'''''Caution''''': some travellers have reported that taxi scams at the airport are rife. To avoid being scammed, read the information here as well as in the "[[#Get around|Get around]]" section.
'''''Caution''''': some travellers have reported that taxi scams at the airport are rife. To avoid being scammed, read the information here as well as in the "[[#Get around|Get around]]" section.
|−|Update: it's 2017. Use Uber or Grab. | |
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Revision as of 14:28, 19 September 2017
Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn) or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Afternoon siesta, near Ben Thanh Market
View of Ho Chi Minh City from Bitexco tower
Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was "officially" renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However the old Saigon name is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city to which most tourists flock.
What is today known as Ho Chi Minh City began as the Khmer fishing village of Prey Nokor. The village was situated on swampland and remained in the hands of the Khmer (Cambodians) for many centuries until floods of Vietnamese immigration arrived during the 17th Century A.D. The immigrants first came in 1623 with permission from the Cambodian king, but later waves came uninvited, while Cambodia was too weakened by a war with Thailand to stop them.
In 1698, Prey Nokor, and the whole lower Mekong river delta, was formally annexed by Vietnam and became known as Saigon. Prey Nokor had been the Khmer's most important sea port, and its loss isolated them from international commerce on the South China Sea. Saigon was a great gain to Vietnam, however, and soon grew into a major settlement.
After more than a century and a half under Vietnamese rule, Saigon fell to an invading coalition of French and Spanish forces in 1859 and then became part of the colony of French Indochina. Under French rule, Saigon was filled with Western architecture, and French villas still remain in the city to this day. French immigrants also filled Saigon and accounted for nearly 10% of the population by 1929.
When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, Saigon and French Indochina came under the administration of Vichy France, but within a matter of months, the Japanese had taken control. Technically, the Japanese and Vichy France "co-ruled" Saigon, but it was Japan that truly ran things.
In 1945, the Communist Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam independent and soon began a guerrilla war against the restored French colonial government. Capitalist Vietnamese declared their own state in 1949, with its capital in Saigon, re-establishing the former Vietnamese emperor until the Republic of Vietnam was declared in 1956. In 1954, the French relinquished control of Vietnam and left the Viet Minh in control of North Vietnam and the non-Communists in control of South Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City
During the 40's, the U.S. had supported the Viet Minh against the Japanese. During the 50's, they supported the French against all rebels. During the 60's, the United States defended South Vietnam against incursions from the Communist North. On April 30th, 1975, however, the U.S. ended all involvement in Vietnam, and the Viet Minh took Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City in 1976.
After the "Fall of Saigon," which the victors called the "Liberation of Saigon," many Saigon residents fled to the U.S. and elsewhere, creating a Vietnamese diaspora. While in this sense the city shrank, it grew in that its borders were expanded to include its suburbs and its whole province. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, having eight million inhabitants, and is the nation's economic hub, accounting for 20% of national GDP. The city also attracts many tourists, especially to its French District, museums and its numerous cinemas. To explore Ho Chi Minh city, you can book a transfer service to go around.
In 2015, Ho Chi Minh City was estimated to contain 8.2 million residents, which was up from 7.4 million in 2010 and 5.3 million in 2000. Thus, the city is both large and growing, but in one respect, it is smaller than it seems — the official statistics include both registered residents and migrant workers. On the other hand, the city is actually larger than the official resident count in that its metropolitan area includes over 10 million people. Finally, we can add over three million tourists to the total number of people actually present in Ho Chi Minh City during any given year.
The vast majority (nearly 94%) of "Saigonese" — the usual designation for the people of Ho Chi Minh City — are ethnically Vietnamese. The largest minority by far is the longstanding Chinese population (5.7%), which is concentrated in Cholon and a few other districts of the city. The Chinese are referred to as "Hoa," and more of them live in Ho Chi Minh than in any other part of Vietnam. There is also a small group of Cambodians, also known as Khmer, in the city (0.3%).
While nearly all Saigonese speak the Vietnamese language, the Hoa speak a variety of Chinese dialects, including Cantonese and Hainanese. Very few Hoa, however, speak Mandarin. Due to the prevalence of tourism and commerce in Ho Chi Minh City, there are also a good deal of people speaking English as a second language.
The three Eastern Religions of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are the most popular belief systems in Ho Chi Minh, and all three are frequently observed in the very same temples. Both ethnic Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese tend to practice these three dominant religions. There is also, however, a Roman Catholic community that constitutes about 10% of the population, besides smaller numbers of Protestants, Hindus, Muslims and Baha'i.
The eight percent of the Vietnamese population who live in Ho Chi Minh City are responsible for 20% of national GDP, 28% of industrial production and a third of the nation's shipping tonnage. Per capita GDP was measured at $5,100 in 2014. which was much higher than the national average of $2,052. The industries engaged in are very diverse, including such areas as agriculture, mining, processing of seafood, construction, banking, commerce and tourism. The local economy is 51% service-based, 48% forestry and agriculture and one percent "everything else." Vietnam being a Communist country, it should not be surprising to learn that 33% of the Ho Chi Minh economy is state-owned and only five percent is in the private sector. However, the big surprise is that the remainder (62%) is fueled by foreign investments.
Ho Chi Minh City's climate is classified as tropical wet and dry, meaning that it is warm all year round and divided into two distinct seasons, the wet season and the dry season, rather than spring, summer, fall and winter. The rainy season lasts from May through October, and the dry season runs from December to April.
Precipitation and Humidity
Over 1,800 mm (70 in) of rain falls during the wet season, and there are about 150 rain days per year. Wet-season months see between 200 and 300 mm (8.5 to 12.5 in) of rain on average, with the wettest month being September, which receives an average rainfall of 327.1 mm (12.9 in). Dry season months vary more in how much rainfall they see. The transitional month of November gets 117 mm (4.6 in), while the "semi-transitional" months of December and April get around 50 mm (2 in). The three driest months are: January, with 14 mm (0.5 in) of rain; February, with 4.1 mm (0.16 in); and March, with 10.5 mm (0.4 in).
Seventy percent of rain days include a thunderstorm, but rain showers usually only last for a couple hours. Most tourists visit between November and March to avoid the wet season, though it is not hard to "schedule around the raindrops" in most cases. From July to November is typhoon season, which also tends to shrink the tourist crowds.
The average humidity level averages from 78% to 82% throughout the year, but it is not uncommon for it to range from a comfortable 46% to a "very humid" 98%. Only rarely, however, does it reach 100% or drop below 36%.
Temperature, Sunshine, and Wind
The average daily mean is 28º C (82º F), and temperatures are relatively stable throughout the entire year. Average daily highs range from 31º C (87º F) in December to 34.5º C (94º F) in April. Average daily lows run from 21º C (70º F) in January to 26º C (78º F) in April. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Ho Chi Minh City is 40º C (104º F), and the lowest temperature on record is 14º C (57º F).
Ho Chi Minh City gets from 2,400 to 2,700 hours of sunlight every year. The median cloud cover ranges from 39% to 79%, and because of the city's relative nearness to the Equator, daytime hours vary little (always within 45 minutes of 12 hours). Rainy season months all get less than 200 hours of sunlight, the lowest being September, which has only 162 hours of sunshine. Dry season months all get above 200 hours of sun, the sunniest month being March, which has 272 hours.
Wind speeds, on average, range from zero to seven meters-per-second, and rarely exceed 11. This means that you typically see anything from calm to a moderate breeze but rarely a strong breeze. August is the windiest month, and both June and July are also relatively windy. Thus, summer is the best time for surfing, sailing, kite-surfing and wind-surfing.
Tan Son Nhat (Tân Sơn Nhất) (IATA: SGN | ICAO: VVTS) is Vietnam's busiest international airport while Hanoi's Noi Bai is larger in land area and capacity. There are two terminals: a newer international terminal which took over all international flights from 2007, and the old but functional domestic terminal 200 metres away. The airport is conveniently located about eight kilometres from the heart of the city. The international terminal used to offer duty free shopping after you landed, but that ended in early 2010 – purchase such items at the airport from which you are departing to visit Vietnam. Both terminals have limited food offerings at high prices once you pass immigration on your outbound journey. Note that airport shops and food outlets past immigration list prices in US-Dollars, and will take your Dong at grossly unfavorable rates. Thus, do not plan on spending any leftover dong at the airport.
Following the boom of domestic air travel in Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat currently suffers from frequent traffic congestion both on land and in the air. It handles approximately 30 daily flights to Hanoi, making this one of the world's busiest air travel routes. This number might double during the Tet holidays when demand is skyrocketed. As it has only one runway, international flights are also affected by the overloading of its domestic terminal. Severe traffic jams around the airport are also very common and could make your trip to the airport 30 minutes to 1 hour longer.
Immigration and customs; changing currency
Immigration protocols at the airport are not very streamlined, and if your flight happens to arrive at the same time as another flight with many non-Vietnamese citizens, be prepared for a long wait at the visa approval desk. Staff members do not speak much English and they process visa requests in random order - many times just taking whichever request form happens to be on the top of the pile. Visa-seekers are advised to stand close to the visa approval desk and ensure that their request form is not continuously being shuffled to the bottom of the pile.
If you need a visa on arrival you must go to the counter marked Landing Visa to the left of the immigration lines before queuing for immigration control.
Since August 2012, it is no longer necessary for most passengers to fill in any immigration or customs declaration cards (the latter may be necessary if you are intending to stay in Vietnam for a long period, or carrying unusual goods.)
As of January 2013, you can obtain a visa upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh Airport. Yet, a visa approval letter is often mandatory to board the flight from your country. Some companies, such as Vietnam Visa Pro, can arrange for and provide you with the approval letter. You only need to connect to their websites and to fill in their forms. They usually charge a service fee of US$18. You'll receive the letter upon a couple of days. Once in Ho Chi Minh International Airport, a single entry visa costs US$25, a multiple entry visa costs US$50, and a transfer visa costs US$15. It is not necessary to have exact change nor US currency, but the process is faster if you do and the exchange rate for other currencies is quite bad. Requesting a visa upon arrival is often cheaper than going to the embassy. Yet, be careful that it can take a long time in Ho Chi Minh City to get the visa and you can get your luggage only after you get your visa.
The baggage carousels are one level down from the immigration booths. You will need to have your checked-in and hand-carry luggage X-rayed before you leave the restricted area. After you clear customs, you will find currency exchange booths to your right. The currency of Vietnam is the Dong (VND). Currency exchange rates at the airport are competitive, and it is preferable to change money here than at the backpackers area in the city which tends to have less favorable touristy rates. Ask first if there's a commission fee, because this will add to the cost of changing money and remove any rate advantage that is offered. There is an ATM machine on the right side near the currency exchange booths, which you can use to withdraw cash if you have an appropriate bank card. The withdrawal fee is 20,000 dong. There are also a couple of ATM machines outside the terminal. Go out, turn left and walk to the corner.
After customs and before leaving the airport, you have several counters proposing taxi services (avoid getting taxis from them) but they also sell local SIM cards. If your phone is SIM unlocked and is compatible with the GSM network from Viet Nam, you can buy a sim card, put some credit on it and activate a data plan. The price is the same than in the city and they will speak some basic English to help you setup your sim card.
Getting to the city centre
The No. 152 [] (air-conditioned) airport bus is the cheapest and safest way for backpackers heading to Pham Ngu Lao Street from the airport (ignore taxi drivers who tell you that there are no more airport buses.) For 5,000 dong per person plus a 5,000 dong fee for bags, the bus leaves every 15 minutes and will drop you off at the east end of the Pham Ngu Lao area (at the bus terminal on the southwest side of the Ben Thanh Market roundabout). There is a bus station of Tan Son Nhat Airport near the motorbike parking area. Upon exiting the international airport terminal, turn right and you should see the bus waiting on the road opposite Burger King (where they have pretty decent wi-fi, so you could download The Google Maps-map of town and GPS-track where you are during the bus ride without roaming). There is no sign indicating where the bus stop is, but if you ask a uniformed taxi warden he or she will point it out to you. If not, walk down to the domestic terminal, which is about a three-minute walk away. The bus stops near column 04 and there is a ticket counter where you can pre purchase tickets. Try to have exact change or you will be given coins in return. These are legal tender in Vietnam, but many places do not accept them.
There is an official additional charge of 5000 Dong for baggage that exceeds the following: Weight 10kg and/or dimensions 30x40x60cm. There is an official sign stating this in the bus with SaigonBus company rules and contact details stating this.
Note that the bus is only available until 6:00 pm (6:15pm?).
If you miss last airport bus, you can take 20 minutes walk to Cộng Hòa street (just go south on the main road until you get to a park) and catch bus number 4 to Ben Thanh there. It runs until 8pm. The bus stop is at the southern part of the triangle formed by a park.
You can also catch ariport bus No.109 or 49.This is high quality than No.152. The No.109 airport bus link the international airport and city center ( Pham Ngu Lao St) .This bus is opening from 5:30am to 1:30am of the following day, with a frequency of 15 – 20 minutes/trip, the travelling time of the trip is about 45 minutes.Passengers travelling from Tan Son Nhat International Airport can take a bus at Column 15 (International Terminal) or Column 4 (Domestic Terminal). The fare for the service is VND20,000 ($0.9) for journeys over 5km and VND12,000 ($0.54) for those under 5km. Bus 109 and 49 has various advantages such as low floor and wide doors which help passengers carrying bulky luggage able to move conveniently, the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women easily get in and out of the bus, large luggage spaces convenient for air travelers, information of upcoming stops is displayed and announced in two languages as English - Vietnamese.
Caution: some travellers have reported that taxi scams at the airport are rife. To avoid being scammed, read the information here as well as in the "Get around" section.
- International terminal
There are several options for getting a taxi from the airport to the city centre (District 1). Never attempt to bargain for a taxi at the airport with Mai Linh or Vinasun. Always have them turn the meters on, as this is always the cheapest option:
- Main taxi queue. The main taxi queue is on your left when you exit through the main door on the ground floor of the terminal building. Some travelers advise that you should head for the taxi queue, ignoring people who approach you offering taxis or advising you to purchase tickets at counters in the airport. It is suggested that you select a green Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi. When you get in the car, have them turn the meter on. The fare to most hotels in District 1 should be around 120,000 (US$6) and you will had to pay an extra 10,000 (50c) to cover the Airport surcharge. This is by far the easiest way into the city (See the information on taxi companies below.) (Beware, there is a second taxi queue with individuals wearing grey collared shirts outside of the airport. This is not the official taxi queue. Their rate is $20, 4x higher than normal. Avoid this queue.)
- Mai Linh counter in the terminal building. The Mai Linh taxi company has a counter that is on your right after you clear customs. You can order and pay for a taxi from the staff member there. He will then lead you out of the terminal building to the taxi queue and arrange a Mai Linh taxi for you. As of April 2014, the cost for a single trip from the airport to the city centre was US$14 or 300,000 dong (they've apparently updated their fleet of cars, so the cost has increased). This fee covers all tolls that may need to be paid by the taxi driver.
- Vinasun Taxi is also considered a trustworthy company. You may request metered fare or sometimes set the price with the driver. Be aware of what you are paying. Fare to city (Dec 2013) = less than 10USD
- Other pre-paid taxi counters at the airport. There are also quite a few other counters after clearing customs, though still within the airport building, where they sell prepaid taxi vouchers. Just run by all of them and ask for their offer for a prepaid taxi to the address where you need to be. They easily go into bargaining when you indicate that you will check out a next counter for their price. You should be able to get a voucher this way for US$10.
- Taxis at the domestic terminal. There are also taxis at the domestic terminal car park. After leaving the international terminal bulding, turn right and walk about 200 metres. (See the information on the domestic terminal below.)
As of April 2014, the metered taxi fare from the airport to the city centre was about 140,000 dong, plus a toll of 10,000 dong (toll is applicable on trips both to and from the airport). When traffic is lighter (usually only between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am or on a hot Sunday afternoon), the ride to the city centre takes as little as 15 minutes. More typically, however, taxis creep along in near-standstill traffic for up to an hour.
- Domestic terminal
At the domestic terminal, a company called Sasco has the airport taxi concession and is the only company allowed to pick up passengers directly adjacent to the building. Their cars are the first you will see by the kerb as you exit customs. However, less expensive rival taxis can usually be found usually in abundance 100 metres out in the car park. They have uniformed taxi wardens who will try to capture your business as you approach.
- Taxi companies
Taxi rates are very reasonable in Ho Chi Minh City as long as you use a reputable company and the meter is used. Mai Linh (mostly white with green lettering, though sometimes green or silver) ☎ +22.214.171.124.38.38 (or 08.38.38.38.38 if dialling from a local telephone) and Vinasun (white with green and red lettering) ☎ +126.96.36.199.27.27 have the largest fleets in the city and are generally honest and reliable, with meters that start automatically after the taxis have moved about five metres. At the airport, Mai Linh taxi wardens wear green shirts with green ties, and Vinasun wardens dark green shirts with maroon ties. To find the Vinasun wardens, you need to walk to the end (far left) of the taxi stand. These wardens can help to radio taxis for you and will give you a ticket that has the taxi number in case you have issues. However even the drivers of these companies may try.
Be cautious of taxis from dubious companies with names that resemble the reputable companies mentioned above. Some of these include Mei Linh or Mai Lin instead of Mai Linh, and Vinamet, Vinason or Vinasum instead of Vinasun. It has been reported that such companies charge outrageous fares to unsuspecting passengers, sometimes by using meters that run faster or by manually increasing the fare when passengers are not looking. There have also been instances of taxi drivers from such companies driving off with passengers' belongings still in the boot.
Other taxi companies with smaller fleets that have been reported as reliable include Festive Taxi, Happy Taxi, Hoang Long (yellow top and green sides), Petro Vietnam (silver and green), Petrolimex (white, blue and orange), Savico (blue), Taxi Future (silver with orange lettering) and Vinataxi (yellow). Historically, Savico and Vinataxi have been the cheapest by about 10%; while Hoang Long and Taxi Future are perhaps 10% higher than the average.
Taxis that some travellers have suggested avoiding include the following:
- Saigon Air Taxi (mostly white Isuzu SUVs). Their metered rates are reportedly competitive, though the company was started with the purpose of charging high prices to visitors for airport trips. With other taxis abundant, there is no reason to take the risk of an overcharge.
- Saigon Tourist (mostly silver with pink trim and a flower emblem). Their meter rates are reportedly competitive if they agree to use the meter, but they are notorious for refusing when passengers are foreigners, especially when picked up anywhere near a hotel. Drivers might require payment in US dollars instead of in dong, or quote fixed prices that are double the normal metered rate or more. Saigon Tourist taxis cluster around some of the larger, upscale hotels in the city centre such as the Caravelle, New World, Park Hyatt and Sheraton, and hotel staff won't hesitate to put you into one of these tourist trap taxis unless you specifically ask for a different taxi company. The Sheraton only allows Saigon Tourist to pick up at its door unless you specifically ask the bellman for a different company.
The taxi from HCM airport to city centre costs about 160,000 dong as of July 2016. Insist to go on meter or fix the price. They might charge you more. It is also quite easy to get Uber in HCM city, and the price is about half of meter taxi's.
- Other tips for avoiding scams
- Avoid buying taxi coupons from dubious companies. Some dubious taxi companies that overcharge have booths in the airport terminal buildings. Only buy taxi coupons from reliable companies such as those named above.
- Avoid taxi touts. Watch out for taxi touts who dress in uniforms and brandish laminated "fixed price" cards at 4,400,000 dong per car to the city hotels. They will be prepared to drop the price to 2,600,000 dong but it is still a rip-off. Ignore them, and stick to metered taxis or reliable taxi companies.
- Do not ask taxi drivers to suggest hotels. Taxi drivers earn commissions by taking customers to certain hotels, so be explicit about exactly which hotel you want to be taken to. Some taxi drivers have been known to trick visitors into staying at hotels which they recommend by informing them that the hotels the visitors have asked to be taken to have "no vacancies" due to some big event in town or have "burned down recently".
