Ho Chi Minh City

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Travel Guide Asia Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City

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Introduction

Red market

Red market

© Wardsan


Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 7 million. Although it was renamed back in 1975 after the Vietnam war, it is still commonly referred to as Saigon by both Vietnamese and foreigners alike. Ho Chi Minh City, former capital of South Vietnam, is located in the south of Vietnam about 1,750 kilometres south of Hanoi, todays capital. The city centre is situated on the banks of the Saigon river.

The wide avenues, a smattering of decaying French influenced architecture, sidewalk cafes and baguettes, seems to be the only evidence left that the place was occupied by the French. But it's enough to give it a very different feel from any other Asian City.

Ho Chi Minh is still the economic heart of Vietnam and the streets bustle with activity, not to mention what seems like an endless stream of motorbikes. Vendors, markets, shops, stands and cafés crowd the busy streets and sidewalks adding to the vibe. Booming economically, chic bars and clubs have popped up around the city to be crowded by affluent Vietnamese and expatriates.

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Districts

The main district that tourists visit in Ho Chi Minh is district one. This is the old town that the French have build and has most of the sights and older buildings. Pham Ngu Lao and the parallel street of Bui Vien in district one are where all the backpacker action is.

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Sights and Activities

Ho Chi Minh City Royal Palace

Ho Chi Minh City Royal Palace

© Grant-Alan

Visit the Tourist Information Centre (4G 4H Le Loi St, District 1. Tel (84-8) 822 6033) in the city centre to get ideas of what to see and do and to pick up a free map.

Independence (Royal) Palace - Independence (Royal) Palace - Distinctly 1970s architecture and fine grounds make this at least worth a walk by. The iconic Vietnam war picture of a tank crushing its way through the iron gates of the palace on liberation day was taken here. Across from the entrance to the palace on Huyen Tran Cong chua is a local swimming pool. For a dollar go take a dip.

  • Museum of History houses, amongst others, the mummy of Ms Tran Thi Hieu, who died in 1869. Admission is under one dollar.
  • War Remnants Museum - This moving if one sided view of the "American war" is well worth visiting.
  • Daytrip to Cu Chi Tunnels - These amazing tunnels cover an area of 150 square kilometres. They were a major thorn in the side of the US during the war, considering they were so close to Saigon. Even with heavy B52 bombing the tunnels remained a major Viet Cong defensive system. All travel agents can sell you a half day trip for $5, entrance not included which is 75,000 Dong. But a far better trip can be had by taking the local bus #13 from Ben Thanh market station, which costs 5,000 dong. The bus takes you to Cu Chi town bus station in about 1.30 hours. Change to bus #79 (5,000 Dong) which takes you right to the tunnels (13 kilometres). You are not allowed to enter the tunnels unaccompanied. Guides included in your entrance fee will show you around the park.
  • Daytrip to Tay Ninh
  • Pho Binh cafe - Pho Binh cafe is not really a cafe. It's a Pho (noodle) shop. Seems like this place is a bit of an unofficial tourist place now. The owner will take you up to 3rd floor to show you relics and pictures from Viet Cong meeting place. An interesting bit of trivia is that this was a major meeting place for Viet Cong officials, but at ground level oblivious American GIs were enjoying the noodles. Slip your man 10,000 dong and he is happy. Address: 7 Lo Ching Thang, at the intersection of Hai Ba trung
  • Chinatown.

Shopping

  • Ben Thanh Market (Le Lai Street), one of the city's most famous landmarks. Bustling with activity at night with vendors selling everything from snacks to souvenirs and cheap clothing.
  • Saigon Trade Tax Centre (39 Le Loi), the ideal place to find gold jewelry and gems.
  • T&T Tailor (112 Bui Vien, Tel +84 8 836 7108), let Mr Thinh sew clothes to your specifications without breaking the bank.
  • There is a little tailor's shop on the cross-section of streets where the Go Go bar is on Bui Vien Street. The tailor's shop is located right next to a little italian cafe. The shop makes custom-specific ao dai and silk trousers overnight. Very cheap at USD 30 per ao dai set and good as a souvenir. The quality of silk though is not as good as the silk available at the tailor shops on Dong Khoi street.
  • Also on Bui Vien street and next to the Beautiful Saigon hotel (62, Bui Vien street) is a small backacker shop selling backpacks and little souvenirs as well as books (great for travel reading) around 50,000 dong, CDs, DVDs at very cheap prices. A DVD collection of 21 Bernardo Bertolucci movies costs about USD 11.
  • Khai Silk - Khai Silk (Dong Khoi street) is a lovely shop for purchasing good quality silk shawls - both the Kashmiri pashmina shawls as well as the Vietnamese raw silk (Anh silk) shawls. There is a tailor's shop close by Khai silk shop that makes custom-specific ao dai as well as lovely evening wear. The Dong Khoi street shops are a tad expensive than shops elsewhere in Ho Chi Minh city but the quality is much better.

