Ho Chi Minh, popularly known as Saigon, is a relatively new city. It was one of the worst-hit during the Vietnam War and practically everything had to be rebuilt, except for some French colonial buildings such as the cathedral and the post office building. It is the best place to soak up the recent war history of the country and get carried away when crossing a zebra crossing. It is the most populous city in the country, with a total of 14 million people in its metropolitan area, and an important administrative center. Undoubtedly a place where past, present, and future throb with intensity. Here you have a complete guide on what to see and do in Ho Chi Minh so that you do not miss anything at all.

Ho Chi Minh City History

The city was built on an ancient Khmer city, until the seventeenth century the territory of current Ho Chi Minh City was a sparsely populated region covered with forests, swamps, and lakes that was part of the Khmer kingdom. The founding date dates from 1698.

The population of the city begins before the arrival of the Vietnamese when the territory of the present southern part of Vietnam belonged to Cambodia. It was nothing more than the Mekong River delta populated by fishing villages, of little importance to Cambodia. The territory was ceded to the Vietnamese as a result of an exchange between the King of Cambodia and the Vietnamese Emperor: through which the daughter of the former was given in marriage to the latter, the Vietnamese promised to carry out various infrastructure works in Cambodia and in exchange the king donated to them the province known in Cambodia as Kampuchea Krom.

In 1623 King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia ( 1618 – 1628 ), let the Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trinh – Nguyen civil war settle in Prey Nokor which caused a large wave of Vietnamese migrants who secured possession of the land. while Cambodia was weakened by its frequent wars with Thailand .

The Vietnamese nobleman Nguyen Phuc Chu was sent by the Nguyen leaders of Hué to establish a Vietnamese government there and separate the region from the Khmer administration. For this reason, he is considered the first leader of the colonization of the city. Who also had the citadel of Gia Dinh built , later destroyed by the French during the Battle of Chi Hoa.

Ho Chi Minh definition

When passing the territory to the property of the Vietnamese, the name they gave it was Sài Gòn, which in Spanish is written as a single word “Saigon”

There are different theories that try to explain the emergence of the original name of the city, Saigon, which is still used by many people: the river that flows through the city continues to be the Song Sai Gon ( Saigon river ), for example, and the company state-owned tourist site is called Tourism in Saigon .

Some say that it comes from the ancient name Sai Con, a transcription of the Khmer words prei kor (literally “ceiba forest”), or Prey Nokor (kingdom forest), which referred to the residence of the Viceroy of Cambodia , located in the area of ​​present-day Cho Lon .

The name Prey Nokor continues to be used by many Cambodians and ethnic Khmer minorities in southern Vietnam .

Under French rule

In 1859 France conquered the city and made it the capital of the Cochinchina colony , later called French Indochina .

Before the French conquest, the city had the official name of Gia Định but in 1862 the French authorities established the popular name of Saigon. As the capital of the colony, the French began a strong urbanization campaign by constructing a large number of buildings in their style, to the extent that the city was known as the “Paris of the East” or the “Pearl of the Far Eas

Second World War

In World War II , Saigon was occupied by fascist Japan . At the end of the war, French rule was reestablished.

Saigon, Capital of South Vietnam

In 1954 , the French were defeated by the Vietnamese at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu , which resulted in the emergence of a new independent state known as South Vietnam whose capital was Saigon. The country was divided into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

In 1958 the republic was proclaimed and any kind of alliance with communist North Vietnam was denied to give power to Emperor Bao Dại.

Vietnam War

In the 1960s , during the Vietnam War , the city was the scene of violent fighting, and its population suffered a considerable increase due to the large number of refugees and the large number of US soldiers and officers who stayed In Ho Chi Minh City.

In 1975 decreeing the end of the war, the forces of the North Vietnamese army took the city, and the name of Saigon was changed to Ho Chi Minh City, in honor of the communist leader and former president of North Vietnam Ho Chi Minh . In 1976 the reunification of the country took place, which took Hanoi as its capital , until then the capital of North Vietnam. The newly named Ho Chi Minh City was joined with Cholón , Gia Ðịnh province and two suburban districts, making it the largest city in the country.

Private companies were nationalized and great efforts were made to minimize the city’s dependence on foreign exports. New industries and activities were developed, such as the manufacture of furniture and carpets, using accessible raw materials in the rural areas near the city.

Geography

Location

It is located in the southeastern region of Vietnam , west of the mouth of the Saigon River , near the Mekong Delta . and 60 kilometers from the South China Sea to the south. 