- Know what the journey should cost. Some drivers, even from reputable companies with the meter running, will try to take advantage of currency confusion - for example, if the meter reads 40.0 for 10 minute journey, they will claim you owe 400,000 dong when in fact you owe only 40,000. Be sure to have some smaller bills before entering the taxi. Taxi drivers will not usually make change. The amount shown on the taxi meter needs to be multiplied by 1,000. So, 50 showing on the meter will be 50,000 Dong, about USD $2.35. It is helpful to pay attention to the meter and plan ahead so that you are not rushed to pay as you leave the taxi and collect your luggage.
Drivers may ask for $3-5 USD to 'pay for airport parking'. First, this is a grossly inflated price as the real surcharge is about 50c, second, it's included in your voucher fare. Just keep saying "paid with voucher" each time the driver insists.
Car rental and private chauffeured services
Budget car rental offers English-speaking drivers and new model vehicles. One trip to the city costs a fixed price of 140,000 dong.
A pick-up from the airport by a chauffeured car can be arranged online from Ho Chi Minh Airport Transfer, or at booths in the airport terminal building from companies such as Saigon Tourist, Sasco and Vietnam Transfer Service.
While the use of a hotel car or a chauffeur arranged through a transfer service will be considerably more expensive than a taxi, the convenience of having a driver waiting for you as you leave customs can be more than worthwhile, especially if you are arriving late at night after a long flight or are burdened with luggage and children. Transfer services and chauffeured cars are very reasonable compared to U.S. prices.
Uber is available in Ho Chi Minh, and generally undercuts the established taxi services. Rates to the airport at off peak (low traffic) times cost around 100,000 Dong, including the 10,000 Dong Airport drop off fee that is automatically added to your bill.
Leaving Ho Chi Minh City
When going to the airport, specify clearly which terminal you want to go to. International flights leave from the newer international terminal (go straight). Domestic flights (to Danang, Hanoi, Nha Trang, and so on) are from domestic terminal (turn left). If you get dropped off at the wrong terminal, you'll have to dash to the correct terminal via a pedestrian walkway link 600 metres away. This is not recommended, especially if you're already late for boarding.
When entering the airport, taxi drivers will add an airport entry fee of 10,000 dong to your total metered fare. This is not to be confused with the airport departure tax, which should have been included in the price of your airline ticket.
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.
- 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 services, 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 Mihn (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.
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.
Check update schedule and price at [YourLocalBooking][]
It is an adventure to cycle around in the big city, but not that challenging as it may look like. Expect to inhale exhaust gases, try to stay ahead or beside the swarm of bikes, be assertive, leave the left lane to the cars. If you do not have a horn, you can still scream or just smile around as you look to your destination, pretending to ignore everything which crosses your way... Not so easy to find bicycles for rent, however. Ask travel agencies. Lac Hong on Pham Ngu Lao 305 has a few old fashion basket-holding cycles at 40.000 VND/day (Feb/13). No big deal but fast enough through the jammed traffic, and a big freedom in a city without pedestrian ways. At Innoviet, 158 Bui Vien, district 1, they rent good mountain bikes at 7 US$/ day (300 US$ deposit! Jan/13)
By taxi and rental car
Taxis are the most comfortable way of getting around, and very modest in price compared to other major cities in the world. Rates fluctuate over time depending on the cost of fuel, but in late 2010 with oil in the US$80s per barrel on world markets, honest Ho Chi Minh City taxis were charging in the range of 12,000 to 13,000 dong per kilometre. Taxis are numerous and it's usually not hard to flag one down anywhere in the city centre from early morning until about 1:00 am, though finding one in the rain or during workday rush hours can be difficult.
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 dishonest operators which prey on foreigners in particular. 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 Ho Chi Minh City residents. For a list of taxi companies reported to be reliable, see "Taxi" in the "Getting to the city centre" section above.
Dishonest taxi drivers may start driving without starting their meters, then demand a high fare or try to negotiate for a fixed price at a location where it's difficult for you to hire another cab. Therefore, make sure your taxi driver agrees to use the meter, and turns it on before you get in. (As mentioned above, some taxi companies such as Mai Linh and Vinasun have meters in their taxis that start automatically once the vehicle starts moving.)
Drivers generally speak limited English and do not speak any other foreign languages, so it's wise to write the name and address of your destination, preferably in Vietnamese, to show the taxi driver. Your hotel staff can assist. It also helps to carry one of your hotel's business cards so you can return to the hotel without too much fuss. Carry small change and bills for paying fares, since drivers are often short of change. Taxi models in service are mostly Toyota Vios sedans (up to four passengers) and Toyota Innova minivans (up to six passengers), which are assembled in Vietnam and inexpensive to buy. Fares are almost always the same regardless of car model, though anything larger than an Innova generally costs more. Some older cars might lack working air-conditioners.
Taxi drivers are likely to drive too fast when given the chance. Ho Chi Minh City has a unique traffic pattern in which cars and buses drive in the centre lanes on two-way streets, or the left lanes on one-way streets, while the outside or right lanes are reserved for motorcycles. During weekday rush hours, the car lanes often barely move for blocks on end, while the motorcycle lanes move a bit faster. Taxi drivers vary in their tendency to squeeze into the motorcycle lane and jump ahead of other cars. In theory, they can be fined for doing so. Rush-hour traffic in the city has become so bad that you might consider just planning not to go anywhere between the hours of 7:00 and 8:30 am, and 4:30 to 6:00 pm.
For trips outside of the city or for the convenience of having a private vehicle for the day, hiring a car with a driver for the day is a good option, ( the English driver is required with more fee ). Ho Chi Minh Airport Transfer provides this services.
Saigon River Express Suite 2105, Me Linh Point Tower, No. 2 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1 (next to the Renaissance Riverside Hotel), ☎ +84 128 592 0018 offers VIP speedboat tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Mekong Delta and jungle canal tours around Saigon. They use new speedboats and provide a 5 star service. A sunset tour around Saigon involves exploring narrow jungle canals with a village made of bamboo and thatch as well as visiting a floating temple.
Vung Tau by Hydrofoil is a good way to see the commercial maritime areas as the boat runs through the Saigon River to the sea. US$10 adult, US$5 child (age 6-11, under 1.4 m tall), 75 min. Depart from Số 5 Nguyễn Tất Thành, District 4 (just north of Elisa restaurant ship) and arrive in Cầu Đá Port, Ben Cau Da, Ha Long Street, Vung Tau.
There are 3 lines (Petro Express, Greenlines, Vina Express) running this route with the same ticket prices.
Traffic In Ho Chi Minh City
Motorbike taxis (xe ôm, literally hug-vehicle) are plentiful (get used to hearing "you want moto!?" everywhere), cheap, and are generally quite safe. As of 2007 all riders in Vietnam are now required to wear helmets, a rule that is strongly enforced. Make sure a driver supplies you with a helmet. If he doesn't - find another one, as you'll be the one stung for the fine.
Absolutely agree on a price before you set off, do NOT get on without an agreed price. A rough rule of thumb is 10,000VND per kilometer of travel plus some flat overcharge (around 10k dong) for being a foreigner (this isn't exact, but be sure you're not paying significantly more than this rough measurement). It is hard to bargain anyone down below 20,000VND even for a short 1km hop. Short hops around town shouldn't be more than 40,000 dong, if you go farther (like across multiple districts) this increases and all the way to the airport around 80,000 dong. Another way to calculate the rough price is to round up of half the cost of taxi ride for the same travel, but obviously this is only useful to those who have taken taxis. While drivers will not hesitate to overcharge you, they are generally quite friendly and will go slower upon request. They're also not adverse to a bear hug if you're really struggling to hold on to the motorbike. Many of the moto drivers, especially in District 1, speak some English and like many Vietnamese will repay you in a flood of smiles (and probably point out all the sights) if you make a little effort to get to know them.
Self-ride: This is absolutely the most convenient way to explore the city on your own terms. You can rent your own motorbike in many places, especially around the backpacker area (Pham Ngu Lao) in District 1. 120,000-150,000 dong/day should get you a decent 100-110cc bike. Driving in Saigon is best left to experienced drivers. The traffic is intense and has its own rhythms and logic. However, if you're up for an adventure, it's best to keep a few things in mind: drivers with limited experience should consider renting an automatic bike, as at busy crossroads there is not time for worrying about how to change gears. Beware of thieves: always keep your motorbike in sight or parked with an attendant. Most restaurants have guards/parking attendants out front who will issue you a numbered tag and take care of your motorbike. Independent parking lots are scattered around the sidewalks, alleys, and basements of the city. Look for rows of neatly-parked motorbikes or signs that say giu xe.
If you are here during the rain season, make sure to buy ponchos or raincoats before you start. They are available for as low as 10,000 dong for one. It daily rains for around 1-2 hours between 4-8 PM during July and August in Saigon. However, the traffic doesn't stop, it just becomes more chaotic. If you are hesitant or have not driven in such conditions before, it might be prudent to take shelter and wait
You will not be required to present a driving license. But legally a driving license is required above 50cc, it has to be a Vietnamese driving license (since January 2015, an international driving permit along with your national driving license is legally accepted but the police will not always accept it. If you are stopped by the police, be polite and smiling and you can get away for 200 or 300,000 VND. You will almost always need to leave your passport with the guy renting you the motorbike. Even though this is usually safe, one should try to argue with some other ID card, or advance payment (usually upward of 5 million dong). If you feel leaving your passport with a stranger is too risky, consider carrying an old expired passport along specifically for this purpose. They usually don't bother to verify the validity of the passport. If you don't have a driving license, be aware that your travel insurance might not cover you in case of road accident while you drive a motorcycle.
Riding in the big cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, is a very different matter from riding in western cities, and not advisable for beginners. Traffic is intense and chaotic, with a long list of unwritten rules that don't resemble traffic laws anywhere else. "Right of way" is a nearly unknown concept. Riding in HCMC is like finding yourself in the middle of a 3-D video game where anything can come at you from any direction, and you only have one life. Expats who brave the traffic at all typically have an apprenticeship of a few weeks or months riding on the back of others' motorbikes to learn the ways of the traffic, before attempting to ride themselves. Extreme caution is advised for short-term visitors. Having said that, as speeds are quite low, just drive slowly and carefully and the risk of an accident is very low.
Riding long distance in the countryside can also be harrowing depending on the route you take. Major roads between cities tend to be narrow despite being major, and full of tour buses hell-bent on speed, passing slow trucks where maybe they shouldn't have tried, and leaving not much room at the edge for motorbikes.
Two main categories of motorbike are available to rent: scooters (automatic transmission); and four-speed motorbikes, the gears of which you shift with your left foot. The ubiquitous Honda Super Cub is a common 4-speed bike that has a semi-automatic gearbox i.e. no clutch so is relatively easy to ride. Other models may be fully manual and therefore you must also operate the clutch using your left hand - this takes a lot of skill and it's all too easy to over-rev and pull a wheelie or stall the engine - if you end up with such a bike then practice releasing the clutch gently before hitting the roads! Dirt bikes are becoming popular for rent in Hanoi, other cities are not yet ready for these beasts. Rental agents tend to steer foreigners toward scooters if available, on the (plausible) assumption that they don't know how to ride motorbikes that require shifting gears. Motorcycles of 175cc and above are only legal to ride if you make a connection with a Vietnamese motorcycle club.
Most places you would want to stop at have parking attendants who will issue you a numbered tag and watch over your bike. Sometimes these parking operations are overseen by the establishment you are visiting, and sometimes they are free-lance operations set up in places where a lot of people go. You will usually see rows of bikes lined up parked. Depending on circumstance, you might park the bike yourself, or just put it in neutral and let the staff position it. In all but rare cases you keep the key. Parking is sometimes free at restaurants and cafes (look for "giu xe mien phi"). Elsewhere, fees range from 2,000 to 20,000 dong at upscale nightclubs.
Traffic police in the cities pull over lots of locals (often for reasons that are hard to discern), but conventional wisdom has it that they rarely bother foreigners due to the language barrier. Obeying the traffic laws is nevertheless advisable, especially if you have failed to obtain a Vietnamese licence. Cities like Ho Chi Minh have several one way streets, and it is too easy to just steer into them unknowingly as there are limited signs warning you. BE SURE that if you break law, the police who are sneaking just at the right spot, will ask you to pull over and will fine you. They will also threaten to confiscate your bike. The quoted price for fines is negotiable, and being apologetic and friendly can get you back on road quickly, with a few dollars less in your pockets. It is less likely that they will bully or harasses you.
Helmets have also been required by law since December 2007, so if you don't have one already ask your rental agent to provide you with one.
A ride on a cyclo, which is sort of akin to a reverse tricycle with the passenger sitting in a front seat, through downtown HCMC is a great way to see the city the way the locals do. The sights, sounds, and smells are a large part of the excitement of the city, and are best experienced from the relaxed pace of a cyclo. A word of warning: be careful with cameras, purses and watches while cyclo riding as these items are easily stolen by motorbike riders.
For many reasons, not least because of government attempts to restrict cyclos on busy urban streets, this form of transportation is disappearing. At around 36,000 dong/hr and because they are so slow, they can be a good choice for taking in the city. Be sure to bargain hard with the cyclo rider beforehand. Some cyclo riders have been known to attempt to change the agreed price after your journey has finished, whilst another trick may include the driver visiting places which benefit his wallet. To avoid these problems, make sure you are clear on the price and destination upon departing.
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 - just 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 or read Vietnamese. However, it is now possible to use google maps to help plan your journey. Clicking on a bus stop will give you a list of the busses that stop there. Compare this list to the list of busses at your destination bus stop to find the subset of busses you can take. If you cannot find your way, ask the locals nicely, they will try their best to help. A piece of paper and marker pen may help to ease the conversation.
The buses are efficient and fast. Most are staffed by two employees: the driver and the fare collector. The driver keeps the bus moving while the fare collector interacts with the passengers. Locals claim, plausibly, that buses are even faster than taxis. The reason is that buses have an informal right of way on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City; when another vehicle sees a bus coming, that vehicle gets out of the way. Taxis know that they are supposed to back down from confrontations with buses. Buses are also cheaper (4,000-8,000 dong per ride, which is considerably less that $1) and safer than many of the alternatives. The biggest problem is that when you get off the bus, you become a pedestrian (see below).
For those who aren't staying in Ho Chi Minh City very long, or want to save some time the Vietnam transfer service  will take you to the famous places in Ho Chi Minh City. Price is from 15,000-75,000 dong, including the tour guide and the information in English.
HopOn HopOff Sightseeing coach tours are now available, running over 4 lines. Line 1 (USD$15 for a ticket valid for 24 hours) covers 9 must-go tourist attractions (Ben Thanh Market, Skydeck, Bach Dang Pier, City Hall, Opera House, Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street, Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, History Museum, Zoo and War Remnants Museum), Line 2 covers Chinatown while Lines 3 and 4 covers Mekong Delta (Full Day from USD$18) and Cu Chi Tunnels (Half Day at USD$16) respectively. The air-conditioned coaches features personalised audio guides in 7 international languages and you will be given a new set of earphones for your listening pleasure during the tours. The same company also has 3 (Hop On Hop Off City Tour, Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels & Airport Transfer- Mekong Delta at USD$38 and Cu Chi Tunnels at USD$35) or 4 days (Hop On Hop Off City Tour, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels & Airport Transfer all for just USD$49) value for money combo tours.
Traffic is made up of a staggering number of motorbikes and, since import duty was reduced upon Vietnam's joining of the WTO, an increasing number of private cars. However its exceptionally rare to see a motorbike of more than 150cc, and the traffic rarely gets above 20-30 km/h in central areas.
However crossing the road in Saigon can be a nightmare. It is always scary, for some they will get used to it quite quickly. If ever in doubt, Saigon's "Tourist Security" officers (guys in marked 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.
However the true trick to crossing the road is to stay aware, and walk slowly and confidently. The motorbike riders are actually exceptionally good and will simply move to avoid you - just don't make any sudden lurches forwards, backwards, or stop for that matter. 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 a alert and prepared to stop putting your foot forward until he passes.
Adherence to traffic signals in Saigon is worse, and while they're not always followed, riders/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 make a short cut from point A to point B even if they are against the traffic. Crossing roads therefore maybe a challenge for westerners used to traffic laws and traffic lights.
A typical scenario played here, and in other big cities in Vietnam is motorcycles dash from everywhere. The thumb rule of crossing in the US of look to the left and at the median, look to the right does not follow. Look everywhere as you cross, in all directions - to your left, to the back at your left, to your right, to your right in front, even if you have the right of way, like 5 or 6 kamikaze ninjas against one, they will insist and even if you stare at them in the eye and raise your hand horizontally signalling them to stop. Even in sidewalks, they invade and will just appear next to you before you know. Sidewalks are not the domain of pedestrians, they are used for car and motorcycles for passing if not for parking, then whatever space left is for the pedestrian. That's the hierarchy.
The streets, sidewalks, and outdoor markets are covered by motorbikes, and not yet geared towards pedestrian traffic (although sidewalk clearing campaigns are now underway - a few areas of the centre are easy to negotiate as long as you keep your wits about you for speeding motorbikes). However walking along the edge of the road is easy enough. Not all motorbikes behind you will generally beep at you to let you know they're there.
The traffic police occupy themselves with random roadside checks and do not bother the motorcyclists that are running red lights or driving on the sidewalks. The police recently announced a crackdown on pedestrians. This does NOT mean that they will hassle you; the most likely meaning of the crackdown is that you will be held responsible if you are involved in an accident.
But there are some open sidewalks to walk safely on and just walking around the city helps you really get a taste of it. Seeing people prepare, cook food and wash dishes, and even shave, manicure and pedicure, not to mention sleep and pee on the side of the street and just standing watching traffic go by in awe is just as entertaining as anything.
You will receive a free 'VN Trip Map - for travel and coupons' by Vietnamese women wearing the traditional ao dai dress as you are leaving Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Additionally, most hotels will provide a free tourist map of District 1 although these vary in quality and tend to be advertising based. The Sheraton have one of the best of these and will provide one if you ask at reception. Within District 1, 'Bookazine' at #28 Dong Khoi (between Ngo Duc Ke and Ho Huan Nghiep) have larger city maps if you plan to venture beyond District 1. The one published by Du Lich & Giao Thong has a street index on the back. Fahasa Books also carry a full range of available maps. They have two large stores in District 1 - 185 Dong Khoi, just down from Le Thanh Ton, and 40 Nguyen Hue, just down from Mac Thi Buoi. MySherpa Travel have also published tourist maps of central District 1 with all shops and points of interest marked. Outlets in Saigon include Gaya, Dolce Casa, Annam Fine Foods, T&V Tailor, Galley Deli, and a number of two star hotels.
The best way for local route planning is to get a phone that accepts local sim cards and has GPS enabled. Vinaphone is an excellent choice. For 250000 Dong you get free minutes and internet throughout Vietnam. You can choose "navigation" and put in your planned destination and it will outline the shortest distance street by street. All you have to do is follow the little green arrow which indicates your current location. It's also good to use when in A taxi to make sure they are taking a direct route.
As with most other parts of Vietnam, the main language is Vietnamese. The local dialect of Vietnamese is the southern dialect, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken in Hanoi, though speakers of both dialects are usually able to comprehend each other. English is spoken by most of the younger well-educated upper class. Educated senior citizens are usually able to speak French, though generally speaking, English is far more useful these days.
Ho Chi Minh City is also home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese community, mostly around Chinatown and many of them are bilingual in Cantonese and Vietnamese. Many of them also speak Mandarin.
Some vendors near and around the Ben Thanh Market area also know a bit of Thai due to the high number of Thai tourists in the area.
A few useful phrases:
Hello: Xin Chao\ Excuse Me, Sorry: Xin Loi\, How much? : Bao nhieu ,What is this/that?: Day la cai gi(yee) \Thank You: Cam On \Very Good: Rat tot\ Bye: Tam Biet
The tank that ended the war, outside the Reunification Palace
- Reunification Palace, Enter at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, ☎ +84 8 9693272. Open daily 7:30AM-11:00AM, 1PM-4PM. Also known as Independence Palace (this is the old name). This is a restored 5 floor time warp to the 60s left largely untouched from the day before Saigon fell to the North (construction started in 1962 and finished in 1966). Formerly South Vietnam's presidential palace, the war ended on April 30, 1975 when tank #843 crashed through the gate. A replica of that tank is now parked on the lawn outside. Be sure to check out the impressively kitschy recreation room, featuring a circular sofa, and the eerie basement, full of vintage 1960s phones, radios, and office equipment, supposedly left exactly as it was found when the North took over. There is also a photo gallery and a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese military and American forces succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary forces, upon which point many South Vietnamese supporters fled as refugees, military and police were punished and many sent to labor camps. Tours are available and are free, but not necessary. There is a nice outdoor café on the grounds outside the palace. Entry 40,000 dong.
