- Located in Southern Vietnam
- The economic and financial hub of Vietnam
- Size: 2,061 km²
- Population: approx 8.9 million
Q&A About Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is located in the south, thus it experiences tropical weather. It offers travelers two reasons: rain and dry. The best time to explore this vibrant city is during the dry season, from December to April. Visiting the city during these months, you can avoid the heavy showers, the burning sun as well as the high heat.
HCMC is a really cool destination in Vietnam. It offers travellers abundant experiences, from exploring the historic sites, iconic buildings to learning about the mix of culture from the local, Chinese and French. So we recommend staying for at least 4 days in the city, and 2-3 days to sightsee other regions that are in the proximity, such as Cu Chi and the towns in Mekong Delta.
You can reach your destination within HCMC by different means of transport – on foot, bicycle, scooter, taxi or bus.
If you wish to discover the centre, you can simply walk around. A number of important sites are located right in the central area, and can all be reached after 10 mins walking.
You can also travel by scooter. It’s actually the most local way to see the city. It is easy to rent a scooter here, but you should only do so when you’re familiar with the traffic in Southeast Asian cities. It can be chaotic, yet in a very organized way. Make sure to always watch out for before crossing the road or turning onto another street if driving on your own!
For taxis, check beforehand and deal with the driver to get the right price. This is not common but a few of them may try to take advantage of tourists. Another way is to book a car using Grab, Bee or Gojek, these are common apps for the locals.
HCMC is one of the best places to eat authentic Vietnamese food. The food in the south has a sweeter flavour compared to the ones in the north or the central region. Besides the Vietnamese dishes, a number of the dishes are actually originated from Chinese food and adjusted to match the taste of the locals.
As you’ve got a bite of the food, we are certain you can’t stop until the dish is empty. We recommend beginning your foodie tour with Banh Mi, then Com Tam (broken rice), Sup Cua (crab soup), Bun Rieu, Bun Bo, Hu Tieu Nam Vang, Banh Canh Cua, Banh Xeo, Bot Chien (fried rice cake), etc. Most of these dishes can be easily found on the streets of HCMC.
If Hanoi offers tourists with a list of ancient historic sites from a thousand years ago, impressive temples and pagodas, as well as French buildings, HCMC is home to old buildings from the French and American colonization eras, expansive malls and skyscrapers.
To learn about this city’s history, you can visit the Unification Palace (formerly Independence Palace), the Central Post Office, The War Remnant Museum, the City Hall, the Opera House.
Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tan Market are two famous markets where you can tour around to see the locals shopping for their food and necessity items. Not only that, there are food stalls which you can stop and fill your appetite.
Head to the Bitexco Tower and Landmark 81 – HCMC’s tallest building. These two skyscrapers are the best places to get a panoramic view of the vibrant city.
HCMC is known as ‘the city that never sleeps’, so it’s no surprise that it has the best nightlife in the country. The city has a large number of bars and nightclubs, as well as live music bars and coffee shops that open 24 hours!
Bui Vien Street is probably the most famous place when talking about the nightlife in HCMC. The street is lined up with many shops and stalls where you can have a few cups of beer, delectable street food and watch the crowds of people who also come here to enjoy the night.
If you’re looking to party in style, District 1’s rooftop bars and swanky nightclubs stay open until 03:00 or later, offering excellent service, dance tunes, and well-dressed crowds. On the other hand, Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 5 is for those who prefer pubs, live music bars and casual ambiance.
The most popular place to visit from HCMC is the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the war with the Americans. The design and structure of this complex system have wowed the world and played a huge role in the fight against US soldiers. The underground space was divided into different rooms, from the kitchen, bedroom, to the surgery room, also with lots of traps set up to prevent the enemies from coming down and getting to important parts of the tunnel system.
Next are the towns in Mekong Delta, such as Ben Tre or Can Tho, which are only about 2-3 hours driving from the city. Coming here, tourists usually continue their journey by embarking on a boat to sightsee the floating markets, the villages on small islands and local orchards, where they may try the fresh fruits planted by the locals.
Furthermore, tourists can travel from HCMC to places with idyllic beaches such as Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island and Vung Tau. These cities boast some of the country’s most beautiful and unspoiled beaches.
You can say that HCMC is the shopping heaven in Vietnam. From shops that sell cheap items to luxury brands and huge shopping malls, they all gather in this city.
Take a look at the shops in the local market such as Binh Tay Market, An Dong Market, Ben Thanh Market. Here you can tour around the stalls first and see what catches your eyes. Since you are in the market, it’s a good place to test your bargain skills to get the best price. Our advice is to try to get a lower price, but not too low to keep everyone happy. And if you’re not satisfied with the price, it is ok to say ‘Thank you!’ and walk away.
If you are shopping for luxury brands, head to Vincom Center Landmark 81, Diamond Plaza and Parkson Plaza. These spacious malls are where the most well-known brands with high-end products gather.
The first thing that requires your full attention is the traffic, especially if this is your first time in a city in Southeast Asia. Since it’s the most populated city in Vietnam, the roads are filled with scooters and cars, some of which may travel at a high speed. So make sure you use the pedestrian crossing when getting to the other side of the road, or in case there’s none, look both ways before crossing. And if you are riding a scooter, only do so when you are familiar with the traffic and don’t go over the speed limits!
Another thing is to watch out for your valuable items like mobile phones, watch, wallets, or your bag. Despite HCMC is a quite safe city, there are still thieves whose target is tourists. Therefore, it’s important to keep valuable items hidden from them or you can keep certain things in the safe in your hotel room.
The Fine Arts Museum is an interesting space to start your exploration of the local art. It was once where one of the wealthiest families in HCMC called home. After that, you can head to Saigon Outcast, Galerie Quynh, The Factory and Craig Thomas Gallery. These places are located close to each other so you can check them out without travelling distance.
Bucket List for Ho Chi Minh City
Visit the popular attractions
Experience the city nightlife
Explore Cu Chi Tunnels
Try the local dishes
Embark on a trip to see Mekong Delta
Fun Facts About Ho Chi Minh City
- Since the end of the war, the name Saigon was changed to Ho Chi Minh City. Yet most locals still refer to the city by its former name.
- It is the most modern city in Vietnam. HCMC has experienced rapid development and seen remarkable growth in the number of skyscrapers and shopping malls all around the city.
HCMC has the second-highest motorbike ownership in the world, only after Taiwan. Around 1.5 million motorbikes enter Ho Chi Minh City every day.
- The musical Miss Saigon has been produced in 25 countries, 12 languages and 256 cities.
- HCMC has a rich coffee culture, where you can get a cup of coffee for a price range from 5,000 VND – 70,000 VND.