Climate in Ho Chi Minh

The city has a tropical climate with a high humidity index, the year is divided into two different seasons, the rainy season that occurs in the months of May to November , the other season is the dry season, it takes place in the months of December. and April . The annual average temperature is 28 ° C, the maximum of 39 ° C. The coldest time is in the month of April with a temperature of 16 ° C.

Population

The population is estimated at about 8,838,000 inhabitants ( 2021 ), being the largest city in the country. It has a significant Chinese minority in the nearby city of Cho-Lon , considered a neighborhood of Ho Chi Minh City.

As the first commercial and industrial center in the country, Ho Chi Minh attracts a large number of emigrants from other Vietnamese provinces, mainly in recent years and therefore experiences rapid population growth. Between 1999 and 2004 the city grew by 200,000 people per year.

Ho Chi Minh City Administration

Ho Chi Minh City, although it is a municipality, is considered at the same level as a province. Therefore it presents the same government and administrative system of any Vietnamese province with a People’s Council of 95 democratically elected deputies and the People’s Committee with 13 members chosen by the People’s Council, both entities are the main administrative bodies of the city. The President of the Popular Council is the highest authority, while the President of the People’s Committee is the highest executive, which differs from the figure of the mayor present in the scheme of other cities in the world. The Communist Party of Vietnam. commands all the political, economic, and social activities of the country, since the Party Secretariat in the city is actually the maximum leader in the place.

Administrative division

In December of 2003 the town was divided into 24 administrative regions. Since December 2005 , Ho Chi MInh City has 259 neighborhoods, 58 communes and 5 towns.

Getting Around in Ho Chi Minh City

Motorcycles are the main means of transportation in the city. Which is famous for its large number of motorcycles that are estimated at about 7 million of them. It could be said that Ho Chi Minh is the city of motorcycles.

Another means of transport available to the city is the comfortable and safe urban bus and it costs only three thousand dongs (1/5 of a dollar). There is also a taxi service.

Ho Chi Minh City is served by the main road and rail network, and also has an international airport. The city’s road system is acceptable, although many roads are damaged by potholes and some are unpaved.

From Ho Chi Minh City the South-North Highway of Vietnam leaves that leads to the capital Hanoi and to the border with China. Also from there the Highway that goes to Cambodia and Thailand departs to the west. There are many international bus companies that make routes such as Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh – Bangkok.

As a result of the city’s proximity to the Mekong Delta, there are several relevant rivers and seaports such as Port Saigon, New Port, Ben Nghe Port, and VICT Port. Through which, 40% of Vietnam’s imports-exports are carried out.

Ho Chi Minh Airport

Ho Chi Minh Airport (Saigon) from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (pronounced tan son nhat, iata code – SGN) – the largest airport in Vietnam, according to the size and size of the airport (up to 17 passengers per year). It is located approximately 6 kilometers from the city center of ho chi Minh in the city walls: just as you exit the airport, you get into residential and commercial neighborhoods of the city, a very short distance from several hotels (airport of ho chi minh on the interactive map). Most often tourists in Vietnam arrive precisely at this airport. The largest number of international flights and the lowest flight prices are offered here, and not in the capital, Hanoi International Airport.

Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City

1- War Remnants Museum

The Ho Chi Minh War Museum ( Bao Tang Chung Tich chiến tranh in Vietnamese) is one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, attracting approximately half a million visitors each year, and consists of a series of themed rooms in various buildings and with military equipment placed within a walled courtyard.

In fact, the collection of heavy war machinery is the first thing that we will see as soon as we enter its facilities, such as helicopters, fighters, tanks, bulldozers, mortars, etc … A whole collection of inventions that are only used to kill and spill blood, without plus.

The central building of the museum consists of several rooms where you can see weapons used by the US (pistols, bazocks, mortars, etc …), war propaganda posters, photos of journalists who covered the war, heartbreaking photos of the consequences of the war or images of the barbarities that were carried out (such as the May Lai massacre ).

Special mention has the room that shows the effects of the use of Agent Orange on the population, a herbicide used by the United States and devastating results that affected future generations due to its effects on the fetuses of pregnant women. You can see a tough documentary about Agent Orange  on YouTube or a fairly recent article that tells us about the deaths that Agent Orange continues to cause 40 years later .

Apart from everything related to the war with the Americans, the museum also houses many objects related to the First Indochina War that affect the French colonialists, such as the imposing guillotine that is in another room, and also a recreation of the cells where the South Vietnamese government kept its political prisoners.