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Events and Festivals

  • Tet Festival - The Tet Festival is the Vietnamese New Year, which is the same time as Chinese New Year (January/February). Visitors to Ho Chi Minh during this can can expect to see decorations all over the city, parades, food stands, and beautiful fireworks displays. It is believed that during this time of year, those who start a new business or project will have good luck.
  • Independence Day (02 Sep 2013) - September 2nd marks Vietnam's Independence Day. During this national holiday, thousands gather to celebrate and throw parties together. Concerts are held throughout the day, and during the evening celebrations, the city puts on an extravagant fireworks display.
  • Reunification Day - Sometimes referred to as Liberation day, this holiday, celebrated each year on April 30th, commemorates the moment the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975. On this day, festivals, concerts, and special film screenings can be seen around the city.
  • [listing name=Le Van Duyet Temple Festival type=event]This event is celebrated to commemorate the life and death of Le Van Duyet, a national hero of Vietnam. This anniversary festival is usually celebrated on the 1st day of the 8th lunar month. Traditional Southern Vietnamese rituals are performed and incense is burned on this day. Visitors can also expect to see opera performances, and it is also a popular practice on this day to meet with a fortune teller or oracle.
  • Fisherman's Festival - Also known as Nghinh Ong Festival, this event is celebrated annually in the Can Gio District on the 16th day of the eighth lunar month. The history of this festival comes from Vietnamese folklore - where ancient fisherman were saved from a terrible storm by a whale. This festival celebrates that story, and mainly, the whales. It is customary that fishermen take this day off to attend the festival. Shrines are erected around town, and fishing harbors and boats are beautifully decorated for the event. Traditional meals of roast white pork and colorful steamed sticky-rice are served.
  • Wandering Souls Day - Primarily a Buddhist holiday, this event is intended to celebrate the souls of the dead that are thought to visit the city during this time (the 15th day of the 7th lunar month). During this holiday, religious ceremonies are performed, and traditional food is prepared as offerings to the wandering dead. Visitors will find local delicacies like boiled chicken, roast pork, sticky rice cakes, and meat rolls served from food stands all over the city.
  • [/listing]

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    Weather

    Weatherwise, the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh is in the dry season which runs from December to April. In the dry season the humidity is at a level which is easier to handle. As this is common knowledge it also means the crowds are bigger this time of year, so to avoid the crowds you'll need to tolerate the extra humidity. Temperatures average 31 °C during the day year round, and drops to just a little below 25 °C at night. Most of the rain falls from June to September.

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
    Avg Max31.6 °C32.9 °C33.9 °C34.6 °C34 °C32.4 °C32 °C31.8 °C31.3 °C31.2 °C31 °C30.8 °C
    Avg Min21.1 °C22.5 °C24.4 °C25.8 °C25.2 °C24.6 °C24.3 °C24.3 °C24.4 °C23.9 °C22.8 °C21.4 °C
    Rainfall13.8 mm4.1 mm10.5 mm50.4 mm218.4 mm311.7 mm293.7 mm269.8 mm327.1 mm266.7 mm116.5 mm48.3 mm
    Rain Days2.411.95.417.81922.922.423.120.912.16.7

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    Getting There

    By Plane

    Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) serves Ho Chi Minh City and is Vietnam's biggest airport. It has numerous flights both domestically, including flights to Hanoi, as well as many airlines serving the city from neighbouring countries and further beyond. Main destinations include Moscow, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Siem Reap, Manila, Jakarta and Sydney.
    A taxi from the airport to district one is about 120,000-150,000 Dong.

    By Train

    Ga Sài Gòn Saigon Train Station is on Cach Mang Thang Tam (CMT8) northwest of the city centre, and is a short taxi or public bus ride away from the main hotel districts. The ticket office at the train station has limited English proficiency. Recommended to purchase from the official train ticket office located at 275C Pham Ngu Lao, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1. Other options include travel agencies, also located in Pham Ngu Lao.

    There are five daily departures from Hanoi along the "Reunification line". Although several of the trains are called "express", all journeys take about 30 to 35 hours. The fastest train is SE3 departing from Hanoi at 23:00 and arriving at 05:00 two days later. However, SE5 departing at 15:45 and arriving at 04:40 has higher-quality tourist carriages run by the private company Livitrans attached to it.

    By Car

    It is best to rent a car with driver, for example with Budget.

    By Bus

    Several companies provide bus travel from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at approximately USD12 per person. Visas to Vietnam cannot be obtained at the border, so have one before you arrive. Capital Tours operates a popular bus route from the Capital Guest House in Phnom Penh that takes passengers to the border. After securing visas, passengers board a partner Vietnamese bus to continue their travel to HCMC.

    Open Bus Ticket
    Many different open bus ticket vendors start and end their operations in Ho Chi Minh City. Almost all the travel agencies will sell open bus tickets. Remember to shop around and ask other travellers about the quality of the different ticket vendors. It is best to find people that are heading out of the country in order to hear a review of their entire trip across the country with a certain open bus ticket company. Most of the open-tour companies sell tickets to Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Dalat, and there are night buses to Nha Trang.

    By Boat

    Getting to Vung Tau can be done by boat. There are 3 lines (Petro Express, Greenlines, Vina Express) running this route. If you are planning to visit Vung Tao be sure to consult a Vietnamese calendar. Tickets often sell out over holidays.

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    Getting Around

    By Car

    Taxis are the easiest way to travel around Ho Chi Minh city. However, one needs to be aware of the better known taxis such as Vinasun and MaiLinh.

    Taxi rates are not regulated by the city government, so each company sets its own fare structure which changes from time to time. You cannot choose a taxi at random and expect a standard fare; it is a caveat emptor market with a fringe of opportunistic drivers to overcharge foreigners. Fortunately, the market is fairly competitive and 80% of taxis are operated by reasonably honest companies with similar rates. The market of these companies is more than 90% local, so their policies are designed to win the trust of HCMC residents. In general, the only taxi companies you should use are Mai Linh and Vinasun, as the risk of getting ripped of is much higher with the other companies.

    By Public Transport

    SaigonBus (No. 152) is the cheapest way to get to/from Tan Son Nhat Airport from/to the bus station opposite Ben Thanh Market. The fare is only 3,000 dongs per person (sometimes, the bus driver may request an additional 3,000 dongs for big luggage). It is also possible to take this bus to the city centre (near Notre Dame Cathedral). The last bus departs from both the airport or bus station at 6pm. Note: The bus to the airport may drop its passenger at either the domestic or international airport. Whichever way, the two airports is only about 100 metres apart.