Last call for South Vietnam, Reunification Palace
- War Remnants Museum (Formerly), 28 Vo Van Tan Street, ☎ +84 89302112, +84 89306325, +84 89305587 ([email protected]). Open daily 7:30AM-12PM, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM. The museum was opened in a hurry, less than five months after the fall of the South Vietnamese regime. It has moved to new premises with 3 stories of exhibits and various U.S. military hardware (tanks, jets, helicopters, howitzers) on display outside the building. This disturbing display of man's cruelty during the Vietnam (American) War includes halls full of gruesome photographs, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deformed foetuses attributed to contamination by Agent Orange. An exhibit on the 3rd floor tells the story of the war journalists from all over the world who documented, and often disappeared or died in the war. Watch out for the amputees who will try and sell you their wares. It's a short walk from Reunification Palace — see the museum pamphlet for a map. Entry 15,000 dong.
- City Hall, end of Nguyen Hue Street. Originally called the Hôtel de Ville and now formally re-branded the People's Committee Hall, it's a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night. No entry, but the statue of Uncle Ho in front is a very popular place for photos.
- Museum of Vietnamese History, at the intersection of Le Duan Street and Nguyen Binh Khiem (just inside the zoo gates). The museum has a fine collection of Vietnamese antiquities. Read up on Vietnamese history first or you'll have no idea what you're looking at. Outside, the Botanical Gardens are very nice and a good place for a cheap lunch away from the crowds. If you care about animal welfare, avoid the zoo. There is a water puppet show in the museum compound that's worth watching, every hour between 9am-12pm and 2-4pm. Entrance: 15 000 dong; 50 000 dong for the water puppet show.
- Ho-Chi-Minh Museum, Duong Nguyen Tat Thanh, Dist. 4. Open daily 7:30AM-12 noon, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM, 10,000 dong entry. The museum (in a French colonial era building) near the dock of Saigon shows the life story of the modern day father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. There's also a Ho Chi Minh book shop as well. Some may find the theme a little jingoistic but like most things it depends upon your point of view.
- Central Mosque, 66 Dong Du, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, ☎ +84 8 824 2903 (Tourist information), . 8AM-8PM daily. One of 12 mosques serving Ho Chi Minh City, the Central Mosque was built in 1935. It was originally constructed for worshipers from southern India then resident in Saigon, but now Muslims from as far as Pakistan and Indonesia come to pray. Friday draws the biggest crowds. The shaded verandah and cool stone floors make it an ideal place to sit, read or even nap in the heat of the day. As with most mosques, remember to take your shoes off before entering and dress conservatively if you wish to enter.
- Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà), Han Thuyen Street, facing down Dong Khoi (next to the Post Office). Closes for lunch and on weekends. A French-built Catholic cathedral in the city centre. Free entry.
- Thien Hau Pagoda, 710 Nguyen Trai St, Cholon. Dedicated to Lady Thien Hau, the sea goddess, who left two giant turtles to keep an eye on things in her absence. A festival is held in her honor on the 23rd day of the March lunar month. Don't miss the gorgeous sculptures in the walls of the courtyard outside the temple. Entry free.
- Quan Am Pagoda, 12 Lao Tu, Cholon (Just off Hung Vuong, close to Thien Hau Pagoda). Open 8AM-4:30PM. The oldest pagoda in town, home of a lot of incense and a cheerful puppy. Entry free.
- Phung Son Tu Pagoda, 408 3 Thang 2 Blvd (On the outskirts of Cholon). Dedicated to the god of happiness and virtue. The pagoda itself is dusty and dwarfed by high-rises under construction nearby, but the small, sculpted grounds are a good place for a rest from the hectic city. Take bus No.14 from Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.
119 year old Saigon Opera House
- Saigon Opera House, 07 Lam Son Square, ☎ +84 1245 18 11 88.
View of the city from Bitexco Financial Tower, Vietnam
- The Bitexco Financial Tower. The Bitexco Financial Tower, located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s business and entertainment district, is the most exciting commercial property development undertaken in Vietnam to date. It stands 262 metres high consisting of 68 floors, the lowest of which are occupied by retail stores, food outlets and the FV medical clinic (3rd floor), above this are offices with restricted access. The architect responsible for the design of Bitexco Financial Tower, Carlos Zapata, drew inspiration for this skyscraper’s unique shape from Vietnam’s national flower, the Lotus. To the Vietnamese, the lotus is a symbol of purity, commitment and optimism. Built at a time of unprecedented growth for the Vietnamese economy, the Bitexco Financial Tower is designed to represent the energy and aspirations of the country’s people.
- Saigon Skydeck, 36 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, ☎ +84 8 39156 156, . Open every day 9:30 am - 9:30 pm (last entry 45 minutes prior to closing). Located on the 49th floor the observation deck offers sweeping 360‐degree panoramic views of the entire city and the nearby Saigon River. Facilities include a gift shop, information touch screens (in English and Vietnamese), free to use binoculars and complimentary bottled water. The 50th floor is also freely accessible via a set of stairs which lead to a cafe that serves a range of refreshments. Head up to the 52th floor, the one with the helicopter deck (change elevators at the 50th) and ask for the "bar". Happy hour 17:00-20:00 for not too expensive drinks with free music, nuts and olives and a great view of the city. At night there is dressed-up bar employees on the 1st floor to show you to the elevators to the 50th floor and onward to the 52nd floor. VND 200,000 for Adults; VND 130,000 Child 4-12 years, Seniors 65 years and above (ID required) & Disabled persons; No additional charge for children under 3 years.
Seventy percent of those who visit Vietnam also visit Ho Chi Minh City, and the city indeed offers tourists a wide variety of activities. Ho Chi Minh City has over eight million inhabitants, making it the largest city in the country, and its metropolitan area is expected to reach 20 million by 2020. It is the top business hub of Vietnam and the center of much of the nation's activities, which explains why it is also often the center of many tourists' activities.
Some of the most popular things to do in Ho Chi Minh City include:
- Cultural Shows at Saigon Opera House, 07 Lam Son Square, ☎ +84 1245 18 11 88, . 18:00 - 19:00 ; 20:00 - 21:00.
A O Show, Teh Dar, The Mist are three cultural entertaining shows at the Saigon Opera House. Each show is a 60 minute journey to Vietnam culture, from the wild tribal culture in the highland, peaceful life in the culture, to the vibrant energy in the city. A O Show is a rare mix of bamboo cirque, contemporary dance, acrobatics, and live music by folk instruments. Teh Dar is the realm of wild animal hunt, moonlit romance, jungle tales of death and reincarnation. The Mist is the essence of Southern Vietnamese farmers' life expressed in sensual contemporary dance language. All three shows are the productions of Lune Production. The box office is open daily from 9AM - 6PM at the Opera House. Online ticket at http://www.luneproduction.com/
- Cu Chi Tunnels (a MUST-SEE tunnel system associated with the Vietnam War), 212/2b Nguyen Trai, District 1, HCM, Vietnam,Onetrip Cu Chi Adventure There's a group called Onetrip that runs motorcycle adventures and they are super knowledgeable about the cu chi tunnels and the Vietnam War. Go to their website for lot of resources. If you're comfortable with driving in Vietnam, you can use the itinerary to go on your own to save money. Otherwise, these guys are ranked #1 for the Cu Chi Tunnels. Don't miss this!
- Urban Tales Cholon - 362 Tran Phu, District 5, Ho Chi Minh - Half-day tour from 8:15AM to 1:30PM - Tel 0909 78 98 84 - www.urban-tales.com Halfway between a life-sized investigation, an original city-tour and a treasure hunt, "Urban Tales" invite you to solve a mysterious case of murder that took place in Cholon. By following in the footsteps of the culprit you will also enjoy an unusual self-guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City’s fascinating Chinese quarter. This 1/2 day excursion has been especially designed for individual travelers willing to discover the city by themselves. The scenario will lead the visitor to some of Cholon best kept secrets: century-old temples and pagodas, traditional Chinese medicine boutiques, votive paper shops and hidden lanes. Urban Tales is also a formidable opportunity to meet locals who will interact with you all along this scripted walking tour to bring you additional clues and help you solve the murder of Dr Lam. Price: 990.000 VND/adult & 750.000 VND/child (Additional services: Option "Transfer by classic French car" is + 300.000 VND per adult + 250.000 VND per child. Option "Dim Sum lunch at the end of the game" is + 110.000 VND per adult & + 100.000 per child)
- VESPA ADVENTURES (motorbike tours of Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Beaches), 169a De Tham, District 1, HCM, Vietnam, ? +84 122 299 3585,Vespa Tours Offering city tours daytime and evenings on classic Vespas, street food & beer tours, all with English speaking guides, drivers and a photographer. Tours form a few hours to multi-day adventures.
- Saigon Buddy Tours (motorbike tours of Ho Chi Minh City), Thanh Thai, District 10, HCMC, Vietnam, ☎ +841687248520,Tours in HCMC Offering city, street food and craft beer tours with friendly guides. SBT donates $1 per guest to DRD Vietnam - a disability advocacy organisation in HCMC, and also offer the only accessible motorbike tour in Vietnam
- Saigon 2CV Tour - Original city-tour in the city in vintage care - Daily tour, morning (9:30AM) or evening (7:15PM) - Treat yourself to a unique experience aboard an open top vintage car & (re)discover the multi-faceted Saigon with its unsung neighbourhoods, its colonial vestiges and its secret and busy streets… The evening tour includes several stops to discover some delicious street food along the ways. Price: 1,400,000 VND/person - Transfer, bottles of water & food included. The morning tour is more like a classical city tour (no food included) to enjoy Saigon by day! Morning price: 1,200,000 VND/person. Nice way to visit the city, comfortably sitting in an open top classic car!
- Visit Dam Sen Park downtown to try out the many unique water slides. New slides are added nearly every year, but the Space Bowl is "classic." While there, you can see the park's "anima-tronic" dinosaur collection.
- Learn Reiki WHAT IS REIKI? Reiki Healing The word ‘Reiki’ comes from two Japanese words – ‘Rei’ and ‘Ki.’
‘Rei’ is the universal life force, and represents spiritual consciousness or universal knowledge, whereas ‘Ki’ simply means energy.We are all made up of energy. The energy flowing through our body nourishes organs and cells, keeping our physical system healthy and strong. When this energy is disrupted or blocked, it may weaken the vital functioning of our organs/cells causing physical pain or discomfort. And at the time it departs, we die. Reiki is used to cleanse your energy pathways, thereby healing your body, mind, and soul.Visit: http://ashtayogaindia.com/reiki/..
- 'Go to a hair salon for a hair wash, manicure and pedicure, all at a very low price. The Vietnamese have gained an international reputation as hair stylists, and this is one way to make yourself "look like a local."
- A O Show at the Saigon Opera House,  is a worthy 60 minutes wayfare on Vietnamese culture and people, taking place at the magnificent 114-year-old Opera House, in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. A O, which translated phonetically as the Ahhh! Ohhh!. The show is being touted as the first performance using contemporary circus (aka. new circus) approach in Ho Chi Minh City. The haunting beauty of Vietnam is depicted through the harmonious blend of athleticism, acrobatic acts, dance, drama in live traditional music in the show. The show ticket box is open daily from 9AM - 6PM at the Opera House Saigon, No. 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1.
- Dalat Angels Motorbike Tours : phone +84 937 171 399, emai: [email protected], website: dalatangels.com. If you come to Vietnam and expect to do something different, one way is to do a motorcycle trip.
- Dam Sen Water Park, 03 Hoa Binh, Ward 3, District 11, ☎ +84 8 858 8418, +84 8 865 3453 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 858 8419), . Mon-Sat 8:30AM-6PM, Sundays and Holidays 8AM-7PM. Close to the city centre. Opened in 1999, with new water slides added each year. This water park offers some truly unique water slide experiences, including the amazing "Space Bowl". The slides have been badly designed and it's a common sight to see someone clutching their head when leaving them. Restaurant, health services, and animatronic dinosaurs are on the premises. Take bus n°38 from Ben Thanh bus station. Admission is based on height and time of arrival; under 0.8m free, others 40 - 110 000 dong (90 000 after 4pm).
- There's also Water World in District 9, Ocean Water Park in District 7, and Dai The Gioi Water Park in District 5.
- MegaStar Cineplex, . Vietnam's leading world-class cineplex venue with 2 locations in HCMC and the first to offer 3D movies (at Hung Vuong Plaza only). All locations present first-run US Hollywood and International releases and are located at shopping complexes. (1) Hung Vuong Plaza (about 20-30 min from CBD). 126 Hung Vuong Str, District 5, Level 7. (2) CT Plaza (near the airport). 60A Truong Son St, Tan Binh District, Level 10. The latest show session times and dates are available online.
- Galaxy Cinema at 116, Nguyen Du, District 1, is a favorite among locals.
- LiK Vietnam Workshop (Vietnamese DIY woodworking workshop to learn how to build furniture, wooden toys and unique objects by using the LiK creative eco-wooden blocks), 402/6 Le Van Sy, Ward 14, District 3, ☎ 0901809000 ([email protected]), . 2 hours. No experience of woodworking is required to start assembling with LiK. You can create real products by using the LiK eco-wooden blocks. When you build something by yourself you’re developing your skills and improving your confidence. The LiK workshop is also suitable for families and kids above 9 years old. Your kids can learn the first steps to make real and useful objects with wood. You can keep the object you build during the workshop as a gift and proof of your new skills. 200,000 VND ~ ($10 USD).
- My Tiger Tour Motorbike Tours, 844/120 Huong Lo 2, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam, ☎ +84 129 586 8586, . Licensed motorbike tours around the city with themes like food, shopping, twilight, general sightseeing, and more. Tours are available in English, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. $50 250.000 vnd to 1.000.000 vnd, ($12-$48 USD).
- Dai Nam Tourist Park, Thu Dau Mot Town, Binh Duong Province (Catch the 616 Bus from the Bus Station, or talk to a travel agent), . Located about 40km from Ho Chi Minh City, the Dai Nam Tourist Park, opened in November of 2008, it is one of the newest and largest tourist attractions in Vietnam. It features the Dai Nam Van Hien Temple, an entertainment site, open range zoo, shopping areas, hotels, local and western cuisine sites, and the largest man made mountain range in Vietnam. Costing over 50 billion dong to build, this park is the beginning of mass tourism in Vietnam, although it is aimed at both tourists and locals and comes highly recommended. Transport options to the park are quite convoluted and as the park is new, online information is scarce. Reports are that you can catch the 616 bus from the main bus terminal in Ho Chi Minh, but most hotels will tell you that's not possible and insist on a private taxi. According to the locals, it is very much worth a visit, purely just to view the temple. Entry is 100,000 VND for adults, 50,000 for children. Be aware that most attractions in the park cost extra on top of the entry fee, but adult tickets combining the zoo and beach can be had for 280,000 VND.
- Twenty-Three September Park, (Across from Ben Thanh Market and rnning the length of Phan Ngu Lao Street). Running along Phan Ngu Lao Street are a number of parks which fill up with locals before sunset, after work. They play a variety of games which you can participate in: badminton, kicking a shuttlecock and womens group aerobics (to music) are all very popular and great to watch. If you sit down by yourself in the open area near the Ben Thanh market a number of young university age locals will come and ask to practise english with you, this is a great way to spend an evening and the best way to meet intelligent interesting youth, they will question you either individually or in groups and share with you a lot about their country. *Beware* of those men who want to introduce you to their 'sister' who's working as a nurse and wants move to your country. They will try to make you come into their home so you can reassure their parents, but will actually gamble and cheat at cards with you and/or ask you for money after telling a sad and fake story about some dying relative.
- Emperor Jade (Tortoise) Temple (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu), 73 Mai Thi Luu St. One of the older temples in Saigon filled with a good number of statues of Buddhist/Taoist deities. Advisable to take a cab there if visiting. Courtyard has a small concrete pond filled with turtles. Might be interesting if you are curious about local religions, as the temple is usually quite filled with devotees.
- Saigon Street Eats (street food tours of Ho Chi Minh City), Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Phu Nhuan Dist, HCMC, Vietnam, ☎ +84908449408, . Sample some of the world's best street food with Saigon Street Eats, run by an Australian-Vietnamese couple who love to share their obsession with Vietnamese food. Morning and night tours available. (Ignore the address, Saigon Street Eats will pick you up from your accommodation.) $40-$55. (,4-4.5hrs)
- Saigon Riders (Culture Meets Adventure), ☎ =+84 913 767 113, . Quality guides and safe drivers offering bespoke and off-the-shelf tours on the back of their motorbikes around Ho Chi Minh City and a little further afield. Tours range from a half day exploring the sights of the city to full day excursions in and beyond Saigon. USD$29-$69.
- Scooter Tour Saigon (Motorbike Sightseeing and Food Tours of Ho Chi Minh City), 1648 Vo Van Kiet avenue, 16th Ward, 8th District, Ho Chi Minh City, ☎ +84909190247, . Duration:4 hours. Scooter Tour Saigon shows you Saigon like nobody else can - with amazing back street experience on Scooter, delicious local street foods, awesome guides and best photo opportunities. $30-$45.
- Vietnam Tour Booking (HoChiMinh City Full Day Tours), 67c Ly Nam De Street, Hanoi, ☎ +84946801709, . Vietnam Tour Booking provides haft day tour and walking tour to some place around HCMC like street foods in Pham Ngu Lao streets, sightseeing on Nguyen Hue street.. or out Saigon such as Cu Chi tunnel, cruise on Saigon river, Dalat and so on for tourists US$ 25.
- Saigon Lovers (Free walking tour by students), 76E Vo Thi Sau Street, District 1, HCM City, ☎ +84936192239, . This is a group of young Vietnamese students who live in Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. To show their love for Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), they take the travelers to various places, attractions and hot spots in Saigon. While exploring Ho Chi Minh City with them, you will learn the southern Vietnamese history and culture, taste the Saigonese cuisine, set foot on places you never think Saigon would have, and see life here through local eyes. In short, they will make you live in Saigon (like the locals). Their tours include free walking tour, bike tour, foody tours, and historical tours.
- Dodgeball (Saigon Dodgeball Club), Phan Dinh Phung Stadium - 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, District 3, . 8:15 pm - 10:15 pm. Every Monday and Wednesday night (weather permitting). Great way to stay in shape and meet new people--locals and foreigners. Anyone can play, as teams are created at the beginning of the night. Rules are quite simple and will be explained. Phan Dinh Phung Stadium - 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, District 3 (Just opposite the rock climbing wall!) 30,000 VND.
- Yoga with Amit, . If you are visiting Ho chi minh city. Make sure to pay a visit to try some Yoga with Amit an alignment base yoga practice. There are also videos that can be checked out by searching in youtube for yoga with amit. Regular learning yoga videos are published there so you can keep up with your practice even after you have returned to your home.
- Athena Travel Vietnam (All Vietnam tours which Athena Travel Vietnam provides are tailor-made according to your needs), Carina Building, 1648 Vo Van Kiet (Ho Chi Minh City), ☎ +84986682036, . 8 hours. We warmly welcome you to Athena Travel Vietnam where you can experience the local charm as well as an ideal place we can share our unique country with you. We are specializing in all private & customized high quality tours with special style for worldwide travelers for years. All Vietnam tours which Athena Travel Vietnam provides are tailor-made according to your needs. No other company puts more efforts into personalizing each tour than we do. Our staff members are happy, friendly, knowledgeable, attentive, competent English, enthusiastic, experienced, professional, humorous, Beside that we have some good working relationships with local suppliers in the tourism industry. Athena Travel Vietnam, as a trustworthy Vietnam Tour Operator, can always work with you to create a memorable trip at the cost that suits your budget. Thanks for your valuable time with us. 10$ - 80$.