A place where, even if your stomach can turn, demonstrate once again that wars are totally expendable and that they only manage to bring out the worst in human beings.

2- Cu Chi Tunnels

One of the emblems and pride of the Vietnamese is the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, in the surroundings of Ho Chi Minh , the ancient Saigon. The Cu Chi Tunnels are the faithful reflection of the resistance and tenacity of the Vietnamese people during the years of the Vietnam War against the American army and how they were key in their historic victory.

If your idea is to visit Ho Chi Minh and you want to know better the history that was lived during the war, you should not miss visiting the famous Cu Chi Tunnels.

The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of hundreds of kilometers of galleries, levels and rooms that served as a hideout for the Vietcong guerrillas in their fight against the American army. From this network of tunnels, the guerrillas launch their attacks and hide from the enemy.

The first thing that distinguishes these tunnels on your visit is how narrow and small they are. Unlike the western, the body of the Vietnamese is small and thin, which made the guerrillas move around them without problems. The Cu Chi Tunnels network is divided into floors or floors that served to create an authentic military base and a small city where about 10,000 people lived. These tunnels and galleries are a marvel of engineering as they had bathrooms, smoke outlets and air inlets to ventilate them. All this, with the extra being in the middle of the jungle and for a long time under one of the largest military bases in the American army. The asutica with which the Vietcong unfolded was such that they caused many casualties to the enemy and doubled the morale of the troops.

The visit to the tunnels consists of a small informative talk in one of the rehabilitated bunkers where you can see typical objects, weapons of war and common traps used by the Vietcong guerrillas. Of course, you can also enter some of the tunnels that have been fixed for them. In addition, you can use and shoot real fire with old weapons of war (5 usd extra to the price of the ticket)

The Cu Chi Tunnels located around 40 km from Ho Chi Minh. You can go by public bus from Estacion de Autobus (Ho Chi Minh City Bus Station) to Ben Duco (7000 vnd / 1: 30 h of trip).

The most comfortable way to go is to take a half-day excursion hired by an agency or by free on a rented motorcycle.

3- Bitexco Financial Tower

The tower was built in May 2004, designed by American architect Zapata and inaugurated on October 31, 2010. The design concept is inspired by the image of a lotus bud rising to the sky, expressing the nation’s aspiration to rise, representing a dynamic Vietnam but still preserving its identity.

Six floors of the Bitexco financial tower are leased out for shops and restaurants, although the main thing that attracts people here is not shopping, but rather views. The public observation deck on the 49th floor is connected to the lower floor by 16 high-speed elevators, which, regardless of level, can reach any floor within 35 seconds.

The tower is also famous for its Bitexco Vertical Run Sports Event. Contestants race from the ground floor lobby to the observation deck. The race, with a height of 178 meters, has its world record of 4 minutes 51 seconds – set by the champion in this type of competition – German Thomas Dold.

The Saigon Skydeck will give you breathtaking 360-degree views of the entire city and the Saigon River. Site visitors can also use stationary binoculars for a closer view. Fantastic views also open from the 50th and 51st floors, where restaurants are located, and especially at night when the capital is lit with thousands of lights. The tower regularly hosts local art exhibitions where you can buy souvenirs including textiles and Vietnamese tea.

Ticket price to the 49th floor to visit and see Saigon: 200,000VND / 9 USD per person.

Opening hours: 10:00 – 21:30 (weekends close later)

Address: No. 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, City. Ho Chi Minh City.

4- The Independence Palace

The Independence Palace was where the Vietnam War ended dramatically when tanks fell through the main gate on the morning of April 30, 1975. Today, the Independence Palace is a time capsule no different from the 1970s – a must-see destination in Ho Chi Minh City and an important stop for history buffs on the grand Vietnam tour.

How to find the Independence Palace

Places of interest within the spacious interior of the palace are extremely rare. The highlights of the Independence Palace are a command bunker with old radio equipment and the basement with strategic maps on the walls. After going out to the courtyard from the basement, there is a room full of historical photographs, heavily sprinkled with propaganda, depicting the collapse of the Kurtuluş Palace. A climb to the rooftop of the fourth floor offers beautiful views of the palace grounds as well as an old American UH-1 helicopter.

The penthouse was used as a helipad to evacuate personnel just before the palace was occupied. Before you leave the gate, take a look at the two original Russian T-54 tanks parked in the lawn, used in the seizure of the palace.

