturday. They also have a new outlet in Sky Garden II, Phu My Hung, District 7. It's a larger and less crowded one with usually better service. From USD30 per person.
  • The Deck Saigon, 38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, An Phu, District 2 (15 min from the centre of Saigon), +84 8 3744 6632. The only posh restaurant on the banks of the river. Modern fusion cuisine using the local ingredients.
  • 15 Anan Saigon, 89 Tôn Thất Đạm, Bến Nghé, District 1, +84 9047 92920, . Tu-Su 17:00 - late. A premier fine dining restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, one of only two in Vietnam to be ranked among Asia's top 50 restaurants. Reservations essential.
  • 16 The Olive Grove Saigon, 106 pham viet chanh, ward 19, +84903913633, . 16:00 to 00:00 Tuesday to Sunday. Mediterranean cuisine.

Halal food edit

  • Halal@Saigon, 31 Đông Du, District 1 (Opposite the Indian Jamia Mosque, near Sheraton Hotel), +84 8 3824 6823 (Vietnamese), +84 8 38274602 (English), fax: +84 8 38274603, . 10:00-22:00. Vietnamese, Malaysian, and vegetarian cuisine prepared to halal guidelines. Has a Malaysian owner and there are several Malaysian staples on the menu, however it is primarily Vietnamese, with a wide range of dishes from around the country.
  • Lion City Cafe and Restaurant, 45 Le Anh Xuan, District 1 (Near Ben Thanh market opposite New World hotel), +84 8 3823 8371. Daily, 19:00-03:00. Certified halal, serves halal food on 2nd floor.

Drink edit

Coffee edit

Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter of coffee after Brazil, and cà phê is very popular among the Vietnamese. It's a paradise for coffee-loving visitors. The local style is strong and sweet; key words to remember are: sữa (sweetened condensed milk), đá (ice), and nóng (hot, pronounced "nowm"). Cà phê đá is strong, sweet iced coffee; and cà phê sữa đá is the same with condensed milk. Cà phê (sữa) nóng is brewed fresh on your table brewed in a little metal apparatus placed over a cup; just lift it off when it has cooled enough to touch (and hence drink). Prices range from 10,000 to 20,000 dong for coffee in the local style.

Since ice might or might not be made with purified water, strictly cautious visitors should avoid it, though long-term residents consume ice from reputable cafes and restaurants all the time.

Espresso, cappuccino, and American-style filter coffee are now also widely available in the tourist district, usually at 2-8 times the price of the local style. You will be able to differentiate the better places if they use UHT milk as opposed to condensed milk.

  • Bobby Brewery Coffee, Bui Vien St. Nice place with good beverages. Used to show movies on 2nd and 3rd floor. Now reopened as La Cantina.
  • Cafe 5 Sao, Pham Ngoc Thach (Near the Turtle Pond). Plays loud techno music. Attractive, but pretentious crowd.
  • Cafe Napoly, Pham Ngoc Thach (Near the Turtle Pond). The decor is Roman ruins-lite (they meant "Napoli"), but the menu is typical for an upscale Vietnamese cafe: coffee, fruit drinks, ice cream, and a simple menu including eggs and rice dishes. Piped music is nice, not too loud by day (though louder at night), prices are decent. Outdoor terrace in the front, air-con section on the ground floor, and evening lounge-bar on the upper floor. Next door to the louder, more trendy and possibly pretentious Cafe Nam Sao.
  • Cafe Saigon, 57 Nguyen Du St (Opposite to Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica), +84 9378 66066. Italian coffee, foods, free Wi-Fi, relaxing & modern music.
  • Chao Ba Ca Phe (Granny's Coffee), TK49/5 Nguyen Canh Chan, Q1 (Walk down Nguyen Canh Chan from the junction with Tran Hung Dao and take a left down the alleyway where the fruit salad restaurant is). This place has a really authentic and wonderful cafe sua da served by the famous "grandma" for about 8,000 dong. A little tricky to find.
  • Chot Nho Café, 189 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan District (10 min by taxi from city centre). Reasonable prices, good menu. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Fresco Coffee, 121 Le Loi St, +84 838 211 009. Free Wi-Fi, play hill song music.
  • Givral Café, Dong Khoi (Opposite Continental Hotel). In the French tradition, with fresh pastries, collared waiters and elaborate portions of ice cream. Well-located, but over 20,000 dong for the simplest cup.
  • Hideaway Café, 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q.3. As its name implies, this place is hidden away and a good place to read, or have a quiet conversation or meal. Decent Western menu, although slightly pricey.
  • Highlands Coffee. Highlands Coffee is a Vietnamese chain that is ubiquitous in Ho Chi Minh City. They offer a variety of coffee drinks reasonably priced (25,000-60,000 dong, depending on your order) with consistent quality.
  • M-Comic, 99B Vo Thi Sau A. A rather hard to find coffee shop. Upstairs is like a bedroom with a couple of beds. Arrive early if you want to occupy one. It has large selection of magazine and comic books to chose from. Only serves Vietnamese drinks, and the staff only speak a little English. Free Wi-Fi. 11,000-30,000 dong.
  • Old Saigon Coffee, 2nd floor, 63 Dong Du St, District 1 (Opposite the Sheraton). Reminiscent of HCMC in the past. It has a great view to Dong Khoi St. All the drinks and foods are typical Saigon. The staff are quite decent.
  • Regina Coffee, 84 Nguyen Du St, District 1. Vietnamese coffee or cappuccini. They have a skilled Japanese espresso master who knows how to brew coffee. French mixed with Asian design with brick walls. It is marketed towards tourists and all proceeds go to the church around the corner.
  • Trung Nguyen (Two convenient outlets are on the east side of Nguyen Hue right before the People's Committee Hall, and the corner of Thu Khoa Huan and Ly Tu Trong). The Vietnamese version of Starbucks, but with much better coffee. They have locations all over the city, but are not well represented in the heart of the tourist district. Prices start around 40,000 dong for a basic cuppa, although there are plenty of variations including the infamous weasel coffee (cà phê chồn), made from coffee beans collected from civet excrement; however, a quick Google search about the conditions in which the civets are kept may further dissuade some from sampling.