Vietnamese arts and crafts, or mass-produced resin knock-offs thereof, are sold by dozens of shops around the central tourist district. The best, most expensive items can be mostly found on Dong Khoi or the immediate side streets. The goods tend to get progressively simpler and cheaper as you move west toward Ben Than Market (though the best wood-carving shop is a stall on the back side of Ben Thanh). A few shops have authentic woven silk textiles from Sapa and the north. Lacquered paintings, plates, bowls, etc. are quite striking and unique to Vietnam. Vietnamese propaganda posters can be very impressive and offer a taste of history.
When buying keep in mind that is very useful to have local currency - bargaining in dollars will likely make it more difficult to get the same price, and paying with US dollars instead of dong, while often possible, will leave you minus a few percent from rounding (as of 2013, US$1 is widely accepted as 20,000 dong, while in fact the exchange rate for the last few years has fluctuated around 21,000). Be advised that banks and formal exchange businesses will provide you with a decent rate, especially when compared with agencies like Statravel on the main Vui Ban street who will offer much lower rates. Goldsmith shops will also change money at decent rates, though as always it is better to know the going rate than to trust in luck.
- BoSua Local Street Wear, 55B1 Vincom Tower, Dong Khoi St, District 1, ☎ +84 9 04142182, . 9AM-10PM. 145,000.
- Ginkgo T-shirts, 20, Le Loi, District 1, ☎ +84 9 05493148, . 8AM-11PM. Original and quality souvenir t-shirts with creative designs inspired by Asian and Vietnamese cultures. They have anoher store within District 1, located at 56, Bui Vien. 310,000 dong.
- Phuong Mai Art Gallery, 129B le Thanh Ton str.,Dis.1 & 213C Dong Khoi St, . Vietnamese contemporary original art works including oil paintings, lacquer paintings, water color paintings and sculpture.
- Nguyễn Huệ bookstore (on the Nguyễn Huệ boulevard)
- FAHASA on Nguyen Hue
- Sai Gòn bookstore (on the Lê Lợi Boulevard).
- small bookstore located around Phạm Ngũ Lão St. and Bùi Viện St.
but they don't seem to trade books (no second hand).
- dieu ANH's boutique, 3A Ton Duc Thang, D.1, Ho Chi Minh City (entering an alley next to the Le Meridien building). 9AM - 9PM. unique and contemporary clothings, both for men and women, owned by a local designer.
- SONG (Fashion), 75 Pasteur, Dist 1 (nearby Le Loi Str), ☎ 08 3824 9686, . 8:00. SONG, specializing in luxury bohemian-chic is a French lifestyle label inspired by Vietnam fine handmade traditions. SONG's trademark stylings, including precious embroideries, delicate fabrics and contrasting rugged style create a look that is both casual & sophisticated. 500000. (20:00,)
- Lucy's Dream Wearable Art, 177 De Tham Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (near Ben Thanh Market, and right next to Bui Vien Street, across the Road from Crazy Buffalo), ☎ 0084976398868, . 11AM-11PM. Visually-striking Wearable Art exclusively designed by Artists of Vietnam. They sell the best print art clothing in Ho Chi Minh City, with prices ranging from USD29-USD75. Some of the prints include Vietnamese Women Prints, Symbols of Power of Vietnam Prints, Viet Dynasties Prints, Landscapes of Vietnam, etc. The line include dresses, tops, skirts with huge prints all over. Tourists will definitely love this shop for art clothing to bring home. USD29-USD75.
- Chợ Bến Thành aka Ben Thanh Market, Southwest end of Le Lai: a den of thieves, but some great shopping for tourists. A tourist trap and hassle-fest for some, a place to get t-shirts and last-minute souvenirs and play at haggling for others. Ben Thanh is recognizable from its clock tower on the large traffic circle. The largest old-style market in the central district, with several hundred small stalls stuffed with goods on almost impassably narrow aisles. Due to its popularity with tourists, the market is now divided between tourist goods (jeans, T-shirts, smaller souvenirs in abundance) and regular items (fruit and vegetables, rice, kitchen wares, flowers, meat, fast food and local-style pickled fruits and candies). Most items are not price-marked, and vendors always quote a 50-100% higher price to tourists, so bargaining hard will save you money. The chief method of parting visitors from their money is ambiguity: for example never making it quite clear how many you are being quoted for; or what the exact price is; or what exchange rate is being used to calculate your change. Be ready for these onslaughts (often by a sweetly smiling young lady), or be prepared to part with more cash than you need to. Right at the north side (back) of Ben Thanh Market are some shops that are operated by Ben Thanh Group and they sell goods at fixed price and much cheaper than the stalls in the market. No bargaining needed. If the good selection of knock-offs here just won't do, there's plenty to be had in the surrounding side street shops or night market later. If retail warfare isn't your cup of tea, you could skip the touristy Ben Thanh altogether and go to Chợ Bình Tây (see below).
- Saigon Square will be good place for visit. It is a twin of Ben Thanh but with air-conditioning. Haggling your way through this place is the rule of thumb. Local middle-class Vietnamese shop here on the weekends too. Consider planning your shopping here during the day and go to Ben Thanh for the night market. The Day Ben Thanh can be planned as a sight seeing instead of a shopping spree. It is a stones throw from Ben Thanh Market. Has 2 sites, but both better value than Ben Thanh and less hassle.
- Chợ Bình Tây in the Chinatown, the more underrated twin of Ben Thanh, selling everything from spices, Chinese medicines, silk to obscure varieties of fermented fish, dried seafood and jerky. If you are searching for a variety of Vietnam silks and velvets, skip the tourist trap Ben Thanh Market and head for Bình Tây instead. Most of Chợ Bình Tây is wholesale goods. In fact, you can see much of Ben Thanh Market's goods are from here.
- Night Market (just outside of Ben Thanh Market). Here you can enjoy many kinds of different food and drink, and go round to do your shopping as well. Open from 18:00 (when the Ben Thanh Market closes).
- War Surplus Market, sometimes called the American Market or "Cho Cu" or "Khu Dan Sinh" in corner of Yersin and Nguyen Cong Tru, District 1. Hidden behind rows of hardware and electric supplies shops, just brace yourself and enter. Dense warrens of stalls with old American military gear of indeterminate authenticity (e.g. "nice collection of so called authentic GI's Zippo lighter from the war era"), cheap t-shirts, and military paraphernalia. Don't hope to find a genuine Marine Zippo; they're all fake now.
- Ba Chieu Market Second Hand Clothing Market has some good quality western sized trousers (120,000VD) and shirts (40,000VD = $2!). Not in the main market but to east and north. If you walk around the outside of the market you will come across it. Perfect for a teacher new to the city.
Supermarkets and department stores
- Tax Department Store, now known as Saigon Square, is located on the corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue. This is a rather sterile department store of sorts filled with stalls selling touristy kitsch, although the selections get better as you ascend the levels. There's a good supermarket on level 2. If you are traveling here by taxi, the new name may be met by blank expressions from taxi drivers. The old name seems to work. The name in Vietnamese is "Thuong Xa Tax".
- Small western-style supermarkets, can be found on the top floor of the Parkson department store one block northeast of the Opera House, and in Diamond Plaza, behind the Cathedral, on the top floor of the department store. Citimart can also be found at 230 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1 (Quan 1), 10/15 min walk from Zen Plaza.
- Co-op Mart Supermarkets, frequented by throngs of the Saigon middle-class and backpackers alike, can be found everywhere around HCMC. In District 1 they can be found at the corner of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Nguyen Dinh Chieu, about 1km from the centre OR in Cong Quynh, walking distance away from the end of Backpacker street Pham Ngu Lao. Prices are reasonably lower, though the selection leans more toward Vietnamese culinary requirements.
- Western/Japanese-style department stores 3 stores are near the centre. For most visitors, the only reason to go there is to enjoy the air-con, and derive some amusement from the silly-high prices of western-branded consumer goods.
- Parkson on Dong Khoi a block north of the Opera house
- Diamond Plaza, further north behind the Notre Dame Cathedral
- Zen Plaza on Nguyen Trai two blocks west of the New World Hotel.
- Taka Plaza on 102 Nam Ki Khoi Nghia near Bach Dang ice-cream store.
- Phuong Mai Art Gallery, 129 B Le Thanh Ton St., District.1 (near the Norfolk Hotel and the Revolution Museum). A gallery showing contemporary Vietnamese artists, both established and emerging. There's another showroom at 213C Dong Khoi in District 1.
- Oil-Painting - Bui Vien Street, near backpackers area in De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao streets, in District 1. There are several shops along this street selling oil painting at reasonable prices (ranging from 450,000-5,000,000 dong). If you want a portrait of a Vietnamese painting or even have your own photograph oil-painted, shop around here. You can get a readily available portrait within a day or two.
- LiK Vietnam (Vietnamese building game based on eco-wooden blocks), 402/6 Le Van Sy, Ward 14, District 3, ☎ 0901809000 ([email protected]), . 9-5pm. The Little Builder's Bag is the perfect gift. An educational building game made in Vietnam with environmentally friendly wooden blocks for children from 3 years old. By playing with the wooden blocks your kids will improve their creativity, logical thinking, spatial awareness, perseverance, patience and manual dexterity. 300,000 VND
- Contemporary art, Galerie Quynh, 65 De Tham St., District 1, (between Co Bac and Co Giang), ☎ +84 8 3836 801. Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tues-Sat. . A serious contemporary art gallery located in District 1. Unlike the myriad galleries that focus on more decorative works this gallery represents innovative local and international artists including Tiffany Chung, Do Hoang Tuong, Hoang Duong Cam and Sandrine Llouquet. For serious art collectors this gallery is a must-see for contemporary Vietnamese art.
- Electronics, whilst some of the country's cheapest electronics can be found on and around Huynh Thuc Khang, be aware most shops are selling counterfeit items. Things such as dodgy iPods are easy to spot when compared to the genuine thing, but items such as camera batteries are much more difficult. If you are thinking about buying some extra memory for your digital camera, be warned that most of the memory will be fake. Fake Sandisk II Ultra cards are ubiquitous and extremely difficult to tell apart from real ones. These cards are apparently of low quality and one has to ask if it is worth risking your holiday snaps. Fake batteries have the potential to explode, too, so be careful. That said, you can pick up some bargains if you know what you're looking for. Just exercise caution; if it is too good to be true it probably is.
Visiting the local electronics district is another sight, where anything and everything is repaired, and nothing wasted. Loudspeaker repairs and remakes, transformer and armature winding (by hand). Think of any part, and you may find it, including 1968 helicopter parts. It is about a 15 min ride on the #2 bus from District 1. Part of the area was recently closed for re-development, and moved slightly. Some people bring older transistor component and valve gear here to be economically repaired.
Novelty: 'FUKE' brand multimeter for about 100,000 dong. All things electronic are sourced from here, so they are going to be a lot cheaper than stores anywhere else, and some are even fixed price stores.
- Kool Audiophiles,  16/1 Phan Ngu, F.Dakao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3820 1757. Headphone and earphone retail company dedicated to selling only genuine products. Koss, Ibasso, Westone, Grado, Crossroads as well as the limited and hard to find genuine KSC35 products. Authorised dealer for UM Customs Monitors and JH Audio in Vietnam. All their products come with warranty and the shop staff and owner are able to converse in fluent English. Open Mon-Sunday : 9AM-8PM.
- Lacquer ware, (opposite Lucky Plaza on Dong Khoi). One of the stand out things to bring home from Saigon. Head to Saigon Crafts on 74 Dong Khoi St., District 1  (between Mac Thi Buoi and Dong Du on Dong Khoi) for stunning original works, then Gift 42 for the best of the rest.
- Home decor, for originality and value. If you’re thinking of investing US$2,000 or more on home furnishing, a crate shipped from Saigon could pay for your trip. Begin by looking for major items in Gaya  (1 Nguyen Van Trang Str, Dist.1) if you like modern, and Verlim  (152 Le Lai St., Dist.1), if your style is more formal/traditional. Organize shipping through either of these fine merchants. Then you can go wild and buy up…framed art, Gom Viet pottery (Cnr Ly Tu Trong and Pasteur), Lighting from NGA (Le Thanh Ton between Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi) or Mosaic (Mac Thi Buoi just before Nguyen Hue) and antiques found on Le Cong Kieu. Provide extra padding for your crate with Catherine Denoual bed ware (Thi Sach, just down from Le Thanh Ton), and/or Dolce Casa cushions/quilts (Dong Khoi opposite the Sheraton). Ask these and other retailers to deliver your purchases back to Gaya or Verlim. They take care of the rest.
- Clothes, Vietnamese silk is fabulous and Hoang Khai shows the world. His flagship Khai Silk store at 107 Dong Khoi is a must visit. Next door, Creation and Indochina provide sterling competition. You are spoiled for choice after this. Follow your nose, but make sure you don’t miss La Bella, La Bella Blue (Pasteur and Le Thanh Ton), Song (75 Pasteur Dist 1 and 65 Le Loi, Dist 1), and acclaimed designer Minh Hanh (Just up from Dong Khoi and Ngo Duc Ke). Look out for exquisite hand embroidered items along the way.
- Accessories, at Gaya you’ll spot Anupa bags and you’ll want one. Those not loaded should avoid sticker shock and head immediately to Ipa-Nima (No. 8, Nguyen Trung Truc Street, District 1) , for a stunning and more affordable collection. Press on to Mandarina (Le Than Ton just past NKKN) for bargain shoes and Le Hang (Le Thanh Ton between Pasteur and NKKN) for bead/bespoke jewellery nirvana.
- Kids presents, musical stuff from Chuck and Anna (Lucky Plaza - bottom of Dong Khoi) will hit the spot.
- DVD, head to Ho Tung Mao for the pirated stuff.
- Romance, candles, oils and soaps from Harnn (Dong Du near Hai Bai Trung)
- Books, Fahasa English Bookstore (Nguyen Hue just down from Mac Thi Buoi). SahaBook (175/24 Pham Ngu Lao, near lePub) is the unique store which stocks lots of authentic Lonely Planet titles, also you can find brandnew and secondhand fictions . Tri Books (cnr Dong Khoi - Ly Tu Trong) which stocks a wide range of textbooks and English reference books, plus title on things like design, cookery, business and IT.
- For men/tailors, buying a suit can be fun and relatively cheap, but do your research first, and remember that you get what you pay for - labor costs are not what make suits expensive. Tailors frequently use fabrics whose quality is exaggerated (witness the constant claims of wool being "Italian/English Super 180). Cheap Vietnamese suits don't compare to just having an US$80 H&M suit altered by a tailor. Even the most expensive Saigon tailors fuse the suits, rather than canvas them. Any suit should contain 0% polyester. Any tailor should have multiple fittings, preferably three (with the third just being a check-up that probably won't require further alteration).
- Khai Silk and Creation, have very desirable shirts at around US$30, and ties to compete with your Zegnas for US$10. Off the peg shirts can be tailored for you at no charge. Otherwise, take your favourite shirts/shorts/pants to Tricia and Verona (half way up Dong Du), who’ll make you up a perfect copy in silk, linen or finest Egyptian cotton. Allow 2 days. US$25-50. Here for 5 days? You have time for a suit. For quality work from old boys who know their cloth - Cao Minh (Pasteur between Le Thanh Ton and Le Loi). Go where old money/ex pats go. Minh Doan (Le Thanh Ton just down from Nguyen Trung Truc) is your pick.
- Art, Vietnamese artists are increasing their international reputation. Apricot (Mac Thi Buoi), Mai’s (Nguyen Hue just up from Mac Thi Buoi), Phuong Mai Art Gallery (129B Le Thanh Ton str., Dist.1) Hanoi Studio (Dong Du), or Tu Do (Ho Tung Mau). Eat and contemplate in Gallery Deli (Dong Khoi just down from Mac Thi Buoi). Listen and contemplate in Sax ‘n Art Le Loi and Pasteur). Bargain frames – Ben Thanh Art and Frame (11 Le Thanh Ton - 100 m north from Thai Van Lung).
- Bicycle shops, are most frequent along Vo Thi Sau. The biggest one - actually 6 shops next to each other - is Martin at 93-107 Vo Thi Sau and has the best selection of bikes. They also sell spare parts for western-style mountain bikes.
There are two good guide books for shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City: the Luxe city guide and the MySherpa guide which also includes a map with shops cross referenced.
You're spoiled for choice in Saigon, which offers the country's largest variety of Vietnamese and international food. Bargains are getting harder to find, however, and restaurant prices have been rising at up to 30% per year due to a combination of higher food prices, rising wages, and soaring real estate costs. Land in the city centre now sells for around US$16,000 per square meter, so even a modest-sized restaurant sits on real estate worth more than US$1 million. Authentic local food at bargain prices is one of the glories of Vietnam, but it's getting harder to find in Saigon as the city becomes ever more upscale and cosmopolitan.
The local food shows influences from French colonial times - bakeries have fresh and excellent baguettes, which they will fill with cheese (typically of the "la vache qui rit" or "laughing cow" brand), potted meat, ham, and onions, or any combination thereof, cheaply. Beef is used in various dishes - whether in any of the many variations of pho, or in a regional specialty such as "bun bo hue" or Hue beef soup. Be sure to try, aside from pho, dishes such as the above-mentioned Hue beef soup, or "banh xeo" aka. Vietnamese omelettes, consisting of a delicious filling of your choice (various options included bamboo shoots and enoki mushrooms, along with meat, prawns, or both) in a crispy outer crepe-like casing.
However, some good bargains can still be found. Banh Mi Thit (pork sandwiches) can be had for 13,000-15,000 dong. Com tam, a plate of rice with grilled pork (customizable with different types of meat) and a bit of vegetables is 18,000 dong. (May 2011). If you want a wide variety of street food you need to try another district than Sài Gòn, district 5 is good or district 3 and up will get better and cheaper. As Hanoi, street food in Saigon becomes a culture cuisine of this city, you can go around by motos, see the local life and enjoy great street food.
Due to the variety of culture, cuisine in Saigon is quite diverse. This is a place where you do not need to go far to enjoy dishes. If you want to enjoy rice cake with forest leaves in Tay Ninh, you can go to Hoang Ty rice cake store on Cao Thang Street, Phan Dang Luu Street, etc. If you want to enjoy central dishes, you can visit a chain of Hue dish restaurants. For Mekong Delta dishes, you should taste sizzling cake Muoi Xiem, etc.
Food stalls are scattered all over the city, but there's a fair collection in the Ben Thanh market (see Buy). For local fast food, try the ubiquitous Pho 24' chain (though it can be more the twice the price of local fare). Additionally, foreign fast food franchises Lotteria and KFC have established presences in the city. The first McDonald's in Ho Chi Minh City opened on 8 February 2014.
Along Pham Ngu Lao there are many budget Westernised options, and venturing a bit further into the side alleys can uncover some better choices than on the main streets, with much lesser noise. This traveler, for instance, had an incredibly tasty bowl of pho at a small roadside establishment near Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon for 10,000 dong, much more flavorful than the stuff at Pho 24 or Pho 2000. It is useful to remember that the local Vietnamese do not necessarily have to spend 50,000 dong on a good meal, and explore accordingly.
- Zoom Cafe, 169a De Tham, District 1. American & Mexican Restaurant. Typical price per meal with drink 100,000 dong. Open for breakfast. Tacos, fajitas, burgers, fish & chips, curry. All good and priced fair.
- Bunker Bed Breakfast Bar, 79/2/5 Phan Kế Bính, Đa Kao, Q 1. +84 90 390 37 44 Good LA Food, clean, comfortable covered outdoor seating in a cozy garden setting. (Comidas Los Angeles) Open 8:30am-9:00pm Price range 40,000↔90,000.
- The Burger Corner, 43 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, close to Bitexo Tower. Small but very tasty burgers, perfect size for a snack. If making a meal out of it should pay the extra 30,000 for a second paddie. Keep an eye out for their daily deals and combos. It can be cheaper getting a burger and drink combo than the burger alone.
- La Cantina, 175/3 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1. Mexican Restaurant. In the middle of the main restaurant area. Average price per meal 109,000 dong.
