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For travelers and locals alike, the start of the day has its own magic in Ho Chi Minh City. Men squat on the sidewalk and tenderly bathe their gem colored pet roosters with soapy rags. Older matriarchs sashay through public parks in their floral pajamas and exercise in unspoken synchronicity. A city of contradictions, Ho Chi Minh has both towering skyscrapers and tree-lined streets with ageing villas. Haute cuisine, or humble street food, history or modernity, this city offers both in spades. —Nanna Arnadottir

Ho Chi Minh Weather Overview

The local Saigonese often dub the weather as “a teenager with mood swings” because of how unpredictable it is. Let’s imagine on a sunny Sunday, you dress fancy and put on some nice make-up to go out with your friends. Suddenly while you’re out, it starts raining heavily even if the sun is still shining brightly. Then after a moment of thinking “WHY ME?”, you put on your ugly raincoat, and then the rain stops. Then all you can do is shake your fist at the laughing sky. This is how Saigon weather is.

Geographically, Saigon has what you would call a tropical climate which consists of a dry season (November to April) and a wet season (May – October). But the humorous youth of Saigon usually joke that just like many Western countries, you can break down Saigon’s weather into 4 seasons as well! But don’t expect your standard spring, summer, fall and winter. Over here, it is the hot season, the very hot season, the extremely hot season and yes you guessed it, the wet season.

Check the  below table to have the general idea of Ho Chi Minh weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 31.7 25.9 21.1
Feb 33.3 26.9 22.2
Mar 34.4 28.4 24.2
Apr 34.8 29.1 25.3
May 34.4 28.7 25.2
Jun 33.3 27.9 24.4
Jul 32.6 27.3 23.9
Aug 32.8 27.5 24.2
Sep 32.1 27 23.9
Oct 32.2 26.9 23.6
Nov 32.2 26.9 23.2
Dec 32 26.6 22

 

Best time to go to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the drier months of December to March, when temperatures range between 21°C and 34°C. 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 colourful spectacle, but prices are higher and getting around may be difficult due to the large numbers of people travelling.

May to September sees frequent showers with monthly rainfall levels of 200 to 300mm during this period. The rains tend to come in short bursts, so it's possible to still enjoy sunny days during these wet summer months. Just be sure to bring an umbrella to avoid being caught out! The peak period for typhoons to hit Ho Chi Minh City is from July to November.

Ho Chi Minh Seasonal Weather Guide

Saigon in the Dry Season

Most of the tourists prefer to visit Saigon in December and January so this influx of tourists makes those the busiest months of the year. Those are the time when the heat is no longer a reason to stop you from walking around and enjoy the atmosphere of Saigon. In the mornings, the temperature can be as cool as 17°C (62°F) , and as the day progresses, it will normally increase to around 24- 26°C (75 – 78°F) in the afternoons and evenings.

December, January and February are also the months of festivals. During this time, the buzzing city will become more beautiful with lots of twinkling lights and festive decorations everywhere. Although Vietnam is predominantly Buddhist, the Christmas spirit is not non-existent in Saigon. In fact, it is quite popular. You will be surprised to see many huge Christmas trees and Christmas decorations in every corner of this wonderful place. And don’t forget store discounts too!

The streets and traffic will be crazier since many people go out during this time and enjoy the atmosphere. January and February are when the Vietnamese celebrate New Year and Lunar New Year (A.K.A Tet Holiday). Many activities will be held during these two months. Saigon will be livelier with ornamental flowers and Tet-related music playing everywhere. But the city gets quite empty during the actual days of the Lunar New Year as locals will go to their home provinces in the country and the city will look quite deserted. Try not to miss out on this almost-Armageddon-like experience.

As the dry season goes on, March and April get hotter and dryer. The heat peak occurs in summer as the highs can hit around 36 – 40°C (97 – 104°F) in most days. Don’t freak out, my friend. You can easily find ACs in many hotels/hostel, shopping centers and coffee venues all over Saigon. Cooling down with a “ca phe sua da” (Vietnamese iced-milk coffee) is one of the most local experiences you can have.