Alcohol edit

Saigon has plenty of places to drink, although to a certain degree Vietnamese and foreigners hang out in different places. This is slowly changing as Westerners become more familiar with the ways of the East (and vice versa). Places with live music usually have no cover charge, but impose somewhat elevated drink prices (typically 55,000-85,000 dong for beer, spirits, and cocktails.) Many places close around midnight or 01:00. Some places remain open later: Go2 Bar in Pham Ngu Lao, popular with backpackers/budget crowd; Apocalypse Now on Thi Sach St, packed with people from all walks of life (you can find anything in this place regardless of your preferences (prostitutes, straight/gay, drugs or just a place to dance the night away); ZanZBar on Dong Du St will appeal to the regular bar crowd and closing time changes daily depending on the number of people in the bar). There are other late night clubs which cater almost exclusively to the young Vietnamese crowd. Anywhere in the city you can find Vietnamese bottled beer places that will stay open until 03:00-04:00. Several bars in Phu My Hung stay open until 02:00-03:00.

Not to be missed are the pavement bars which get very busy with locals and travellers alike, about halfway down Biu Vien. They sell bottles of Saigon beer for 10,000 dong. Sit on the tiny plastic chairs and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. These are perhaps the best places to drink as a backpacker, as they are very cheap and also great places to meet people, and not just other tourists.

  • Chill Sky Bar (Sky Bar). Rooftop bar at AB Tower in District 1 along September 23 park. This is the place to see and to be seen. Drinks are expensive at 200,000 dong and up. If you are around the September 23 park at night you will see the lights and hear the music blasting from the top of the AB tower. Look for the spotlights shooting into the sky.
  • 1 The Rabbit Hole Irish Sports Bar, 111 Pham Viet Chanh, Ward 19, Binh Thanh, +84774815080, . 15:00 to 02:00 M — F and 10:00 to 02:00 Sa and Su. Irish Sports bar.

Where you can drink with locals edit

Ho Chi Minh City at night
  • 2 Acoustic Cafe, 6E1 Ngô Thời Nhiệm. Though only 1 km from the heavily touristed centre, this club is completely outside the tourist orbit, and offers an interesting view of local life. The all-Vietnamese house band performs every night, mostly American music, and it's always jammed with student-aged groupies. For some reason, they address the crowd in English between songs, even though half the crowd doesn't understand. On weekends, at least, you need to arrive by 19:30 to have any hope of getting a seat. If your hobby is rock ballad or hard rock, you should go on Friday night.
  • Banana Pub, Phu My Hung District. Park View. Pool table, darts, friendly staff, beautiful people, loads of food. Stays open late depending on the crowd. Worth a trip from Q1 to experience the expat scene.
  • Carmen, 8 Ly Tu Trong. The house band has changed some personnel but is still good, specializing in flamenco, salsa and Latin pop, and with an eclectic mix of other popular songs thrown in. Cocktails 110,000 dong, shots 80-85,000 dong, but with no entrance charge. It's popular and fills up on weekends.
  • Ice Blue, Dong Khoi. Centrally located English pub, complete with darts board and warm beer. Friendly, but shuts at midnight.
  • Khong Ten (literally 'No Name'), 147 Hai Ba Trung. Large cabaret featuring some of the biggest Vietnamese celebrity singers in Vietnam. The headliner is often familiar to the locals from television. Most overseas visitors may not like the musical style as it is mostly the mellow-to-melancholy, soft-jazzy, love-ballady style favoured by the middle and older generation of Vietnamese. But it's pure Vietnam, and very popular with both HCMC residents and Vietnamese expats on trips home. Admission 150,000 dong.
  • Lion's, 1-13 Lam Son Sq, District 1. Brewery, restaurant offering German food, with tasty beers and cocktails. The outside terrace is a nice place to chill out, and the inside restaurant is very welcoming with its two beer tanks and cosy bar.
  • Lush, Ly Tu Trong. A nightclub in the Western style, with loud music and minimalist too-cool decor. Drink prices on par with most Saigon nightclubs. Mixed crowd (Vietnamese, tourists and expats), pretty good food but has a small dance floor. Ladies night on Tuesday offers free drinks for ladies until midnight. Be sure to arrive early as it gets very busy from around 22:30 and it is difficult to get served at the bar.
  • Metallic Bar, 41 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, District 3. House band plays covers of Metallica, Guns 'n Roses and other popular rock bands nightly between 21:00 and midnight.
  • Peaches, Phu My Hung District. Great place to enjoy a few drinks with friends. Friendly staff, Asian food. Quite low key in comparison to other PMH bars.
  • 3 Polo, Ham Nghi St (Above the Liberty Hotel). Mixture of expats and locals, starts getting busy quite early. Music from the 1980s to the present. Noisy and smokey.
  • Q Bar Saigon. Established in 1992 under the Opera House. Mix of locals, tourists and expats in a grotto-like uber-chic setting that could as easily be in Soho as Saigon. Open till late every night. Great cocktails, though at very high prices, similar to the roof-top bar of the Caravelle Hotel across the street. It's the cool place to be seen if you have a lot of Uncle Hos in your pocket. Terrace and Indoor areas. DJ nights.
  • Rio Saigon, 131 Ton That Dam St, District 1, +84 8 8211827, +84 8 8211812. Until 24:00. A Brazilian flowery decor-themed bar/pub with a Filipino house band playing pop/rock such as Bon Jovi and Skid Row.
  • Saigon Pho. This little hole in the wall is only a stone's throw from Allez Boo, but much more expat orientated. Open until late.
  • Serenata and Soi Da, 6E Ngô Thời Nhiệm. Two open-air cafe-bars with live music in villa-style settings, which attract few if any tourists but typify what most Vietnamese consider a pleasant evening out. Both feature a mix of classical chamber music, Vietnamese lounge songs, American FM classics and the odd French song.
  • The Tavern, SB8-1 My Khanh 2 (H4-2) Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung District, +84 8 4120866. Opens for breakfast, closes at midnight. Western food with fish & chips and burgers.
  • 4 Velvet, Ho Huan Nghiep (Corner of Dong Khoi). Nice ambiance & music. Latest chic bar in town. Gets very busy, and at weekends you will need a booking.
  • Xu Bar, Hai Ba Trung St (Near the Opera House). Great wine list. Nice ambiance & service.