- Cafe Terrace, 65 Le Loi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Great place to try all sorts of Vietnamese dishes, from noodles to banh mi to spring rolls. No wifi. Nice outdoor seating good for people watching. Seems to be popular with the local, younger, well-heeled Vietnamese crowd.
- Dong Ba, 110A Nguyen Du, Dist 1. This is a shop that sells Hue Food including Hue beef noodles and traditional banh beo rice cakes.
- Doner Kebab, 198 Bui Vien st., District 1. Inside the backpacker area, you could easily find this small hawk. 23,000 dong for each Turkish kebab.
- Dream Cones, 16 Nguyen Thi Nghia St., Ben Thanh Ward, Dist. 1. Gelato ice cream for less than 16,000 dong a scoop. Quirky and cool neon atmosphere, with lots of white leather seating. Free unlimited (unsweetened) iced tea served with your ice cream.
- Falafellim, 97 Pham Ngu Lao St., District 1. Homemade falafel, tahini and hummus in soft pita bread pockets. Sadly it has closed, but has reopened (in a sense) in the guise of a small Kosher restaurant down the alley at 121/37 Le Loi. Open only Mon-Thur 6:30-9:30PM.
- Pasteles de Saigon, 40 Bui Vien, Dist 1 at the entrance of an alley full of guesthouses and small restaurants. Excellent bread, sandwiches, cacao and more. Has Vietnamese and Lavazza coffee (it would be more creative to have the better Vietnamese or Lao cofee...). Service can be slightly indifferent. Inexpensive.
- ABC Bakery, 223 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Dist 1 is another prime introduction to the French-influenced pastry cuisine of Saigon. An assortment of surprisingly fresh baked snacks (i.e. bread+meat or cheese) as well as a dessert section (jams, cocoa) are available here late into the evening. Prices range from 15,000 - 25,000 vnd. Great place to grab a snack on-the-go.
- Pho 19, 19 Nguyen Trai St., District 5. A small space and very cheap place for Pho and Bo Kho. Excellent Pho and Bo Kho, a bowl costs only 25,000-30,000dong. Open only 6AM-11AM.
- Pho 24, Clean modern chain found everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. Excellent beef noodle soup, very cheap. Watch out for the fake Pho 24/24 on Pham Ngu Lao Street, which does not belong to the chain and serves terrible and expensive food.
- Pho 2000, 3 locations, one sharing space with I Love Burger, one right next to Ben Thanh Market, and the last toward the end of Le Thanh Ton Street. The restaurant was once visited by a former US president, Bill Clinton. Has pho (including a seafood version), along with the usual Vietnamese rice dishes, including a superb vegetarian curry.
- Pho Bo Vien Quoc Ky, 52 Ngo Duc Ke (near Nguyen Hué, District 1). A nice and cheap place for a soup. Try the sate version of the usual Pho or My, a spicy delicacy. ATTENTION: for above Saté-Pho they ripped me of 72,000Dong - zero discussion in English possible. Either you are able to discuss their pricing in Vietnamese with them - or better forget the place! [as of 03-2012]
- Pho Quynh, 323 Pham Ngu Lao St., District 1. Their specialty here, is without a doubt, pho. Their pho is excellent, with locals who come regularly and lucky backpackers who stumble upon it. It is air-conditioned on the second and third floors, and a bowl costs 60,000 dong. They also have a decent banh mi bo kho (beef stew with carrots, served with french baguettes) if you are looking for a pho alternative. Open 24 hr.
- Bun Bo Hue, 7 Ngô Thời Nhiệm St, Dist 3. There are hundreds of Bun Bo joints throughout Saigon, but this stall located just a few blocks north from the Reunification Palace has the dish down to perfection. Each component of the soup - the noodles, the meat, even the water - individually taste sensational. Make sure to get the "combo bowl" (40,000 vnd) for widest variety.
- Thiện Duyên Bễn Thành (vegetarian restaurant), 174 Calmette (near the city bus station), ☎ +84 8 3914 7453. Well presented vegetarian food.
- Trang, 102/6A Cong Quynh, Dist 1. Local food including excellent crab served in a friendly atmosphere. Not too far from Pham Ngo Lao.
- BanhMiBistro, 76 Vo Thi Sau, District 1, across from Le Van Tam park.  Great fresh gourmet sandwiches, especially the famous Vietnamese "Banh Mi". Bread is baked fresh in the store. There are 3 other outlets around town.
- Cafe Lam, 175 Bui Vien, District 1. Excellent restaurant in backpackers area. Huge portions with rock bottom prices. US$1 for a big tiger, US$2 for a chicken curry w/ rice which is so large you won't finish. This is a very inconspicuous place but most of the customers are regular expats. The food is nothing special but the prices, portions, and drink options make it a good bet. Fruit salad to die for, lovely smoothies, and great Tom Yam soup!
- Cafe India, 250 Bui Vien, District 1. Self-described as the "best south Indian food in city," this place is one of the best budget options in the backpacker's area. Their "happy menus" (thalis) - available all day - are 5 item meals that weigh in at 25,000 dong (vegetarian) or 50,000 dong for the chicken option.
- Babas Kitchen, 164, Bui Vien, District 1, HCMC. North and South Indian dishes, starting from about VND 60k. Set lunch (Thali) between 1130 and 1430 for VND110k-120k. If you go, do try their Masala Thosai/Dosa. You will taste the potato for a change!
- Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, 15-17 Phan Chu Triuh (opposite west entrance of Ben Thanh market, near the corner to Nguyen An Ninh), . 8AM-10:30PM. If the heat in Ben Thanh market gets the better of you head over the street and have a snack or a nice cooling frozen yogurt in A/C. Mains from ~40,000 dong, frozen yogurt 25,000 dong/100g. (10.772066,106.697674)
- The Alley Cat, 185/14 Pham Ngu Lau, ☎ +84 126 5492647. 7AM-11PM. The place is renamed and the food more expensive- 70-80 k per dish. Vietnamese and Western food with a big pasta, sandwich and burger menu, also do enchiladas. Mains from ~70,000 dong (vegetarian~35,000 dong). Beer from 20,000 dong..
- Thao Nhi, 185/20 Pham Ngu Lau. -10PM. Vietnamese and Western food with excellent beefsteak, salads, Vietnamese crêpes, Dalat wine... Tasty, healthy, friendly and very cheap. The location is very quiet. Mains from ~40,000 dong (vegetarian~35,000 dong). Beer from 10,000 dong (jan/13)..
- The Lunch Lady (Nguyen Thi Thanh), 23 Hoang Sa. 11AM-3PM. The famous Lunch Lady was featured on Anthony Bourdain's show. Popular with the locals for her variety, not quality. Similar places are much easier to find. Different noodle dish every day. 30,000 dong..
- Bun Cha Van Anh on the corner of Truong Son Street - that's the main street to the airport - and Song Day Street. ☎ +84 8 486308. No A/C, no menu, no English, no toilet, no walls - just bun cha Hanoi (grilled porky bits with cool rice noodles, soupy stuff and fresh herby veggie stuff that you mix together with condiments to form whatever you like)
- La Fiesta , 33 Dang Thi Nhu, District 1. ☎+84 94 429 1697. By far the most popular Tex-Mex in town. Open 11:00am-10:00pm, Closed Mondays. Air-Conditioned & non-smoking. Vegetarian option for all dishes. Hearty portions with must have desserts. Lunch is typically 160.000 and dinner with a drink 210.000.
- Baotique Bar and Restaurant , 35 Ton That Thiep - Quan 1. HCMC . Next to Temple Club and Fanny Ice Cream. The restaurant offers modern Vietnamese food and a good selection of wine by famous Chef from New York Michael Bao but the price is surprisingly affordable. The seafood here is highly recommended ,set lunch ( 8 USD ) is always a treat . Open from 8am to 12am. Price range 20.000vnd (1$) to 400.000vnd (20$).
- deciBel Lounge , 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh - Quan 1. HCMC ☎+84 8 627 0115. Close to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. The restaurant cafe deciBel Lounge is a place where you can find monthly art exhibition, a nice range of Mediterranean food and Vietnamese breakfast and lunch set menu. Open from 7am to 12am. Price range 20.000vnd (1$) to 200.000vnd (10$).
- Scott & Jeremy's , 40 Dang Thi Nhu, District 1. ☎+84 94 890 14 65. Western style comfort food with an Asian twist. Great sandwiches, burgers, salads, enchiladas, steaks, pasta etc. A la Carte brunch on the weekends. Large portions, Save room for dessert. Lunch is typically 175.000 and dinner with a drink 250.000. Open 11:00am-10:00pm, Closed Mondays. Air-Conditioned & non-smoking.
- Zest Bistro & Cafe #5 Ton Duc Thang, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. ☎+84 83 911 5599. European food of solid quality at a most reasonable price. Lunch is typically 175.000 and dinner with a soup/salad, appetizer & main with sides 300.000. Open 11:00am-10:00pm, Open daily 6:30 am - 10:30 pm. Air-Conditioned & non-smoking but has a separate room for smokers. Quiet, a good place to go for conversation with your meal. Free parking even for cars.
- Barbecue Garden , 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia - Quan 1. HCMC ☎+84 8 823 3340. Located 100 m from Ben Thanh Market, behind the General Sciences Library. US$5-7 range. The restaurant is a barbecue specialist with both Vietnamese and International recipes.
- Hoa Khai Vegetarian Restaurant, 124 126 Nguyen Cu Trinh St, Cu Trinh Ward District 1. About 500m west of the backpacker area. 10.7638 106.6896. Vietnamese vegetarian food. Tasty. 100k dong for a full meal.
- Bi Saigon, 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao Str, 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.
- Black Cat 13 Phan Van Dat, D1, HCMC. Fresh and juicy beef patty. Jumbo burger is US$15.
- Hanoi Oi Bistro , 225/7, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Phường 5, District 3. Spread over 2 floors, serving modern and traditional Vietnamese cuisine including some personal northern Vietnamese recipes of the owner/chef Thuy Linh, who is also an accomplished singer in a famous band, 5DK, one of a handful local acts specializing in World Music genre. Local singers, actors, celebrity types, and other locals and foreigners flock to this bistro for its unique take on modern and classic Vietnamese food and its ambience. From US$2-5 and upwards.
- Hoa Mai Coffee #43-45 Do Quang Dau Street. ☎+84 8 836 8310. Located in a fun, up and coming area, just off Phan Ngu Lao, between Phan Ngu Lao Street and Bui Vien Street. Restaurant downstairs, on the second floor is a comfortable bar with pool table. International food and local dishes. Around US$2-5. Fresh fruit shakes, spring rolls, Vietnamese noodles and pasta.
- Huong Dong Recently moved a bit further from the centre, to 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.
- La Sen Restaurant (Nha Hang La Sen), (moved from 30 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Phuong 6 - Quan 3, location unknown). ☎ +84 8 930 6682. Opening hours 9:30AM-11PM. Clean medium-priced restaurant serving food from the regions of Hue, Saigon and Hanoi. Just in the centre of district 3. Friendly service, full A/C, 2 floors and room for about 100 persons.
- Lemongrass, 4 Nguyen Thiep Street. Near the Opera House. A very touristy Vietnamese restaurant. Most dishes are in US$4-6 range, although some seafood items are more expensive. Daily business lunch US$3++ 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.
- Ngoc Suong Marina,19C Le Quy Don, is a restaurant specialising in seafood. Fish salad and clams cooked in white wine.
- Lion City Cafe & Restaurant, 45, Le Anh Xuan, District 1 (Opposite New World Hotel), ☎ +84 8 3823 8371. 7PM-3PM. The biggest chain of Singaporean restaurants in Vietnam, all ingredients imported. 100% Singaporean food with a head chef and owner from Singapore. US$3-8.
- Papaya by Chi Nghia , 68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh District (near the Zoo). Small place specializing in northern style Vietnamese cuisine. Run by the chef/owner, who has 25 years of experience with Sofitel hotels, cooking and presentation is 5 star quality. From US$2-5 and upwards. Very clean, and nicely decorated.
- 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 (recently reopened) 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 "atmospheric" decoration at night, so if you have asthma or COPD or feel you got 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 parlor and the Temple Club (see splurges below). 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.
- Sushi Bar, with 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 American or European 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.
- Spice, 27c Le Quy Don in Q3. Largest and most visited Thai restaurant in HCM. 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 kung and papaya salad, spice shrimp or Bangkok briany: fusion of Thai with other cuisines. Seating over 200, in A/C, al fresco or Thai style on floor mats. Delivery available to all districts. Top floor BBQ.
- Swiss Chalet Restaurant, 54 Pasteur St. in District 1 ☎ +84 8 3915 3983. Opening hours: Every day from 11:00 A.M. - 11:00 P.M. They serve a large variety of traditional Swiss food such as cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, Steaks, Rosti potaoes and many more. More than that they also have many other Central European dishes. The restaurant is known for its large portions, cosy interior and friendly staff.
- Une Journée à Paris, 234 Le Thanh Ton St. Q1, 100 m from Ben Thanh Market. Authentic French 'boulangerie, patisserie, et salon de thé'. French petit dejeuner at 50,000 dong, with egg/bacon 100,000 dong.
- 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 US$10.
- JJ's Brazilian Barbeque, 279 Pham Ngu Lao. A Western-style barbeque restaurant that serves one of the best steaks in HCM. The all-you-can-eat Churascco buffet with free-flow salad bar cost only 550,000 dong. A beer and a meal from the Ala Carte menu should cost less than $15.
- Baskin Robbins, They have a couple of well positioned stores around the city. Very good ice cream. Huge selection of flavors. It may be pricey but definitely worth it. From 65,000 ($3).
- Dairy Queen, There are several DQ's around the city including one on Nguyen Hue. The best in soft-serve ice cream, drinks and some have fast food as well. 30,000 and up.
- 1960 Presidential Club, 22nd Floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur, Dist.1 (www.diamondlife.com.vn). Located on the top floor of a 22-storey building, from here you can have unobstructed view of the Reunification Palace down below. The venue is actually a combination of a restaurant specializing in Vietnamese and Italian cuisines, a spa offering traditional Vietnamese therapies as well as an out-door swimming pool with a great view of the city. If you are looking for a nice day of relaxation for your mind and body, go and give this place a try.
- Au Lac do Brazil, 238 Pasteur, between Dien Bien Phu--10:40, 20 October 2011 (EDT)188.8.131.52and 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, Dist 7. It's a larger and less crowded one with usually better service. Price US$30+per person.
- Basilico, Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences, Corner Le Van Huu & Nguyen Du Str. Sophisticated restaurant offering an all-day snack menu of exquisite delicacies. Before noon, try local, imported tea or coffee blends along with a selection of freshly baked French patisseries and muffins. From 5:30pm until 8:30pm, enjoy the nightly entertainment followed by a live pianist. Operating Hours: Daily from 7:30am to 12:00am. +848 3520 9099 [email protected]
- Co Ngu, on Pasteur just before Dien Bien Phu, Q1. 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.
- Hard Rock Cafe, part of the Kumho Asiana Plaza complex, which is located at 39 Le Duan Avenue, Dist. 1. The usual American burgers and grill dishes. Around 290,000 dong for a burger meal. Good service and friendly staff. They also have live bands on selected evenings. Great choice if you are craving Western food, and want to pick up some memorabilia from the Rock Shop.
- Huy Long Vien, 99 Nguyen Du, across from the Reunification Palace. Chinese food from Peking Duck to all you can eat dim sum. It's big and fancy inside with an ancient China 'theme'. There's also some a guy who pours tea out of a long kettle while performing Kung fu poses.
- La Habana, 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, 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. A gourmet Italian restaurant with excellent home-made pasta dishes in the range of 125,000 dong and main dishes 150,000+.
- L'En tete, 1st floor, 139 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q.1 (at the junction with Calmette). Excellent French restaurant in a area not normally associated with high dining. Great for a leisurely dining experience, good food with main courses ranging from 150,000-450,000 dong. Open 5PM-midnight.
- Market 39, Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Corner Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan Blvd.Market 39 unites the best of East and West cuisine in a buffet and a la carte dining experience. Seven open interactive kitchens showcase the various sights, sounds and smells of restaurant’s unique fusion food. Start your Monday with a huge assortment of international cheeses and cold cuts. Then follow it up with Churrascaria style meats on Tuesday, or sample Mexican dishes on Wednesday while leaving some room for delicate Japanese sushi and sashimi on Thursday. During the weekend a wide range of seafood medley is waiting for you to come and enjoy. With a professional live band to stir up the atmosphere, free flow of world famous Veuve Clicquot champagne and a cocktail station that serves the best drinks by top mixologists in town, Sunday Brunch at Market 39 is the best Sunday Brunch Saigon and the ideal setting for families to get together and indulge. Opening hour: Daily from 6:00am to 10:00pm. For more information or to make a reservation, please call +848 3520 9099 or email at [email protected]
- Pomodoro's, Decent small Italian restaurant on Hai Ba Trung, a block from the Hilton and around the corner from the Sheraton and Caravelle Hotels. 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 US$50 but with poor service.
- Tân Nam, 60-62 Dong Du, Q.1 (A few doors from Sheraton Saigon). The ground floor is open-air, the upper floor has A/C. Rather expensive and mediocre food, around US$10/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) has a 1930s ambiance with separate bar, restaurant, and lounge area sections. The food is fair but most people come to soak up the atmosphere.
- The Deck Saigon 38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 (15 minutes from the centre of Saigon) ( Tel # 8 3 744 6632) (www.thedecksaigon.com) The only 5* restaurant on the banks of the Saigon River. Modern fusion cuisine using the best local ingredients. Extraordinarily glamorous cocktails created by renowned New York mixologist, open air dining on large wooden Deck alongside the Saigon River or inside air conditioned area and bar. Arrive in style - The Deck can arrange to bring you and your guests right to your dinner table by boat. When you have a location as good as ours, right on the river, there's no other way to arrive.
- The Library, 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Corner Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan Blvd. The Library recaptures the romance of a bygone era, offering a sophisticated all-day snack menu of exquisite delicacies. Before noon, local and imported tea and coffee blends are best enjoyed from our fine china with a selection of freshly baked French patisseries and muffins. From 5:30pm until 8:30pm, enjoy the nightly entertainment followed by your favourites tunes performed by our talented pianist. Operating Hours: Daily from 7:30am to 12:00am. For more information or to make a reservation, please call +848 3520 9099 or email at [email protected]
- Yu Chu, First Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Corner Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan Blvd. Yu Chu is renowned for the quality and presentation of its authentic Chinese and Peking cuisine. The restaurant marries contemporary style, stylish surroundings and elegant décor. As diners look on, the skillful Chef prepares fresh Dim sum, authentic Peking Duck, hand-pulled noodles and hot wok dishes within the open, impeccably designed show kitchen. Amongst the local, Yu Chu is the most famous for its authentic Peking duck and Dim Sum “All – You – Can Eat” where you can enjoy as much as you wish at either lunch or dinner. Operating Hours: Daily from 11:30am to 10:00pm. For more information or to make a reservation, please call +848 3520 9099 or email at [email protected]
- D'Nyonya Penang Restaurant, 58 Dong Du Street, D1 (Beside the Mosque and Sheraton Hotel), ☎ +84 8 6678 6044, . Malaysian owned, authentic Malaysian cuisine and local Vietnamese menu.
- Four Season Restaurant, 2 Thi Sach Street, D1, ☎ +84 8 825 7186. Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisine.
- [email protected], 31 Đông Du, District 1 (Opposite to the Indian Jamia Mosque, near Sheraton Hotel), ☎ +84 8 3824 6823 (Vietnamese), +84 8 38274602 (English) ([email protected], fax: +84 8 38274603), . 10AM-10PM. Vietnamese, Malaysian and vegetarian cuisine prepared to Halal guidelines. Has a Malaysian owner and there are several Malaysian staples on the menu, however it is primarily Vietnamese, with a wide range of dishes from around the country.
- Lion City Cafe & Restaurant, 45 Le Anh Xuan, District 1 (Near Ben Thanh market opposite New World hotel), ☎ +84 8 3823 8371, . 7PM-3AM daily. Certified halal, serves halal food on 2nd floor.