Highlights of Visiting in the Dry Season:

  • On tourist season (December to February) accommodation price can be increased up to 30% so be prepared.
  • During Tet holidays, most shops, local restaurant and shopping malls will close down. However, you can still visit some tourist destinations such as some museums, Independence Palace and some.
  • The shopaholic travelers will definitely love November and December as it is sale time. On fashion streets such as Nguyen Trai and Le Van Si, you will see many sale signs up to 50% or 70% off everywhere.
  • Many tourists that travel to Saigon in the dry season usually pay a visit to the Mekong Delta for a few days. If you don’t mind the heat and butt pain, I suggest you to take a road trip by motorcycle to visit the floating market in Can Tho. The crystal clear sky and the rural life of the Mekong Delta, which is completely different than what you normally see in the west, will amaze you. Also, from April to May is fruit season (yum!). Therefore, you can enjoy living your tropical dream eating a lot of delicious fruits like rambutans and longan berries while drinking fresh coconut juice. C’EST LA VIE! 

Saigon in the Wet Season

After so many crazy hot days, the rain starts pouring down in intervals to cool off Saigon and help the crops and the people. This is a sign that the monsoon season is about to begin. From May to the beginning of November, the humidity is higher than average and heavy showers happen frequently. Beware that the water might drop non-stop for some days in a row – especially when the storms hit the city in August, September and October. An interesting (yet annoying) fact about the rainy season in Saigon is that some streets will be flooded regardless big rain or small because of bad drainage.

Highlights of Visiting in the Wet Season:

  • If you decide to go around the city (or Vietnam) by motorbike, you should make sure that you know how to prevent water from entering your motorbike’s muffler. Otherwise, you will have to walk with your bike if it dies on the flooded streets.
  • The tourist attractions in town will still be open as a sign showing that everyday is a good day to visit Saigon.
  • Cheap accommodation is the biggest benefit brought by the wet season. If you are on a budget then bingo! You know when to go.
  • Lightning will occur sometimes. My advice is to unplug your laptop and earphone when there is a thunder storm.
  • “Saigon in the rain” is such an inspiration for anyone who loves photography

Ho Chi Minh's Current Weather and 7-day Forecast

HO CHI MINH CITY WEATHER

Ho Chi Minh City is an overwhelming place – and not just because of the traffic. There’s so much do here, whether you’re a lover of history, art, cuisine, culture or nightlife. With so many great options, many travelers worry they’ll leave something out. But don’t fret, here’s what you should do.

Riverboat tour

Nothing can compare with the charm of a river tour – to hear the waves lapping with a drink in hand and a cool breeze on your skin. Even if you’re on a budget, there are options, and if you have money to spend, this is one activity we highly recommend you splurge on. The more reputable companies offer amazing dinner and drinks packages, and on boats you have to see to believe. We love the range of views you get from the river as well, from the skyscrapers of downtown to the lush jungle foliage mere minutes up the river. This is a very cool way to see this city.

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral

If you only have one day in Ho Chi Minh City, make time to visit this building. The elegance of this area is something to see, especially next to the colossal trees in 30-4 Park and the colonial post office next door. The cathedral itself was built in the late 19th century, with materials imported from France, and offers a beautiful glimpse of a bygone era in this historic city. And since this cathedral is walking distance from the next item on this list, you can fit a lot of sightseeing into one afternoon.

Independence Palace

For history buffs, the Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, is an absolute must. This is the site of those famous images of tanks crashing through gates during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Aside from the stunning grounds and impressive architecture, the inside of this building almost feels like you’ve gone back in time. You can see where the southern government operated the executive branch during the Vietnam War – even the bomb bunker in the basement, where the maps still hang on the walls.

Dine along the Saigon River

When you set foot outside around lunchtime in this city, you’ll understand why most people do everything they can to avoid the midday sun. It’ll cook you in minutes, leaving you burnt and miserable. That’s why you should leave the best for dusk, when the sun glows orange on the smoggy horizon and the heat tapers off. For one of the best dining experiences in the city, head to Thao Dien ward in District 2 and dine along the river. There are several excellent choices, including The Deck, The Boathouse and Villa Song Saigon. Trust us, they’re worth the trip.

War Remnants Museum

You probably won’t leave this museum feeling too good about humanity, but that’s the point. This museum is there to remind us of the horrors of war. For most people around the world, the Vietnam War is something that happened in a faraway time and place – not for Vietnamese people, though. This museum takes an abstract conflict and shows us the real people it affected. It shows the struggles endured by the Vietnamese people. This museum plays an important role in the healing process for Vietnam, by showing visitors from around the world how the war changed this nation.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Alright, so you’ve had a somber visit to the War Remnants Museum, now it’s time to lift your spirits again. For one of the best looks at social and dating life in Ho Chi Minh City, head to Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Here you’ll see families enjoying time together and young couples chatting away, taking more selfies than you ever imagined possible. This is a scene to behold at night, when thousands of people come to mingle and enjoy a cool, downtown evening, surrounded by some impressive architecture: the looming Bitexco Tower, the wall of cafes at 42 Nguyen Hue, the statue of Ho Chi Minh and even the old colonial city hall.