Where you can drink with tourists edit

  • 5 Alibi, 11 Thai Van Lung. Very cosy atmosphere, with sofas lining the walls and beautiful decor. Good food & drinks selection, nice music, and a mix of both locals & expats. Friendly staff, and the management's always there to make you feel welcome and make sure you get what you are asking for.
  • 6 Allez Boo (Corner of Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham). For those who have been here before, you'll find the original bar is now Highlands Coffee and an all new Allez Boo has opened on the opposite corner. It's shiny and brand-new, but retains the same feel as the original. There's a bar with air-con on the 2nd floor with DJ-type music, and an airy rooftop patio. Quite similar to its sibling establishment, Go2 Bar.
  • 7 Apocalypse Now, 2C Thi Sach. Legendary and still packed on weekends, although aside from a few movie references it's not all that much to look at. Stays open late. Now opened their 2nd floor for DJ, dancing, drinks with less crowded atmosphere. Cover charge of 150,000 dong.
  • Catwalk (Beside the New World Hotel). All-in-one place with a massage parlour, disco, KTV, and a mini-casino. Price is on the expensive side, but it is a sight to behold.
  • 8 Go2 Bar (Corner, De Tham and Bui Vien). 24/7. The main backpacker bar while Allez Boo was closed, still a great meeting place. It's impossible to miss the four floors of neon lights on the outside. Large patio on the sidewalk at street level, a cosier bar on the second floor with occasional live music or big-screen sports, plus a rooftop patio (with retractable roof) with individual BBQs up a steep set of stairs on the 5th floor. Crawling with prostitutes after dark until sun up.
  • Oblivion (Bui Vien). Late night venue with lots of character, claims to be Saigon's premier music bar and it's hard to argue, assuming, that is, you have a taste for non-chart buzzy British guitar and obscure dark US/European stuff. You have to ask for happy pop, though if you're spending enough it'll sometimes get an outing. Like most Saigon bars, it attracts its share of working girls. If you're not interested, simply say you're not and you'll be left alone.
  • Pasteur Street Brewing Company, 144 Pasteur, Bến Nghé, District 1 (this is the original location, but others can be found throughout the city). A cozy bar that specializes in craft beer microbrews. A large selection of their own beers that run between 50,000-300,000 dong per glass (though most are 105,000 for a regular size). They also serve food and bar snacks. Mostly expats and tourists with a laid back yet classy atmosphere. The original tap rooms are down an alley off Pasteur Street, but there are clearly marked signs to guide you from the street.
  • 9 163 Cyclo Bar, 163 Pham Ngu Lao St. Two doors down from the Duna Hotel. Thumping music until 02:00 with friendly staff. Sex workers catering to Western men here. If you're not interested, just gently let it be known.
  • 10 Le Pub, 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao (On the small road which connects Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien). Always busy after 18:00, famous for its strong drinks, daily dollar-specials (e.g., Tuesday USD1 for vodka mixers all night) and friendly staff. It has the same owner as Le Pub in Hanoi. The Pub Quiz (almost every Tuesday) is very popular with expats, especially the English teachers. Get there early or it's too packed to find a place to sit down. Indoors and outdoor tables available.
  • 11 Rex Hotel Rooftop (Corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi). They serve a buffet dinner at the dinner hour, which gradually gives way to drinks and music. Acts change over time, but have included a Filipino band playing FM classics and a Vietnamese group playing Latin and flamenco. It's a pleasant place to get above the city noise and enjoy some fresh air. Cocktails around 140,000 dong.
  • 12 Saigon Saigon, 12-13 Lam Son Sq (Caravelle Hotel, 9F). A pleasant, breezy bar with a great view of the city. Great live band (Cuban) playing inside every night. Cool, quiet ambience on the terrace. Attracts an expense-account crowd due to the prices. Cocktails mostly cost over 100,000 dong.
  • 13 Seventeen Saloon. American Wild West-themed bar, live music every night and other entertainment. Drinks are expensive.
  • Sheridan's (Le Thanh Ton near Thai Van Lung). Small, cosy Irish-themed bar with imported draft beer and live music. Brits will appreciate the great food tasting of home (or the closest you'll get here).
  • Vasco's, 74 Hai Ba Trung St, District 1 (opposite Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel; go to the alley at 74 Hai Ba Trung and find the bar on your left, 1st floor). Live music on some nights of the week and a typical bar atmosphere for tourists and expats. Drinks from 50,000 dong, including sales tax, tip not necessary.
  • VIBE Billiards & Lounge, 02 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1. Professional billiards tables and a spacious lounge. Food and drinks and you can customise the billiard table lights from a special lighting system.
  • 14 ZanZBar, 41 Dong Du St, Q1 (Second entrance through the lobby of the Saigon Hotel). Casual-upscale, the clients tend to come for the great choice of wines-by-the-glass (huge walk-in wine cellar), or for the cocktails (premium brands) and good selection of imported beers. Can remain open after midnight, depending on the number of customers. Not for the budget crowd.

Sleep edit

Most hotels do not allow you to bring back a local female companion to stay overnight. However it's best to confirm guest policy as plenty of non-international chain hotels allow guests.

Budget edit

Street vendor in backpackers district

The main backpacker hangout is Pham Ngu Lao in District 1, just a short walk (10-15 min) from Ben Thanh Market. The lanes and alleys in the area between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien are jammed with 5-10 room mini-hotels offering prices around US$15 per room (air-con with hot shower and cable TV). There is no difference in price between single or double occupancy so if you are traveling alone you might want to try finding a dorm bed for around US$6 (but there are not many of them around.) Keep heading southwest away from the backpacker hustle closer Ng Thai Hoc, you'll likely find that as the alleys get smaller the rooms get quieter and owners more friendly. The area swarms with touts and other nuisances. The area is not the safest, and it'd be wise not to run around carrying something like an expensive DSLR camera, thereby making yourself a target for thieves.

