Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city is thriving with liveliness. This city has been revamped into a modern, active and hip metropolis.
Climate: Tropical wet and dry
Currency: Dong (VND)
Official Language(s): Vietnamese
Before you Arrive
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Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the largest airport in Vietnam. It is located 6 km north of Ho Chi Minh's city centre. When arriving at the aiport you have two options; taxi or bus.
Taxis are pretty cheap, but a lot of taxi drivers will try to rip you off. The only taxi company I used while in Ho Chi Minh was Vinasun. Make sure to ask for the meter, as it is cheaper. The toll, which is around 15.000 vnd is also added to your total. The taxi ride should take between 15--25 mins depending on traffic.
The other option is the bus, which is always the cheaper way. From the airport buses 152 or 109 go to the city centre. Bus 152 costs 5.000 vnd ($0.30 cad) and will drop you off at Ben Thanh market. Bus 109 costs 20.000 vnd ($1.20 cad) and also drops you off right in the city centre.
There are many ways to get around Ho Chi Minh city; buses, cyclos, motorbikes/motorbike taxi, walking and taxis are the most common way. A lot of backpackers actually rent motorbikes to get around because its super cheap. They are actually quite dangerous sound I wouldn't recommend it. Most attractions are pretty close so I would suggest either walking or taking a cyclo. If you are walking, crossing the street can be a horific nightmare. There are no crosswalk signals you just half to walk, or run, across the street when it looks the safest.
If you ask me, I would say Vietnam is safe compared to the Western world. However, my Vietnamese friend told me it was dangerous. From my experience there was next a time where I felt unsafe. I think if you are conscious of your surrounds I think you should be fine. Stick your money in your front pockets, bra, shoe or where ever will be the safest.
What to See
Ho Chi Minh is a pretty modern city with an abundance of French colonial monuments. Make sure to head over to Ho Chi Minh Square--which is a historic area. For an amazing view of the city visit the Bitexco Financial Tower or OMG Rooftop Bar. If you are looking to grub visit Ben Thanh street food market.
Also visit Saigon Opera House, Cu Chi Tunnels and Ba Thien Hau Temple.
Where to Stay
There are hostels everywhere in this city. I stayed at the Saigon Youth Hostel which was right in the city centre and the best place to stay. Any hostel around Pham Ngu Lao Street is a great place to be because it's the backpacker district. Here you will find tons of bars and restaurants. Most sites are walkable from this area as well.
Nha Trang-- Located 1 hour away from HCMC, by plan, is the beautiful city of Nha Trang. This coastal city is famous for their beaches and coral reef. If you need a break from the city make your way here.
Mekong Delta-- Mekong Delta is the most famous swamplands in southern Vietnam. Boats are the only way to get to islands within the Mekong. Here you can experience the rural lifestyle of those who live along the Delta.
Phu Quoc-- Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is a gorgeous Vietnamese island known for having white sand beaches. If that doesn't sell you I don't know what else will.