Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam named after the late communist leader Ho Chi Minh, who led the nation against both France and the U.S.A. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has been historically a political and administrative centre of Vietnam. Today Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a rapidly developing, dynamic, and the economic capital of Vietnam. It is perhaps the heart and soul of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

The bustling industrious centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam also harbors the ancient traditions and culture of Vietnam and bears the influences of French colonial rule. Life in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam resides in the city streets, markets, shops, pavement cafés and vendors selling their goods on the sidewalks.

Besides soaking in the rich culture and ethos of Vietnam on the streets, the visitors are also offers a number of tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of these are.

 Saigon, the second largest city in Vietnam and its economic center, is an electric and vibrant city of 8-million inhabitants. Swarms–literally–of bicycles, motorbikes, Pedi-cabs (called ‘cyclos’ in Vietnam) and other vehicles move in vast waves as if in a prearranged ballet of motion, constant animation and seeming chaos. Originally founded by the French in 1863, its now well worn French colonial veneer hints at times past while throbbing to rhythms and beats of the modern era. If only for a day, Saigon is a must see city for any visit to Vietnam.

Originally established as a Khmer trading post, more than 300 years ago, Ho Chi Minh City was destined for greater things. By the 18th century, the city, then named Saigon, had become the provincial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. However, in the second half of the 19th century, control over the city passed to the French, and Saigon became the capital of French Cochinchina. This was a period of much infrastructural and architectural development, during which Saigon earned the epithet, “Paris of the Orient.” Many buildings of this era are in good condition even today. In 1954, the city was proclaimed the capital of South Vietnam. The ensuing war with the US lasted until 1975, when North Vietnam took over Saigon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.

Today, under growing economic and cultural liberalization, the city has entered a period of modernization and is constantly evolving and reinventing itself. Populated by an estimated 8 million people, the city is rapidly becoming the hub of manufacturing, entertainment, and cuisine in Vietnam. Upscale restaurants and cafe  offering a range of international delicacies are opening every day, while bars, clubs, and discos are at the center of a thriving nightlife. The best place to catch the action is Dong Khoi. Attracting many tourists, the area is home to historical buildings and museums, sophisticated shops, and roadside cafes, as well as people of all ages zipping around noisily on motorbikes that often cause gridlock on the streets.

What to do? Saigon has various attractions such as the Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Reunification Palace, the China town, Cu Chi Tunnels, museums, theatres and cultural houses, shopping centers, etc… Recently, local tourist areas including Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa also draw the interest of visitors. In addition, Saigon is a good starting point for excursions to the Mekong delta or nearby beaches of Phu Quoc, Phan Thiet (Mui Ne), Vung Tau, Long Ha.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market

When to go?

Generally, the climate in Saigon is hot and humid with an annual average temperature of 27 Degree Celcious. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season (May to November) and the dry season (December to April next year. The hottest month is April and coolest is December. It is possible to visit Vietnam and Saigon in winter for the best weather, avoiding the monsoon (May to October). But be prepared for humid conditions throughout the year, especially in the south. The best month is January.

Travel Tips:

Vietnam has its fair share of pickpockets, especially in large cities like Saigon and Hanoi. Thus, always keep an eye on your valuables or better to leave them at hotel before going out. Sometimes while traveling, a desperate beggar or street vendor suddenly grabs your arm, then follow you to ask for money or sell their stuffs. Please do not offer money to them; instead donate to a local charity. For the traffic, when crossing the road, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly.

Ho Chi Minh City

Pickpockets in Saigon

Exploring Ho chi Minh City

The most prominent area in the city is around Dong Khoi Street in District 1, boasting fashionable shops, museums, and fine dining. It also features examples of French-colonial structures, such as the Municipal Theater, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the General Post Office. To the north are sprawling residential areas and the historic Jade Emperor Pagoda, known for its exquisite architecture and ornate carvings. To the west lies Cho Lon or China Town, home to the ethnic Chinese or Hoa this is the best place to find herbs, traditional Chinese medicines, and the other goods, as well as some of the city’s most ancient pagodas.

Ho Chi Minh City

General Post Office

Saigon Weather

Located on the southeastern part of Vietnam, on the right bank of River Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon has a tropical climate. Its location being very close to the sea, climate of the city steadily varies from warm to hot through out the yea.
There are mainly two seasons in this city. The rainy season starts from May and lasts till late November. Downpour becomes heavy from June to August. However the showers are usually sudden and stay for a brief period. So even during the rainy season reappearance of Sun occurs fairly quickly. The average rainfall of the city is around 1,800 mm.
Temperature goes down a bit from December to April. This particular time period is considered as the dry season. The average temperature during the dry season stays around 28 degree Celsius. The temperature may rise upto 39 degree Celsius around noon during late April. However it may drop below 16 degree Celsius during the morning hours in late December.
July to November is the time for typhoons.
The average humidity of the Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon is around 80 percent.
April is the hottest month of the city. On the other hand December is the coolest one.
However in general the climate of the Ho Chi Minh city is hot and humid.

Music Clubs & Theaters in Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Club

By bus in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Bus

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 – just 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 or read Vietnamese. If you cannot find your way, ask the locals nicely, they will try their best to help. A piece of paper and marker pen may help to ease the conversation.

The buses are efficient and fast. Most are staffed by two employees: the driver and the fare collector. The driver keeps the bus moving while the fare collector interacts with the passengers. 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 Ho Chi Minh City; 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, which is considerably less that $1) and safer than many of the alternatives. The biggest problem is that when you get off the bus, you become a pedestrian (see below).

For those who aren’t staying in Ho Chi Minh City very long, or want to save some time the Vietnam transfer service will take you to the famous places in Ho Chi Minh City. Price is from 15,000-75,000 dong, including the tour guide and the information in English.

Sleep in Ho Chi Minh City

There are plenty of nice and reasonably priced local hotels available for tourists as well as the very expensive international chains like Sheraton and Hyatt. Do take note (especially lonely male travelers) that most hotels do not allow you to bring back a local female companion to stay overnight. Inquire about their ‘guest privileges’. Many of the non-international chain properties (that are very nice) do allow guests.

For Hotel Scams see also the Scams section.

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Hotel

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Popular Destinations

Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city of Vietnam, is its economic and as some say, its tourism capital. This bustling city is the most densely populated city in Vietnam. The City’s status as commercial capital has not taken away anything from its cultural roots. The timelessness of tradition and its ancient culture is still as much a part of the city as it was in the yester years.

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon People

The city streets are a lively scene. They are a dizzying jumble of street markets, shops, pavement cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendors selling wares spread out on sidewalks. From DVDs to street snacks everything is sold by the pavement vendors and the air in the markets is always charged with excitement.

Popular tourism destinations in from Saigon – Ho Chi Min City include the Vietnam History Museum; the grisly War Remnants Museum. Nearby is Cholon, the Chinese District, with its pagodas and exotic markets. The food in Ho Chi Minh City is some of the best Vietnam has to offer, its nightlife is rocking, and the shopping to die for! The city is also an excellent starting point for excursions to southern destinations including the Mekong Delta, the Cu Chi Tunnels, and Vung Tao beaches.

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Tour

Vietnam Tours

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