  • An Phuong 2, 295 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (across from where buses drop tourists), +84 8 920 5509, +84 8 836 9248, . A friendly family-run guesthouse, very clean and homely. Free Internet, cheap laundry and all rooms have double glazing. USD15.
  • Blue River Hotel, 283/2C Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 3837 6483, +84 903 679994 (mobile), . Amazing small hotel in an alley off Pham Ngu Lao. They can arrange an airport pickup for USD15, although an official taxi from the airport counter will cost USD8. Some staff members speak English and the service is good. USD25 for a room without a view. USD30 for a room with a view that may or may not have a balcony.
  • Dai Huy Hoang Hotel, 283/22 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in a small quiet alley that links Pham Ngu Lao and Do Quang Dau. Coming from Pham Ngu Lao the alley is next to the Canadian Hotel), +84 8 3837 0677, . Comfortable rooms with air-con, fan, free Internet and breakfast. Friendly staff. USD13-20.
  • Diep Anh, 241/31 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1, +84 8 38 367920, . Very friendly owners. Rooms with air-con, refrigerator, cable TV, en suite bath, and Wi-Fi. Very reasonably priced minibar. USD10-30.
  • Duna Hotel, 167 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 8373-699. All rooms have air-con, satellite TV, a fridge, elevator. Pleasant staff. The front door is locked around 23:00-24:00. From USD12 for a single room with no window to USD30 for a triple with a window facing the street..
  • Hanh Hoa Hotel, 237 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 38372361. Vietnamese styling, with bamboo interiors, rattan beds and wooden floors.
  • Hotel Bi Saigon, 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in alley #185), +84 8 836 0678. Clean, comfortable, and terrific staff. In-room Internet access for USD3/day. The lobby houses the La Table de Saigon restaurant. Double USD27.
  • Ly, 84/24B Bui Vien, District 1 (A small alley off Pham Ngu Lao St), +84 8 3836 4794, . Family-run guest house with friendly staff who speak English. Air-con, hot water, cable TV with international channels, baggage storage, laundry service, big beds. with balconies. USD10-15.
  • Ly Loan, 241/11/2 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (grom airport take a taxi to Pham Ngu Lao St (7 km) and enter Alley 241 (between Liberty 4 Hotel and ABC Bakery), 15 m into the alley, turn left), +84 8 837 0067, . Family-run guest house in a small, safe, quiet alley. Some English is spoken. Rooms are spacious and nicely furnished. With air-con, hot water, big beds and some with balconies. Free Internet and Wi-Fi. USD16.
  • 1 Mai Guest House, Hem 104 Bui Viên or 241 /41 Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1, +84 8 5559 3898. Friendly family. Tucked in a side alley from Pham Ngu Lao or Bui Viên next to My Home Guest Home. Small balcony. Clean apartments with aircon and Wi-Fi. 15,000 or 30,000 dong per kg for 24 hr or express laundry. Doubles USD12, doubles with balcony USD15.
  • My Home Guest House, 241/43 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 5559 3898, . Friendly staff and clean. The buses from up north drop you right near this hostel. Air-con, hot water, comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi. Free bananas at all times and they do laundry. Tourist bars and clubs are a couple hundred metres away. Singles USD12, doubles USD18, triples available.
  • Nam Chau, 171/2 Co Bac St (Near Co Giant St), +84 8 3837 0294. Nice and very clean. USD10-15.
  • Galaxy Boutique Hotel, 269/19 De Tham Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, +848 38386995.
  • Ngoc Minh Hotel, 283/9 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1. Clean hotel with friendly staff, free Internet and Wi-Fi. Elevator. 5 storeys, garden on top floor and free breakfast. From USD20.
  • 2 Nguyen Khang Hotel, 283/25 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in a small quiet alley that links Pham Ngu Lao and Do Quang Dau; coming from Pham Ngu Lao the alley is next to the Canadian Hotel), +84 8 837 3566, . Check-out: 12:00. Good staff, free Internet with PC in lobby and Wi-Fi in rooms. Free breakfast served on the ground floor from 07:00-10:00. Clean, tastefully simple in decoration, rooms are rather small but have air-con, fan, TV, fridge, and those at the front have large windows. Visa and Mastercard accepted. USD10-20.
  • PP Backpackers, 283/41 Pham Ngu Lao (in an alley off PNL along with various other guest houses and hotels), +84 1262501823, . Run by a friendly Englishman, offers clean dorms and rooms, can book tours and offers a big breakfast for USD1. Dorm USD6.
  • Rainbow Hotel, 283/5 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 836 0039. Large, bright albeit somewhat worn rooms, and those at the front have a nice view. From USD15.
  • Tam Anh Guesthouse, 241/21 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 8 3837 0756, . A clean and secure family-run guesthouse. Good air-con, free Wi-Fi. USD15.
  • Tan Dat My Hotel, 81-83 Ong ich Khiem, District 11 (about a 15-min taxi ride to District 1), +84 8 3963 4424. Large rooms with a view, air-con, Wi-Fi, fridge, cable TV and a free rooftop breakfast next to the Dam Sen Park. French bakery 30 m away. American-style supermarket 10 min walk on the same street. USD17.
  • Thanh Guest House, 84/9 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, +84 9 318 8588, . Warm and friendly guesthouse. Lobby inside the house with comfy sofa, cable TV and Internet. Free Wi-Fi throughout. Trips and tours can be booked at reception. USD12-18.
  • Thien Hong Hotel, 241/34 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in one of the small alleys running between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien), +84 8 3920 6078. Helpful and friendly owners, free Wi-Fi, TV in rooms with many channels including international. Air-con room with no window, USD15.
  • Ty Mon, 693 Nguyen Thi Dinh St, Dist. 2, +84 86 2870526. Friendly owners, very good basic rooms with air-con, TV, decent furniture and fridge. Very cheap price, mostly used by Vietnamese people. A bit far out from centre. USD8-12.
  • Xuan Spring Hotel, 185/34 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1, +84 8 837 2115, . Air-con, refrigerator, cable TV and private bath with hot shower and free Internet. Online bookings. Good service. USD14-17.
  • Mi Linh Hotel, B38A Bach Dang Street Ward 02 Tan Binh District. (5 min walk from HCM Airport), +84-8-35474139. Check-in: any time, check-out: 12:00. a/c standard double room with own bathroom and cable tv. Free Wifi. a good clean place to stay near the HCM Airport. USD12.
  • Lee Hostel Home For Backpackers, 40/5 Bui Vien Street (near Fine Arts Museum), +84-9--3880150. Check-in: From 07:00, check-out: 12:00. 20 bed dorm with air.con and hot water free wifi. free breakfast. Some complaints that they will insist on holding your passport hostage even after you've paid, various other scammy practices. Rrom USD3.50 per person.
  • Bich Hong Guest House, 171/32 Co Bac District 1, +84 8 38374260. Fan and a/c double rooms with own bathroom. Fan USD10, a/c USD12.
  • Kim Loan Guest House, 171/1 Co Bac District 1, +84 8 38368351. Fan double with own bathroom. USD10.
  • 4 Guest House Thanh, 171/1E Co Bac District 1, +84 8 38368469. Fan double room with own bathroom. USD10.