Visiting the Palace of Independence

Hours of Operation: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily The ticket window closes daily between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The palace closes sporadically for special events and VIP visits.

Entrance fee : VND 40,000 (approximately US $ 2), to be purchased at the front door prior to entry.

Visitor Dos and Don’ts: All visitors must go through security and have bags checked. Dangerous objects such as knives are not allowed. Small backpacks are allowed inside, however larger luggage must be left in security.

Do not walk on the grass or touch the screens around the palace.

5- Saigon Opera House (Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater)

An architectural landmark in itself, ho chi minh city opera houses one of the most advanced and interesting shows in Vietnam at night. Unlike other traditional Vietnamese shows, where they are trying to show the visitor traditional Vietnamese lore, A O Show front acrobatic shows traditionally conceived as a mixture, music, acrobatics, and true humor. In addition, the show constantly, and sometimes even compared to the legendary Du Soleil circus, although the levels of these two shows, of course, very different.

However, visiting this show is definitely worth it. It’s really interesting and fascinating: the artists work on the edge, and the director continually comes up with new ideas to surprise the audience.

He runs shows at night, but not every day. Learn to book in advance on the official website, where you can reserve and tickets. There are three categories of tickets of different prices, but quietly you can buy and the cheapest option – it looks good from all sides. The only exception is if it falls behind one of the pillars in the hall’s opera house instead. Before starting the show, spectators can enjoy a drink or eat ice cream. Taking, in principle, is not prohibited, but at the very moment of the presentation of the photograph, it is strictly prohibited, as this can distract the artists.

And still, many tourists answer that at the time of the presentation very worked air conditioning and simply froze in the room, so in each case you can dress in a little coat before going to the slides.

Website: http://www.aoshowsaigon.com/

How to get there: the Opera House is a 20-minute walk from the tourist area of ​​Ho Chi Minh City at 07 Cong Lam Truong Son.

6- Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater

Water puppet theater is a traditional Vietnamese art that exceeds ten centuries of tradition and is unique in the world. Therefore, if you visit Vietnam, it is a spectacle that you must witness yes or yes, or you will lose the opportunity to contemplate it again throughout your life.

The themes of the performances include the rural life of Vietnamese peasants, legends and history, simple entertainment shows, folk games, classic dramas, folk wisdom, or classic poems.

The show takes place in a pool 15 meters long by 10 meters wide (never less than 30m2) in which, at the back, there is a curtain behind which the eleven artists are, during the show. that manipulate the puppets.

Next to the pool, the choir of instruments and interpreters and narrator (a) is arranged and, during the show, colored lights accompany the representation.

Water Puppet Theater, located opposite the entrance to the Ngoc Son Temple on Hoam Kiem Lake.

The theater offers 4 performances every day of the week at 15:30, 17:00, 20:00 and 21:15; and five on Sundays, adding to the previous one at 9:30 in the morning.

The show lasts about 40 minutes and admission costs 100,000 VND (€ 3.50) for adults and 60,000 VND (€ 2.50) for children.

7- Central Post Office

The Central Post Office Ho Chi Minh City is one of those colonial buildings that make it so special to this city of southern Vietnam.

The building is located in Cong Xa Paris Square, right in the financial heart of Saigon, in the city’s 1st District. It is easy to find, as it is next to the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Saigon Central Post Office was built in the late 19th century by the prestigious architectural firm Gustave Eiffel. His last name sounds familiar to you, right?
If on the outside it is wonderful, on the inside it is surprising. It is inspired by the old train stations and the feeling of spaciousness is truly admirable. It is a very bright building thanks to the large skylights on the roof.

Eiffel wanted to pay his particular tribute to famous scientists who made advances in the field of electricity. For this reason, the columns bear the names of Franklin, Volta, or Ampère, among others.

The Vietnamese have also wanted to leave their stamp on this French colonial building, which is why the Central Post Office is presided over by a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh.

Other elements that I really liked about this place were the old maps of Vietnam and Saigon and the old postal booths.

If you are traveling in Vietnam, don’t forget to send a postcard from the Ho Chi Minh City Central Post Office. And in passing admire the beauty of the colonial architecture.

8- Ngoc Hoang Pagoda

Built-in 1909, Emperor Jade Pagoda was erected in honor of the Taoist supreme god, the King of Heaven, Ngoc Hoang. It is one of the five most important sanctuaries in Ho Chi Minh City and for some time it has also been known as the temple of the turtles, because of the small pond at the entrance. In the main room, we are greeted by an image of Ngoc Hoang flanked by his guardians. The temple is full of paper-mâché figures, all with special significance in Taoist cultures, such as the Head of Hell or the Hall of Ten Hells.

