Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Ho Chi Minh City Overview

As the engine of Vietnam’s economy, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest city. Originally a Khmer settlement situated along the lazy Saigon River, eight million people now live in what is one of the most densely populated metropolises on earth

 
Formerly known as Saigon, the energy of Ho Chi Minh City is infectious. Cafes serving strong Vietnamese coffee can be found almost every street corner, and bustling markets offer fresh produce from the nearby Mekong Delta. Many of its residents are under 30, and eager to practice English with visitors.
 
Much like Paris, Ho Chi Minh City is divided into Districts – 1 is the commercial heart; 3 is the French Quarter; and 5 is Chinatown, also known as Cholon. Many streets in the center are designed in a grid like pattern, making the city easy to navigate.
 
With almost as many motorbikes as people, crossing any intersection at rush hour can be a heart pounding experience. Grabbing the arm of a local may be necessary to navigate the swirling traffic currents, that like Ho Chi Minh city itself, are ever changing kaleidoscope of color.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Dong Khoi Street is the 5th Avenue of Ho Chi Minh City, leading from the Saigon River deep into the heart of District 3, the old French Quarter. Lined with boutiques and some of the citys’ best hotels, Dong Khoi comes alive at night when the daily ‘go around’ revs into high gear – a flashy display of the latest motorbikes and fashion as Ho Chi Minh City’s young come out to play.

Though the old American embassy has been demolished, the street corner where some of the 20th century’s most dramatic history unfolded is an easy stroll from downtown. Along the way, stop at the Reunification Palace and the Notre Dame cathedral, the latter mentioned in Graham Greene’s novel, The Quiet American.

The city’s main post office sits adjacent to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Its yellow ochre exterior is decorated with famous Frenchmen, while inside murals depict what Southern Vietnam looked like under French rule.

Ben Thanh Market sells fresh fruit, fish, meat and a large variety of handicrafts. Open daily, a stroll through the narrow lanes will reveal Saigonese bargaining for material, clothing and shoes. Aside from shopping, eating is the most popular pastime of the Saigonese and food stalls and restaurants can be found everywhere. A bowl of pho, Vietnam’s signature noodle soup, is served on almost every street corner at dawn.

Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City

Budget Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Indochine Hotel -very central hotel with simple, clean rooms
Duc Vuong - hotel located in travelers area, Pham Ngu Lao
Spring Hotel - multistory hotel in District 1

Mid Range Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Rex Hotel - centrally located war era hotel
Hotel Majestic - breathtaking views over the
Saigon River
Grand Hotel -colonial hotel with lots of charm

Luxury Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Sheraton Hotel and Towers - high-rise property with expansive spa
The Legend Hotel - riverfront hotel good best suited for
business travelers
Park Hyatt Saigon - Saigon’s more luxurious5 star hotel

Ho Chi Minh City Weather

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Resources

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This page was last modified on 24 Sep 2011 by Matt