A Quick Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

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Commonly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) is a bustling city in Vietnam. It is also the former capital of Vietnam, as well as the largest city in the country. Two or three days in the city will allow for plenty to see the sights, however if you have an extra day spare, be sure to take a day trip to the nearby Mekong River to appreciate rural Vietnamese life. Here’s what to see, do, and discover in our guide to Ho Chi Minh City!

Ho Chi Minh

Population: 7.982 +
City Motto: Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City
Climate: Tropical climate, 78-82% humidity

A Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

Prior to Arrival

Before coming to Vietnam, be sure to research your visa requirements as many nationalities are required to have a visa prior to arrival. There are also visa waivers and visa-on-arrival, depending on your nationality (and are subject to change without notice – be sure to check with your consulate for up-to-date information).

On Arrival

Once here, your primary modes of transport are taxi and tuk-tuk. For arriving into HCM, if you’re on a budget consider taking the No. 152 (air-conditioned!) airport bus to arrive in the city centre for just 50 cents including a ticket for yourself + your bags.

Getting Around

If staying centrally, the best way to get around is on foot or to rent a bicycle (though be prepared for chaotic traffic nearly 24 hours of the day).

Otherwise, taxis are relatively cheap or hiring a motorbike is popular among backpackers staying for a longer period (though again, beware of the chaos on the streets!!!)

Getting By

If this is your first visit to a Southeast Asian country, be prepared for a culture shock! Nearly everything will be different and exciting – including the culture, food, language, customs and more. Vietnamese is the official language and locals speak limited English. To show your respect, try memorising the following phrases:

Hello: Seen-Chow

Excuse Me, Sorry: Seen-Loy

Thank You: Gam-Un

Bye: Tham-Beet

What to See

Interested in the history of Vietnam? You’ll be spoiled for choice here in Saigon! Here are a few points of interest not to be missed: War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Museum of Vietnam’s History, City Hall.

Just after a damn good view over the city!? Head to Saigon SkyDeck.

Architecture more your style!? Check out the National Opera House and perhaps see a show.

Want to embrace the local culture and chaos!? Head for the Ben Tanh Market.

What to Eat & Drink

Ho Chi Minh has excellent coffee (try the Vietnamese special – sweet iced coffee with condensed milk), cheap beer, cheap eats, PHO, and fresh summer rolls. You’ll be spoiled for choice.

Get Out

Ready to see Vietnam beyond the chaos and craziness of Saigon!? If you have a spare day, consider taking a day tour to the nearby Mekong River.

Ho Chi Minh saigon Ho Chi Minh City Mekong River Mekong River tour

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

September 11, 2015

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29 Comments

  1. hanoiweather@gmail.com'

    hanoiweather

    January 14, 2016

    I have read your two post about my HCM city and Hoian but not Hanoi. Hope you will go to my Hanoi

  2. tuyet.tran9392@gmail.com'

    Tuyet Tran

    December 4, 2015

    Great post! It would be really helpful for traveller. And just one minor thing, In Vietnam, we dont have tuk tuk, we have motobike-taxi. I hope to see more posts about Vietnamese destinations.

  3. freelancerenamul@gmail.com'

    Clipping Path Service

    November 28, 2015

    Wow ! so nice and wonderful post about ho chi minh city it’s also very helpful information all of us so thanks a lot for sharing this with us……

  4. kerjan@backpackbabe.com'

    Kerjan | Backpack Babe

    October 7, 2015

    Amazing! your posts are always so inspiring, Brooke! I’d love to visit Ho Chi Min, there’s something so fascinating and intriguing about it!

  5. vuongkimphuong92@gmail.com'

    happy wheels unblocked

    September 29, 2015

    I went to HCM several times but I don’t have chance to go around and visit the heritages and try the food here. Thank you for the tips. I guess next time, when I have chance, I’d like to check all it out.

  6. annadan@hotmail.com'

    Anna

    September 25, 2015

    I Think that the Mekong Delta was my favourite when I was in Ho Chi Min City.

  7. emilyannddt@gmail.com'

    EmilyAnne (Eat All Over The World)

    September 20, 2015

    Great guide. We went there this year, a wonderful city with all the sights and sounds!

  8. britt.jeffs@gmail.com'

    Britt

    September 16, 2015

    I’ve been to Vietnam before but only in the North. Haven’t quite made it to HCM yet.

    I love Vietnamese food though. Get a piping hot bowl of Pho off the street and it will seriously change your life! Sooooo delicious.

  9. kim.purcell4@gmail.com'

    Kimberly Purcell

    September 16, 2015

    Fantastic guide! It looks gorgeous!

  10. leonieparker@btinternet.com'

    Leonie Parker

    September 16, 2015

    Will have to put this on my list to visit next year

    Leonie ♥

  11. talesofatrufflepig@gmail.com'

    Hannah

    September 15, 2015

    I love vietnam so much – I didn’t get to Ho Chi Minh when I visited but I will definitely get there next time, it looks amazing.

  12. sayyestohappy@outlook.com'

    Julie

    September 15, 2015

    I LOVED this guide! I’ve been to Vietnam many times and it was fun to see someone else’s perspective on the city. The traffic is totally crazy and overwhelming! Gorgeous pictures!