Motorbike tour

Despite the massive influx of new vehicles, Vietnam is still a motorbike nation – so get out of the taxi and onto two wheels. There’s no other way to really feel the manic vitality of this mega city – and no other feeling can quite match the raw adrenaline of flowing along in crazy traffic. But driving in Saigon is also lethally dangerous, so let the professionals do it for you. There’s many tour companies with experienced drivers who are also fluent in English. You could head out on your own, but we highly recommend you let someone else drive until you understand how the traffic flows here.

Visit New Japan Town

Most of the items on this list are front and center in every travel guide, but not this one. New Japan Town in Bình Thạnh District is a hip and upcoming area in one of this city’s coolest wards. Little Tokyo in District 1 is more famous, but we’re huge fans of Little Japan. It’s where Japanese entrepreneurs are setting up shop these days. There are so many interesting little bars and restaurants in this area, whether you’re looking for Japanese or Vietnamese. As development continues to change this city at a crazy rate, look no further than the nearby Vinhomes Central Park, this is one area that still feels like authentic Saigon. To find the area, explore north of where Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh Street almost touches Trường Sa Street, near the canal.

Drinks with a view

If you find that the streets are too hectic for your liking, escape the madness by elevating your evening. There are so many excellent rooftop bars, so you’ll probably have a hard time deciding. If you’re in the backpackers area and don’t want to stray too far, The View is exactly as advertised. But if you have some extra money to spend and want one of the best experiences in the city, check out EON51 in the landmark Bitexco Tower. To see most of the better options, go to this article and check out the section on rooftop bars.

Bui Vien Street

When the night is winding down and the respectable places are shoving you out the door, you’re just in time for the peak weirdness of Bui Vien. This notorious stretch of lewd behavior never shuts down, and even if you want nothing to do with the seedier aspects of Bui Vien, this street is a sensory overload that’s worth taking in at least once. There are fire breathers, strange foods, sidewalk bars, dubious massage parlors, beady-eyed “friends”, gangsters and enough bars to keep you hopping all night long. Keep your phones and cameras in safe places, though, as this is also the petty crime capital of Vietnam.

The best Ho Chi Minh City dishes are well regarded as nutritious, savoury, and hearty delights that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Some of the defining traits in Vietnamese cuisine include rice, noodles, seafood, pork and beef, as well as various fresh herbs and spices, all of which result in robust flavours and unique interpretations. Although the city is evolving into a cosmopolitan landscape with sprawling shopping malls, fine-dining restaurants and luxury hotels, you can still find plenty of roadside eateries, vibrant street market, and street food carts to satisfy your appetite for authentic Vietnamese delicacies

#1 - Banh Beo

Part of the cuisine from central Vietnam, banh beo (literally “water fern cake”) are small round discs of rice flour, formed to look like lily flower pads found in the estates surrounding the old imperial city of Hue. Topped with crunchy pork rinds and toasted shrimp powder and served with fish sauce, they are a very rewarding dish to share as they usually come in multiples of 8 or 10.

Where: Nam Giao

  • Address: 136 Le Thanh Ton Street, in an alleyway behind Ben Thanh market. District 1
  • Tel.: +84 (8) 3825 0261

#2 - Banh Da Xuc Hen 

Banh da xuc hen is a lovely and satisfying snack. A large rice paper crisp with hints of sesame and coconut arrives on a plate. It looks bare, but then you lift up the rice cracker and peek underneath, finding a pile of teeny tiny clams fried in lemongrass, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), chilli, onion and garlic. It is a simple dish in terms of ingredients but the taste is profoundly different than anything else I have tried. If you want a heavier version of this plate, opt for the com hen, rice topped with the same type of clams and served with a small bowl of clam broth on the side.