- Pro döner kebab, 169 De Tham, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Distr.1, ☎ +84 8 2200 5959. Turkish place with good service serving real doner kebabs, halal style.
- Vn. Halal (Muslim Food Restaurant), 14 Pham Hong Thai, P. Ben Thanh, Q 1 (near Ben Thanh Market), ☎ +84 8 3822 0252. Malaysian cuisine and Vietnamese food.
- fazil (Faz), 174 le lai street, . 1000-2200. Providing best halal cuisine in vietnam. usd 2. (usd 5,usd 15)
- Saigon Tacos, 17 So 3, Khu pho 3, Phuong Bình Trung Tây, Quan 2, ☎ +84 86 683 5248, . 8am-4pm M-F. A Mexican bakery. Corn and flour tortillas, corn chips, refried beans, sauces and other condiments & ingredients. No seating for eating.
- ABC Bakery & Cafe, 223-225 Pham Ngu Lao, . 6am-10pm. A popular bakery that carries a huge variety of baked products such as baguettes, brownies & even pizza. To go along with the food, many drinks ranging from western & vietnamese coffee to fruit juices to hot chocolates. An air-conditioned cafe with free WiFi on the second floor.
- Bread Talk, Five locations around the city. The cheap but tasty bakery chain has landed in Ho Chi Minh. Grab a tray and tongs and choose from a wide selection of cheaply priced goods.
- Crumbs Bakery, 117 Cong Quynh Street, Ward Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1. Good selection of bakery goods. Including rolls, pies, and cakes.
- Gloria Jeans, 116 Nguyen Du, Bến Thành. The usual selection of cakes and goods, but with Asian prices.
- L'amour Bakery & Cafe, 24 Hai Ba Trung. A good selection of crossonts, scrolls, pies, cakes, and other goodies.
- Tous Les Jours, 59 Tran Hung Dao, District 1. Massive range of bakery goods. Self serve.
There is two categories of beer places in Saigon. You have the regular local bottled beers and bia hoi which you can find easily. One unique phenomenon with Vietnam is all the local microbreweries that serves Czech or German styled beers. There are about 10 microbreweries in the city whereof several are located in the city center. A small glass of beer costs about 30 000 vnd and food prices are normally a bit higher than on the average local restaurants. Most of them import both hops and malt from Czech republic or Germany and the beers are more full bodied than the bottled local beers. The style is something between regular lagers and ipa/stout and the consistency is low, therefore the taste and quality of beer differ from month to month.
Vietnam is the worlds second largest exporter of coffee behind 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 fresh UHT milk as opposed to condensed milk.
- C.U House 20/11C Ky Dong street (near Truong Dinh), District 3. C.U House (or Creative Unlimited) is a lovely, peaceful space dedicated to creative minds. It is located in a magnificent villa full of fresh flowers, surrounded by a beautiful large garden with swimming pool. An exceptional place which gives 50% of its profits to a foundation helping creative young students in financial need. Light Vietnamese menu, extensive list of juices and coffee offered at reasonable prices. Open daily from 7:30 am to 10pm.
- Cafe 5 Sao Near the Turtle Pond, on Pham Ngoc Thach. Plays loud techno music. Attractive but pretentious crowd.
- Bobby Brewery Coffee, on Bui Vien st., opened and operated by an American guy who is used to offering money for the charity. It's a nice place with good beverage. Used to show the movies on 2nd and 3rd floor.
- La Fenêtre Soleil, 44 Ly Tu Trong (a small entrance up to the 2nd floor, near the corner of Ly Tu Trong and Pasteur). Save the world from pint size caramel lattes. Brave the decrepit stairway and enter an oasis.
- Gloria Jeans Cnr Dong Khoi and Nguyen Thiep (opposite the Sheraton). Popular international cafe chain.
- Kem Café Nearest place for many in downtown D1 to go with a local. Pull up a plastic chair and sit on the pavement. A table will appear. Practice "Cà phê đá" or "Cà phê sữa da". If you want hot then attempt "nowm" but don't expect to be understood.
- Chot Nho Café 189, Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan District. Reasonable price, good menu. 10 min by taxi from main city centre. free wifi.
- Cine Café 116 Nguyen Du, inside the Galaxy Cinema complex. Quiet ambiance with views of the park.
- Givral Café, Dong Khoi (opposite Continental Hotel). More 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.
- 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.
- 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, is good. Free wifi.
- Highlands Coffee is an upscale, somewhat pricey chain serving Western-style as well as local-style brews in prime locations around the tourist district. They also serve food and pastries. Cappuccino costs above 30,000 dong but the food and coffee quality is disappointing and service is terrible, especially at their Vincom centre location.
- 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 book to chose from. The price is from 11,000 to 30,000 dong. Only serves Vietnamese drinks, and the staff only speak a little English. Has free wifi.
- Cafe Napoly on Pham Ngoc Thach near the Turtle Pond. The decor is Roman-ruin-lite (they meant "Napoli") but the menu is typical for an upscale Vietnamese cafe -- coffee, fruit drinks, ice cream, and a simple food 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, A/C section on the ground floor, and evening time lounge-bar on the upper floor. Next door to the louder, more trendy and possibly pretentious Cafe Nam Sao.
- Poppy Café, 217 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3, . Modern lounge café where the specialty is fruit-topped natural frozen yogurt. The only café in SG that serves this refreshing healthy treat. Creative fruit smoothies and light Vietnamese + Western fares also on menu. Free wifii, flat-screen TVs, and English-speaking staff.
- Sozo, has two locations, including one in Pham Ngu Lao. Prices are reasonable, wifi is free, and all proceeds benefit needy Vietnamese families. Good drinks, friendly staff, but their coookies could be better if they were baked in a real oven.
- Trung Nguyen, . 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. Figure on 10,000 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. Two convenient outlets are east side of Nguyen Hue right before City Hall, and corner of Thu Khoa Huan and Ly Tu Trong.
- Regina Coffee, 84 Nguyen Du St, District 1. Vietnamese coffee or American style cappuccinos. They have a skilled Japanese expresso master who knows how to brew coffee. French mixed with Asian design with bricks covering all the walls. It is marketed towards tourists and all proceeds go to the church around the corner.
- Window 4 Cafe, (near the Reunification Palace). This is a pen for Vietnam's fashion slaves and seems to be the place to be seen. Pretentious atmosphere (it's not the best for those who want to relax), but their coffee is very good and their menu is quite satisfying, the place is always packed.
- The Workshop, 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, 1, . A specialty coffeeshop. Offers modern takes on gourmet coffee, including pour-overs, siphon brewing, and French Press and Aeropress. They source their beans from quality farms throughout Vietnam, and do all of their roasting on site. Very expensive by Vietnamese standards, but well worth a visit.
- Old Saigon coffee, 2nd floor, 63 Dong Du St, District 1 (opposite the Sheraton). Reminiscent of HCM city in the past. It has a great view to Dong Khoi St . All the drinks and foods are typical to Saigon, the staff are quite nice
- L'Usine & L'Usine Le Loi  Real high-end specialty/boutique coffee and cakes/cafe food. Two locations, one upstairs in the Arcade at 151/1 Dong Khoi St, just south of the Saigon Opera House. The other location is nearby on Li Loi Blvd, 70B Le Loi Boulevard, Bến Thành, a short walk north-east along Le Loi Boulevard from Ben Thanh Market. Both locations and one erroneous location shown on this Google Maps search: 
Bars and clubs
Saigon has plenty of places to drink, although to a certain degree Vietnamese and foreigners hang out in different places; however 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 1AM. 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 bottle beer places that will stay open until 3-4AM. Several bars in Phu My Hung will stay open until 2-3AM.
Not to be missed (and surprisingly previously not mentioned on this page) are the pavement bars which get very busy with locals and travellers alike, about halfway down Bui Vien. they sell bottles of Saigon beer for 12,000 dong and draft beer for 7000,(February 2014) 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).
As of June 14 its very much still goin on. Cheap beers (12k) and spirits (25k) with mixers along the shop fronts sat on cardboards and rugs. It a great vibe and real easy to socialise with groups around. Street entertainment of fires how's and the very interesting locals make it perfect people watching.
There are a handfull of breweries in Saigon, you can easily visit all of them in one day. Lion brewery is the most central and the brewery with three kinds of beer on tap is Hoa vien. The full and updated list can be found at beervn.com. Hoa vien serves one black and one blond beer, but also imported pilsner urquell on tap.
Pasteur Street Brewing Company is an American style craft brewery located in the heart of the city. They incorporate local Vietnamese ingredients into traditional craft beer styles.
Where you can find tourists
- VIBE Billiards & Lounge, 02 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1. Professional billiards tables and a spacious lounge. Food and drinks and you can customise the billiard table lights from a special lighting system.
- 163 Cyclo Bar, 163 Pham Ngu Lao Street, 2 doors down from the Duna Hotel. Thumping music until 2AM with friendly staff. Sex workers catering to Caucasian men here. If you're not interested, just gently disengage.
- Apocalypse Now, 2C Thi Sach. Legendary and still packed on weekends, although aside from a few movie references it's not all that much to look at. Stays open late. Now opened their 2nd floor for dj, dancing, drinks with less crowded atmosphere. Cover charge of 150,000 dong.
- Vasco's, upstairs of 74 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1, opposite Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel. You go to the alley of 74 Hai Ba Trung and find the bar on your left, 1st floor. It has live music at certain nights in a week and a typical bar atmosphere for both tourists and expats. Drinks from 50,000 dong, including sales tax, tip is not necessary.
- Alibi, 11 Thai Van Lung. Very cozy atmosphere, with sofas lining the walls and beautiful decor. good food & drinks selection, nice music, and a mix of both local & expat people. friendly staff, and the management's always there to make you feel welcome and make sure you get what you are asking for.
- Catwalk, at the side of New World Hotel. All in one place with a massage parlour, disco, KTV and a mini casino. Price is on the expensive side but it is a sight to behold. (Please note that if you want to occupy a room @ KTV, the minimum purchase is US$200.)
- Eden, De Tham Street. Often busy, full of sporties, revellers, expats and others. Dark and deep and reasonably priced for the backpacker main drag. Open late.
- Fuse, 3A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1 (formerly Cage). Full of parties. Lots of expats. Drinks are quite expensive charging around 80,000 dong for a cocktail.
- Go2 Bar, corner De Tham and Bui Vien. Be warned, tends to overcharge/scam passerby's. The main backpacker bar while Allez Boo was closed, still a great meeting place, as it's impossible to miss the four floors of neon lights on the outside. Large patio on the sidewalk at street level, a cozier bar on the second floor with occasional live music or big-screen sports, plus a rooftop patio (with retractable roof!) with individual BBQs up a steep set of stairs on the 5th floor. Open 24 hr. Crawling with prostitutes after dark until sun up. Saigon green 30.000 dong.
- Rex Hotel rooftop, corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. They serve a buffet dinner at the dinner hour, which gradually gives way to drinks and music. Acts change over time, but recently included a Filipino band playing FM classics and a Vietnamese group playing Latin and flamenco. It's a pleasant place to get above the city noise and enjoy some fresh air. Cocktails around 140,000 dong (including the ++, which * * hotels always add).
- Level 23, Sheraton Saigon 23F. 5 star hotel drinking venue with separate bar and nightclub, and views over the city. A little soulless, most drinks 80,000 dong.
- Le Pub, 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, located on the small road which connects Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. Always busy after 6PM, famous for its western strength drinks, daily dollar-specials (e.g. Tuesday US$1 for vodka mixers all night) and friendly staff. It has the same owner as Le Pub in Hanoi. The Pub Quiz (almost every Tuesday) is very popular with expats, especially the english teachers. Get there early or it's too packed to find a place to sit down. Indoors and outdoor tables available.
- Saigon Saigon, 12-13 Lam Son Square.. Saigon Saigon, Caravelle Hotel 9F, 12-13 Lam Son Square. A pleasant, breezy bar with a great view of the city. Great live band (Cuban) playing inside every night. Cool, quiet ambience on the terrace. Attracts an expense-account crowd due to the prices (cocktails mostly >100,000 dong including the ++). (10.8058427,106.6877818)
- Shadow Bar, 41 Dong Du Street. Expat bar, good place to wind down or up. Recently renovated as an upmarket bar and restaurant under the new name of ZanziBar. Excellent menu, wine selection and imported beers along with a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere.
- Sheridan's, Le Thanh Ton near Thai Van Lung. Small, cozy Irish-themed bar with imported draft beer and live music. Brits will appreciate the great food tasting of home (or the closest you'll get here).
Where you can see the locals
- Lush, 2 Ly Tu Trong. A nightclub in the Western style, with loud pulsing music and minimalist too-cool decor. Drink prices on par with most Saigon Nightclubs. Mixed crowd (Vietnamese, tourists and expats), pretty good food but has a small dance floor. Ladies night on Tuesday offers free drinks for ladies until midnight. Be sure to arrive early as it gets very busy from around 22:30 and it is difficult to get served at the bar.
- Q Bar Saigon, [closed] 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1. The original, internationally acclaimed Q Bar established in 1992 under the Opera House. Mix of locals, tourists and expats in a grotto-like uber-chic setting that could as easily be in Soho as Saigon. Open till late every night. Great cocktails, though at very high prices, similar to the roof-top bar of the Caravelle Hotel across the street. It's the cool place to be seen if you have a lot of Uncle Hos in your pocket. Terrace and Indoor areas. DJ nights.
- Xu Bar, Hai Ba Trung street, near the Opera house. Great wine list. Nice ambiance & service. Not a club.
- Velvet, Ho Huan Nghiep/ Dong Khoi corner. Nice ambiance & music. Latest chic bar in town. Gets very busy, and at weekends you will need a booking.
- Bounce Club, on top of Parkson on Le Thanh Ton street. Very crowded with locals in the weekends. Large dance floor, great hip hop music, somewhat too crowded.
- Acoustic Cafe, 6E1 Ngô Thời Nhiệm. Look for a narrow alley next to a cafe close to the east end of the Ngô Thời Nhiệm. The Acoustic cafe is right at the end of the end of that little alley. Though only 1 km from the heavily touristed centre, this club is completely outside the tourist orbit, and offers an interesting view of local life. The all-Vietnamese house band performs every night, mostly American music, and it's always jammed with student-aged groupies. For some reason, they address the crowd in English between songs, even though half the crowd doesn't understand. On weekends, at least, you need to arrive by 19:30 to have any hope of getting a seat. If your hobby is rock ballad or hardrock, you should go on Friday night. Wednesday is lady's night and the cheapest drink, even beer, start from 90,000-100,000 VND.
- Carmen, 8 Ly Tu Trong, reopened in June 2009 after being dark for almost two years. The house band has changed some personnel but is still good, specializing in flamenco, salsa, and Latin pop, with an eclectic mix of other popular songs thrown in. Cocktails 110,000 dong, shots 80-85,000 dong, but with no entrance charge. It's popular and fills up on weekends.
- Ice Blue, Dong Khoi. Downtown English pub, complete with darts board and warm beer. Friendly, but shuts at midnight.
- Juice, claims to be Saigon's first juice bar (of course it wasn't, there were many local places before - but maybe it was the first Western-managed one). The standard of food has recently slipped, but still a nice place to hang out. Has wifi.
- Khong Ten, (literally "No Name"), 147 Hai Ba Trung, is a large cabaret featuring some of the biggest Vietnamese celebrity singers still in Vietnam. The headliner is often familiar to the locals from television. Most overseas visitors would not like the musical style very much (mostly the mellow-to-melancholy, soft-jazzy, love-ballady style favored by the middle and older generation of Vietnamese.) But it's pure Vietnam and very popular with HCMC residents and Vietnamese expats on trips home. The entrance charge is the highest in town at 150,000 dong.
- La Habana, 6 Cao Ba Quat, about two blocks north of the Hyatt. A restaurant and bar with Cuban theme that makes outstanding cocktails for 60,000 dong. Some are available in pitcher-size for 150,000-180,000 dong. The food is also excellent, though at the high end of Saigon prices. Their Friday night live music headliner, Jeram, has returned from Ireland, and it's usually standing-room only.
update: Jeram nowhere to be seen - but an excellent Rock-Combo with a just fabulous lead-singer (lady)! Mixed crowd - also many Vietnamese. Absolutely recommended! [as of 03-2012]
- Lion's, 11-13 Lam Son Square, Dist.1 (next to Caravelle hostel). Brewery - Restaurant (somewhat German food), with tasty beers and cocktails. The outside terrace is a nice place to chill out, and the inside restaurant is very welcoming with its two beer tanks and cosy bar.
- Metallic Bar, 41 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, District 3. House band plays covers of Metallica, Guns N Roses and other popular rock bands nightly between 21:00 and midnight.
- Napoly, Pham Ngoc Thach near the "Turtle Pond". The ground floor is a popular, somewhat upscale cafe with inside and outside seating. The bar is upstairs in the back, with a decent house band singing a mixture of Vietnamese and English songs.
- Peaches Saigon South (Phu My Hung). Great place to enjoy a few drinks with friends. Friendly staff, Asian food. Quite low key in comparison to other PMH bars.
- Polo, Ham Nghi Street (above the Liberty Hotel). Mixture of expats and locals, starts getting busy quite early. Reasonably priced food and drink, good music spanning from the 80sƒhalal to the present. Noisy and smokey.
- Rio Saigon, A Brazilian flowery decor-themed bar/pub with a great Fillipino house band playing Pop/Rock such as Bon Jovi & Skid Row. It was apparently the original "17 Saloon" bar (now at Pham Ngu Lao) when it was still located along the Saigon River. Great service staff and excellent atmosphere. It is situated at 131 Ton That Dam St. (District 1), ☎+84 8 8211827,+84 8 8211812. You will be surprised that its located somewhere within a wet street market. Gets crowded around 21:00 and closes at midnight.
- Saigon Pho, this little hole in the wall is only a stone's throw from Allez Boo, but much more expat orientated. Open until late.
- Serenata and Soi Da, 6E Ngô Thời Nhiệm. Two open-air cafe-bars with live music in Villa-style settings, which attract few if any tourists but typify what most Vietnamese consider a pleasant evening out. Both feature a mix of classical chamber music, Vietnamese lounge songs, American FM classics and the odd French song.
- The Tavern SB8-1 My Khanh 2 (H4-2) Nguyen Van Linh, Saigon South (Phu My Hung) ☎+84 8 4120866. Great place to enjoy a cold beer or a great "Western" meal - favourite dishes are fish 'n' chips & bangers 'n' mash. Reasonable prices and nice, friendly staff and management. Opens for breakfast, closes at midnight.
- Banana Pub Saigon South (Phu My Hung) Park View. The best bar in Phu My Hung. Pool table, darts, friendly staff, beautiful people, tasty drinks, loads of food. Stays open late depending on the crowd. Worth a trip from Q.1 to experience the true expat scene.
There are plenty of nice and reasonably priced local hotels available for tourists as well as the very expensive international chains like Sheraton and Hyatt. Do take note (especially lonely male travelers) that most hotels do not allow you to bring back a local female companion to stay overnight. Inquire about their 'guest privileges'. Many of the non-international chain properties (that are very nice) do allow guests.
For Hotel Scams see also the Scams section.
The main backpacker hangout is Pham Ngu Lao in District 1, just a short walk (10-15 min) from Ben Thanh Market. The lanes and alleys in the area between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien are jammed with 5-10 room mini-hotels offering prices US$7-15 per a single bed room (air-con with hot shower and cable TV). They probably offer the quiest places in the city. A dorm bed is $6-7, sometimes including breakfast. Keep heading southwest away from the backpacker hustle closer Ng Thai Hoc, you'll likely find that as the alleys get smaller the rooms get quieter and owners more friendly. The area swarms with touts and other nuisances - be warned that the area is not the safest, and it'd be wise not to run around carrying something like an expensive DSLR camera, thereby making yourself a potential target for thieves.