    SaigonBus (No. 1) goes to/from Cholon Bus Station. Binh Tay Market is very close to Cholon Bus Station. The fare is only 3,000 dongs.

    Bright green public buses serve 150 routes throughout the city. You can find maps of the bus system at the large Ben Thanh bus station across the street from Ben Thanh Market in District 1. Go into the waiting room to the desk in the middle. The buses are cheap, safe and not too crowded. Many are modern and comfortable, with such amenities as air conditioning, music, and even television. Finding the right line can be a challenge if you don't speak Vietnamese, but with the help of maps and your hotel staff you can get where you want easily. If you cannot find your way, ask the locals nicely, they will try their best to help. At the biggest bus stations you can read bus destinations at every single stop (useful, for example, if you need to get to Cholon).

    By Foot

    It is very easy to get to places in Ho Chi Minh City on foot. With just a couple of hours, one can walk leisurely from Pham Ngu Lao to Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, City Hall and Dong Khoi Area.

    Crossing the road in Saigon can be a nightmare. It is always scary. If ever in doubt, Saigon's "Tourist Security" officers (guys in green uniforms) will happily help you across. A quicker way of getting across is to simply follow the lead of a local crossing the street.

    The true trick to crossing the road is to stay aware, and walk slowly and confidently. The motorbike riders are exceptionally good and will simply move to avoid you, just don't make any sudden erratic moves. Just look for a gap or seam in the traffic, and begin a slow, but steady movement. If you hear a beep coming your way it's likely a motorbike rider is about to enter your personal space. Be alert and prepared to stop putting your foot forward until he passes.

    Adherence to traffic signals in Saigon is terrible. Drivers tend to use "best judgment". Just remember though that vehicles can always turn right at any time (regardless of lights). Motorbikes often drive in the wrong direction to take a short cut from point A to point B even against the traffic flow. Crossing roads therefore maybe a challenge for Westerners used to traffic laws and traffic lights.

    By Bike

    Motorcycle rental is very easily arranged, especially in the Pham Ngu Lao area. It will cost 80,000-100,000VND per day and includes up to two helmets. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is required by law for both drivers and passengers (and is generally a good idea anyway). You wil be required to leave your passport with the rental agency.