Where: Hong Hanh

  • Address: 17A Nguyen Thi Minh Khao Street, District 1
  • Tel.: +84 (8) 3827 4252

#3 - Banh Canh Cua

Banh canh noodles are Vietnam’s version of udon, a thicker noodle that can be made with either tapioca flour, rice flour, or a combination of the two. The cua in this soup is crab, and the result is a viscous crab soup with thick noodles — not for those who shrink from goopy foods. Thickened with tapioca flour (and thus gluten free) it’s a satisfying meal for those who like their food consistencies to be adventurous, and with chillies, green onions, and fresh lime on top, a very tasty bowl.

Where: Kim Long

  • Adress: 80/68 Tran Quang Dieu Street, District 3
  • Tel.: +84 (8) 3843 6498

#4 - Banh Cuon

Steamed rice crepes filled with wood ear mushrooms and ground pork often seasoned with white pepper, banh cuon are a wonderful breakfast meal that covers all bases. I’d take this for breakfast over eggs and bacon any day, to the consternation of Western friends. But why not? You’ve got your carbs, your meat, your vegetables, and it comes topped with lightly steamed bean sprouts, chopped basil, and fried curls of shallots. It’s filling but not heavy, peppery but not too spicy. The dish literally translates to “rolled cake”, and originated up North, but is prevalent throughout Saigon. Each bite can be dipped into a sweet fish sauce with as much chilli as you’d like to add. When heading to the restaurant below, also try the fried bean cakes (photo below). Bonus points for the cutest chilli holder in all of Saigon.

Where: Banh Cuon Tay Ho 1

  • Address: 127 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, District 1

#5 - Banh Xeo

Banh xeo is a savoury pancake that’s made of rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, stuffed with ingredients such as pork slices, shrimps, sliced onions, bean sprouts, and button mushrooms. Unlike the ones you find in Nha Trang and Hanoi, banh xeo in Ho Chi Minh City is much smaller in portion as it is usually eaten as a snack or appetiser. The best way to enjoy banh xeo is by wrapping it in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice wrappers, together with mint leaves, basil, herbs, and sweet fermented peanut butter sauce. Lastly, dip it in a sweet and sour fish sauce.

Where: Banh Xeo 46A

  • Address: 46A Đinh Công Tráng, Tân Định, Quận 1
  • Tel.: +84 28 3824 1110

#6 - Banh Khot

The little round pancake is made from mixed flour, curry powder, and then filled with seafood such as shrimp and squid, and then finally topped with green onion and shrimp powder.

To eat the dish in the proper way, you have to start by putting papaya and some chilli into the bowl of fish sauce and mix it up. Then, grab a nice big piece of lettuce and put on it some herbs to your liking. Next, you dip the banh khot in the fish sauce and then place it over the herbs on the lettuce and top it with some papaya. Finally, wrap it all up, dip it again into the fish sauce and enjoy!

Even though the crispy banh khot is heavily fried, the actual taste is still light when you mix it with the greens, so you won’t get sick of it. Legend is that you will want to eat at least 10. No less, but maybe more.

Where: Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau

  • Address: 40B Trần Cao Vân near the Turtle Pond

#7 - Banh Mi

Available almost everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, banh mi is a quintessential Vietnamese dish that you should never miss out on. This baguette sandwich is priced between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000, with pickled vegetables, pate, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chilies, and hot peppers. Quick and tasty, you can also choose from a variety of meat fillings for your banh mi, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausages), xiu mai (meatballs), thit ga (boiled chicken), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), and xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).

#8 - Pho Noodles

Pho is rice noodle that’s served in a flavourful soup with beef, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and greens such as basil, mint, cilantro, and onions with a side of chilli sauce for added spice. A basic bowl contains tai (beef slices), bo vien (beef meatballs) or nam (beef flank), but diners can also opt for more exotic ingredients such as gan (beef tendon), sach (thinly-sliced pig stomach), and ve don (flank with cartilage). This popular breakfast option is priced between VND 20,000 and VND 30,000 at any local restaurant or street market in Ho Chi Minh City.

#9 - Oc (Vietnamese Shellfish)

Best enjoyed with cold beers, oc refers to platters of Vietnamese shellfish that are prepared in varying methods. Due to its popularity, there are plenty of roadside stalls and inexpensive restaurants with raw snails, blood cockles, clams, shrimps, and crabs displayed out front. After selecting those that strike your fancy, you can enjoy them grilled, sautéed, curried, or steamed. Priced at VND 20,000 onwards, we highly recommend grilled mussels with scallion oil and peanuts (chem chep nuong), blood cockles sautéed in tamarind sauce (so huyet ran me), and clams steamed with lemongrass.

