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What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

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Melbourne, Australia
posts: 656
reviews: 46
What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

Hi, I'm an Aussie thinking about going to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time. I'd go for about 5 nights, but I know nothing much about what its like at all. I've been to Hong Kong - loved that. Singapore was nice, and Malaysia I really liked.

Does anyone feel like posting and letting me know what its like and what a typcial 5 day stay night be like? So for example, if you ask me this about hong Kong, having been there twice I would say its a bustling big city, lots of tall buildings, lots of people speak English, many markets, the star ferries are a must, Vic Peak is great, Stanley market is great, Temple St Night market is great, many things to see and do like pink dolphins out in the bay, he Ocean Park, days trips to Macau and China, good night life, day life - not for people who hate business, lots of hotels, lots of food...that sort of thing.

Also, any recommended webistes to familiarise myself with the tours and activities would be great. Otherwise I will wade through the tonnes of google results and work it out for myself.

Thanks in advance for any responses :)

Semporna, Malaysia
posts: 5,949
reviews: 48
1. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

Hi Sky,

There are more motorcycles than you can imagine in HCMC. They honk very often. Terrific time to watch the traffic and breathe the polluted air is around 7:30am and 5:30pm. Seems that they are busy to rush to somewhere and they are late for some dates / appointments :-)

In city center District 1 and some districts around you can see more offices, consulates, banks, supermarkets, markets which are more beautiful. In this crowded city you can see with no effort places to eat, places to stay and places to shop.

Construction is going on. They build and rebuild everywhere.

Poor people still work hard for the whole life and may afford a house 30 - 40kms from District 1.

I’ll wait for somebody to continue so I won’t bore you.


posts: 6,910
reviews: 25
2. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time


how can we get bored with your posts?

i was just getting into it and you stopped , i was even into visualising what you were telling us .

how about the things of importance , buildings with history ? museums that we should not miss , what is fascinating to just sit and look at ? is there anything special about the river ?

with these questions im sure you can do a great reply & have us thinking we are there already !



Semporna, Malaysia
posts: 5,949
reviews: 48
3. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time


I think I can't remember much about all these tourist things I did. I however did try my best to note down some details I know in my Inside Page called “Getting Around” in which I wrote a walking tour for tourist. In this page you can find a link to the web site of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee …hochiminhcity.gov.vn/eng/news/default.aspx…

This is the copy of my Inside Page. Everyone is welcomed to edit by clicking my name and by going into the Inside Page. I don’t mind :-)



Getting around Ho Chi Minh City is easy. The subway and tunnel is still in plan so you can go by taxi, air-con bus, taxi-motorbike (xe om = hugging motorbike in Vietnamese language), bicycle or on foot. Riding along streets, except one way or corners with colored paint, if you want you can stop or turn back. You don't need to ride another 10km to get back to where you were. Walking is easier as you can move against one way streets, go into any shop you like, stop and sit down to rest anywhere you want without worrying about your bikes. It's not easy to park or takes time to find a parking lot in the City Center (District 1 around Nguyen Hue Street).

Walking tour (see full details for each place in the Ho Chi Minh City Attractions tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g34352-… ):

From Saigon River, walk to Nguyen Hue Street, District 1. End of the street is the building of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City. Entry is not allowed however you can take photos in the small park in front of this building. It appears that this area is one of the most beautiful spots of the city with buildings, hotels, shopping places, trees, flowers, people and vehicles, etc. During the biggest festival in Vietnam, Tet (Lunar New Year), Nguyen Hue is the amazing flower walking street.

Walk back a little from Nguyen Hue Street, turn left to Le Loi Street, you will see the City Theater (City Opera House), intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street. On big festivals such as Tet, Victory Day 30 April, National Day 2 September... live bands performs at the open area in front of the Theater and people gather to watch.

Walk on Dong Khoi Street against the one way direction, you will reach the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is very crowded inside and outside during Christmas night time (December 24 and 25).

On your right hand side, there is the Central Post Office.

Continue with the Dong Khoi Street, after passing the Notre Dame Cathedral, the same street is named Pham Ngoc Thach. Walk straight, you will see Le Duan Street. Turn right and walk to the end, intersection with Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, the Zoo and Botanical Garden (Thao Cam Vien) is there. Animals and flowers... in the zoo are normal but there is quite a good museum about Vietnam since the beginning which worth a visit, Vietnam History Museum. Walking into the zoo, you will see it on your left.

Go straight from the zoo entrance to the other end of Le Duan Street, intersection with Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, you will reach the Reunification Palace (Dinh Doc Lap, Dinh Thong Nhat). Around this Palace is a green park with stone chairs for you to rest. There are Book Exhibitions in this park sometimes. No park border nor gate.