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    Eat

    Bánh Xèo 46A, 46A Đinh Công Tráng, Tân Định, Quận 1], ☏ +84 28 3824 1110. Famous restaurant specializing in Bánh Xèo, a Vietnamese savory pancake with shrimp, pork, Chinese sausage and beansprout fillings.
    Barbecue Garden, 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Quan 1 (100 m from Ben Thanh Market, behind the General Sciences Library), ☏ +84 8 823 3340. A barbecue restaurant offering both Vietnamese and international foods. USD5–7.
    Bi Saigon, 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1 (In an alley just off the main tourist street, Bui Vien). Extensive menu with a choice between Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican and other styles. Open plan kitchen so you can see your food being prepared. edit
    Black Cat, 13 Phan Van Dat, District 1. Fresh and juicy beef patty. Jumbo burger is USD15.
    Hanoi Oi Bistro, 225/7 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Phường 5, District 3. Spread over 2 floors, serving modern and traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Dishes include northern Vietnamese recipes of the owner/chef Thuy Linh, who is also an accomplished singer in a famous band, 5DK. Local singers, actors, celebrities and foreigners flock to this bistro both for its unique take on modern and classic Vietnamese food, and its ambience. USD2–25.
    Hoa Khai Vegetarian Restaurant, 124 126 Nguyen Cu Trinh St, Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (About 500 m west of the backpacker area). Tasty Vietnamese vegetarian food although with surly service. Be careful of being charged for unexpected items, such as the disposable hand towels that are presented to you without asking as you sit down. 100,000 dong.
    Hoa Mai Coffee, 43-45 Do Quang Dau St (Just off Phan Ngu Lao, between Phan Ngu Lao St and Bui Vien St), ☏ +84 8 836 8310. Restaurant downstairs, on the second floor is a comfortable bar with pool table. International food and local dishes. Fresh fruit shakes, spring rolls, Vietnamese noodles and pasta. USD2–5.
    Hủ Tiếu Hồng Phát, 391 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3, ☏ +84 28 3839 0187. Restaurant selling Hủ tiếu Nam Vang, a flat rice noodle dish that is a specialty of the city. The dish is often called "Cambodian noodles" in English, even though it cannot be found in Cambodia.
    Huong Dong, 68 Huynh Tinh Cua. A modest, open-air restaurant serving mostly southern country-style food. The name literally means "scent of the fields". It's a place where families and groups of friends gather, drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of food, and make a bit of noise. You might need a few beers to get up the courage to try some of the more exotic offerings, including field mouse, whole frog, pigeon porridge and coconut worm. A whole char-grilled ga ta (local style free-range chicken) is 170,000 dong, head and feet included. A wide variety of other meats and seafood is available for 50,000-80,000 dong. Quirky English translations of the long menu add to the spirit of adventure.
    Une Journée à Paris, 234 Le Thanh Ton St (Quan 1, 100 m from Ben Thanh Market.). Authentic French boulangerie, patisserie and salon de thé. French petit dejeuner at 50,000 dong, with egg/bacon 100,000 dong.
    Lemongrass, 4 Nguyen Thiep St (Near the Opera House). A very touristy Vietnamese restaurant. Daily business lunch USD3+ and weekly special dishes. Expanded to a twin outlet on 14th floor of Palace Hotel Saigon, 10 min away from the first outlet. Same menu, same price. USD4–6.
    Lion City Cafe & Restaurant, 45 Le Anh Xuan, District 1 (Opposite New World Hotel), ☏ +84 8 3823 8371. 07:00-15:00. The biggest chain of Singaporean restaurants in Vietnam, all ingredients imported. 100% Singaporean food with a head chef and owner from Singapore. USD3-8.
    Ngoc Suong Marina, 19C Le Quy Don. A restaurant specialising in seafood. Fish salad and clams cooked in white wine.
    Papaya by Chi Nghia, 68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh District (Near the zoo). Small place specializing in northern-style Vietnamese cuisine. Run by an chef/owner who has 25 years of experience with Sofitel hotels. Cooking and presentation is top notch. Clean and nicely decorated. From USD2–5 and up.
    Quan An Ngon, District 1. Two different restaurants operate with the same name within a few blocks of each other, one at 160 Pasteur Street, and the other on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia across from the Reunification Palace. Set in atmospheric old French villas, with similar menus Vietnamese food, including regional specialities prepared in numerous independently-operated food stalls around the perimeter. Both are popular and both tend to be jammed at peak hours requiring a wait for a table. (The name literally means "restaurant of delicious eating".) The one on Pasteur has dozens of kerosene lamps burning for ambience at night, so if you have asthma or pulmonary issues or feel you've had enough pollution already, better to try the other one. Mains from 45,000 dong.
    Quan Nuong, 29-31 Ton That Thiep. A delicious, reasonably-priced open-air barbecue restaurant on the roof above Fanny's ice cream parlour and the Temple Club. Every table has a grill in the centre and the menu includes a variety of meats and seafood which you can grill yourself. Try the bacon wrapped salmon & the beef wrapped cheese skewers. They also serve a variety of mostly southern-style salads and noodle dishes. It's very popular and often fills up by mid-evening.
    La Sen Restaurant (Nha Hang La Sen), 30 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Phuong 6, Quan 3 (In the centre of district 3), ☏ +84 8 930 6682. 09:30-23:00. Clean, medium-priced restaurant serving food from the regions of Hue, Saigon and Hanoi. Friendly service, full air-con, 2 floors and room for about 100 persons.
    Spice, 27c Le Quy Don in Quan 3. Largest and most-visited Thai restaurant in HCMC. Mostly local Vietnamese and expats as it is out of the tourist area. Authentic Thai food prepared by the two Thai chefs. Food is fresh and served within minutes. Tom yam gung and papaya salad, spicey shrimp, fusion of Thai with other cuisines. Seating over 200, in air-con, al fresco or Thai style on floor mats. Delivery available to all districts. Top floor BBQ.
    Sushi Bar (Four locations: corner of Le Thanh Ton and Ton Duc Thang in Q1, about six blocks northeast of the Opera House; on a large alley full of restaurants off Ton Duc Thang by the river and near the Legend Hotel; on the food-court floor of Zen Plaza on Nguyen Trai; and in the Saigon Court apartment building on Nguyen Dinh Chieu.). Probably the best sushi value in Saigon. They serve a larger and more interesting variety than the typical sushi restaurant, at half the price. Draft Tiger beer is 24,000 dong. Very popular, so you can expect to wait during the middle dining hours.
    Wrap and Roll, 62 Hai Ba Trung. A growing chain. Wrapped Vietnamese fusion food in a modern minimalist setting. Try the desserts. Beer and a meal should cost less than USD10.
    Bloom Saigon Restaurant, 3/5 Hoàng Sa, P. Đa Kao, Quận 1. 11:00-22:00. Non-profit restaurant run by Aid to Children Without Parents (ACWP) and serves as a culinary training facility. Very nice staff, excellent food, terrace on the 3rd floor. Situated a bit in the North and in a small calm community. Worth to go by foot, 20 mnin walk from the Jade Pagoda.
    Au Lac do Brazil, 238 Pasteur (Between Dien Bien Phu and Vo Thi Sau.). Just to prove that Saigon has everything, here is a Brazilian-style churrascaria (all-you-can-eat restaurant featuring barbecued meat), with live Latin music Tuesday to Saturday. They also have a new outlet in Sky Garden II, Phu My Hung, District 7. It's a larger and less crowded one with usually better service. From USD30 per person.
    Co Ngu (On Pasteur just before Dien Bien Phu, Quan 1). Nice Vietnamese and Asian-fusion food in a villa setting, with indoor and garden seating. Popular for business groups. Prices higher than average for Saigon, but a better value than you will find in the tourist section of town.
    The Deck Saigon, 38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, An Phu, District 2 (15 min from the centre of Saigon), ☏ +84 8 3744 6632. The only posh restaurant on the banks of the river. Modern fusion cuisine using the local ingredients.
    La Habana, 6 Cao Ba Quat, Quan 1 (Two blocks northeast of the Hyatt and opera house). Outstanding Spanish and Cuban-style food, including a large tapas menu. Also one of the few places in Vietnam that makes really good cocktails.
    La Hosteria (On Le Thanh Ton a few blocks east of the Hilton). An Italian restaurant with excellent home-made pasta dishes in the range of 125,000 dong and main dishes from 150,000 dong.
    Huy Long Vien, 99 Nguyen Du (Across from the Reunification Palace). Chinese cuisine including Peking Duck and dim sum. Large with an ancient China theme.
    Pomodoro's (On Hai Ba Trung, a block from the Hilton and around the corner from the Sheraton and Caravelle Hotels). Decent small Italian restaurant. Delicious lasagna is their specialty; the pizzas are a bit oily. Dinner of 2 starters, cocktails, 0.5 litre carafe of wine, mains and deserts for roughly USD50, but with poor service.
    Tân Nam, 60-62 Dong Du, Quan 1 (A few doors from Sheraton Saigon). The ground floor is open-air, the upper floor has air-con. Rather expensive and mediocre food, around USD10/person but they will park your motorcycle while you eat, and wander around the waterfront.
    Temple Club, 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q.1 (First floor, with an ice cream parlour below). 1930s ambiance with separate bar, restaurant, and lounge area sections. The food is fair but most people come to soak up the atmosphere.
    L'en Tete, 1st floor, 139 Nguyen Thai Binh, Quan 1 (At the junction with Calmette). 17:00-24:00. Excellent French restaurant in an area not normally associated with high dining. Great for a leisurely dining experience. 150,000-450,000 dong.
    ZanZBar Restaurant & Bar, 41 Dong Du St (Diagonally opposite Sheraton Hotel). Eclectic crowd comprised of local Vietnamese, local expats, and visiting tourists. Wine-by-glass and cocktail menu. At night the lighted columns create a great ambience.
    Urban Kitchen + Bar (urban kitchen bar restaurant ho chi minh city saigon), 18 Ngo Van Nam, District 1 (At the beginning of Le Thanh Ton Street you will take the first left on to Ngo Van Nam Street. The street splits off into two and the restaurant is on the left side.), ☏ +84 8 6250 6363. 11:00 - late. A welcome addition to the HCMC culinary scene, serving delicious American and International cuisine. The two-level building has a modern industrial design element that makes you feel like you aren't in Vietnam. At night, the restaurant takes on a bar like atmosphere and their bartenders serve up some great cocktails from the amber lit rock bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, they also have DJ's spinning hip hop. Brunch favorites are served on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00.