#10 - Com Tam (Broken Rice)

Com tam is actually ‘broken rice’ in Vietnamese, usually served with fried egg, diced green onions, and a variety of meats such as suon nuong (barbecued pork chop), bi (shredded pork skin), and cha trung (steamed pork and egg patty). Diners can also enjoy this dish with a side of pickled vegetables, cucumber slices, and nuoc cham Vietnamese dipping sauce. Com tam can be enjoyed any time of the day as it is relatively inexpensive, with street markets and roadside food stalls selling for about VND 20,000 per bowl.

#11 - Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Goi cuon or Vietnamese spring rolls comprise vermicelli noodles, pork slices, shrimp, basil, and lettuce tightly wrapped in translucent banh trang (rice papers). Due to its very subtle flavour, you can dip it in a mix of freshly ground chilli and hoisin-based dipping sauce topped with crushed peanuts. This traditional appetiser is a healthier alternative to cha gio, which is a deep-fried egg roll made with a combination of mung bean noodles, minced pork, and various spices.

#12 - Hu Tieu (Rice Noodles)

Hu tieu is a subtler version of pho noodles, featuring a clear pork-based broth, flat rice noodles, and an assortment of pork toppings. There are also countless variations available in Ho Chi Minh City, though the most popular one is hu tieu xuong, which is topped with pork ribs. Alternatively, you can enjoy hu tieu with shrimp, squid, or fish if you’re not a fan of pork. A bowl of hu tieu is usually priced at VND 18,000 at street stalls and VND 25,000 onwards if you’re dining at more established restaurants.

#13 - Ca Kho To (Caramelised Fish in Clay Pot)

Served in numerous Vietnamese restaurants within Ho Chi Minh City, ca kho to refers to catfish braised in a clay pot. This dish is prepared by cutting a whole catfish into fillets before it’s braised in a thick gravy made with a combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic, and various spices and seasonings. Due to its intense sweet-salty flavour, ca kho to is always served with a plate of white rice.

#14 - Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork)

A hearty dish in Ho Chi Minh City, bun thit nuong features vermicelli rice noodles with freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrot, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled yet tender pork shoulder. Diners can also opt for bun thit nuong cha gio, which comes with crunchy slices of cha gio (deep-fried eggrolls). As with most Vietnamese dishes, you also get a side of nuoc cham sauce to mix into the bun thit nuong for a flavourful ensemble.

By flight

Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is Vietnam’s major domestic aviation hub. If a city in Vietnam has an airport, chances are there’s a flight to HCMC. Domestic routes are serviced by Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air and/or Jetstar Pacific.

Destinations include: Buon Ma Thuot, Ca Mau, Con Dao, Da Lat, Da Nang, Dong Hoi, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Pleiku, Qui Nhon, Rach Gia, Thanh Hoa, Tuy Hoa and Vinh.

Tan Son Nhat is also the country’s international gateway, with direct flights from Southeast Asia, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. It’s just a 5-10 minute walk between the international and domestic terminal.

Getting / from the airport

Tan Son Nhat is located right in the city, in Tan Binh District about 7 km northwest of the city centre and backpacker neighbourhood Pham Ngu Lao. During lighter traffic, the journey to the city centre can be as quick as 20 minutes. In rush hour and/or rain, it can take as long as one hour. Allow for plenty of time to get to the airport.

The airport is well serviced by taxis and a trip to District 1 will cost around 150,000 to 180,000 dong. When exiting the international terminal, ignore the booths inside the building offering taxi or limo services. Head outside and to the left there is an informal taxi queue where uniformed company reps will try to whisk you into their company cars, but know that you can choose whatever taxi company you like.

At the risk of being overly cautious, there are only two meter taxi you should use: green Mai Linh, and white with red and green Vinasun Taxi. Check the branding before getting in as other taxis will use similar colours or logos. If you feel the melee is too intense or can’t locate a Mai Linh or Vinasun Taxi, head upstairs to the departures terminal and get one from there.

When taking a taxi to the airport, passengers pay the 10,000 dong entrance fee. Pham Ngu Lao guesthouses offer a flat rate transfer to the airport for 200,000 dong.