- Cosman Rucksack inn, 189 Bui Vien St, District 1, ☎ +84 8 66802368 ([email protected]). Brand new place, great breakfasts for US$7. Professional high calibre chef serving delicious foods at very reasonable prices. Staff very friendly and helpful, although English is not the greatest. Two free computers for all guests to use, free Wi-Fi. Nicer and cleaner than most places on the road. Around 20 beds, little privacy. Japanese capsule-like sleeps for US$5.
- Mai Guesthouse, 241/41 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 38369176 ([email protected]). Newer Guesthouse run by a very friendly family in main tourist area of District 1. Rooms with A/C, refrigerator, cable TV, ensuite,viber internet and wifi. Highly recommended. Room prices from US$16-28.(4 single bed / 28$,2 twin-bed /04 persons /24$/night,double 02 persons/16$/night).Visa & Mastercard accepted.
- An Phuong 2, 295 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 920 5509 / +84 8 836 9248 ([email protected]). Situated directly across from where the buses drop tourists, it is a friendly family-run guesthouse, very clean and homely. Free internet, cheap laundry and all rooms have double glazing. US$15.
- Private Studio, Vo Van Kiet Street (two minutes ride from Ben Thanh market), . checkin: 2:00 pm; checkout: 1:00 pm. Fully furnished studio with air conditioning, kitchen, washing machine and internet connectivity. It is located in a residential area on Vo Van Kiet Street and is accessible to business and entertainment centers. Friendly Host. Free House Keeping Services USD 25.
- Blue River Hotel, 283/2C Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3837 6483 or mobile +84 903 679994 ([email protected]), . Amazing small hotel in an alley off Pham Ngu Lao. They can arrange an airport pickup for US$15 (though an official taxi from the airport counter will run you only US$8). Some staff members speak English and the service is good. $25 for a room without a view. US$30 for a room with a view that may or may not have a balcony.
- Dai Huy Hoang Hotel, 283/22 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in a small and quiet alley that links Pham Ngu Lao and Do Quang Dau. Coming from Pham Ngu Lao the alley is next to the 'Canadian Hotel'.), ☎ +84 8 3837 0677 ([email protected]). Comfortable rooms with A/C, fan, free internet and breakfast. Friendly staff. US$ 13-20.
- Diep Anh, 241/31 Pham Ngu Lao street, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, ☎ +84 8 38 367920 ([email protected]), . Very friendly owners. Rooms with A/C, refrigerator, cable TV, ensuite, and wifi. Very reasonably priced minibar. US$10-30.
- Ty Mon, 693 Nguyen Thi Dinh Street, Dist. 2, Ho Chi Minh City, ☎ +84 862870526, . Friendly owners, very good basic rooms with AC, TV, decent furniture and fridge. Very cheap price, used by Vietnamese people mostly. A bit far out from center. US$8-12.
- Duna Hotel, 167 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 8373-699, . All rooms have A/C, satellite TV, a fridge, elevator. No longer pleasant staff. Note that the front door is locked relatively early (around 11PM ~midnight) and to get back in you must bang loud enough on the shutter door so that the staff sleeping inside can wake up and let you in. From US$25 for a single room with no window to US$30 for a triple with a window facing the street..
- Hanh Hoa Hotel, 237 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 38372361, . With a real Rattan feel to the hotel. Vietnamese styling, with bamboo interiors, rattan beds, and authentic wooden floors
- Hotel Bi Saigon, 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in alley #185), ☎ +84 8 836 0678, . Clean, comfortable and terrific staff. In-room internet US$3/day (bring your own laptop). The lobby houses the La Table De Saigon restaurant. Double US$27.
- Ly Loan, 241/11/2 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (From airport take a taxi to Pham Ngu Lao St (7 km) and enter alley 241 (between Liberty 4 Hotel and ABC Bakery), 15 m into the alley, turn left. A few min walk from the bus stops (on Pham Ngu Lao street) you can see the alley 241 between Liberty 4 Hotel and ABC Bakery) turn into 241 alley about 2 min and turn the left side, it is on the 1st house), ☎ +84 8 837 0067 ([email protected]). Family run guest house in a small, safe, quiet alley. Some English is spoken. Rooms are spacious and nicely furnished. With A/C, hot water, big beds and some with balconies. Free internet and wifi. Warning, two yapping small dogs. March 2013: dogs extremely small, not very yappish, and completely nonthreatening, even to a dog-phobic, so "warning" is a bit overblown. Very friendly place. Recommended. US$16.
- ([email protected]). Lovely 20-something Cherry runs the place, speaks great English, and knows everything about HCMC. Great and friendly staff. The place is newly remodeled and squeaky clean. They can setup tours, do laundry, etc. The place has AC rooms, wifi, public computers ("free internet!"), and sells drinks.
- Thanh Thu Guesthouse, 241/-- Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1. looking for sugar cane drink shop and you will found teen age boy who always play game online and speak english a little bit but he so cute. good and clean room free wifi 10-13 us.
- My Home, 241/43 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 5559 3898 ([email protected]). Friendly staff and clean. The buses from up north drop you right near this hostel. A/C, hot water, comfortable beds, free internet with wifi. Free bananas at all times and they do laundry. Tourist bars and clubs are a couple hundred metres away. Singles US$12, doubles US$18, triples available.
- Nam Chau, 171/2 Co Bac St. (near Co Giang St), ☎ +84 8 3837 0294. Nice and very clean. US$ 10-15 (oct. 2010).
- Ngoc Minh Hotel, 283/9 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1. Clean hotel with friendly staff, free internet and wifi. Elevator available. 5 stories, garden on top floor and free breakfast From US$20.
- Nguyen Khang Hotel, 283/25 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (in a small and quiet alley that links Pham Ngu Lao and Do Quang Dau. Coming from Pham Ngu Lao the alley is next to the 'Canadian Hotel'.), ☎ +84 8 837 3566 ([email protected]), . checkout: If checking out after noon but before 5PM half of the room rate is charged. Has a nice vibe and good staff, free internet (PC in lobby and wifi in rooms). Free breakfast served on the ground floor from 7AM-10AM. Recently built (or remodelled), Clean, tastefully simple in decoration, rooms are rather small but have A/C, fan, TV, fridge (and those at the front have large windows). Visa and Mastercard accepted. US$10-20. (10.767339,106.691180)
- Rainbow Hotel, 283/5 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 836 0039. checkin: march 8; checkout: march12. Large, bright (albeit somewhat worn) rooms, and those at the front have a nice view. From US$15.
- Tam Anh Guesthouse, 241/21 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3837 0756 ([email protected]). A clean and secure family-run guesthouse. Good A/C, free wi-fi. Laundry service provided. US$11-15.
- Tan Dat My Hotel, 81-83 Ong ich Khiem, District 11 (About a 15min taxi ride to District 1), ☎ +84 8 3963 4424. Large rooms with a view, A/C, wifi, fridge, cableTV and a free rooftop breakfast next to the Dam Sen Park. French bakery 30 m away. American style supermarket 10 min walk on the same street. US$17.
- Thien Hong Hotel, 241/34 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1 (In one of the small alleys running between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien.), ☎ +84 8 3920 6078, . Helpful and friendly owners, free wifi, TV in rooms with many channels including the Australia Network. A/C room with no window US$15.
- Thanh Guest House, 84/9 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, ☎ +84 9 318 8588 ([email protected]). Warm and friendly guesthouse. Lobby inside the house with comfy sofa, cableTV and internet. Free wifi throughout. Trips and tours can be booked at reception. US$12-18.
- Nga Hoang Hotel, 269/19 Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, ☎ +848 3 9203 356 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 3920 3357), . Friendly German and English speaking staff. A/C rooms with private bathrooms, hot water, wifi, cableTV with international channels. Baggage storage and laundry service. Travel desk can arrange flights and bookings. US$12/day including breakfast..
- Xuan Spring Hotel, 185/34 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1, ☎ +84 8 837 2115 ([email protected]), . A/C, refrigerator, cableTV and private bathroom with hot shower and free internet. Online bookings. Good service. US$14-17.
Visitors staying for longer periods of time may want to consider renting a studio apartment style room on 18A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street. There are a lot of good places to eat and there are plenty of foreigners around. It's a little less hectic and you'll get a large serviced room with cable, laundry, air-con and an en-suite bathroom for $240-$290 per month.
The area around Ben Thanh market along Le Thanh Ton and Ly Tu Trong has many reasonably priced hotels with clean rooms in the US$25-35 bracket; some provide free wifi.
- Christina’s Saigon, 212/2B Nguyen Trai St., Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1 (Enter through Hem 212B Nguyen Trai), ☎ +84 9 7878 1822 ([email protected]), . Christina’s Saigon has 20 designed apartment units scattered in 3 properties located steps away from the heart of the tourist district of Pham Ngu Lao and Ben Thanh Market. All units are well-furnished with full amenities and essentials. Christina's embraces the social concept of hospitality as is evident in the personal interactions between hosts and guests as well as the communal space in all properties. From US$35.
- Binh Hung Hotel, 9A Nguyen Thai Binh St., Tan Binh Ward., Dist 4, ☎ +848 3948 2515 ([email protected]). Nice, clean, modern hotel with fantastic service. As the writer was checking in, the front desk helped a backpacker not staying at the hotel arrange a bus ticket at no cost (hotel is not a travel agency, ticket was arranged through bus station by phone). Rooms are equipped with A/C, cable TV, and bathrooms with toilet, shower, and bathtub. Internet is lightning fast. Great bang for your buck. From US$25.
- Thuan Thien Hotel, 277 Le Thanh Ton St., Ben Thanh Ward., Dist 1, ☎ +848 3822 8122, . A/C rooms, cable TV, DVD,, coffee/tea maker, mini-bar, and a private toilet and shower with bathtub. High-speed Internet, dry cleaning and laundry service, and a travel agency for booking tours. From US$34.
- Asian Hotel, 146-148-150 Dong Khoi Street, Ben Nghe District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, ☎ +84 8 3829 6979, . Asian Hotel is located along Dong Khoi Street in the Ben Nghe District of Ho Chi Minh City. Every room has A/C, cable TV, and internet. From.
- Dai Nam Hotel, 79 Tran Hung Dao St., District 1, ☎ +84 8 3824 2525 ([email protected]), . 3 star. 5 min walk from Ben Thanh Market and the backpacker area on Pham Ngu Lao Street. Breakfast and free in-room wifi. The Gossip night club is in this hotel. US $35-55.
- Elegant Hotel, 122F-122F1 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3925 8866, . All rooms and suites have A/C, LCD TV with satellite channels, IDD telephone, coffee/tea maker and mini-bar. Bar, cafe, spa and massage services, business centre, fitness room & gym, and high speed internet access. From US$35.
- Golden Rose Hotel, 3A Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, Dist 3 (20 min from airport), ☎ +84 8 3824 7248 ([email protected]), . 80 modern and cozy rooms with A/C, cable TV, mini-bar, and safe. Jacuzzi and fitness centre, high-speed internet and massage services. From US$60.
- Ngoc Ha, 53, Le Anh Xuan. Close to Ben Thanh market and the New World Hotel. Clean and decent rooms, A/C, fridge, wifi in the lobby. Rooms US$25-35 including simple breakfast.
- Bloom Hotel I, 270 Le Thanh Ton St., Ben Thanh Ward, Dist. 1,Ho Chi Minh City (Very near Ben Thanh Market), ☎ 0848 38258698, . Lovely modern, clean hotel. Rooms come with LCD flat screen tv's, and the air conditioning unit is a mini computer located on the wall which controls all functions of the room. The suite has a spa tub. Free Wifi access, and friendy staff. 25-40 USD.
- 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 bathrooms. 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 US$20-25. CableTV, A/C, fan, refrigerator, elevator, all night guard for bikes, hotel safe. If you don't want to stay in the backpacker area and are willing to pay a little more, it's a good option.
- Nhat Ha Hotel, 252 BC Le Thanh Ton Str - Ben Thanh Ward - District 1, ☎ +84 8 3824 6368, . 57 rooms decorated with traditional Vietnamese handicrafts. IDD telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, and A/C. From US$33.
- Sanouva Hotel, 175-177 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, ☎ +84 8 38 275 275, . Central business district 15 min from Tan Son Nhat International Airport. A/C, 32" LCD TV with cable, internet and IDD telephone. Restaurant, bar, café, car rental, travel bookings, tour services, and safe deposit boxes. From US$55.00.
- Spring Hotel , 44-46 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1. ☎ +84 8 829 7362. Boutique hotel. Clean and walking distance to major attractions such as Ben Thanh Market and Cathedral. From US$32-74.
The area around De Tham is close to the Ben Thanh market and is the backpacker area of the city.
- An An Hotel, 40 Bui Vien Street, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3837 8087 ([email protected]), . Clean, popular and offers comfortable rooms with double glazing in the centre of the action on De Tham, free wifi in room and lobby. US$40 superior double room to US$50 for a luxury double room.
- An An 2 Hotel, 216 De Tham Street, District 1, (On the corner of De Tham and Bui Vien, about 20 m down from the original An An hotel), , ☎ +84 8 3838 5665 ([email protected]) This is a (much newer) sister hotel to An An hotel. From US$22 (with window) for standard single, US$25 for double and US$36-$50 for superior and luxury with balcony. The prices can be lowered if you stay for 4+ days (ex: US$20 for double for 6 days).
Many of Saigon's historical hotels are in the hands of Saigontourist, the former state monopoly. Thanks to recent competition, service and facilities are adequate, although not quite up to modern standards; but if you want to experience a little colonial atmosphere, these remain far and away the best choices at the moment.
- Continental Hotel , 132-134 Dong Khoi Street. 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. From US$60 and up (taxes, service, breakfast included). On the minus side, there is no pool, and traffic noise can be irritating.
- Dong Do Hotel, 35 Mac Thi Buoi Street, District 1. New hotel with clean and comfortable rooms. From US$20-35.
- The First Hotel, 18 Hoang Viet St, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, ☎ +84 8 3844 1199, . 4 star hotel, 104 A/C rooms, cableTV, mini-bar, shower with bathtub, and wifi. Casino and ballroom, fitness room, tennis court, swimming pool, airport transfer and car rental. From US$75.
- Mai Hotel , 4A-4B Thi Sach Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. Opened in 2008 and expanded with a second wing. Clean and comfortable rooms with A/C and bar fridge. Right around the corner is the Apocalypse Now Club. Breakfast included, free wifi in the lobby, while connections are a little patchy in the rooms. From US$30-55
- Rex Hotel , 141 Nguyen Hue Boulevard. Ideally located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, 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 US$70.
- Thien Thao Hotel ", 89 Cao Thang, Ward 3, District 3. A small hotel with thin walls but also clean and comfortable with A/C 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 wifi in the rooms and three computers in the lobby. From around US$30, breakfast included.
- 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 ([email protected]), . 3 star hotel with clean and comfortable rooms. Breakfast available, internet and computers are provided. From US$60.
- Mekong Lodge, 196/1/20 Cong Hoa St, Tan Binh Dist, ☎ +84 933 449 391 ("[email protected]), . A good hotel for those love nature. from US$60.
- Somerset Chancellor Court Ho Chi Minh City, No 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, ☎ +84 28 3822 9197 ([email protected]), . 172 urban apartments for the international travellers with a fully equipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms and a designated work space. (10.7839441,106.6996464)
Luxury hotels are popping up faster than mushrooms in the monsoon rains. Expect to pay closer to US$200 for any of these unless you marry the owner's daughter. The Caravelle, Sheraton, and Hyatt are all within site of each other near the Opera House, in the heart of the city-centre tourist district . New high quality boutique hotels are popping up around the city, an example being Villa Thao Dien in the city's most elite neighborhood.
- Caravelle, 19 Lam Son Square @ Dong Khoi, across from the Opera House, in District 1. In-house restaurants and spas. 7 km from the airport. Deluxe rooms from US$188 per night. May 2009 celebrated their 50th year in Saigon. During the war it was home to many war correspondents and the rooftop bar served as their local "watering hole".
- InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel, Corner of Le Van Huu St, Le Duan Boulevard and Hai Ba Trung St, District 1. Located at Asiana Kumho Plaza which also houses the Debenham stores and the Hard Rock Cafe. Dinner buffet is US$40++. Can walk to city centre.
- Hotel Majestic, 5 star hotel in District 1, at the waterfront at the end of Dong Khoi Street. It 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.
- Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen Van Troi Street, Phu Nhuan District, ☎ +84 8 3844 9222 (fax: +84 8 3844 9200), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. 5 star hotel in the Phu Nhuan, 10 min away from the exhibition centre and international airport and 20 min from the Ho Chi Minh city centre. 251 rooms and suites for short and long staying guests. All rooms are equipped with individually controlled A/C system, TV, minibar, private safe, hairdryer. Broadband internet access is available in all rooms. From US$120. (10°47'45.89N,106°40'22.45E)
- New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, ☎ +84 8 3822 8888 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 3823 0710), .
- Hotel Nikko Saigon ( Ho Chi Minh ), 235 Nguyen Van Cu, District 1 (beside Nowzone Shopping Mall), ☎ +84 8 3925 7777 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 3925 7766), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12 noon. From $160.
- Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Adjacent to Opera House), ☎ +84 8 3824 1234 ([email protected]), . checkin: 3:00 pm; checkout: 12noon. 5 star hotel which features a collection of contemporary Vietnamese art, a variety of non-smoking dining options including an alfresco 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 also consists of a 20 meter pool, fitness center and the Xuan Spa. US$220-$520.
- Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, . On the river and near the main tourist-shopping district, a block off of Dong Khoi.
- Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences, 1057 Binh Quoi Street, Ward 28, Binh Thanh District, ☎ +81 8 483556 6163, . 4 star serviced apartments, cableTV, radio, A/C, 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 available. From US$169.
- Sheraton Saigon. On Dong Khoi, in the heart of the tourist shopping district. Complete with Prada shop in the arcade. Restaurants and around US$40 for an all you can eat buffet dinner. Red and white wine included.
- Silverland Central Hotel & Spa, 14 - 16 Le Lai St & 15 - 17 - 19 Nguyen An Ninh St, District 1, ☎ +84 8 3827 2738 - 3827 2740 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 3825 6012), . Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, one-minute walk to Ben Thanh Market, Silverland Central Hotel & Spa houses 106 rooms and suites with nice city view towards Ben Thanh Market & 23/9 Park, two of the most famous attractions in Sai Gon.
- Sofitel Plaza Saigon, 17 Le Duan Boulevard, District 1, ☎ +84 8 824 1555 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 824 1666), . 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. US$160-300.
- Thao Dien Village (Villa Thao Dien Hotel and spa resort), 195 Nguyen Van Huong St., Thao Dien Ward, Dist. 2 (15 min by taxi from district 1), ☎ +84 8 3744 6457 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 3744 6458). A colonial style boutique hotel in tropical gardens on the banks of Saigon River. 22 rooms, spa and health club. 4 restaurants; Ngon (Vietnamese), Villa Romaine (Italian), Chaba (Thai), and Tama-Gawa (Sushi bar). Private functions are available at any of the restaurants. Every saturday at 7:30PM there is a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show on the riverside outdoor terrace of Ngon Restaurant. Facilities available for weddings and parties. The Event House can accommodate up to 300 guests.
- Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, District 5 (Chinatown), ☎ +84 8 3833 6688 ([email protected], fax: +84 8 38336888), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. A 5 star 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. Recently upgraded including free wifi located in public areas. Hotel guests can take the free hourly shuttle to the business district.
Compared to Hanoi and the rest of Vietnam, Saigon is unfortunately far more crime-ridden. Violent crime, pick-pocketing and scams are fairly common.
First of all use your common sense and do not tempt the thieves as everywhere in the world. Do not ruin your visit being ridiculous suspicious. Vietnamese people are friendly, welcoming and generous. Walk away if you feel uncomfortable or ripped off or under a possible scam. Just be firm and confident. If you can avoid the most touristic (district 1) area for your stay you will have a better time in the city with no one trying to lure on you.
There are plenty of better cheap hotels in district 8, 5, 6 and 10 than in district 1.
Bag/cell phone snatching
Don't take too much valuables with you and better put your money in your trouser pockets.
If you carry along a camera, then be sure that it is tightly strapped to you at all times.
Camera- and bag-snatching are particularly common in traffic: off the passengers of the cyclos.