9- Vietnam History Museum

The Saigon History Museum building designed by a French architect and built-in 1956. The museum houses numerous objects and collections of Asian art, as well as some sculptures brought from Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A walk through its rooms will reveal Vietnamese history, as well as information about the different minorities that inhabit the country. We will also be able to learn about the recent history of Vietnam, from the French colonization to the last few years.

10- Giac Lam Pagoda

Giac Lam Pagoda in Binh Than District, built in the 18th century, is believed to be one of the oldest in Ho Chi Minh. This Buddhist spiritual center is surrounded by a wall that protects the gardens, where we find a small sacred tree donated by a Sri Lankan monk in 1953. The main stupa, an imposing building with 7 floors high, and with beautiful views above the city, houses a large white Buddha, one of the main attractions of this temple.

11- Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

During the French colony, at the end of the 19th century, this Catholic cathedral was built initially called the Church of Saigon and later called Notre Dame Cathedral. Its two imposing 58-meter high towers, its red brick brought from Marseille, and the windows, make it a beautiful visit. They say that in 2005, the figure of the Virgin (in marble) that is in the garden area, shed a tear down one of her cheeks and dozens of faithful gathered in the surroundings believing that they were witnessing a miracle.

12- Thien Hau Temple

Built-in the 18th century by the Cantonese community that inhabited Ho Chi Minh, Thien Hau Pagoda a Buddhist pagoda and is dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu. It is said that he saved several members of his family during a typhoon, and is in charge of protecting ships and people from the sea. The temple is accessed through a beautiful green gate and once inside we see the altar to Mazu with three statues of the goddess. In addition, on the roof, scenes of battles are observed in relief.

13- Tan Dinh Church

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Ho Chi Minh was built during the French colony in Saigon in the nineteenth century on the foundations of the first Catholic church built in wood. In Roman style, with a very striking pink facade, it is the second-largest church in the city behind the cathedral. The interior is striking because it is also painted pink and has beautiful stained glass windows.

14- Nguyen Hue Street (Ho Chi Minh City)

Nguyen Hue Street is one of the busiest streets in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a modern avenue full of the best western shops and hotels and restaurants that are considered a luxury in Vietnam.

The avenue begins with the city hall, built in the French colonial era when Saigon was the capital. It is one more part of the contrasts of this city, two blocks further south you can be lost in the middle of some alleys in the purest Chinese style and suddenly find yourself in front of this beautiful building.

In the middle of the avenue, parallel to it is the City Opera House, an emblematic building from the same period as the town hall, where works are still being performed today.

From the entire avenue, you can see the Bitexco Financial Tower skyscraper. The tallest skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City and the second in all of Vietnam after the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower in Hanoi. The Bitexco tower is considered one of the most attractive buildings in the world for its structure, simulating a lotus flower, which in Vietnam symbolizes prosperity and dynamism.

15- Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is a zoo and botanical garden located in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, located on the corner of Nguyen Binh Khiem Street and Le Duan Street.

16- Saigon River

A very good option if you are tired of walking is to take the Saigon Waterbus. It is a means of public transport that takes you along the Saigon River for a modest price of 15,000 VND per trip. It operates daily and departure times are at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:10 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. from the Bach Dang stop, in front of the Tran Estuary Square Hung Dao in District 1.

When you reach the end of your journey, it takes 1 hour to go back and the truth is that depending on where you have to get off, there is not much to see or do. Still a pretty cool local experience.

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Another thing to do in Ho Chi Minh is undoubtedly shopping. You can choose markets, shopping centers or small shops. It will depend on what you are looking for. The most interesting shopping places in Saigon are:

1- Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is the most popular market of all in Saigon.
It is located at the end of Le Loi Street, in the Quach Thi Trang roundabout with the statue of Tran Nguyen Han.
Like all Vietnamese markets, you can find all kinds of items at very cheap prices, from food (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, etc.) to clothing (fabrics, ready-made suits, and dresses, souvenir t-shirts, imitation brand clothing and accessories, etc.). As the market has become so popular and is frequented by tourists, merchants take advantage and often raise the price of things on them.
In some sections, it has very strong odors, such as dried fish, spices, smelly fruits such as durian, etc.

