Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly “Saigon,” is a testament to Vietnam’s growth and diversity. Here, ancient tradition and rapid modernization meet. The French colonial history of 1859 still echoes through Architectural marvels. Vietnamese charm emerges from hidden alleyways and bustling streets, bursting with local flavors and the dynamic spirit of Vietnam’s most populous metropolis.
“The Pulse of Southern Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City’s Dazzling Melting Pot”
Ho Chi Minh
Discover the Notre Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, and Ben Thanh Market among Ho Chi Minh City’s blend of historical and modern landmarks.View All
Enhance your visit with guided tours that reveal hidden stories and local insights. Book with Vietnam Is Awesome for an unforgettable city journey.View All
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Travel Inspiration & Local Legends
Ho Chi Minh Handbook: Essential Travel Tips
When is the Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh?
Visit from December to April for the best weather — warm and dry. The city experiences a tropical climate with a distinct rainy season from May to November.
A. Getting to Vietnam
Flying is the most convenient way to reach Vietnam. The two main international airports are Hanoi (Noi Bai Airport) for adventures starting in the North and Saigon Ton Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City) for trips starting in the South. For a budget adventure, you can also take an overland bus from Cambodia, Laos, or Thailand to Southeast Asia.
B. How to get to Ho Chi Minh City
Unlike most airports in big cities, Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport is right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Catching a taxi or using a ridesharing service, you’ll get to your hotel from the airport in no time. Be careful to only use metered taxis called “Vina Sun” (white) or “Mai Linh” (green) to avoid getting ripped off.
C. How to get around in Ho Chi Minh City
Navigate easily using taxis or ride-sharing apps like Grab, Xanh SM, Be (best for the airport), or GoJek. Learn all about how to get around Saigon with our helpful guide.
Before You Go: Visa, Currency, Timezone, Voltage, ATMs, Credit Cards, Internet, SIM Cards, Tips
- Visa: Check visa requirements based on your nationality. Learn more about getting a Vietnam Visa before visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
- Timezone: Vietnam is in the Indochina Time Zone (ICT), UTC+7.
- Voltage: Standard voltage in Vietnam is 220V with outlets accepting plugs A, C, and F. If you’re from Europe, Japan, or the Americas, your plugs will work fine. Otherwise, you’ll need an adapter. Many outlets in Vietnam only have two holes and don’t accept three-pronged plugs.
- Internet: Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, cafes, convenience stores, and smaller shops in Ho Chi Minh City. However, purchasing a local SIM card with a data package at the airport is easy, inexpensive, and highly recommended.
- SIM Cards: You can easily purchase SIM cards for data and calls at the airport or local stores. Note that you’ll need to provide your passport to get a SIM. Viettel, Mobifone, and VinaPhone are the best mobile networks for Ho Chi Minh City and most parts of Vietnam.
- Currency: Vietnam uses the Vietnamese Dong (VND). VND only comes in bills (no coins), and 1 USD equals about 24,000 VND (commonly abbreviated as 24k). Some shops catering to tourists may accept USD, but most only take VND.
- Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted at large businesses like hotels, indoor restaurants, or upscale shopping venues, but smaller enterprises usually only take cash.
- ATMs: You’ll rarely be further than a few blocks from an ATM in Ho Chi Minh City, even in the less touristy districts. However, it’s always best to have some cash on you to buy from local vendors. Most of the city’s ATMs accept foreign cards. Make sure to notify your bank before you travel to Vietnam to avoid blocked ATM transactions.
- Tipping: Vietnam is not a tipping culture, so a tip is not expected. A tip is a good way to bring a smile to someone’s face, though. Note that cab drivers and tour guides often rely on some tipping, so it’s a good idea to tip them.
Understanding Culture & Customs in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is known for its dynamic blend of traditional and modern influences. While it’s more cosmopolitan and contemporary than other areas, local traditions and customs still hold significant importance. It’s important to respect local customs, such as polite communication and modest dress, especially when visiting religious sites.
Common Questions about
Ho Chi Minh City
As the largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has accommodations to suit every budget and taste. A few of the most popular include Hotel Grand Saigon or the Rex Hotel for luxury stays, Jan Hostel Central Point or Hotel L’Odeon for cozier B&B-style stays, or Little Saigon Boutique or Bob Bui Vien for budget stays. For a greater selection, browse our guide on good hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.
From the Michelin Star-winning Anan Saigon to the scores of delicious offerings on Street Food streets like Ho Thi Ky or Xom Chieu, Saigon is home to hundreds of fantastic eateries. You can find whatever you want, from Southern Vietnamese specialties like hu tieu, banh mi, and broken rice to world-class international cuisine. Look up details about specific restaurants in our guide to restaurants and street food hotspots in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City is known for being Vietnam’s largest and most vibrant city. Its bustling street life, modern skyline, progressive population, and lively nightlife make it a “city that never sleeps” in the same vein as New York City, Tokyo, or Bangkok.
Take a day tour of Ho Chi Minh City to explore all its most iconic landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market, take a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, or take a day tour of the local Cu Chi Tunnels. These are just a few of Saigon’s dozens and dozens of activities, some relaxing and some adventurous.
Some tourist-oriented services like hotels and packaged tours offered by local agencies may be cheaper from March through November when the weather tends to be hotter or rainier, and there are fewer tourists. However, prices in Saigon do not fluctuate as much as they do in much of Vietnam as long as you don’t come in the few weeks leading up to the Tet holiday.
Hailing a car or a motorbike on ridesharing apps like Grab, Be, Gojek, and Xanh SM are the most convenient ways to get around Ho Chi Minh City. Taxis are more expensive and are more likely to scam you, the traffic is often too intense to walk around on foot, and the public bus system is reliable but slow. A metro will also open in Ho Chi Minh City in 2024.
The optimal time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is between December and February when the weather is cooler and less humid. This period coincides with major celebrations like Christmas, New Year’s, and the Tet Holiday, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year, offering a vibrant cultural experience. Be aware that these months are popular among tourists, so expect larger crowds and possibly higher prices.
2-4 days is suitable if you only want to see the city’s main attractions, markets, and temples. 5-7 days is preferable if you have time, as it will allow you to learn about the city’s culture by visiting museums or taking a photography tour. An extended trip will also give you time to visit attractions near the town on a journey like a half-day Cu Chi Tunnels Tour.