Grab and Uber transportation apps are undercutting traditional meter taxis and motorbike taxis. It’s as much as 50% cheaper, with a fare between the centre and airport around 70,000 dong. Obviously, the regular taxis are not happy and there have been a few skirmishes between the clans near transport hubs. So far these have been isolated incidences but if you choose to use the app, it’s wise not to flaunt your choice to the taxi guys.

Taking a xe om is only advisable if you have a small backpack or luggage. To find them, leave the airport and walk to where they hang out, a five minute walk away. The trip should cost no more than 50,000-75,000 dong.

Bus is the cheapest way and there are several options. It’s best to get the bus from the international terminal as they are far more frequent; again, it’s a 5-10 minute walk from domestic to international. The bus route ends at Cong Vieng 23/9 (23/9 Park) station, conveniently located on Pham Ngu Lao across from the backpacker area.

Bus #49 airport shuttle bus goes direct from the airport to Cong Vieng 23/9 without stops. From airport to city, the bus departs every 20-30 minutes from 05:00-02:00. From city to airport, the bus departs every 20-30 minutes from 05:00-23:00. The trip costs 40,000 dong and takes 30 minutes.

Bus #109 departs every 15-30 minutes from 05:45-01:30, making frequent stops along the way including Ham Nghi St station (which replaces the nearby Ben Thanh market station, closed as of 2017 due to metro construction). This costs 20,000 dong and takes 45-60 minutes.

Bus #152 is a slow, old bus that departs around every 30 minutes from 06:00-18:00, making frequent stops along the way including Ham Nghi St station. this costs 6,000 dong and takes 60 minutes.

By bus

If you take a bus into Ho Chi Minh City, you will end up at one of the following bus stations:

  • Cho Ben Thanh Bus Station. This is right in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, within walking distance of accommodation options and tourist sights.
  • Mien Dong Bus Station. Buses heading north arrive and leave from here. You can take bus No. 19 from Cho Ben Thanh Bus station to this station. You can take bus No. 45 from Mien Dong Bus Station to Ben Thanh Bus Station (5,000 Dong).
  • Mien Tay Bus Station. Take bus No. 139 from Tran Hung Dao Street to get here.
  • Cholon Bus Station. Take bus No.1 from Ben Thanh Market to get here.
  • Dinh Bo Linh station. MaiLinh buses from Da Nang arrive here. The driver of the first cab (Vinasun) hailed outside the bus station quoted VND 150k (Sep 2013) for three people with two large backpacks and a large case to go to Bui Vien, District 1. No haggling was required. At the drop-off point, the meter (which appears to come on automatically once a passenger seat is occupied) showed VND 142k!

From these stations, public buses in around the city will cost you 5,000 dong per journey.

Most private tour company buses drop passengers off on Pham Ngu Lao just west of De Tham, providing easy access to accommodation options in the backpacker area. Of course, this means that you'll have at least 40 people shopping for the same rooms, which can be daunting as the nearby spots get snapped up. Patience will reward those who dig deeper into the tiny alleys, which have a life of their own. The French and German embassies warn of taking "Open Tour" buses.

As you hop out of the bus, taxi drivers will surround you with questions like "Where you go?". You might be confused about your location in the city and the taxi drivers will probably try to benefit from that. You'll most likely already be in Pham Ngu Lao and when you tell taxi driver to head to the same place, he'll just zigzag around a few blocks, getting easy money from you.

Bus tickets for tourist buses can be bought from the office on De Thám in the Pham Ngu Lao district. This is often cheaper than going through a hotel as they'll likely round up the ticket price into dollars then round up again if you want to pay in dong.

Several companies provide bus travel from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at approximately US$12 per person. Visas to Vietnam cannot be obtained at the border, so have one organized before you arrive (see "Cope" below). Capital Tours operates a popular bus line 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 Ho Chi Minh City.

If you are travelling from HCM to Cambodia, many companies, including Khai Nam and Mekong Express buses, will ask for your passport and 35 USD for a 'VIP visa service'. The visa price is currently 30 USD. If you tell them you will do it yourself, the bus MAY drive off and you will have to walk or take a motorbike ( obviously paying) to the restaurant where they are stopped further down the road from the border. It seems the preferred stop for Mekong Express buses is about 900 metres from the border, while for Khai Nam services it is about 4 km from the border! See more details about this in the second 'scam alert' info box on the Cambodia page.

You can take a night bus from nearby cities to get to Ho Chi Minh (eg: from Nha Trang, the journey is ~11hrs by bus). Although the chairs lie mostly flat, they are very narrow and the bus ride quite bumpy so it is very difficult to actually get any sleep. If you value your sleep, take the train.

