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Ho Chi Minh City: The top tips for traveling on a budget in 2024

07/01/2024 53.340

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, has long been the cultural, economic and political center of Vietnam. Also, it is a well-known tourist destination that you should not leave out of your travel list.

Ho Chi Minh City

When mentioning Ho Chi Minh City, people immediately think about a bustling atmosphere around the clock. Not only is it the largest economic center in Vietnam but it is also the leading entertainment paradise for tourists from everywhere. This article will thoroughly reveal all necessary information about Ho Chi Minh City that you need to know before traveling.

1. About Ho Chi Minh City

Nearly 1,730 kilometers away from Hanoi Capital to the North, Ho Chi Minh City is located in the center of the Southeast and the Southwest regions. It is the most populous urban area which is more dynamic than any other city in Vietnam. Among Southeast Asian countries, it stands out as an international gateway because it lies at the international crossroads of some important maritime routes. Ho Chi Minh City's postal code is 700000. 

Ho Chi Minh City

In addition, Ho Chi Minh City is a traffic hub which connects each province in the region with one another. Specifically, to the North and the Northwest, it borders Binh Duong Province and Tay Ninh Province in turn. Also, it is contiguous to Dong Nai Province to the East and Northeast, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province to the Southeast, Long An Province and Tien Giang Province to the West and Southwest.

With the favorable conditions, Ho Chi Minh plays an important role as the economic locomotive of the country as well as a place to attract a large amount of foreign investment capital. Also, with a history of over 300 years, Saigon has great potential for tourism development thanks to its many ancient architectural works, historic monuments and rich cuisine.

Ho Chi Minh City

2. Ho Chi Minh City's weather

Characterized by the tropical monsoon and sub-equatorial climate, Ho Chi Minh City has two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.

The rainy season takes place from May to November with an average annual rainfall of 1,979 millimeters. During this period, it rains almost every afternoon but the rain does not last long and the sky becomes clear quickly. Sometimes, you can see sunshine and rainfall at the same time while the sky is still blue. Visiting the city at that time, you should bring raincoats or umbrellas in case it rains suddenly.

Ho Chi Minh City

Meanwhile, the dry season lasts from December to April with an average annual temperature of 27.55 degree Celsius. It is estimated that there are up to 270 hours of sunshine a month here and the highest temperature is up to 40 degree Celsius. However, the weather is not as harsh as in other places. If you come to the city in this season, you should be careful with heatstroke by avoiding going out at noon.

It can be said that anytime in the year is a good time to visit Ho Chi Minh City. Yet, the most ideal time is from December to April because the weather at this time is extremely pleasant. Especially, there is Tet Festival - the biggest Vietnamese traditional festival, in late January or early February that you can plan to join.

3. Means of transportation for your Saigon trip

As the leading economic, cultural, and political center of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has many means of transportation to be chosen for your trip.

3.1. Going to Ho Chi Minh City

There are 4 common ways for tourists to go to Ho Chi Minh City, specifically as follows:

  • By plane: This is the fastest and most convenient means of transportation for your trip. Tan Son Nhat Airport is currently the largest international airport in the country with many domestic and international flights per day. The fare usually ranges from 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 VND/person depending on the airline and booking time. 
  • By train: Traveling by train is not a top choice because it may take you up to 30 hours. However, it will provide you a chance to contemplate the peaceful scenery on the way. There are many train lines from the North to the South with the average fare of 500,000 - 2,000,000 VND/person.
  • By coach: Saigon has two main coach stations, including the Eastern station and the Western station, where all the inter-provincial coaches come in. Going to this city by coach is an economical option for tourists from the Central and Southern regions in Vietnam. You will only spend about 200,000 - 400,000 VND for a trip with 8 to 9 hours of traveling.
  • By private vehicles: The developed urban infrastructure in the region enables you to get to Ho Chi Minh City by private vehicles with ease. For those who are passionate about speed, you can ride motorbikes to this city. Likewise, cars are suitable for families and groups of friends. You should remember to bring your personal papers like driving license, registration license and strictly obey traffic laws.
Ho Chi Minh City

3.2. Getting around Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

To get around and admire the beauty of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, you can choose from the options below:

  • By motorbike: Nothing is more wonderful than freely exploring every corner of Saigon on a motorbike in your own way. The motorbike rental price in Saigon is similar to that in many other tourist destinations, which ranges from 80,000 to 150,000 VND/day.
  • By bus or water bus: Bus is considered as the cheapest means of transportation with the fare of only 5,000 - 6,000 VND/trip. Therefore, this is extremely suitable for those who have a limited budget. Besides, you can take a water bus tour along Saigon River, which costs 15,000 VND/round trip, to experience this city in a unique way. 
  • By cyclo: Many foreign tourists love this option. The fare for taking a cyclo ranges from 50,000 to 80,000 VND/2 people. It is a popular means of transportation for tourists to go around Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh Market in District 1. 
  • By taxi: For tourists looking to visit famous landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, taxis are a convenient and popular choice for transportation. Among the taxi options available, XANH SM Taxi is a highly recommended choice.
ho chi minh city

