Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the largest and most chaotic city in Vietnam. It is the business and financial center of Vietnam, with a prominent history that goes back hundreds of years. It is a city with a billion things at the same time. The city has a lot to offer: beautiful shops, fantastic nightlife, good museums and delicious food. You can read all about it in this Ho Chi Minh City travel guide.

5 reasons to visit Hanoi

  1. Learn more about the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels
  2. Feel the energy of the city from a rooftop bar
  3. Enjoy the most wonderful local dishes in the striking restaurants and street stalls
  4. Take advantage of the convenient location of the city to discover the Mekong Delta
  5. Explore the markets and off the beaten track lanes behind a motorcycle

Practical information

In short

Region

South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City province

Number of residents

8,859,688

Recommended travel days

2 days

Vietnamese name

Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Best travel time

  • February: Hardly any rain, the least humidity and a city full of flowers for the Tet parties.
  • March: Little rain and humidity.
  • December: December is cooler than normal for HCMC and relatively dry.

Money

Money money exchanges and gold traders at Ben Thanh Market are the first choice of locals and visitors when it comes to currency exchange.

Local events and holidays

  • Tet New Year (first day of the first lunar month) – The city is partying or back to their home town. Ð Nguyen Hue has a large flower exhibition.
  • Saigon Cyclo Challenge (mid-March) – Professional and amateur cyclists find out who is the fastest; the money raised is donated to local charities that support underprivileged children.

What to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City

Best things to do

With streets full of French colonial buildings and a constant buzz, Ho Chi Minh City has rewarding sights for temple and museum visitors, market lovers, history junkies, architecture fans, park enthusiasts or just anyone who wants to see Vietnam’s most economically vibrant city in action.

1. Cu Chi Tunnels
Part of a huge war museum in Ho Chi Minh. They offer visitors a glimpse into the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers during the war.

2. War Remnants Museum
A shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam war. Graphic photos and American military equipment can be seen. There is a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter aircraft, a single-seat attack aircraft.

3. French colonial buildings
Everywhere in the country you will find traces of the French colonial era. The best known in this city are Saigon Central Post Office, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and the Saigon Opera House.

4. Streetfood tour achter op scooter
The best streed food in Vietnam can be found here. With a streedfood tour you sit on the back of the scooter and travel like a true local from place to place to try the best food.

5. Nightlife
The best going out of Vietnam; a cheap drink in Bui Vien Street, backpacker street, sweep up a club, enjoy a rooftop bar view or watch a traditional show at the opera house.

6. Reunification Palace
The base of the Vietnamese general until his death in 1963. It became world famous in 1975 when a tank from the North Vietnamese army drove through the main gate and ended the Vietnam war.

7. Bitexco Financial Tower
De Sky Deck of this building is 262 meters high and offers amasing views of the city from the Sky Deck.

8. Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Voor een van de beste plekken van het sociale en dating leven in de stad. Duizenden mensen mengen zich hier in de avond en genieten van een koele avond in het centrum, omringd door een indrukwekkende architectuur.

9. Markets
You can experience the daily life of the local population here. The two best-known markets are Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market.

10. Saigon river
Take a boat trip on the river; in the evening you can take a dinner cruise, during the day you can take a boat trip to the secret city canals where the locals live, or longer day trips to the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong Delta.

Most popular activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Favorited experiences, day trips and tours in Ho Chi Minh City booked by fellow travellers.

Saigon Half Day City Tour

Saigon City Tour half day

$25.00
  • Visit the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Comfortable transportation with AC
  • Lean more about the history and culture from English speaking guide

Authentic Mekong Delta tour (My Tho)

$53.00
  • Exploring a peaceful Island– hardly visited by other tourists.
  • Taking a bicycle and motorcycle to discover the countryside.
  • Rowing sampan along the wonderful canal without tourist.
  • Visit some local coconut workshops.
Cu Chi Tunnels tour by speedboat

Cu Chi Tunnels tour by speedboat

$76.00
  • Skip the traffic and enjoy a boat cruise with great views.
  • Learn more about the Vietnam War
  • Crawl through the tunnels and see traps.
diner cruise Ho Chi Minh City over the Saigon river

Diner cruise on the Saigon River

$36.00
  • Enjoy delicious dinner with set menu.
  • Great views over the sky line of the city.
  • Traditional music performances.
  • Pick up and drop off at hotel.
Mekong Delta by speedboat

Mekong Delta by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City

$97.00
  • Speedboat is the best way to go to the Mekong Delta and skip the traffic
  • Discover the smaller canals of the delta by rowing sampan.
  • Learn more about local life by walking and biking through villages and orchards.

Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City

Where to stay

District 1 – Always try to find a hotel in the center (district 1). From here you are close to the sights, many restaurants and places to go out. In addition, day tours guarantee a pick-up service from district one. Due to its popularity, District 1 offers a range of accommodation options, ranging from five-star hotels along chic Dong Khoi Street to budget hostels in Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Street.

Best hotels & hostels in Ho Chi Minh City

Budget hotels & hostels

  • Hangout Hostel HCM
  • The Hideout
  • Vietnam Inn Saigon
  • The Like Hostel & Cafe
  • Long Hostel

Mid range hotel

  • A&Em Art Hotel
  • The Hammock Hotel Ben Thanh
  • Triip Boutique Ben Thanh Hotel
  • C Central Hotel
  • Cititel Parkview Saigon Hotel

High end hotel & resort

  • Grand Hotel Saigon
  • Sedona Suites Orchid Tower
  • Muong Thanh Saigon Centre Hotel
  • Rex Hotel Saigon
  • Novotel Saigon Centre Hotel

Food & drinking

Restaurants

It may be a controversial claim, but this city is the culinary capital of Vietnam. It offers the best of the delicious regional cuisine of the country, the north and the center, a lively street food scene and some fantastic international eateries. If you love food, this is one of the best cities in Asia.

Local restaurants

  • Nha Hang Ngon
  • Vo Roof Garden
  • The Garlik De Tham Restaurant
  • The Deck Saigon
  • Hum Vegetarian, Lounge & Restaurant

Fine dining

  • Bun Cha 145 Bui Vien
  • Cyclo Resto
  • Bep Me In
  • Royal Saigon Restaurant Bui Vien
  • 4Ps Pizza Saigon

Nightlife

You can find the best nightlife of Vietnam in this city. The hippest rooftop bars, trendy clubs and lively live music bars, traditional shows and the local beer drinking scene on low plastic seats.

1. Bui Vien Street
2. Rooftop bars
3. Food tour
4. Pub Crawl
5. Dinner cruise

6. Clubbing
7. Live music bars
8. Ben Thanh Night Market
9. Show in Opera House
10 Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Transportation

How to get there?

Plane

The constantly growing network of domestic flights from Vietnam connects Ho Chi Minh City with every other major city in the country, which is good news for visitors with limited time. The prices are reasonable, and flying to places such as Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang and DaLat saves a lot of time.

Bus

The cheapest way to or from another city in Vietnam to / from Ho Chi Minh City is by bus. The bus to Dalat takes around 7 hours ($ 11- $ 15) and Nha Trang 22 hours ($ 10- $ 20). You can buy bus tickets everywhere at travel agencies in the city center or at your hotel / hostel. There are also buses to Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta, although it can often be more convenient for the Mekong to explore this area by tour.

Train

Trains to northern Vietnam start from Saigon Train Station. The train to Nha Trang takes around 6.5 hours ($ 14- $ 32).

How to get around?

Walking – Most of the sights are in the center nearby. A great way to explore the city is on foot.

Car and motorbike – Check with almost every hotel, tourist café or travel agency to arrange car rental. Don’t forget that the rent also includes a driver, because it is illegal for foreigners to drive in Vietnam without a Vietnamese driver’s license.

Taxi – Taxi with meter drive through the streets. The price is around 12,000d for the first kilometer; expect to pay around 25,000d (US $ 1) from Dong Khoi to Pham Ngu Lao. Use Mai Linh Taxi and Vinasun Taxi. An even better alternative is Grab (similar to Uber).

Itinerary 2 days Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1

Take a city tour and explore sights such as Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Take a food tour on the back of the motorcycle in the evening.

Day 2

In the morning take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Can be combined with cao dai temple. In the afternoon explore Chinatown. In the evening take a river cruise with dinner. Finish the day at a rooftop bar.