By train

Ga Sài Gòn (Saigon Train Station; http://www.saigonrailway.com.vn) is on Cach Mang Thang Tam (CMT8) northwest of the city centre, and is a short taxi (50.000 VND to Pham Ngu Lao area, feb/13) or public bus ride away from the main hotel districts. An official train ticket office is located in the backpackers district at 275C 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 11:00 pm and arriving at 5:00 am two nights later. However, SE5 departing at 3:45 pm and arriving at 4:40 am has higher-quality tourist carriages run by the private company Livitrans attached to it. Ticket prices are from 1,008,000 – 1,547,000 dong for standard carriages and double that for the tourist ones. Trains are safe, aircon, comfortable, pretty fast and quite reliable.

Vietnam’s commercial capital and largest city, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon, as it’s known to most locals) is divided into 24 districts and has a population of more than eight million.

Despite its large population, Ho Chi Minh City’s centre is dense and compact, making it easy to stay close to the action.
As a visitor to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll want to stay either in District 1, which is where you’ll find almost all of the city’s cultural, historical and commercial attractions, or in District 3, which is a cheaper, more “local” district close to the city centre.

Within District 1, you’ll find several different areas, each of which offers a different experience for people visiting Ho Chi Minh City. We’ve listed all of the best areas to stay in Saigon below, along with our top hotel recommendations for each neighbourhood.

District 1 (Nguyen Hue/Dong Khoi)

Luxury Hotels in Nguyen Hue/Dong Khoi

The Reverie Saigon

Arguably Vietnam’s most luxurious hotel, The Reverie Saigon offers opulent rooms with ornate designer furniture and spectacular views over District 1. A perfect choice if you want to indulge and treat yourself while in Ho Chi Minh City.

Park Hyatt Saigon

Equally as luxurious as The Reverie but more elegant and understated, the Park Hyatt Saigon offers a great selection of high-end rooms and suites with world class facilities.

Mid Range Hotels in Nguyen Hue/Dong Khoi

Continental Hotel Saigon

Saigon’s oldest luxury hotel, the Continental Hotel Saigon has one of the best locations in the city and a great selection of rooms that, although dated by modern standards, offer an exciting trip back in time to the colonial Saigon of the 1920s.

Sunny Serviced Apartment

This mid-priced serviced apartment building on Le Thanh Ton offers a great selection of rooms with kitchens and cooking equipment, plus one of the best locations in the city for people that want to be close to the Dong Khoi area and Japantown.

Budget Hotels in Nguyen Hue/Dong Khoi

Roseland Inn Hotel

Located on Hai Ba Trung, this budget hotel is a short distance from Dong Khoi, Nguyen Hue and other major shopping streets. Rooms are clean and simply decorated, offering great value in an area better known for luxury than good deals.

District 1 (Ben Thanh)

Luxury Hotels in Ben Thanh

Norfolk Hotel Saigon

With a great location on Le Thanh Ton Street, the Norfolk Hotel Saigon offers luxurious rooms and great facilities a short walk from the War Remnants Museum and other attractions.

Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint

Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint is a modern four star hotel located on Pasteur Street, a short walk away from Nguyen Hue, the War Remnants Museum and Ben Thanh Market.

Mid Range Hotels in Ben Thanh

Grand Silverland Hotel & Spa

With clean and modern rooms, a rooftop pool and a convenient location just minutes from Ben Thanh Market, Grand Silverland Hotel & Spa is a great mid-priced option in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

A&EM – Corner Saigon Hotel

Another mid-priced option, A&EM Corner Saigon Hotel has comfortable rooms and a rooftop pool in a great location close to Ben Thanh Market.

Budget Hotels in Ben Thanh

Thien Hai Hotel

Cheap, clean and simple, Thien Hai Hotel offers small but comfortable rooms in a great location on Ly Tu Trong Street, close to Ben Thanh Market and a short walk from Nguyen Hue.

Happy Land Hotel

Another clean and simple budget option, Happy Land Hotel has a great location on Ly Tu Trong Street close to Ben Thanh Market and the centre of District 1.

District 1 (Pham Ngu Lao/Bui Vien)

Luxury Hotels in Pham Ngu Lao

Pullman Saigon Centre

The only luxury hotel in the Pham Ngu Lao area, the Pullman Saigon Centre is located on Tran Hung Dao, a short walk away from Pham Ngu Lao and a quick taxi ride into Nguyen Hue, Dong Khoi and other popular shopping streets.