Going out from the Reunification Palace, turn right and walk on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street towards Saigon River direction, on your left you will see the City Museum near Ly Tu Trong intersection with Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. Walk straight and turn right to Le Thanh Ton Street, walk for a few blocks, you will see Ben Thanh Market.

Or going out from the Reunification Palace, walk on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, away from Saigon River direction until you reach Vo Van Tan Street, turn left again and walk straight to the War Remnants Museum (Phong Trung Bay Toi Ac Chien Tranh) near Le Quy Don Street.

Bus travel :

Traveling on bus is recommended when you are new to the city and want to have a quick tour. Buses are new, clean and air-conditioned. Ticket fares from VND2,000 to VND5,000 per way per person. There are many bus routes but for tourists, these 2 buses are good for city tour:

- Airport Bus (Xe Buyt San Bay) connects Tan Son Nhat Airport and City Center including backpackers' area Pham Ngu Lao Street, De Tham Street, etc.

- Cholon Bus (Xe Buyt Cho Lon) leads you to China Town in District 5.

Semporna, Malaysia
posts: 5,949
reviews: 48
4. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

Hi Batt,

You can click this link. It works in my Inside Page but not in the copy.



posts: 1,276
reviews: 15
5. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

I think I must agree with Land. The first thing you will notice after leaving the airport is the unrelenting traffic. Seemingly every street, including alleyways, is clogged with vehicles, mostly motorbikes. . Traffic laws are obeyed sporadically. Crossing streets is an adventure.

HCMC has an abundance of everything, but the one thing that stands out most is the people. They are genuinely warm, friendly and happy. Often when asking for directions, you will be shown to your destination as opposed to being pointed in the right direction. While HCMC is a big city, it still has the feel of a collection of villages.

You should expect to bargain for the prices of most items except in the set-price shops and supermarkets. Don't be alarmed by seemingly aggressive vendors in the marketplace such as Ben Thanh market. There is just so much competition and so many bargains to be found.

HCMC is a study in contrasts with many old stately French and Chinese buildings standing side by side with new modern office and apartment buildings. The city is undergoing a building boom but still no true skyscrapers.

District 1 is the most tourist friendly area and is quite walkable. Before crossing the street, observe how the locals do it. It took me a while to get the knack of it, but now it's second nature to me. Some of the other districts are not as walkable because of so much clutter on the sidewalks (motorcycles, vendors and anything else you can think of). You'll often have to venture into the street to pass. Expect to see beautiful tree-lined streets as well as grungy alleyways.

There are plenty of taxis, hotels and restaurants and they are quite reasonably priced. The low end hotels(mini hotels) offer great value and wonderful service. You will see restaurants everywhere you look. If you are adventurous, eat where the locals eat and you'll probably get much more interesting food than the touristy places serve.

Be sure to visit some of the parks such as Dam Sen Park. It has a variety of activities and is quite picturesque.

In spite of the traffic, HCMC is an easy city to get around in . Taxis are everywhere and it's still quite cheap to travel a faily long distance within the city. Most drivers are honest but there are a few bad apples.

While HCMC is the financial center of VN and the resultig prosperity is in evidence, you will also encounter quite a bit of poverty as well. You are sure to encounter beggars and disabled people. Many will tug at your heartstrings.

All in all it's a vibrant and wonderful city. I have been there 6 times and never get tired of it. If you have time be sure to venture out into the provinces in the Meking Delta. . There you will encounter a small sample the real Vietnam and the true beauty of its people.

San Diego, CA
posts: 302
6. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time


I agreed with everything you said... I'd like to add for the tourist that "dare" to venture out of Saigon to the surrounding small cities, I find the most satisfying from my trips knowing the people there. They're relatively "poorer" compared to the well being of the Saigonese but they seem to be very happy.

The food is cheaper too as you go away from the center of Saigon. Just my $0.02.


posts: 2,116
reviews: 18
7. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

How far is the mekon delta from Siagon and what would you suggest is the best plans to go there if we were staying in Saigon for say 8 nights.

posts: 6,910
reviews: 25
8. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

thank you so much land and bonketoo

it makes me feel like im there already !

can you do all this walking and looking all in 1 day ? surely not ?



Semporna, Malaysia
posts: 5,949
reviews: 48
9. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

Batt, for city tour, I think you need 2 days.


Semporna, Malaysia
posts: 5,949
reviews: 48
10. Re: What's it like to visit Ho Chi Minh City for the first time

Dan Que,

I think the same. When visiting remote areas, we feel differently.

I myself feel many Saigonese is stressful for they have to work hard and move in that level of traffic. Cost of living is higher too.