Because of this, it is often advised to keep the strap of your bag over your head to avoid having it being snatched by thieves. This, however, can actually be very dangerous. If a thief on a motorbike driving past grabs your bag while the strap is over your head, you may fall and hit your head on the pavement which will cause serious injury or even death. For your own safety it would be wiser to keep the strap on your shoulder and do your best to look out for anyone attempting to snatch it.
Very common is also cell phone theft, especially in busy areas such as Pham Ngu Lao. Thieves on motorbikes drive by and snatch your cell phone right out of your hands and speed off. Do not play or use your phone in busy areas. This can even happen in a small alley. If you want to use your phone, hold it with both hands so that they can not rip it out of your hands. Better yet, do not use your cell phone in public places. It is a well known problem, but the police can't or don't want to do anything.
Especially very late at night as you get out of a bar or a supermarket a little kid would run toward you, hug you and ask you for money.
What he actually does is picking up your wallet or mobile and hand it to an adult partner sitting very close to him.
Even if you noticed the missing item it might be difficult to find where they hid it.
In my case I've searched them both and found nothing but I later realized that the adult person might have been sitting on it.
Be aware that scam artists, reminiscent of Nigerian email scams, are operating in the streets of Ho Chi Minh. A person will strike up a friendly conversation claiming they've either seen you at the airport or some other tourist place where they work. Usually they'll be with other family members who will join the conversation very naturally and once they find out where you're from they'll mention that another family member is moving to a city in your country. You will be invited over for food at their house to help console a worried grandmother or to give advise to their family member. Once you arrive at the house however the family member is not there, or the grandmother has suddenly fallen ill and had to go to the hospital. You'll be presented with various business opportunities, legal or not, or asked for financial support for the suddenly sick grandmother.
A common scam in Ho Chi Minh City is the so-called "Poker Scam". A well-dressed gentleman may approach you and strike up a conversation. He will make a connection with your home city by telling you his sister is studying there. Eventually he will try to get you back to his house for dinner where he'll try to involve you in a poker game that you will LOSE and be coerced into paying back. Many people have lost money this way. Be extremely careful about whom you trust.
Get to know your notes. The 500'000 dong note ($25) is a similar color to the 20'000 dong note ($1). The 200'000 ($10) also looks similar to 10'000 ($0.50). For those unacquainted with these notes all of the zeros can be confusing. A trick that some people try to play on you is to quickly swap your 500 or 200K for a 20 or 10k note and then point to the number of zeros showing you that what you paid wasn't enough. They will then keep your original note as well as take additional money off of you. Don't let your money out of your sight when you pay, especially if you are new to the country and have been drinking (they can spot both things very quickly).
Taxis will notoriously try to overcharge you. A taxi ride from the Airport to District one backpacker area shouldn't be more than $7 - $10. After you come from the international terminal outside, go left to the taxi area. Only use Vinasun or Mai Linh. Always confirm they are using a meter. Keep your luggage next to you. You can buy a pre-paid taxi voucher to district 1 for $10 which is a bit more than the metered fare but helps you avoid confrontations. Don't over pay on taxis. if the meter says 45.00 it means 45'000 dong and not 450'000 dong. A 10 minute taxi ride is usually around 70'000 dong. Beware of taking a 'fake' taxi, from a tourist spot, which then apparently runs out of petrol. The driver will then flag down another taxi for you, and tell you to get in, but this will be a friend. As he tries to distract you through the passenger window by asking for the fare up to the point at which he ran out of petrol the friend will be attempting to steal from your open wallet. If you are in a taxi which runs out of petrol, simply get out, pay the driver to go away, and catch a reputable Vinasun taxi instead.
Another common scam, is the one with the Cyclo drivers. They approach you near main tourist spots and offer you a cheap tour around the city (150,000 VDN) with the places to visit and the price shown in a plasticized paper. They show you a small notebook with some comments from other tourists recommending the deal. Once the price is supposedly agreed, they take you only to some of the places initially offered and make excuses for not taking you to the rest of the destinations. At the end of the tour they take you to a small store on a street far from where you started to have a drink with them. In this place, they give you a notebook where you have to write your experience with them recommending their services and ask you where you are staying, since they will take you back to your hotel. Once this is done, they tell you that they need the payment for the tour right there since other places may be dangerous for the handover and hand out a very different paper with ridiculously high new prices. They claim that the 150,000VDN is just the "one way price" for the tour and that for any additional hour you should add around 500,000 VDN making your total balance more than 2,000,000 VND (US$~100). If this happens, just give them the original amount you agreed upon and walk away from them or get a taxi back to your hotel; they will engage in an argument with you telling you they know where you are staying and that they want more money, but once you mention you will call the police or your Embassy the will stop. If you want to be sure that your cyclo driver is not one of these guys, ask him to take a photo with you showing his face, if he refuses, he is also engaged in this scam. They have been doing this for some years, from the dates on their tourist journal and they are mainly around the Ben Thanh Market.
Hotel scams are very common, even in the mid-range price level US$~20-70. The hotel will remind you once that you should place your valuables in the room safe or the hotel safe. Be sure that hotel staff cleaning may steal it faster than you can think since they can get into your room any time, and they will use the chance. Lock up everything that is more or less valuable. Some robberies have been known to happen in the middle of the night, while guests are sleeping. It would be wise to do your research.
Motorbike men (scams) be carefully when English speaking men approaching you and promise to bring you for massage services. He might ride you to meet the massage girl instead of bring you to the shop. Then the girl will bring you further always from your actual location. When you complete your massage you will notice your wallet, credit card phone, etc are all gone missing. It is easy to spot this rider, they are usually waiting outside the hotels, at the junction of the road.
Tourists could also fall victim to cyclo rickshaw drivers who take them on a roundabout ride and stop at an empty area to extort their money. The foreign visitors will pay immediately in fear of being assaulted.
There are dishonest shoeshiners who quote VND20,000 to get a nod from their foreign customers, but will eventually ask for up to VND200,000 for “repairs they make without asking permission from the customers,” Hung said in his piece. “The tourists may start a blazing quarrel with the boot polishers but in the end they will pay to settle things.”
These coconut peddlers will charge foreign tourists cut-throat prices, or invite them to pose for a photograph with their ganh – the bamboo yokes hung with baskets at each end used to carry the fruits around – and demand up to VND200,000 ($10) for the toolThe peddlers are more and more blatant in their rip-offs toward tourists,” he said, adding European visitors in small groups are their favorite target because they “look polite and affluent.”
Research is key in these matters as many places in HCMC are very pleasant and provide little chance of being affected by such activities.
As Vietnam expands internationally there is a growing list of places to learn the language. Here are some of the schools around HCMC to learn Vietnamese:
- Vietnamese Language Garden  135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh District, near district 1, the school offers one-on-one study, quick one-week classes and home stays for those just trying to get by for a few months, or longer term programs for those staying a while.
- VNS University  In District 1, the University of Social Sciences has comprehensive University style courses in Vietnamese, group classes typically 6-10 people.
- Learn Yoga  Learn Yoga with Amit. Teacher has over 12 years of teaching experience around 7 countries. Amits classes are based on Alignment, the bone structure of individuals. You can visit amit at: https://www.youtube.com/c/AmitNamdev Enjoy Namaste.
The school teach only in Mandarin which is suitable for any nationality. Teachers are all qualfied native Mandarin speaker. They offer regular class and intensive class, also private 1-1 and group tutoring as well as corporate classes.The maximum number of students for each group class is 10. Student can choose simplified or traditional.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) telephone code: 08. Please note that in late 2008 many (but not all) land line phone numbers in Vietnam were given the prefix 3.
Free wifi access is provided at many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and cafés. You can find open access points that don't require a password throughout the area around Pham Ngu Lao/Bui Vien and Ben Thanh Market.
- Cao Thang Eye Hospital (CTEH), 135B Tran Binh Trong St, Ward. 2, Dist. 5, HCMC,, ☎ (+848) 3923 8435 ([email protected]), . Hotline: (+84 )934 567 135. CTEH provides the full-range of eye care services from a basic eye examination to the treatment of complex conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Laser Vision Dept also provides Lasik services for patients affected by astigmatism, myopia, presbyopia and hyperopia with an international standard accredited by JCI. Operating: Mon-Sat: 7:00-19:00, Sun: 8:00-16:00. Accept Credit card and VND, Speaking English, Cambodian, Chinese and French.
- FV Hospital (FV Hospital), 6 Nguyen Luong Bang St., Saigon South (Phu My Hung), Dist. 7, HCMC, ☎ (848) 54 11 34 70 ([email protected], fax: (848) 54 11 33 34), . FV Hospital is the leading international hospital in Vietnam. The hospital can cover all healthcare need of the patients from very general i.e. Accident & Emergency, Internal Medicine, Women, Children and Men Health, Ophthalmology, Ear Throat Nose, Orthopedics, Urology, Liver Bile Pancreas, to high-end specialties such as Heart, Brain and Cancer treatments. Operating 24/7. International/ domestic private insurance coverage. Accept Credit Card. English, French, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Cambodian speaking staff
- FV Saigon Clinic (FV Saigon Clinic), Third floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu Street, District 1, HCMC, ☎ (848) 62 91 11 67 (fax: (848) 62 91 11 68), . Resided in Bitexco Financial Tower, FV Saigon Clinic is the flagship polyclinic of FV Hospital. The clinic can address all primary and secondary care i.e. : emergency, general surgery, pediatrics, Ear Nose Throat, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Operating 24/7. International/ domestic private insurance coverage. Accept Credit Card. (,""email="[email protected]")
- Far East Dental, 249 Le Thanh Ton St, Ben Thanh Ward, Dist 1, HCMC, ☎ (848) 38 257789 ([email protected]), . 9:00-12:00, 13:30-19:00. Just a stones throw away from Ben Thanh Market. Equipment is modern, and the staff are knowledgeable and friendly. Pricing is well below many western countries rates. US$13 for a cleaning.
- Institut du Coeur / CMI Vietnam, 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, HCMC (just near Notre Dame cathedral, opposite of central post), ☎ (08) 38 27 23 66 / 67 ([email protected]), . Mon-Fri 8:00-19:00, Sat 9:00-13:00; Emergencies 24/7. Created by Fondation Alain Carpentier, famous french cardiologist, modern equipment and french level trained staff. speaking english and french.
- CarePlus International Clinics, Tan Binh Clinic: 107 Tan Hai, Ward 13, Tan Binh District / Phu My Hung Clinic: 2nd Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, ☎ 1800 6116 ([email protected]), . Mon-Sat 8:00-20:00. CarePlus is a Singapore headquartered clinic chain with two international standard clinics in Ho Chi Minh City and an associate of SGX-listed Singapore Medical Group. It offers uniquely patient-centric, high quality, affordable outpatient healthcare services for individuals and corporates. Professionals and modern equipment are available covering a multitude of specialties (Paediatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Cardiology, Hepatology & Gastroenterology, Dental Care, Ophthalmology, Ear-Nose-Throat, Minor Surgery, Pulmonology, Dermatology, Family Medicine, Emergency Care, etc.) and services (Health Screening, Imaging & Laboratory Diagnostics, Vaccination, Lifestyle & Health Advisory, etc.).
- Immigration department, 161 Nguyen Du, District 1 (~ 15-20min by walk from reunification palace, ~10min from Ben Thanh market following Le Lai street), ☎ 8299398. To get a visa or modify once, you can either get here, either ask a travel agent. Typical cost for a visa extension of one month is 10$, 5 working days delay where they keep passport. You need to fill form N14/M with your details and the one of your sponsor, either hotel, either private house and get a stamp from police station corresponding to your accomodation. This point could be tricky as it implies that you have register at the police station before (See Vietnam/Sleep). If not, expect extra delay or cost (5 days more for example). A quick process (2d) is possible but you need to justify it. Going through travel agents could cost about US$ 30 but they manage the police stamp whatever your situation is (extra fee of US$20 for quick process). Other prices from immigration office at Sep 2011: single entry visa 25$, multiple </> 6m 50/100$, change visa single in multiple </>6m 25/75$, modification/extension of visa 10$
If you need to fill a complaint (for example, a stolen object), you can go at a police station. For a stolen thing, you need to report to the station corresponding at the place where the theft is supposed to have happened. It can be tricky as small station will probably not have an officer with very good english. If possible, go with someone speaking vietnamese.
- Police station District 1, 24-26 duong pasteur, District 1 (10mn by walk from ben thanh bus station, near Fideco tower, crossing Ham Nghi & pasteur streets.), ☎ 0838297373. 7h30-11h30, 13h-17h.
- Police station Phu Nhuan, 181 Hoang Van Thu, Phu Nhuan. 7h30-11h30, 13h-17h.
The central post office (next to Notre Dam) isn't just a magnificent building and tourist attraction in itself, you can actually post things there. Don't package up parcels yourself as standardised cardboard boxes must be used. This will be done for you and is included in the price. Price guide- 2kg to UK is 630,000 by air or 280,000 surface mail. 330gm 183,000 air or 105,000 surface.
The easiest way to get out from Ho Chi Minh City is by airplane, coach or express bus. Several companies provides the bus services to Mekong Delta, Central Highland, Hue, Ha Noi, Phu Quoc, etc. You can buy air ticket from Jetstar or Vietnam Airlines to many places in Vietnam. For traveling by bus, Sinh Café, Hanh Café, Phuong Trang, Mai Linh are the good choices.
- Can Tho is the biggest city of the Mekong Delta and famous for its floating market, delicious food and fresh fruits. The name comes from "cầm thi giang" - river of poems. The city is also referred to as "Tay Do", meaning "Western capital". It has an estimated population of 1.5 million. Can Tho is 169 km (3.5 hr) from Ho Chi Minh City. You can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 231 - 233 Le Hong Phong, district 5 and take a shuttle bus to Ben Xe Mien Tay, where the air conditioned buses leave and cost around 100,000 dong. Free Shuttle buses in Can Tho will bring you directly to your hotel. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Can Tho, traveling time is around 3 hour, you can buy the ticket at Ben Xe Mien Tay.
- Cu Chi Tunnels - Where to Visit On National Vacation 30th April? All about Historical Monument Cu Chi Tunnel.The war was ended for a long time, but on annual occasion of 30th April, the whole country recalls the tenacious battle and hardships of the Vietnamese Revolution. On occasion of a long holiday: 30th April, 1st May and King Hung death anniversary, why don’t you visit Cu Chi tunnel to see the true history that is clearly reproduced?The Cu Chi tunnel is located on the Northwest direction, about 70 km from Ho Chi Minh city. It was built in 1940s during the war against French colonial. The system of tunnel includes a lot of rooms, kitchens, clinics, stores, etc. which were used by Vietnamese communists to implement campaigns against foreign enemies.
- Cu Chi Tunnels - day-trips are tirelessly flogged by travel agencies around Pham Ngu Lao, and can be done as a half-day trip, or as a full-day with a stop at Tay Ninh to see the Holy See of the Cao Dai religion. A half day tour to Cu Chi tunnels, should cost around US$4 to US$5 (80,000 VND) excluding the 90,000 VND entrance fee at the Chu Chi tunnels for tourists (only 20,000 VND for Vietnamese citizens) (November 2013) and are available every day of the week. Most companies include a 30 minute stop on the way to the tunnels at a factory where handicapped people are creating souvenirs. Luckily they don't push you for buying something, but be aware that this often unanounced surprise awaits you. Make sure to get clear with the person or company arranging the tour for you whether or not the entrance fee is included in the price you pay them. There's a group called Onetrip Motorcycle Adventures  that developed one of the best Cu Chi experience that will take you to the non-touristy part of the tunnels, where the local go to pay respect. This tour is on the pricier end but it's because they do not stop at any shopping stops for commission money and actually take you into the surrounding area of Cu Chi to let you experience more of the culture in context with the war. It's worth taking the trips to see these amazing structures so cleverly carved underground and used for survival during wartime. There is also a shooting range in which tourists can fire the same guns used in the tunnels during the war.
- Can Gio - the virgin mangrove forest 30 km South of the city, entrance to the Park is near Ca Cam bridge, typical day break from the civilization. You can take bus No.75 from Ben Thanh Market to Can Gio. The earliest bus from Ben Thanh Market is 7:20 am, last bus is 4:20 pm. From Can Thanh bus terminal, the earliest bus is 4:20 am, last bus is 4:20 pm.
- Dalat - popular temperate mountain side 'European' escape. There are many companies provide the bus service to Da Lat, you can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 272 De Tham, district 1. Ask for the Shuttle buses to your hotel. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Da Lat, you can buy the ticket at 400A Le Hong Phong, district 5.
- Ben Tre - a small city and the "land of coconut" in Mekong Delta, famous for its coconut and the food made from coconut. There are many companies provide the bus service to Ben Tre, you can get the tickets at Ben Xe Mien Tay or the bus companies on Su Van Hanh Street, District 5. Traveling time is around 2 hours, and the price for a ticket is about 65,000 (updated September 2016).
- Vinh Long - You can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 231 - 233 Le Hong Phong, district 5 and take a shuttle bus to Ben Xe Mien Tay, where the air conditioned buses leave and cost around 90,000 dong. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Vinh Long, traveling time is around 2.5 hour, you can buy the ticket at Ben Xe Mien Tay or 400A Le Hong Phong. Shuttle bus from Le Hong Phong to Ben Xe Mien Tay is available.
- Ha Tien - close to Cambodian border, by the sea. You can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 231 - 233 Le Hong Phong, district 5 and take a shuttle bus to Ben Xe Mien Tay, where the air conditioned buses leave. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Vinh Long, traveling time is around 2.5 hour, you can buy the ticket at Ben Xe Mien Tay or 400A Le Hong Phong. Shuttle bus from Le Hong Phong to Ben Xe Mien Tay is available.
- Rach Gia - often used as a gateway to take the ferry to Phu Quoc. You can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 231 - 233 Le Hong Phong, district 5 and take a shuttle bus to Ben Xe Mien Tay, where the air conditioned buses leave. Mai Linh express bus [] also provides the service to Vinh Long, traveling time is around 2.5 hour, you can buy the ticket at Ben Xe Mien Tay or 400A Le Hong Phong. Shuttle bus from Le Hong Phong to Ben Xe Mien Tay is available.
- Mekong Delta - boat tours are available with an almost infinite mix of itineraries. They can be short overnight trips, leisurely meanders over several nights. If doing a two or three day Mekong Tour, expect to be shuffled between tour companies along the way though. Check out this awesome video of life in the mekong delta Life in the Mekong Delta
- Tay Ninh - Cao Dai Holy See and Ba Den mountain. Take bus No. 703 from Ben Thanh Market.
- Mui Ne - popular beach resort about 4-6 hr away by bus. There are many companies provide the bus service to [[Mui Ne], you can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 272 De Tham, district 1. Ask for the Shuttle buses to your hotel. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Da Lat, you can buy the ticket at 400A Le Hong Phong, district 5 or Mai Linh Ticket office at Ben Xe Mien Dong.
- Vung Tau - city with good beaches, about 2 hr away by bus, or less by boat along the Saigon River. The boat ride costs 250,000 dong (at Sep 2011). There are many companies provide the bus service to [[Vung Tau], you can get tickets from Phuong Trang Company at 272 De Tham, district 1. Ask for the Shuttle buses to your hotel. Mai Linh express bus also provides the service to Vung Tau, you can buy the ticket at 400A Le Hong Phong, district 5 or Mai Linh Ticket office at Ben Xe Mien Dong.
- Phnom Penh - a 6 hr bus ride to the capital of Cambodia ranges from US$10-12 (210,000-252,000 dong). When you pass into Cambodia and the bus rests for 15 min, do not buy anything from the roadside cafe. Instead, cross the road to purchase drinks or food from the roadside shops because prices can be up to 50% cheaper than the bus stop cafe. Alternatively you could book a tour with boat and bus to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, which will have you spending a night in a cheap hotel in Chau Doc before making the trip over the border (cross-border package prices may include visa support, which should cost 360,000-530,000 dong). Many services, including Kumho Samco and Mekong Express, will try to charge $35 instead of $30 for the Cambodia visa claiming the extra fee is for 'express' service. To avoid this, try MaiLinh. See visa scams for more info.
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