Opening Hours: Daily 6:00 -24:00
Location: Ben Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City

2- Vincom Center

Vincom Center A is housed in a delightful French-style period building connected to the hotel’s mainland, while Vincom Center B is right behind it, occupying the first five floors of a modern, glass-fronted skyscraper. If you are looking for international products, this should be your first stop, as this is where most of the international luxury brands have their brand stores, right in the tourist heart of the city.

Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 22:00
Address: (Un Centro Vincom) 171 Dong Khoi & (Vincom Centro B) 72 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ho Chi Minh City

3- Binh Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market)

cholon, also known as Binh Tay Market, is located on the edge of Ho Chi Minh 5 district. Great for experiencing local Buddhist culture, the market offers a vibrant atmosphere, opulent Chinese architecture, as well as a fascinating variety of handicrafts, lacquers, textiles and fresh products. There is also an outdoor food court at the back of the market where you can enjoy tasty dishes such as Vietnamese noodles, Galan (steamed bun with pork stuffing), and Chinese sausages.

4- Saigon Square

Saigon Plaza is a two-story wholesale fashion mall that offers some of the best prices in Ho Chi Minh City. Perfect for bargain hunters, there seem to be endless aisles of small stalls selling T-shirts, women’s and men’s clothing, shoes, bags, swimwear, luggage, jewelry, and textiles. While the prices on the labels may be slightly inflated, bargaining is expected, so you should never accept the opening offer. As it is also quite easy to see stalls selling similar items; Just browse around the mall before settling on a sale price that you feel comfortable with.

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 22:00
Address: 77 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

5- Diamond Plaza

Diamond Plaza is a shop located in Zone 1, surrounded by many of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular attractions, such as Notre Dame Cathedral and April 30th Park. Housed in an old-fashioned building, there are several floors of separate stores for men’s and women’s fashion, household goods, and sports equipment. After you finish shopping, there are many restaurants and entertainment venues to enjoy. In Diamond Plaza, especially family activities include bowling and cinema.

Opening hours: Daily 09:30 – 22:30
Address: 34 Le Duan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

6- A Dong Market (Handicraft Market)

A Dong Market is mostly a fashion wholesaler for the locals, but on the top floor, there are many handicraft stalls, making this one of the best places in Ho Chi Minh to buy handicrafts from the skilled artisans who practice the proud heritage of Vietnam in lacquer and woodwork. Located outside the city center, Mercado del Arte is in District 10, in the west of the city. however, it is easy to hail a taxi. It should be no more than 10 minutes from downtown Saigon. Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 14:00 Address: One Duong Vuong Street, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.

Food In Ho Chi Minh

Eating at HO CHI MINH, restaurants or street food? Well, in this post I suggest a little of both … Eating in Asian cities is always difficult and also a pleasure, you always discover new dishes and flavors, right? The options we have in old Saigon are almost endless, here are some restaurants and the busiest places to go to eat and bar.

Restaurants and Eating Venues in Ho Chi Minh

There are several areas in Ho Chi Minh where different restoration areas are concentrated. From the markets, the streets of the backpacker neighborhood, or the shopping malls.

Ben Thanh Market – Inexpensive and local food.

If you visit the market to do some shopping, don’t miss the juice stand. Take the opportunity to order some of the tropical fruits that we do not have in Spain, they are delicious! In the menu you can see all that there are incredible!

Dao Place Restaurant:
This place is just behind the Ben Thanh Market . It is a very good alternative if you want to eat in a comfortable, elegant and well decorated restaurant with air conditioning and typical Vietnamese food.

Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker area:
Here the places to drink and party are concentrated. There are also restaurants and all kinds, being a meeting point for many tourists because the choices are all kinds … Indian restaurants, Vietnamese, Mexican, Korean style BBQ … etc are also very typical street vendors motorcycle carrying all although the most common is the Vietnamese sandwich.

Street Food Stalls, eat on the street:
The “bahn mi” (the Vietnamese sandwich) is possibly the most common dish in street stalls, especially on Bùi Viện street at night. The street vendors manage it all because they go with their motorcycles-kitchen and set up the chiringuito anywhere!

Baba’s Kitchen Indian Restaurant:
This restaurant is recommended by my friend Kailos from Tremendoviaje.com. And if you like the specialties of Indian cuisine, don’t miss it! very good and well priced. Of course, for dinner, Indian food can be heavy if you are not used to it, but it is very good.