  13. misstravelfairy@gmail.com'

    Tereza

    September 14, 2015

    Thanks for this post! It´s very useful as I am hopefully going to Vietnam the next month.

  14. kthorson85@gmail.com'

    Kari

    September 14, 2015

    How interesting! I’ve never met anyone who has been there before.
    Kari

  15. brittanyfromboston@gmail.com'

    Brittany

    September 14, 2015

    Wow, I hadn’t really considered going here before, but it sounds really lovely from what you’ve shown here! Thanks for adding this to my list!

  16. hongminh317@gmail.com'

    Minh Nguyen

    September 14, 2015

    Totally agree. Being from Hanoi, I thought driving a bike or crossing the road in HCMC wasn’t a problem for me, but it was. People drive so fast and dangerous. I was so scared when being given a lift by my friend. My hands just held the back seat tightly and my heart beat so fast. It’s such a heart beater!

  17. hongminh317@gmail.com'

    Minh Nguyen

    September 14, 2015

    I prefer Hanoi as well. More things to see, more flavourful food and prettier views. Hanoi is fast enough for me, more elegant and street culture is just unique that you couldn’t find in anywhere else.

  18. antonia@straytravel.co.nz'

    Stray Asia

    September 14, 2015

    You should! Vietnam offers a bit of everything from bustling city life, quaint fishing villages and epic white sand beaches. It is a truly amazing country to visit. We operate a hop-on hop-off bus network that runs from Ho Chi Minh all the way north to Hanoi. Our travel passes offer passengers the flexibility to hop off along the way and spend time in the places they love. When they are ready to move on, they can simply hop back on the guided bus network. It is an easy, hassle free way to travel but still people all the flexibility they need to do their ‘own thing’ when they want to. Have a look at our “Dong Pass” online..

  19. jenniferdstevens@gmail.com'

    Jennifer Stevens

    September 14, 2015

    One of my favorite cities in the world! <3

  20. marketing@straytravel.co.nz'

    Stray Asia

    September 14, 2015

    Great guide! HCM is an exciting city to explore and you’ve hit the nail on the head with these tips (particularly the 152 bus, it’s a great way to make sure you have a comfortable ride and don’t pay above the odds to get into the city in a taxi).

    A half day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels close by are definitely a “must-visit” to learn about the history of the American and Vietnam War. There are over 200kms of tunnels that were used by the Viet Khong in the war. People lived and survived in these tunnels, built schools and hospitals underground some people were even born in the tunnels!

    Another interesting thing to do in the evenings is visit the Golden Dragon Water Puppet theatre.

  21. sharon@thymefortwo.com'

    Sharon

    September 14, 2015

    This is fantastic! I’m leaving for a trip to Bangkok, Cambodia, and Vietnam in October. All of this info is very well timed and informative. Thank you!

  22. ellemartini2011@gmail.com'

    Elle

    September 14, 2015

    I left my heart in Saigon! Love at first sight, bite, everything.

  23. livvy@drinkthewildair.co.uk'

    Livvy | Drink the Wild Air

    September 13, 2015

    This is so useful! The first time I went to Saigon I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I returned at the end of my trip and LOVED it. I think Hoi An and Hanoi are my favourite parts of Vietnam though. I’m currently sharing memories from my summer spent backpacking around Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s such an amazing corner of the world! xo

  24. alsb73@yahoo.co.uk'

    Anne Slater-Brooks

    September 13, 2015

    Definitely agree with Elizabeth re crossing the road. The only problem is getting re-accustomed to the green cross code once you leave Vietnam. I too am not a fan of this city because the pollution was so shocking I felt like being sick most of the time we were there. However the War Remnants Museum was fascinating as was the old parliament building. I also loved drinks at the Liberty Tower in the bar overlooking the infinity pool.

  25. elizabethr@compassandfork.com'

    Elizabeth

    September 13, 2015

    Ho Chi Minh City’s traffic is by far the most chaotic I have ever encountered! All those motorbikes. I love how close they get to each other but never collide. Some great advice we were given for crossing the road (on foot) was to walk slowly at the same pace the entire way. They will judge your pace and go around you. Somehow it seems to work but there is no way I would drive there! LOL

  26. laurenfraser00@gmail.com'

    Lauren

    September 13, 2015

    It looks so amazing. I had planned to travel there but sadly had to get back home in time for work. I still Have it up on my bucket list!

  27. hongminh317@gmail.com'

    Minh Nguyen

    September 13, 2015

    glad to see this post. i’ve been to saigon (or HCMC) once. it is metropolitan city, centre of economy and commerce of vietnam. it’s also a town of food. however, there are not so many places to visit in the city. i’m actually not so keen on this city. the most impressive place in HCMC for me is Cu Chi Tunnel, which is a historical site but far from the city centre, about 70km. really recommend this place. i have written a post about this place.

  28. karmapoliice@gmail.com'

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

    September 13, 2015

    I’d love to visit Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in particular. It looks like such a vibrant and interesting place!

    Tessa at

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