Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Ho Chi Minh City
Must Drink the Ice coffee with condensed milk there, so awesome, amazingly delicious!!! Can't say enough about it, wish I am having some now.
I thoroughly enjoyed the downtown area of Saigon. Shopping, dining and just watching the people go by was a really enjoyable time. Go and enjoy.
I am really amazed by the number of motorcycles there is in HCM city. But one must be brave enough to cross the busy roads with the bikes from all angles passing you no to mention cars too. The trick in crossing those busy roads is to walk across slowly and do not run, as the motorcyclist will be confused as to where you are running to which sides of the road. Just walk calmly across the road and they will avoid you.
In the words of those who've been there before ...
Saigon is a city that is steadily moving forward, albeit at a slow pace, whilst still retaining much of its history.
Ho Chi Minh City is a large, busy and fascinating city. Formerly known as Saigon, this former capital is an eclectic blend of the traditional and the modern. With historic attractions, fascinating day trips and bustling streets lined with food stalls and pavement cafes, there’s certainly plenty to see and do in three days in Ho Chi Minh City.
I only ever travel to Saigon (yes it's called Saigon only Ho Chi Minh if with senior party officials) on business so I haven't done the usual tourist things (not even a museum), but I always have a great time in Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh City becomes more vibrant, bright and exciting each time I arrive. Slowly but surely the city grows more modern and western while holding true to its historical and cultural roots.
What is the best way to get there?
Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is the usual destination for those coming to the south of Vietnam.
Do I need a visa?
Most visitors will need a visa to enter Vietnam. People in many African countries and parts of Asia are exempt from Vietnam visa requirements. Citizens of North American and European countries will need to obtain a visa. Check out this website to find out if you need to apply for a visa.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the drier months of December to March when temperatures range between 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) and 93 Fahrenheit (34 Celsius). Many like to visit during the Tet Festival (Vietnamese New Year) in late January or early February. The whole country joins in the festivities and it's a colorful spectacle, but prices are higher and getting around may be difficult due to the large numbers of people traveling.
See more about the weather in Ho Chi Minh City here.
Crossing the road in Saigon can be a nightmare. The trick is to disconnect the part of your brain that processes fear. Be Moses. Walk slowly and confidently — the sea of motor scooters will part every time.
This is the absolute most fun way to see this town. Note that your moto driver will be getting a kickback from some places he’s recommending. He needs it to live, so if you get a good moto, tip well.
If you decide that you want to experience riding around the city yourself, you can hire a motorbike for about 10$/day. Riding a motorbike requires a Vietnamese driving license, if you get a visa longer than 3 months, you are eligible for one.
Read more about getting around Ho Chi Minh City here.
On the ground
What is the timezone?
What are the voltage/plug types?
220V at 50Hz. Plugs are type A (two flat vertical pins), type C and type F (two round pins).
What is the currency?
Vietnamese Dong (VND).
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Only usually accepted at hotels and restaurants.
Is it easy to find a bank?
How much do I tip?
Tipping is not part of the culture in Vietnam, and you are not required to tip anywhere. There will be a service charge for more upscale restaurants. People more accustomed to receiving tips are tour guides and in Western-style hotels.
Are there local customs I should know?
Vietnamese people for long have been famed worldwide for their grace, politeness, generosity, and hospitality. When coming to the country, the locals are so friendly that you can rest assured that they will make every possible effort to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. And expatriates who reside in Vietnam for study or work are normally not so astonished when they are invited to visit and dine with a local family with whom they have just become acquainted. That’s simply the inherent hospitality of the Vietnamese.
Generally speaking, Vietnamese people are careful in their dress, especially in public areas. In order to avoid this culturally sensitive matter, foreign travelers are strongly advised to put on proper dress when they are out. For example, when visiting a local temple or pagoda, you should never wear a short-sleeved shirt or shorts. Instead, a long-sleeved and shoulder-covered shirt and long pants will be much more appreciated. Do keep in mind that, no matter how open-minded and care-free you are, others around you may be judgmental.
Read more about the culture in Vietnam here.