Restaurants of the Món Hue Chain:
Món Huế is a chain of restaurants in Vietnam, they have many locations. It is a kind of fast-food chain but with Vietnamese specialties. The food is, therefore, more expensive than in the street stalls but it is still cheap … the advantage is that the menu is very varied, in English and with photos. In addition, there is air conditioning, something that in street stalls is impossible.
They have a lot of locations in Ho Chi Minh, just type Mon Hue on google maps.

WHERE TO STAY IN HO CHI MINH CITY

How many days are recommended to stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in the country and is full of attractions. Not only in the city limits, but in the outskirts there are essential visits such as the Cu Chi Tunnels or the Mekong Delta.

We recommend staying in Ho Chi Minh for at least three nights to get to know the essentials of the city and take an excursion. In two days you will have enough to visit museums, markets, churches and more.Dong Khoi (District 1), the most exclusive area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City


Dong Khoi is the most famous street in Ho Chi Minh City.

It is located in District 1, the heart of the city. As a curiosity, it was already the center of glamor during the French occupation. Then it was called Rue Catinat.

The street runs through the old colonial neighborhood and runs from the Saigon Cathedral to the river. Pass by some of the most emblematic places of the city such as the Opera or the Central Post Office. It is the center of commercial life in Ho Chi Minh City. There you will find the main shop windows, luxury restaurants and, of course, its best hotels.

Sleeping in Dong Khoi has many advantages but also some disadvantages. The first thing is that sleeping there you will be close to everything . You will have a wide variety of restaurants nearby, large shopping centers such as the Saigon Center … You will not be bored! In addition, some of the best rooftops in Ho Chi Minh City are concentrated in this area . There is nothing like ending a day of sightseeing with a good cocktail in hand watching the sun go down behind the city!

Of course, keep in mind that this area is the most expensive to stay in Ho Chi Minh by far. Not only because of the location but because large 5-star hotels predominate. In addition, restaurants are also usually more expensive than in other areas, although in Ho Chi Minh you will find options for all tastes and budgets. Without a doubt, one of our favorite areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

The best hotels in Dong Khoi:
The myst dong khoi
The Reverie Saigon
Caravelle Hotel

Ben Thanh Market and surroundings (District 1), a fun area to sleep in Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market is one of the main landmarks of the city. It is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and offers all kinds of products: from fresh food to imitation clothing that looks real. If you like to haggle, we are sure that you will fill the whole suitcase!

Being such a tourist area, you will not be short of hotels to choose from . And the main advantage of sleeping in this area is that you will still be central and the hotels will cost you much less than in Dong Khoi . There are also very modern and interesting hostels for those who want to save money. The stores of the big international brands that you can find in Dong Khoi are transformed into small local businesses in Ben Thanh.

And at night the area takes on a fantastic atmosphere. Without a doubt, one of the smartest areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City . Of course, despite the fact that it is a very safe area, you have to be very vigilant about jerks from motorcycles. Once your camera or bag has been taken from you, it is almost impossible to recognize who did it as they quickly camouflage themselves with traffic.

Our recommendations in the area:
Silverland Yen Hotel
Fusion Suites Saigon
The Hammock Hotel Ben Thanh

District 3, if you are looking for a modern and cheap hotel in Ho Chi Minh

One of our favorite areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City is District 3. There you will find high-end hotels for half the price of Dong Khoi . And the location is not bad at all! In fact you will be only 15 minutes walk from the pure center . To give you a price reference, a hotel of the same style in Dong Khoi will cost you around € 200 while in District 3 you will find it for just over € 65 per night. So we think it is one of the smartest areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

In addition, District 3 is a vibrant area full of young people. Every night in and around Turtle Lake there is a lot of atmosphere. In addition to good hotels, you will also find plenty of restaurants and parks to disconnect from the hustle and bustle.

On a tourist level, district 3 also offers many attractions. For example, you will be close to the War Vestiges Museum or the beautiful pink church.

The best lodging options in District 3:
Citadines Regency Saigon
Orchids Saigon Hotel
Sila Urban Living

Pham Ngu Lao Street (District 1), the area for backpackers and lovers of nightlife in Ho Chi Minh

This street is located in the westernmost part of District 1 and is popular for being the favorite place for backpackers when it comes to staying in Ho Chi Minh City. In fact it is known as Backpacker Street . In Pham Ngu Lao you will find a lot of western restaurants, tour operators and especially cheap hostels. Everything a tourist needs! So if you have a low budget, it is one of the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

It is also one of the most touristic areas of the city. You will find a hostel every 10 meters and many try to take advantage of it to steal by jerking the motorcycle . So you have to be careful! Vietnam is a very safe country but you have to be careful with the jerks.