Mid-range edit

  • Christina's Saigon, 212/2B Nguyen Trai St., Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (5 mins ride from Ben Thanh Market), . A flashpacker guesthouse and bed & breakfast. The studios are beautifully designed with modern bathrooms. Booking is only available through Airbnb. USD35-60.
  • Asian Hotel, 146-148-150 Dong Khoi St, Ben Nghe District (in Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza), +84 8 3829 6979. Every room has air-con, cable TV, and Internet.
  • Platinum Boutique Residence and Hotel (formerly Bloom Hotel), 270 Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (Very near Ben Thanh Market), +84 2838271111, . Lovely modern, clean hotel. Rooms come with double-glazed windows, LCD flat screen TVs, and wall-mounted air conditioning controls. The suite has a spa bath. Free Wi-Fi and friendly staff. From 65,000 dong.
  • Dai Nam Hotel, 79 Tran Hung Dao St, District 1 (5 min walk from Ben Thanh Market and the backpacker area on Pham Ngu Lao St), +84 8 3824 2525, . Breakfast and free in-room Wi-Fi. Houses the Gossip Nightclub. USD35-55.
  • Asian Ruby Select Hotel, 122F-122F1 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, +84 8 3925 8866. All rooms and suites have air-con, TV with satellite channels, IDD telephone, coffee/tea maker and minibar. Bar, cafe, spa and massage services, business centre, gym and high speed Internet access. Annoyingly, housekeeping have a tendency to knock on bedroom doors early in the morning, but then don't make up the rooms until early afternoon. From USD35.
  • Ngoc Ha, 53 Le Anh Xuan (Close to Ben Thanh market and the New World Hotel). Clean, decent rooms, air-con, fridge, Wi-Fi in the lobby. USD25–35 including simple breakfast.
  • Nhat Ha Hotel, 252 BC Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, +84 8 3824 6368. 57 rooms decorated with traditional Vietnamese handicrafts. IDD telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, and air-con. From USD33.
  • Sanouva Hotel, 175-177 Ly Tu Trong St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (Central business district 15 min from Tan Son Nhat Airport), +84 8 382 75275. Air-con, 32" LCD TV with cable, Internet, and IDD telephone. Restaurant, bar, café, car rental, travel bookings, tour services and safes. From USD55.
  • Spring Hotel, 44-46 Le Thanh Ton St, District 1, +84 8 829 7362. Clean, boutique hotel that is walking distance to major attractions such as Ben Thanh Market and the cathedral. USD32–74.
  • Thuan Thien Hotel, 277 Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, +84 8 3822 8122. Air-con rooms, cable TV, DVD, coffee/tea maker, minibar and a private toilet and shower with bath. Internet, dry cleaning, and laundry service and a travel agency for booking tours. From USD34.
  • Y Thien, 247 Ly Tu Trong (5 min from Ben Thanh Market), +84 8 824 8176. Full service hotel with a range of clean rooms with large baths. Sizes from tiny and windowless (yet functional), to full wall window overlooking the city and streets. The 4th floor room to the right of the elevator is USD20–25. Cable TV, air-con, fan, refrigerator, elevator, all night guard for bikes, hotel safe. A good option if you don't want to stay in the backpacker area and are willing to pay a little more.
  • 3 Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City, No. 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, District 2, +84 28 6255 9900, . The property has apartments ranging from two- to four-bedroom with kitchenette, washing machines and dryers. They have an on-site tennis court.

The area around De Tham is close to the Ben Thanh market and is the backpacker area of the city.

  • An An Hotel, 40 Bui Vien St, District 1, +84 8 3837 8087, . Clean, popular, and offers comfortable rooms with double glazing in the centre of the action on De Tham. Free Wi-Fi in room and lobby. USD40-50.
  • An An 2 Hotel, 216 De Tham St (on the corner of De Tham and Bui Vien, about 20 m down from the original An An Hotel), +84 8 3838 5665, . This is the (much newer) sister hotel to An An hotel. From USD22 (with window) for standard single, USD25 for double and USD36–50 for superior and luxury with balcony. The prices can be lowered if you stay for 4 or more days (e.g., USD20 for double for 6 days).

Many of Saigon's historical hotels are in the hands of Saigontourist, the former state monopoly. Thanks to competition, service and facilities are adequate, although not quite up to modern standards; but if you want to experience a little colonial nostalgia, these are far and away the best choice.

  • 4 Continental Hotel, 132-134 Dong Khoi St. An old-school colonial hotel dating back to 1880 and the setting of Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American. Beautiful garden courtyard, huge rooms, nice balcony views. On the minus side, there is no pool and traffic noise can be irritating,. USD60 plus (breakfast included).    
  • Hotel Đông Đô, 331 Nguyễn Thái Bình (District 12). New hotel with clean and comfortable rooms. USD20–35.
  • The First Hotel, 18 Hoang Viet St, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, +84 8 3844 1199. Luxury hotel, 104 air-con rooms, cable TV, mini-bar, shower with bath, and Wi-Fi. Casino and ballroom, fitness room, tennis court, swimming pool, airport transfer, and car rental. From USD75.
  • Ho Sen Hotel, 4A-4B Thi Sach St, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, +84 90 636 72 49. Clean and comfortable rooms with air-con and bar fridge. Right around the corner is the Apocalypse Now Club. Breakfast included, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, while connections are a little patchy in the rooms. From USD30–55.
  • Mekong Lodge, 196/1/20 Cong Hoa St, Tan Binh District, +84 9 3344 9391, . A good hotel for those who love nature. USD60.
  • 5 Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue Blvd (in the heart of HCMC, next door to the People's Committee Hall). Another old standby, former haunt of the press corps and site of the daily "Five O'Clock Follies" news briefing during the Vietnam War. The 5th floor rooftop beer garden is famous and its symbol, the golden crown, is rotating again. The rooms are very pleasant and there is a swimming pool on the roof. Buffet breakfast. From USD70.    
  • Thien Thao Hotel, 89 Cao Thang, Ward 3, District 3. A small hotel with thin walls but also clean and comfortable with air-con rooms, bathtubs, local and cable channels on a large plasma TV, and minibar fridge. About 20 min walk away from the heart of District 1. Bakery and several restaurants less than 5 min away, free Wi-Fi in the rooms and three computers in the lobby. USD30, breakfast included.
  • Xuan Loc Hotel, 47-49-51 Le Anh Xuan, District 1, +84 8 3827 4641, +84 8 3827 4642, +84 8 3827 5507, +84 8 3827 5508, . Clean and comfortable rooms. Breakfast available. Internet and computers are provided. From USD60.
  • M Village. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A chain with a number of furnished short/long-term stay apartment rentals scattered throughout the city (both in and outside of touristy areas) that supports hotel-like bookings (as little as 1 night, no extra charges). Typically includes free self-service, first come first serve laundry machines and a small in-room kitchenette. English is a bit spotty, but serviceable with Google Translate and properties prefer/offer 24/7 communication via Whatsapp. 1-2M VND.