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    Drink

    Coffee

    Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter of coffee after Brazil, and cà phê is very popular among the Vietnamese. It's a paradise for coffee-loving visitors. The local style is strong and sweet; key words to remember are: sữa (sweetened condensed milk), đá (ice), and nóng (hot, pronounced "nowm"). Cà phê đá is strong, sweet iced coffee; and cà phê sữa đá is the same with condensed milk. Cà phê (sữa) nóng is brewed fresh on your table brewed in a little metal apparatus placed over a cup; just lift it off when it has cooled enough to touch (and hence drink). Prices range from 10,000 to 20,000 dong for coffee in the local style. Since ice might or might not be made with purified water, strictly cautious visitors should avoid it, though long-term residents consume ice from reputable cafes and restaurants all the time. Espresso, cappuccino, and American-style filter coffee are now also widely available in the tourist district, usually at 2-8 times the price of the local style. You will be able to differentiate the better places if they use UHT milk as opposed to condensed milk.

    Bobby Brewery Coffee, Bui Vien St. Nice place with good beverages. Used to show movies on 2nd and 3rd floor. Now reopened as La Cantina.
    Cafe 5 Sao, Pham Ngoc Thach (Near the Turtle Pond). Plays loud techno music. Attractive, but pretentious crowd.
    Cafe Napoly, Pham Ngoc Thach (Near the Turtle Pond). The decor is Roman ruins-lite (they meant "Napoli"), but the menu is typical for an upscale Vietnamese cafe: coffee, fruit drinks, ice cream, and a simple menu including eggs and rice dishes. Piped music is nice, not too loud by day (though louder at night), prices are decent. Outdoor terrace in the front, air-con section on the ground floor, and evening lounge-bar on the upper floor. Next door to the louder, more trendy and possibly pretentious Cafe Nam Sao.
    Cafe Saigon, 57 Nguyen Du St (Opposite to Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica), ☏ +84 9378 66066. Italian coffee, foods, free Wi-Fi, relaxing & modern music.
    Chao Ba Ca Phe (Granny's Coffee), TK49/5 Nguyen Canh Chan, Q1 (Walk down Nguyen Canh Chan from the junction with Tran Hung Dao and take a left down the alleyway where the fruit salad restaurant is). This place has a really authentic and wonderful cafe sua da served by the famous "grandma" for about 8,000 dong. A little tricky to find.
    Chot Nho Café, 189 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan District (10 min by taxi from city centre). Reasonable prices, good menu. Free Wi-Fi.
    Fresco Coffee, 121 Le Loi St, ☏ +84 838 211 009. Free Wi-Fi, play hill song music.
    Givral Café, Dong Khoi (Opposite Continental Hotel). In the French tradition, with fresh pastries, collared waiters and elaborate portions of ice cream. Well-located, but over 20,000 dong for the simplest cup.
    Hideaway Café, 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q.3. As its name implies, this place is hidden away and a good place to read, or have a quiet conversation or meal. Decent Western menu, although slightly pricey.
    Highlands Coffee. Highlands Coffee is a Vietnamese chain that is ubiquitous in Ho Chi Minh City. They offer a variety of coffee drinks reasonably priced (25,000-60,000 dong, depending on your order) with consistent quality.
    M-Comic, 99B Vo Thi Sau A. A rather hard to find coffee shop. Upstairs is like a bedroom with a couple of beds. Arrive early if you want to occupy one. It has large selection of magazine and comic books to chose from. Only serves Vietnamese drinks, and the staff only speak a little English. Free Wi-Fi. 11,000-30,000 dong.
    Old Saigon Coffee, 2nd floor, 63 Dong Du St, District 1 (Opposite the Sheraton). Reminiscent of HCMC in the past. It has a great view to Dong Khoi St. All the drinks and foods are typical Saigon. The staff are quite decent.
    Regina Coffee, 84 Nguyen Du St, District 1. Vietnamese coffee or cappuccini. They have a skilled Japanese espresso master who knows how to brew coffee. French mixed with Asian design with brick walls. It is marketed towards tourists and all proceeds go to the church around the corner.
    Trung Nguyen (Two convenient outlets are on the east side of Nguyen Hue right before the People's Committee Hall, and the corner of Thu Khoa Huan and Ly Tu Trong). The Vietnamese version of Starbucks, but with much better coffee. They have locations all over the city, but are not well represented in the heart of the tourist district. Prices start around 40,000 dong for a basic cuppa, although there are plenty of variations including the infamous weasel coffee (cà phê chồn), made from coffee beans collected from civet excrement; however, a quick Google search about the conditions in which the civets are kept may further dissuade some from sampling.