It is in District 1 and has a privileged location. If you like to walk, you can visit most of Ho Chi Minh City’s attractions on foot. And if you are going to party, you will find many bars with very well priced beer. Enjoy the city!

Good options in Pham Ngu Lao:
Saigon Inn
Funny Guesthouse
Full House Hostel

District 2, if you are looking for a quiet stay in Ho Chi Minh

Yes. Even in Ho Chi Minh City you can have a peaceful stay. Despite the chaotic traffic in the city, there are areas where one can breathe a bit of tranquility . And one of them is District 2.

In this area, on the other side of the river, you can find quiet and simple resorts . The main advantage of this district is that you will be only 6 kilometers from the center but in some accommodations you will have the feeling of being in a heavenly place due to its tranquility.

The hotel offer is not very large since it is not an attractive area at a tourist level. That has some advantages, especially where the price is concerned . It is one of the cheapest areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition, the traffic is not as chaotic as in the city center, so you can be calmer.

In addition, you will only be about 20 minutes by taxi from the city center. Depending on where you stay in District 1 or 3, you can already lose this time when you return to the hotel to do half the distance. The good thing about District 2 is that there is hardly any congestion.

However, there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of. In general it is a rather boring district. There is not much entertainment or tourist attractions. So if you’re into partying, it’s not one of the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City . This district is home to many elderly expats seeking a quieter life in ancient Saigon.

The best hotels in District 2:
Villa Song Saigon
Saigon Riverside Retreat
Greenwood Villa Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City Safety

Ho Chi Minh is generally a safe city, as safe as other similar cities around the world.

Violent crime is rare, but theft, assault, and harassment have started lately, often with weapons.

However, the most common risk for tourists remains a petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and theft of valuables, which generally do not involve violence of any kind.

One of the common problems in Vietnam is theft from motorcycles.

This usually involves motorcycle thieves snatching pedestrians’ bags, cell phones, cameras, and jewelry.

They especially target foreigners, and it occurs mainly in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Nha Trang, and it is a crime committed so regularly that even Vietnamese locals are frequently targeted.

Thefts of valuables left on popular beaches are also sadly common.

Never leave your purse or anything of value unattended on the beaches.

In hotel rooms, including five-star ones, there have been reports of stolen things, such as wallets, cameras, mobile phones, and jewelry, so put everything of value in a safe.

Tourists should avoid fighting and yelling of any kind because the people of Vietnam think that yelling is an insult, and in such situations, you never know what your reaction will be.

As for the streets, they are generally safe, but there are areas to be avoided, such as parts of cities full of clubs and bars, which are usually packed with suspicious people.

Sexual assaults and robberies are more likely in these places, so be careful and avoid these places late at night.

Avoid buying alcoholic beverages from street vendors as they may not be authentic, and be aware that medicines in Vietnam can contain toxic and life-threatening ingredients.

Useful information About Ho Chi Minh

  • Visas: All US citizens who want to visit Vietnam must apply for a tourist visa and no earlier than six months before your scheduled departure date. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the date of your return.
  • Currency: The Vietnamese Dong is the official currency of Ho Chi Minh. We recommend exchanging money at larger post offices, banks, or hotels. Airports also offer a convenient exchange rate.
  • Health: The public health system in the city is more or less developed with a network of around 100 public hospitals and health centers and a dozen private clinics. The Chợ Rẫy Hospital, with some 1,400 beds, was modernized with Japanese technology and sponsored by the French Institute of Cardiology to become one of the most modern in the Indochinese peninsula. Hoa Hao Diagnosis Medical Center and FV Hospital have recently attracted many domestic and foreign clients due to their high technological level. Many of the patients seen come from different parts of Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Education: The scope of education in the city is quite broad with a total of 76 universities and colleges. The National University of Vietnam is based in Ho Chi Minh City, which is the most important educational center in the south of the country and also has associated a group of universities among which are, the University of Natural Sciences, the University of Social Sciences, the University of Technology, the International University and the recently created University of Technological Information.
  • Culture: It is a city with many great cultural centers, the most popular being the Museum of the Revolution, the Municipal Museum, the Museum of the remains of the war, etc. The city is also home to hundreds of cinemas and theaters with functions that manage to maintain themselves solely from ticket sales and do not require an official subsidy. The city is also home to private film companies in which it is the first in the country.
  • Travel Insurance: Like anywhere else, we recommend you take out travel insurance when you travel to Ho Chi Minh, as it would cover not only medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.