Splurge edit

  • Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square @ Dong Khoi (Across from the Opera House in District 1.). In-house restaurants and spas. 7 km from the airport. During the war it was home to many war correspondents and the rooftop bar served as their watering hole. Today, it is also known for the afternoon tea served at its Café de l'Opera. From USD188.
  • 6 Hotel Majestic (District 1, at the waterfront at the end of Dong Khoi Street), +84 8 3829 5517. Luxury hotel that got its start in 1925, and though it has undergone a number of renovations since, it maintains the same basic look outside. Rooftop bar serves mediocre ice cream and drinks. Has a non-smoking wing. From USD122.
  • Hotel Nikko Saigon, 235 Nguyen Van Cu, District 1 (Beside Nowzone Shopping Mall), +84 8 3925 7777, fax: +84 8 3925 7766, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. From USD160.
  • InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel (corner of Le Van Huu St, Le Duan Boulevard and Hai Ba Trung St, District 1. At Asiana Kumho Plaza). Dinner buffet from USD40. Can walk to city center.
  • 7 Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen Van Troi St, Phu Nhuan District, +84 8 3844 9222, fax: +84 8 3844 9200, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel in Phu Nhuan, 10 min away from the exhibition centre and international airport and 20 min from HCMC centre. 251 rooms and suites. All rooms are equipped with individually controlled air-con, TV, minibar, safe, hairdryer. Broadband Internet in all rooms. From USD120.
  • New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai St, District 1, +84 8 3822 8888, fax: +84 8 3823 0710, .
  • Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, District 1 (adjacent to Opera House), +84 8 3824 1234, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel which features a collection of contemporary Vietnamese art, a variety of non-smoking dining options including an al fresco setting, an Italian restaurant, Opera, the signature Vietnamese/Western restaurant, Square One, Park Lounge that serves afternoon tea, and a martini bar, 2 Lam Son. The hotel has a 20 m pool, fitness centre, and the Xuan Spa. USD220-520.
  • Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang St, District 1. On the river and near the main tourist-shopping district, a block off of Dong Khoi.
  • 8 The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard (Corner of Dong Khoi), +84 8 3823 6688, . 286 rooms and suites furnished with Italian designs, five high-end restaurants, a spa, swimming pool, fitness centre and an executive lounge.
  • Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences, 1057 Binh Quoi Street, Ward 28, Binh Thanh District, +81 8 483556 6163. Luxury serviced apartments. Cable TV, radio, air-con, safe, hair dryer, Internet, phone, mini–bar and coffee/tea maker. Swimming pool, fitness room, sauna, business facilities and currency exchange. Car rental and airport and city transfers. From USD169.
  • Sheraton Saigon (on Dong Khoi, in the heart of the tourist shopping district). It has a Prada shop in the arcade. Restaurants are around USD40 for an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner, wine included.
  • Sherwood Residence, 127 Pasteur St, District 3, +84 8 3823 2288, fax: +84 8 3823 2299, . Sherwood Residence is a luxury serviced apartment in HCMC. The property offers two and three bedroom apartments for short- and long-term. A private restaurant serves Western and Asian cuisine. On Pasteur Street, Sherwood Residence is within walking distance to the War Remnants' Museum and guests can take the free hourly shuttle to the business district.
  • Sofitel Plaza Saigon, 17 Le Duan Blvd, District 1, +84 8 824 1555, fax: +84 8 824 1666, . 290-room hotel in the city center. Airy, if slightly small rooms, comfy beds, free wired Internet. Several restaurants, including a buffet and a breakfast spread. USD160-300.
  • Somerset Chancellor Court Ho Chi Minh City, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, District 1, +84 8 3822-9197, fax: +84 8 3822-1755, . The serviced residence is in the heart of the business district. It offers 172 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom. Each apartment is fully furnished with an open kitchen concept, contemporary Western style decor and balcony. Daily from 2,521,000 dong.
  • Thao Dien Village (Villa Thao Dien Hotel and Spa Resort), 195 Nguyen Van Huong St, Thao Dien Ward, District 2 (15 min by taxi from District 1), +84 8 3744 6457, fax: +84 8 3744 6458, . A colonial-style boutique hotel in tropical gardens on the banks of the river. 22 rooms, spa and health club. 4 restaurants; Ngon (Vietnamese), Villa Romaine (Italian), Chaba (Thai), and Tama-Gawa (sushi bar). Every Saturday at 19:30 there is a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show on the riverside outdoor terrace of Ngon Restaurant.
  • Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, District 5 (Chinatown), +84 8 3833 6688, fax: +84 8 38336888, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A high-end hotel with 386 rooms in Cholon (Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown). Several restaurants including an extensive Western and Asian buffet on 4th floor; a Chinese restaurant serving live seafood, southern Chinese cuisine and dim sum; and a rooftop international restaurant that has panoramic views of Cholon. Guests can take the free hourly shuttle to the business district. Free Wi-Fi in public areas.

Stay safe edit

In general, Ho Chi Minh City is a safe city, with violent crimes such as armed robbery being relatively rare. The most common crimes faced by tourists are pickpocketing and snatch theft from motorbikes.

Scam artists operate on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. A person will strike up a friendly conversation claiming they've either seen you at the airport or some other tourist place where they work. Usually they'll be with other family members who will join the conversation very naturally and once they find out where you're from they'll mention that another family member is moving to a city in your country. You will be invited over for food at their house to help console a worried grandmother or to give advice to their family member. Once you arrive at the house however the family member is not there, or the grandmother has suddenly fallen ill and had to go to the hospital. You'll be presented with various business opportunities, legal or not, or asked for financial support for the suddenly sick grandmother.

Hotel scams are very common, even in the mid-range price level US$20-70. The hotel will remind you that you should place your valuables in the room safe or the hotel safe. Lock up everything that is more or less valuable.

Don't hold up expensive things near the street or leave them out on the table while you're having a meal, especially in District 1, especially around the backpacker area. Petty theft is a big problem, and a lot of times it's done by people on motorbikes. It's easy to prevent by not giving thieves the opportunity.

Don't buy SIM card before the immigration at the airport, they will charge you US$10 for a SIM card. After immigration and baggage area, you can find sim card booth. They sell SIM card for $6 only. Don't buy coconut more than ~USD2, real-price is ~USD0.5. If you are forced, call police: +84 8 3829 7643, +84 8 38299835. A favorite trick is for the vendors to strike up a conversation with you, let you hold the carrying-stick, take a picture, and while you're distracted open a coconut for you that you really didn't ask for.