    Alcohol

    Saigon has plenty of places to drink, although to a certain degree Vietnamese and foreigners hang out in different places. This is slowly changing as Westerners become more familiar with the ways of the East (and vice versa). Places with live music usually have no cover charge, but impose somewhat elevated drink prices (typically 55,000-85,000 dong for beer, spirits, and cocktails.) Many places close around midnight or 01:00. Some places remain open later: Go2 Bar in Pham Ngu Lao, popular with backpackers/budget crowd; Apocalypse Now on Thi Sach St, packed with people from all walks of life (you can find anything in this place regardless of your preferences (prostitutes, straight/gay, drugs or just a place to dance the night away); ZanZBar on Dong Du St will appeal to the regular bar crowd and closing time changes daily depending on the number of people in the bar). There are other late night clubs which cater almost exclusively to the young Vietnamese crowd. Anywhere in the city you can find Vietnamese bottled beer places that will stay open until 03:00-04:00. Several bars in Phu My Hung stay open until 02:00-03:00.

    Not to be missed are the pavement bars which get very busy with locals and travellers alike, about halfway down Biu Vien. They sell bottles of Saigon beer for 10,000 dong. Sit on the tiny plastic chairs and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. These are perhaps the best places to drink as a backpacker, as they are very cheap and also great places to meet people, and not just other tourists.

    Chill Sky Bar (Sky Bar). Rooftop bar at AB Tower in District 1 along September 23 park. This is the place to see and to be seen. Drinks are expensive at 200,000 dong and up. If you are around the September 23 park at night you will see the lights and hear the music blasting from the top of the AB tower. Look for the spotlights shooting into the sky.