XANH SM Taxi - the first electric taxi company in Vietnam, operated entirely with VinFast electric cars. Customers who travel by XANH SM taxi not only receive an excellent standard of service, but they also join XANH SM in its efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and safeguard the environment. XANH SM provides standard and luxury taxi service, airport taxi, with attractive promotions. Customers can easily book a taxi in 04 ways:

(1) Call the national hotline 1900 2088
(2) Wave on the street like a traditional taxi
(3) Book on the Taxi Xanh SM app. Click HERE to download the app
(4) Use the beVinFast service on the multi-service customer platform BE to book Xanh SM taxi

Ho Chi Minh City

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4. Top 10 must-visit destinations in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Below are the 10 most famous tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City that you should visit once on your trip:

4.1. Notre Dame Cathedral - The symbol of the city

Located in the center of District 1, Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon stands out with its ancient French architecture and spacious area from the outside to the inside. This is a symbol of the city and a tourist attraction that tourists cannot miss out on.

The cathedral is specially designed with the ability to withstand 10 times the entire structure of the building. It has a length of 93 meters, the width of 35 meters and the dome height of 21 meters. With this much space, Notre Dame Cathedral can accommodate up to 1,200 people.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.2. Reunification Palace - The famous historical site

If you have the opportunity to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, remember to visit Reunification Palace at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1. It is classified as a special national monument because it has witnessed many historical events through the ups and downs of the country, especially the liberation of Vietnam's Southern region on April 30th, 1975.

As a famous historical site, this place attracts a lot of tourists to visit and learn about Vietnamese history during the resistance war. The palace is divided into 3 separate areas, each has its own unique features. Coming here, you can see a lot of documents that show Vietnamese history in detail.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.3. Cu Chi Tunnels - A well-known underground monument 

Cu Chi Tunnels is not only a destination but also a famous Vietnamese military work which has great historical and cultural value. If you want to visit this underground labyrinth once, you will have to travel about 70 kilometers from the center of the city.

This tourist attraction has a total length of up to 250 kilometers with 3 different levels. Particularly, the top level is about 3 meters under the ground while the middle one is 6 meters under and the bottom one is up to 12 meters under. Thanks to these features, Cu Chi Tunnels is recognized as one of 6 famous man-made structures in the world and among the top 7 most exotic destinations in Southeast Asia. 

Ho Chi Minh City

4.4. Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater

If you are looking for a unique and entertaining experience in Ho Chi Minh City, the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater is definitely worth checking out. Vietnam’s traditional art of water puppetry comes to life in this modern theater with state-of-the-art technology. The colorful puppets move gracefully across a pool of water as music plays and stories are told through narration and songs. It is a fun way to learn about Vietnamese folklore and history while being thoroughly entertained.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.5. Ben Thanh Market - The busiest Saigon market

Ben Thanh Market is known as the symbol of the bustling atmosphere of Saigon. Visiting it is one of the absolute-must things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. It consists of 4 main gates and 12 side gates spreading out in many directions. Each main gate is located on a different street and at these gates, vendors sell many popular items and food for tourists to buy as gifts or enjoy on the spot. Its main gate, which overlooks Quach Thi Trang Square, is most famous for its three-sided clock tower.

There are two suitable time slots for you to visit Ben Thanh market: from 7:30 a.m to 6 p.m and after 7 p.m. If you want to visit and shop in the market, pick the first period. The other one is befitting for those who want to wander and enjoy the vibrant market at night. Ben Thanh Market is quite large with a lot of different stalls and areas so it may take you about 1 - 2 hours to explore around.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.6. Saigon Central Post Office - The emblematic structural architecture

As one of the unique architectural works of the city, Saigon Central Post Office is an attractive tourist destination for those who spend their vacations in Ho Chi Minh City. With the beautiful Renaissance architecture still preserved, Saigon Central Post Office is considered as a special highlight in the heart of a busy and modern city.

One of the things that makes this place outstanding is its meticulous and delicate carvings and its system of large curved arched doorways. The combination of royal European and liberal Asia styles creates a perfect background for you to take photos with your family and friends on the tour.

Ho Chi Minh City

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4.7. Landmark 81 - The tallest building in Vietnam 

Landmark 81 is the tallest building in Vietnam with a height of 461.3 meters. Before being surpassed by The Exchange 106 of Malaysia, it used to be the tallest building in Southeast Asia in 2018. Standing anywhere in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam, you can always easily see this skyscraper.

Since its launch, it has been considered as a symbol of luxury and modernity. Its unique architecture is inspired by the image of bamboo in Vietnamese villages, which is a metaphor for the development and prosperity of the country in the future. That being said, checking-in at Landmark 81 is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City! 

Ho Chi Minh City

4.8. Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is a Gothic-style architectural work. With a convenient location in district 1 Ho Chi Minh City, this is not only a place to host major art shows but also an interesting tourist destination which attracts numerous tourists each year.