Also, the prostitutes on Bui Vien and Ton That Tung will try to rob you. Usually, they'll approach men acting like they're up to normal prostitute business, but their aim is to pickpocket.

Connect edit

Central Post Office

The telephone code of Ho Chi Minh City is 028. Many (but not all) land line phone numbers in Vietnam have the prefix 3.

Free Wi-Fi access is provided at nearly all hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and cafés. You can find open access points that don't require a password throughout the area around Pham Ngu Lao/Vu Bien and Ben Thanh Market.

It is also possible to buy a SIM card with unlimited internet access for a month directly at the airport for about 300,000 dong. If you can wait until you reach the city, shops with a turquoise Viettel sign will sell you a SIM-Card (Nano-SIM available) for anywhere upwards of 50,000 dong. That includes a sufficient amount of free calling, SMS and 2GB of data for one month.

Cope edit

Medical services edit

Public hospitals are generally poorly equipped and overcrowded, and staff tend to speak little to no English. As such, foreigners are highly advised to rely on private hospitals instead. The French-run FV Hospital is Vietnam's best-regarded private hospital with treatment standards that are on par with the West, and also staffed by doctors and nurses who are able to speak French and English. Other hospitals that are popular among expatriates include City International Hospital, American International Hospital and Vinmec Central Park International Hospital.

Immigration office edit

  • Immigration Department, 161 Nguyen Du, District 1 (~ 15-20 min walk from Reunification Palace, ~10 min from Ben Thanh Market following Le Lai St), +84 8 299398. To get a visa or modify one, you may be able to get it done, or may have to ask a travel agent. Typical cost for a visa extension of one month is USD10, 5 working days delay (they keep the passport). You need to fill form N14/M with your details and the one of your sponsor, either a hotel or private house and get a stamp from the police station corresponding to its location. This point could be tricky as it implies that you have register at the police station before. If not, expect extra delay (5 or more days, for example) or cost. Quick processing (2 days) is possible, but you need to justify it. Going through travel agents costs about USD30, but they manage the police stamp whatever your situation is (extra fee of USD20 for quick processing). Other prices: single entry visa USD25, multiple-entry USD50-100, change single-entry visa to multiple-entry for 6 months USD25-75, modification/extension of visa USD10. This office will tell you that you must use an agent if you wish to extend a tourist visa.

Police stations edit

If you need to lodge a complaint, for example, about a stolen object, go to a police station. For a stolen item, you need to report to a station near the theft. It can be tricky as small stations will probably not have an officer with very good English language skills. If possible, go with a Vietnamese speaker.

  • Police station District 2, 989 Dong Van Cong, W.Thanh My Loi, D.2, +84 8 37451325. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.
  • Police station District 3, 01 Nguyen Thuong Hien, Ward 4 , District 3, +84 8 38392764. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.
  • Police station District 4, 14 Doan Nhu Hai, Ward 12, District 1, +84 8 39400188. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.
  • Police station District 5, 359 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 10, District 5, +84 8 38550878. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.
  • Police station Binh Thanh, 18 Phan Dang Luu, ward 6, Binh Thanh, +84 8 38414882. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.
  • Police station Phu Nhuan, 181 Hoang Van Thu, Phu Nhuan. 07:30-11:30, 13:00-17:00.

Consulates and representative offices edit

  •   Australia, 20F, Vincom Bldg, 47 Ly Tu Trong St, District 1, +84 8 3521-8100, fax: +84 8 3521-8101.
  •   Belgium, Tầng 7, Tòa tháp Sunwah, 115 Nguyễn Huệ, +84 8 3821-9354, fax: +84 8 3827-8068.
  •   Cambodia, 41, Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3829-2751, fax: +84 8 3829-2751.
  •   Canada, 10F, Metropolitan Bldg, 235 Đồng Khởi, District 1, +84 8 3827-9899, fax: +84 8 3827-9935.
  •   Chile, 79/1/1 Phan Kế Bính, Quận 1, +84 8 3910-2903, fax: +84 8 3910-2904.
  •   China, 175 Hai Bà Trưng, District 3, +84 8 3829-2463, fax: +84 8 3827-5845, .
  •   Cuba, 5B, 45 Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3829-7350, fax: +84 8 3829-5293.
  •   Czech Republic, 28 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, District 1, +84 8 3829-0585, fax: +84 8 3822-6043.
  •   Denmark, 1801 Tòa tháp Sunwah, 115 Nguyễn Huệ, District 1, +84 8 3821-9373, fax: +84 8 3921-9371.
  •   France, 27 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, District 3, +84 8 3829-7231, fax: +84 8 3829-1675.
  •   Germany, 126 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, District 3, +84 8 3829-2455, fax: +84 8 3823-1919.
  •   Hungary, 22 Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3829-0130, fax: +84 8 3827-9622.
  •   India, 55, Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, District 3, +84 8 3823-7050, fax: +84 8 3823-7047.
  •   Indonesia, 18 Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3825-1888, fax: +84 8 3829-9493, . Office: 08:00-12:00,13:30-17:00 Visa: 09:00-12:00,14:00-16:00.
  •   Italy, 91 Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, Bình Thạnh District, +84 8 6258-6473.
  •   Japan, 261 Điện Biên Phủ, District 3, +84 8 3822-5314, fax: +84 8 3822-5316.
  •   Laos, 93, Pasteur, District 1, +84 8 3829-7667, fax: +84 8 3829-9272.
  •   Malaysia, 2 Ngô Đức Kế, District 1, +84 8 3829-9023, fax: +84 8 3829-9027.
  •   México, 215 A-B Hoàng Văn Thụ, Phú Nhuận District, +84 8 3844-5520, fax: +84 8 3842-3960.
  •   Mongolia, 18K30 Phổ Quang, Tân Bình District, +84 8 3997-0691, fax: +84 8 3997-0537.
  •   Myanmar, 50 Sầm Sơn, Phường 4, Tân Bình District, +84 8 5449-0805, fax: +84 8 3842-8789.
  •   Netherlands, 29 Lê Duẩn, District 1, +84 8 3823-5932, fax: +84 8 3823-5934.
  •   New Zealand, P 909/Tầng 9 Tòa nhà Metropole 235 Đồng Khởi, District 1, +84 8 3822-6907, fax: +84 8 3822-6905.
  •   Norway, 21-23 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, District 1, +84 8 3822-1696, fax: +84 8 3827-2696.
  •   Panama, 7A Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1, +84 8 3825-9334, fax: +84 8 3823-6447.
  •   Philippines, Số 8, Tầng 11, Nguyễn Huệ, Phường Bến Nghé, District 1, +84 8 3829-4738, fax: +84 8 3911-0287.
  •   Poland, 5 Le Loi St, District 1, +84 8 3914-2883, fax: +84 8 3914-2884.
  •   Romania, 56/4 Nguyen Thong Str, ward 9, district 3, +84 2439 89 89 89, fax: +84 2439 32 18 86, . Honorary Consulate (Does not provide consular services. Instead, Romanian citizens in need of assistance should contact the embassy in Hanoi.)
  •   Singapore, Tầng 8, Saigon Centre, 65 Lê Lợi, District 1, +84 8 3822-0173, fax: +84 8 3914-2938.
  •   Slovakia, 64-68 Hai Bà Trưng, District 1, +84 8 3829-8888, fax: +84 8 3827-7999.
  •   South Korea, 107 Nguyễn Du, District 1, +84 8 3822-5757, fax: +84 8 3822-5750.
  •   Spain economic and commercial office, 25 Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3825-0173, fax: +84 8 3825-0174.
  •   South Africa, 25 Phùng Khắc Khoan, District 1, +84 8 3823-8556, fax: +84 8 3823-8557.
  •   Sweden, 8A/11 Thái Văn Lung, District 1, +84 8 3823-6800, fax: +84 8 3824-4856.
  •   Switzerland, Bitexco Financial Tower, 37th Floor, 2 Hai Trieu, District 1, +84 8 6299 1200, fax: +84 8 6299 1222, .
  •   Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office), 336 Nguyễn Tri Phương, District 10, +84 8 3834-6264, +84 8 3834-6267.
  •   Thailand, 77 Trần Quốc Thảo, District 3, +84 8 3932-7637, fax: +84 8 3932-6002. M-F 08:30-12:00 & 13:30-17:00 (Consular section: 08:30-11:30 & 13:30=15:00).
  •   UK, 25 Lê Duẩn, District 1, +84 8 3829-8433, fax: +84 8 3822-1971.
  •   Ukraine, 22-24 Nguyễn Văn Thủ, District 1, +84 8 3910-4054, fax: +84 8 3910-4053.
  •   1 USA, 4 Lê Duẩn, District 1, +84 28-3520-4200.    
  •   Russia, 40 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, District 3, +84 8 3930-3936, fax: +84 8 3930-3937.