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    Sleep

    Christina's Saigon, 212/2B Nguyen Trai St., Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (5 mins ride from Ben Thanh Market), ✉ christinas.saigon@gmail.com. A flashpacker guesthouse and bed & breakfast. The studios are beautifully designed with modern bathrooms. Booking is only available through Airbnb. USD35-60.
    Asian Hotel, 146-148-150 Dong Khoi St, Ben Nghe District, ☏ +84 8 3829 6979. Every room has air-con, cable TV, and Internet.
    Platinum Hotel (formerly Bloom Hotel), 270 Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (Very near Ben Thanh Market), ☏ +84 2838271111, ✉ Platinumsaigonhotel@gmail.com. Lovely modern, clean hotel. Rooms come with double-glazed windows, LCD flat screen TVs, and wall-mounted air conditioning controls. The suite has a spa bath. Free Wi-Fi and friendly staff. From 65,000 dong.
    Dai Nam Hotel, 79 Tran Hung Dao St, District 1 (5 min walk from Ben Thanh Market and the backpacker area on Pham Ngu Lao St), ☏ +84 8 3824 2525, ✉ sales@dainamhotel.com.vn. Breakfast and free in-room Wi-Fi. Houses the Gossip Nightclub. USD35-55.
    Asian Ruby Select Hotel, 122F-122F1 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3925 8866. All rooms and suites have air-con, TV with satellite channels, IDD telephone, coffee/tea maker and minibar. Bar, cafe, spa and massage services, business centre, gym and high speed Internet access. Annoyingly, housekeeping have a tendency to knock on bedroom doors early in the morning, but then don't make up the rooms until early afternoon. From USD35.
    Golden Rose Hotel, 3A Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3 (20 min from airport), ☏ +84 8 3824 7248, ✉ info@goldenrosehotel.com. 80 modern and cosy rooms with air-con, cable TV, mini-bar, and safe. Jacuzzi and fitness centre, Internet, and massage services. From USD60.
    Ngoc Ha, 53 Le Anh Xuan (Close to Ben Thanh market and the New World Hotel). Clean, decent rooms, air-con, fridge, Wi-Fi in the lobby. USD25–35 including simple breakfast.
    Nhat Ha Hotel, 252 BC Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3824 6368. 57 rooms decorated with traditional Vietnamese handicrafts. IDD telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, and air-con. From USD33.
    Sanouva Hotel, 175-177 Ly Tu Trong St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (Central business district 15 min from Tan Son Nhat Airport), ☏ +84 8 382 75275. Air-con, 32" LCD TV with cable, Internet, and IDD telephone. Restaurant, bar, café, car rental, travel bookings, tour services and safes. From USD55.
    Spring Hotel, 44-46 Le Thanh Ton St, District 1, ☏ +84 8 829 7362. Clean, boutique hotel that is walking distance to major attractions such as Ben Thanh Market and the cathedral. USD32–74.
    Thuan Thien Hotel, 277 Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3822 8122. Air-con rooms, cable TV, DVD, coffee/tea maker, minibar and a private toilet and shower with bath. Internet, dry cleaning, and laundry service and a travel agency for booking tours. From USD34.
    Y Thien, 247 Ly Tu Trong (5 min from Ben Thanh Market), ☏ +84 8 824 8176. Full service hotel with a range of clean rooms with large baths. Sizes from tiny and windowless (yet functional), to full wall window overlooking the city and streets. The 4th floor room to the right of the elevator is USD20–25. Cable TV, air-con, fan, refrigerator, elevator, all night guard for bikes, hotel safe. A good option if you don't want to stay in the backpacker area and are willing to pay a little more.
    Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City, No. 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, District 2, ☏ +84 28 6255 9900, ✉ enquiry.hochiminh@the-ascott.com. The property has apartments ranging from two- to four-bedroom with kitchenette, washing machines and dryers. They have an on-site tennis court.
    An An Hotel, 40 Bui Vien St, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3837 8087, ✉ ananhotel@anan.vn. Clean, popular, and offers comfortable rooms with double glazing in the centre of the action on De Tham. Free Wi-Fi in room and lobby. USD40-50.
    An An 2 Hotel, 216 De Tham St (On the corner of De Tham and Bui Vien, about 20 m down from the original An An Hotel), ☏ +84 8 3838 5665, ✉ anan2hotel@anan.vn. This is the (much newer) sister hotel to An An hotel. From USD22 (with window) for standard single, USD25 for double and USD36–50 for superior and luxury with balcony. The prices can be lowered if you stay for 4+ days (e.g., USD20 for double for 6 days).
    Continental Hotel, 132-134 Dong Khoi St. An old-school colonial hotel dating back to 1880 and the setting of Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American. Garden, huge rooms, nice balcony views. On the minus side, there is no pool and traffic noise can be irritating. USD60 plus (breakfast included).
    Dong Do Hotel, 35 Mac Thi Buoi St (District 1). New hotel with clean and comfortable rooms. USD20–35.
    The First Hotel, 18 Hoang Viet St, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, ☏ +84 8 3844 1199. Luxury hotel, 104 air-con rooms, cable TV, mini-bar, shower with bath, and Wi-Fi. Casino and ballroom, fitness room, tennis court, swimming pool, airport transfer, and car rental. From USD75.
    Mai Hotel, 4A-4B Thi Sach St, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. Clean and comfortable rooms with air-con and bar fridge. Right around the corner is the Apocalypse Now Club. Breakfast included, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, while connections are a little patchy in the rooms. From USD30–55.
    Mekong Lodge, 196/1/20 Cong Hoa St, Tan Binh District, ☏ +84 9 3344 9391, ✉ info@mekonglodge.com. A good hotel for those who love nature. USD60.
    Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue Blvd (In the heart of HCMC, next door to the People's Committee Hall). Another old standby, former haunt of the press corps and site of the daily news briefing during the Vietnam War. The 5th floor rooftop beer garden is famous and its symbol, the golden crown, is rotating again. The rooms are very pleasant and there is a swimming pool on the roof. Buffet breakfast. From USD70.
    Thien Thao Hotel, 89 Cao Thang, Ward 3, District 3. A small hotel with thin walls but also clean and comfortable with air-con rooms, bathtubs, local and cable channels on a large plasma TV, and minibar fridge. About 20 min walk away from the heart of District 1. Bakery and several restaurants less than 5 min away, free Wi-Fi in the rooms and three computers in the lobby. USD30, breakfast included. edit
    Xuan Loc Hotel, 47-49-51 Le Anh Xuan, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3827 4641, +84 8 3827 4642, +84 8 3827 5507, +84 8 3827 5508, ✉ xuanlochotel@hcm.fpt.vn. Clean and comfortable rooms. Breakfast available. Internet and computers are provided. From USD60.
    Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square @ Dong Khoi (Across from the Opera House in District 1.). In-house restaurants and spas. 7 km from the airport. During the war it was home to many war correspondents and the rooftop bar served as their watering hole. USD188+.
    Hotel Majestic (District 1, at the waterfront at the end of Dong Khoi Street), ☏ +84 8 3829 5517. Luxury hotel that got its start in 1925, and though it has undergone a number of renovations since, it maintains the same basic look outside. Rooftop bar serves mediocre ice cream and drinks. Has a non-smoking wing. From USD122.
    Hotel Nikko Saigon, 235 Nguyen Van Cu, District 1 (Beside Nowzone Shopping Mall), ☏ +84 8 3925 7777, fax: +84 8 3925 7766, ✉ reservation@hotelnikkosaigon.com.vn. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. USD160+.
    InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel (Corner of Le Van Huu St, Le Duan Boulevard and Hai Ba Trung St, District 1. At Asiana Kumho Plaza). Dinner buffet from USD40. Can walk to city centre. edit
    Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen Van Troi St, Phu Nhuan District, ☏ +84 8 3844 9222, fax: +84 8 3844 9200, ✉ hotel.saigon.reservation@moevenpick.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel in Phu Nhuan, 10 min away from the exhibition centre and international airport and 20 min from HCMC centre. 251 rooms and suites. All rooms are equipped with individually controlled air-con, TV, minibar, safe, hairdryer. Broadband Internet in all rooms. USD120+.
    New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai St, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3822 8888, fax: +84 8 3823 0710, ✉ reservations.saigon@newworldhotels.com.
    Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, District 1 (Adjacent to Opera House), ☏ +84 8 3824 1234, ✉ saigon.park@hyattintl.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel which features a collection of contemporary Vietnamese art, a variety of non-smoking dining options including an al fresco setting, an Italian restaurant, Opera, the signature Vietnamese/Western restaurant, Square One, Park Lounge that serves afternoon tea, and a martini bar, 2 Lam Son. The hotel has a 20 m pool, fitness centre, and the Xuan Spa. USD220-520.
    Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang St, District 1. On the river and near the main tourist-shopping district, a block off of Dong Khoi.
    The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard (Corner of Dong Khoi), ☏ +84 8 3823 6688, ✉ info@thereveriesaigon.com. Features 286 rooms and suites furnished with Italian designs, five high-end restaurants, a spa, swimming pool, fitness centre and an executive lounge.
    Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences, 1057 Binh Quoi Street, Ward 28, Binh Thanh District, ☏ +81 8 483556 6163. Luxury serviced apartments. Cable TV, radio, air-con, safe, hair dryer, Internet, phone, mini–bar and coffee/tea maker. Swimming pool, fitness room, sauna, business facilities and currency exchange. Car rental and airport and city transfers. USD169+.
    Sheraton Saigon (On Dong Khoi, in the heart of the tourist shopping district). Complete with Prada shop in the arcade. Restaurants are around USD40 for an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner, wine included.
    Sherwood Residence, 127 Pasteur St, District 3, ☏ +84 8 3823 2288, fax: +84 8 3823 2299, ✉ info@sherwoodresidence.com. Sherwood Residence is a luxury serviced apartment in HCMC. The property offers two and three bedroom apartments for short- and long-term. A private restaurant serves Western and Asian cuisine. On Pasteur Street, Sherwood Residence is within walking distance to the War Remnants' Museum and guests can take the free hourly shuttle to the business district.
    Sofitel Plaza Saigon, 17 Le Duan Blvd, District 1, ☏ +84 8 824 1555, fax: +84 8 824 1666, ✉ reservations@sofitelsaigon.com.vn. 290 room hotel in the city centre. Airy, if slightly small rooms, comfy beds, free wired Internet. Several restaurants, including a buffet and a breakfast spread. USD160-300.
    Somerset Chancellor Court Ho Chi Minh City, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, District 1, ☏ +84 8 3822-9197, fax: +84 8 3822-1755, ✉ enquiry.hochiminh@the-ascott.com. The serviced residence is in the heart of the business district. It offers 172 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom. Each apartment is fully furnished with an open kitchen concept, contemporary Western style decor and balcony. Daily, 2,521,000+ dong.
    Thao Dien Village (Villa Thao Dien Hotel and Spa Resort), 195 Nguyen Van Huong St, Thao Dien Ward, District 2 (15 min by taxi from District 1), ☏ +84 8 3744 6457, fax: +84 8 3744 6458, ✉ hotel@thaodienvillage.com. A colonial-style boutique hotel in tropical gardens on the banks of the river. 22 rooms, spa and health club. 4 restaurants; Ngon (Vietnamese), Villa Romaine (Italian), Chaba (Thai), and Tama-Gawa (sushi bar). Every Saturday at 19:30 there is a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show on the riverside outdoor terrace of Ngon Restaurant.
    Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, District 5 (Chinatown), ☏ +84 8 3833 6688, fax: +84 8 38336888, ✉ reservations@windsorplazahotel.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A high-end hotel with 386 rooms in Cholon (Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown). Several restaurants including an extensive Western and Asian buffet on 4th floor; a Chinese restaurant serving live seafood, southern Chinese cuisine and dim sum; and a rooftop international restaurant that has panoramic views of Cholon. Guests can take the free hourly shuttle to the business district. Free Wi-Fi in public areas.