The front of the Opera House faces Lam Son Square and Dong Khoi Street, and it is only about 1.2 kilometers away from Ben Thanh Market. If you want to visit this place, it is advisable to buy tickets to see the shows at the ticket counter or via the website. After the show ends, you can go around to admire the architecture and take photos here.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.9. War Remnants Museum

Located on Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is always on the list of the top-rated Saigon destinations. It is a modern building with an area of ​​5,400 square meters. This place will promisingly bring you a vivid picture of Vietnamese life during the war time in the past. 

The museum consists of 3 floors and each floor has its own theme. The surviving artifacts and pictures at this place serve as strong evidence to denounce the crimes of the colonial invaders, and at the same time reflect the Vietnamese’s will to regain national independence.

Ho Chi Minh City

4.10. Nha Rong Wharf and Ho Chi Minh Museum

Nha Rong Wharf is located at 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 12, District 4. It has great significance in the history of Vietnam because it is the place where Uncle Ho began his 30-year journey to find a way to save the country.

Nha Rong Wharf has been repaired and renovated many times, now includes some main areas such as Ho Chi Minh Museum, Uncle Ho's monument, a fountain and a harbor campus. This place keeps many documents, artifacts and pictures recording the revolutionary activities of President Ho Chi Minh during the resistance war.

Ho Chi Minh City

5. Saigon's cuisine: 5 mouthwatering dishes you should try

Below are 5 popular dishes in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam that you should enjoy once when visiting this city:

5.1. Steamed broken rice with grilled pork chops

When referring to Saigon, it is hard not to mention broken rice with grilled pork chops. Broken rice is very popular with the locals here because it suits many people's tastes. This dish is palatable thanks to the harmonious combination of ingredients including grilled pork chops and green vegetables. In addition, the typical fish sauce contributes to the characteristic flavor of this dish.

Ho Chi Minh City

5.2. Saigon sticky rice

Although not a delicacy, sticky rice is an indispensable dish in Saigon's culinary culture. To the locals, sticky rice is not only delicious but also very handy for a dynamic life because the customers can easily take it away. There are various kinds of sticky rice in this city like corn sticky rice, black bean sticky rice, durian sticky rice,... Each of them has its own distinctive color and flavor which is always worth enjoying.

Ho Chi Minh City

5.3. Banh mi - One of the most common street foods in Saigon

Banh mi is a typical Vietnamese breakfast food that is suitable for those who have to go to work or school early in the mornings. Inside this Saigon street food, meat is the most important ingredient which can determine whether the food is good or not. Besides, sellers can add cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon radish, scallion and cilantro according to the demands of buyers.

Ho Chi Minh City

5.4. Noodle soup

Saigon noodle soup, or “hu tieu” in Vietnamese, is considered the quintessence of Vietnamese culinary delights which helps show the culture as well as the life of the locals. To make this dish, people use many ingredients like pork bones, pork thighs, minced shoulders, pork ribs, dried shrimp, quail eggs, white radish, onions, green onions,… If you have a chance to visit Saigon, don't forget to enjoy this flavorful dish!

Ho Chi Minh City

5.5. Pho - The most recognised Vietnamese dish around the world

Pho is one of the most typical foods that international tourists should try once. The main ingredients of this dish are linguine-shaped rice noodles called “banh pho”, a few herbs and thinly sliced ​​beef or chicken. In addition, there are spices such as soy sauce, chili, pepper, lemon, fish sauce,... which are added depending on the taste of diners.

Ho Chi Minh City

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6. Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

6.1 Explore museums and historical sites

One of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is to explore its museums and historical sites. These provide a poignant and educational experience with their exhibits and diverse collection of archaeological artifacts and historical documents.

6.2 Visit pagodas and temples

For those seeking a spiritual experience, Ho Chi Minh City is home to numerous pagodas and temples. The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist temple renowned for its intricate architecture and stunning statues, offering visitors a tranquil place for reflection. The Thien Hau Temple, dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, showcases beautiful woodwork and porcelain figurines amidst the fragrant incense.

Ho Chi Minh City

6.3 Unwind at Bui Vien Street

To experience the vibrant nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City, head to Bui Vien Street. This bustling street is a hub of activity, lined with bars, clubs, and street food vendors. From sipping on refreshing cocktails to enjoying live music and entertainment, Bui Vien Street offers a lively atmosphere that caters to all tastes.

Ho Chi Minh City

6.4 Visit China Town

Another must-visit area in Ho Chi Minh City is China Town, known as Cho Lon. Here, you can explore the vibrant streets filled with shops, markets, and traditional Chinese architecture. Comfortably immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese community and browse through unique products and souvenirs.

6.5 Check-in at Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street

Lastly, do not forget to check-in at Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street. This lively street in the heart of the city is a pedestrian-only zone, making it a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, admire the surrounding French colonial buildings, and indulge in the wide range of cafes, restaurants, and shops that line the street.

Ho Chi Minh City

7. Ho Chi Minh City: Things you may need

Here are a few other handy resources for you to make the most of your time in Ho Chi Minh:

Ho Chi Minh City is a destination chosen by many domestic and foreign tourists. Thanks to its prosperity in all aspects, especially tourism, this city will give you a perfect chance to experience and explore a lot of interesting things during your trip. Hopefully, the information above can help you make the best preparation for your upcoming vacation to Ho Chi Minh City.

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