Mid Range Hotels in Pham Ngu Lao

Liberty Saigon Greenview

Located right on Pham Ngu Lao, Liberty Saigon Greenview is a comfortable three star hotel with clean, modern rooms and a much quieter atmosphere than hotels on nearby Bui Vien.

Elios Hotel

Another three star hotel, Elios Hotel offers modern rooms, a great spa and pleasant views over the District 1 skyline, making it a great option if you’re seeking comfort in Saigon’s backpacker area.

Budget Hotels in Pham Ngu Lao

Meraki Hotel

This two star hotel on Bui Vien offers great value for money and a convenient location close to nearby restaurants, cafés and bars. While the noise level isn’t zero, it’s more tolerable than in other hotels on Bui Vien.

My Hotel

Cheap, simple and comfortable, the rooms in My Hotel are some of the best you’ll find in a low cost hotel near Bui Vien. Located on Tran Hung Dao, this hotel is a short walk away from bars and other nightlife but far enough away to avoid most of the noise.

District 3

Mid Range Hotels in District 3

Oakwood Apartments Ho Chi Minh City

Oakwood Apartments offers modern, spacious serviced apartments in a great location less than 10 minutes from District 1 by taxi. A great choice for long-term visitors.

Le Duy Grand Hotel

This comfortable three-star hotel on Cach Mang Thang Tam offers modern rooms and facilities that include an outdoor pool and sauna.

Budget Hotels in District 3

Hotel LeBlanc Saigon

Located on a quiet lane off Nguyen Dinh Chieu, this family-owned hotel offers clean, simple and comfortable rooms in a convenient location less than 10 minutes from District 1.

Ms. Yang Homestay

This friendly local guesthouse on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is a favourite of backpackers seeking a quieter, more peaceful location than nearby Bui Vien. Rooms are simple, clean and comfortable, with fair pricing that offers great value for money.

TOUR PACKAGES INCLUDING "Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)"

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Vietnam BLOG ARTICLES

Hue Festival is a biennial celebration that takes place in Hue City. Here you can enjoy an array of cultural events, games, and performances held over the course of a week. Founded in 2000, the festival is held to preserve the traditional customs that have been practiced since the Nguyen Dynasty.

...more

On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

...more

The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture and may also serve to educate those who have an interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

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Backpacking Vietnam… If you are seeking epic adventures, unique experiences, mouth watering foods and ancient historical sights; Vietnam is the place for you. Once upon a time, the very mention of Vietnam conjured up images of war-torn destination but now Vietnam is a backpacker haven and travelling in Vietnam is a popular part of many Southeast Asian adventures.

Backpacking Vietnam offers an incredible opportunity to get off the beaten track… Explore dramatic mountains in the North, stop in for some corn wine and a friendly chat with the locals before heading south to party the night away…

Many travelers opt to explore Vietnam by motorcycle. Vietnam is a big country and there are lots of Vietnam backpacking itineraries on offer… The most popular backpacking route is heading from Hanoi to Saigon.

Backpacking in Vietnam is a great choice for backpackers on account of the super cheap cost of living and the plentiful adventures.

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The phrase ‘banana pancakes trail’ is the stuff of legend in Southeast Asia’s backpacker route. Along the banks of the Mekong, across many a dorm room and questionable dive bar, backpackers come to learn the story of the first tourists to travel ‘on the ground’, making a conscious effort to immerse themselves in local life. Decades later, their influence is having transformed the region: tourism here is now the fastest growing on Earth, receiving a quarter of total travelers worldwide. 

When you travel through Southeast Asia these days, it is hard to imagine that tourism was almost non-existent just a half century ago. Here is the story of how hippies, guidebooks and banana pancakes helped to create one of the most famous backpacker routes in the world.
 

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Lantern Festival is celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar (usually falls around mid-February of Gregorian calendar). The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. 

Originally, the holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. In some other Asian countries such as Thailand or Laos, the festival is celebrated around late October or early November to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent & the beginning of the festive season.

During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. 

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Thailand
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Cambodia
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There's a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure.
Myanmar
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
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Vivid nature, voluptuous landscapes and a vibrant culture collide with a painful past and optimistic future to make Laos an enigmatic experience for the adventurous.
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