    You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

    Booking.com

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    Keep Connected

    Phone

    See also International Telephone Calls

    Vietnam's international dialing code is +84. To call to other countries from Vietnam, start with 00, followed by the international number, usually without the first 0. International and domestic phone calls are available in almost every hotel or internet café. International phone charges are high in Vietnam and hotels often add a mark up fee so it is smart to always check the rates before dialling. Public phones require phone cards, which are available at post offices.

    Some common and useful phone codes are:

    • 00 - International call prefix
    • 110 - Operator
    • 113 - Police
    • 114 - Fire Department
    • 115 - Medical Aid/Ambulance
    • 116 - Directory Assistance
    • 1080 - Information

    Post

    Vietnam Post is the government owned national postal service of Vietnam. Services are generally fairly reliable, cheap but not overly fast, except express services. Express Mail Service (EMS) ensures that letters and small parcels are delivered within 24-48 hours domestically. International EMS is associated with over 50 countries worldwide, with a delivery time ranging from 2 to 10 days. Regular services are cheaper but much slower. Most post offices keep much longer hours than most other official businesses, usually starting from 6:30am until 9:30pm and also open on Saturday and even Sunday. You can buy stamps here and they also offer other services like money transfers. You can also try other companies to send parcels, for example with DHL, TNT and UPS.
    The Ho Chi Minh General Post Office can be found at 2 Cong Xa Paris Square. It's an impressive building, designed by Gustave Eiffel and sets the standard for the city's colonial architecture.

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    Quick Facts

    [edit]

    Coordinates
    • Latitude: 10.758
    • Longitude: 106.6534

    Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City

    We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

    Contributors

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    Ho Chi Minh City Travel Helpers

    • Quynh Giao

      Hello. My name is Quynh Giao. I'm a student of Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. I came from Dong Thap (Vietnam) but now I'm living in Ho Chi Minh City.
      I've visited some of the famous places in this city and had a lot of information about them.
      If you visit Ho Chi Minh City and have any problem or if you just want a tourguide with no fee, please contact me by sending a message to ntqg1323@gmail.com or calling me. My phone no. is +841269854623 and Facebook address is fb/gkyuelf
      I'm so happy that I can introduce my country' beautiful places to you. Moreover, helping you have a nice trip is my pleasure.
      I always look foward to your request. I'll try my best to help all of you.

      Ask Quynh Giao a question about Ho Chi Minh City

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