Go next edit

When going to the airport, specify clearly which terminal you want to go to. International flights leave from the newer international terminal (go straight). Domestic flights (to Da Nang, Hanoi, Nha Trang, and so on) are from the domestic terminal (turn left). If you get dropped off at the wrong terminal, you'll have to dash to the correct terminal via a pedestrian walkway link 600 m away. This is not recommended, especially if you're already late for boarding.

When entering the airport, taxi drivers will add an airport entry fee of 5,000 dong to your total metered fare. This is not to be confused with the airport departure tax, which should have been included in the price of your airline ticket.

If you're booking a bus around the Pham Ngu Lao area, you probably want to consider buying the tickets right at the bus company instead of one of the booking agencies. The FUTA bus line has an office at the corner Pham Ngu Lao / De Tham (orange-green building) and you get the tickets for around two-thirds the price compared to booking in an agency.

Avoid booking trips through your hotel as you'll pay a significant surcharge to join the same trips which can be booked at the plethora of travel agents throughout the city.

  • Can Gio — the virgin mangrove forest 30 km south of the city. Entrance to the park is near Ca Cam Bridge.
  • Can Tho — the biggest city of the Mekong Delta and famous for its floating market, delicious food, and fresh fruits. The name comes from "cầm thi giang", river of poems. The city is also referred to as "Tay Do" meaning "Western capital". Can Tho is 169 km (3 hr) from Ho Chi Minh City. You can get tickets at Le Hong Phong in district 3 and take a free shuttle bus to Ben Xe Mien Tay, where the air conditioned buses leave. Tickets to Can Tho cost around 100,000 dong. Free shuttle buses in Can Tho will take you directly to your hotel.
  • Cu Chi Tunnel — day-trips are tirelessly flogged by travel agencies around Pham Ngu Lao, and can be done as a half-day trip, or as a full-day with a stop at Tay Ninh to see the Holy See of the Cao Dai religion. Tours, including admission, should cost 70,000-110,000 dong, and are available every day of the week. Cu Chi tunnels are about a 1.5-hr drive out of HCMC centre. It's worth taking the trips to see these amazing structures so cleverly carved underground and used for survival during wartime. One way to get to the tunnels is by speedboat.
  • Dalat — popular hill station built by the French, offering a temperate mountainside "European" escape. Consider going via Cat Tien National Park to see wildlife (including primates, rare birds, and crocodiles) and spectacular jungle scenery.
  • Mekong Delta — boat tours are available with an almost infinite mix of itineraries. They can be short overnight trips, leisurely meanders over several nights. A two- or three-day Mekong tour is worthwhile; expect to be shuffled between tour companies along the way. 2-day, 1-night organized trips to the Mekong Delta can cost as little as $US25, including transportation, tour guides, lodging and several meals.
  • Mui Ne — popular beach resort about 4-6 hr away by bus
  • Nha Trang — beach destination reachable by overnight train
  • Tay Ninh — Cao Dai Holy See and Ba Den mountain.
  • Vung Tau — city with good beaches, about 2 hr away by bus, or less by boat along the Saigon River. The boat journey costs 250,000 dong.
  • Phnom Penh — a 6-hr bus journey to the capital of Cambodia ranges from US$10–12 (210,000-252,000 dong). When you pass into Cambodia and the bus stops for 15 min. Do not buy anything from the roadside cafe. Instead, cross the road to purchase drinks or food from the roadside shops, because prices can be up to 50% cheaper than the bus stop cafe. Alternatively you could book a tour with boat and bus, which will have you spending a night in a cheap hotel in Chau Doc before making the trip over the border (cross-border package prices may include visa support, which should cost 360,000-530,000 dong).
  • BangkokThailand's capital and largest city, the main economic hub of continental Southeast Asia, and another foodie's paradise. Some distance away, but often the final destination for trips that include stops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (near the famed Angkor Wat in Cambodia); see Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City overland
  • Da Nang — Da Nang is a coastal city in central Vietnam. It is the largest city in the region and is a popular tourist destination. Da Nang is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, and vibrant culture. Da Nang Spa are a popular way to relax and rejuvenate. There are many different types of spas to choose from, ranging from traditional Vietnamese spas to international spas.

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