Ho Chi Minh City


Ho Chi Minh city travel

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Ho Chi Minh overview

Ho Chi Minh City formerly known as Saigon, locates at the heart of the southern part of Viet Nam, between the northern edge of the Mekong Delta and the South Eastern region of volcanic red soil. Being a transformation between the two terrains, Ho Chi Minh City is intertwined with natural forest, vast plains, long coast and hundreds of rivers and canals. The Saigon River winds around the city and connect it with the East Sea.

Over the past three centuries, Saigon, once praised as the “Pearl of the Orient”, was known as an important trade center for Chinese, Japanese and Western merchants. It had also been christened the “Paris of Asia” for its wide boulevards lined with the stately trees and magnificent French villas.

Nowadays, Ho Chi Minh City travel has a total area of 2,090 square kilometers, which encompasses 24 districts with an area of 230 square kilometers and five outer-counties with an area of 1,860 square kilometers. The city, which a total population of over seven millions, is the largest city in Viet Nam, a major hub for commercial, tourist, cultural and scientific activities.

This always-in-rush-hour city churns bubbles and fumes. The streets, where much of the city’s life takes place, are a myriad of street markets, shops, pavement cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendor selling wares spread out on sidewalk. Yet within the teeming metropolis are timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. A mix of the old and new is witnessed where the skyscrapers are juxtaposed with faded French colonial buildings, where one would easily find something to entertain himself whether he wants to discover museums, pagodas, markets or just sipping coffee in a sidewalk cafes, chatting with fellow travelers, listening to thumping music.

A trip to Ho Chi Minh City offers you a good experience of warm emotions: the incredible pride and genuine warmth of its people, the richness of its culture, the depth of its tradition and the diversity of its landscape. You will be welcomed, celebrated, and made to feel like family. You will be greeted with smiles, waves and shouts of "hello!”.

Dynamic, bustling, crowded but liberal and friendly, Ho Chi Minh City has so much to offer to visitors.

Saigon climate & weather

Ho Chi Minh City has a pleasant tropical climate with two alternate seasons:dry and rainy. The dry season runs from November through April with average temperatures around 28oC and the rainy season from May through October. The rain, however, never last too long while the sun is not too hot.     Jan    Feb  

Money and cost in Ho Chi Minh city Vietnam

Until recently, many upmarket hotels insisted that you pay in US dollars, but now all businesses (except Vietnam Airlines) must accept payment in dong. In practice, many still display their prices in US dollars. It's advisable to bring travellers cheques in US dollars as well as a little US currency.


Name Vietnamese dong

Symbol ₫ The banknotes come in denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. In small towns, it can be difficult to get change for the larger notes, so keep a stack of smaller bills handy. Now that Ho Chi Minh has been canonised (against his wishes), you'll find his picture on every banknote.

Coins are being reintroduced for use in Vietnam, partially to help stave off the number of counterfeit banknotes. There are coins to the value of 1000, 2000 and 5000 dong.

Changing Your Money

There is now a reasonably extensive network of ATMs in major cities and this can be a convenient way to get your hands on money. It is also handy to have a combination of US dollars and travellers cheques for more remote or rural parts of the country. There are four ways to exchange currency: at a bank, through authorised exchange bureaus, at hotel reception desks, and on the black market. The best rates are offered by the banks, but the exchange bureaus are generally more conveniently located and have longer opening hours. The black market rate is worse than the legal exchange rate, so if you're offered better rates than a bank it's bound to be some sort of scam. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB credit cards are accepted in the major cities and towns popular with tourists.

It's virtually impossible to exchange travellers cheques outside the major cities and tourist areas. Visitors heading off the beaten track will either need to stock up on dong, or conduct a private cash transaction on the black market. It's a good idea to bring a small calculator with you for currency conversions, unless you're the kind of person who can divide or multiply by large numbers in your head.

Money Tips

Travellers staying in budget accommodation and eating in small cafes should be able to get by on around US$20.00 to US$25.00 per day, plus long-distance transport costs. Those wanting to stay in mid-range hotels, eat out at moderate restaurants, charter occasional taxis and enjoy the nightlife should budget on around US$65.00 a day.


Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but it is enormously appreciated. For a person who earns US$50.00 per month, a US$1.00 tip is about half a day's wages. Upmarket hotels and some restaurants may levy a 5% service charge, but this may not make it to the staff. If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, tip the staff who clean your room, if you can.

You should also consider tipping drivers and guides - after all, the time they spend on the road with you means time away from home and family. Typically, travellers on minibus tours will pool together to collect a communal tip to be split between the guide and driver. About US$1.00 per day (per tourist) is standard.

It is considered proper to make a small donation at the end of a visit to a pagoda, especially if a monk has shown you around; most pagodas have contribution boxes for this purpose.

Shopping in Saigon - Ho Chi Minh city tour

Once you are in Ho Chi Minh City, you are spoilt for choice of shops. The city being a heaven for shoppers, offers a wide variety of items ranging from colorful handicraft items to tacky tourist junk well within your budget. Most of the shops stand in the center of the city. Some shops, which served as trendy Rue Catinat during the French colonial period, are found by the sides of Dong Khoi.
If you cannot stop yourself from shopping in Ho Chi Minh City, be sure that you have at least some bargaining skills and good eyes to pick the right item from the endless supply. Frankly speaking, any item without a price tag can be bargained down to two thirds of its initially quoted price. However the major tourist shops in the city are fixed price shops.
There are some areas in the city that can be designated as shopping zones namely Dong Khai and Le Thanh Ton at the back of Rex Hotel. Items displayed in the shops include amber, ceramics, antiques, jewelry, furniture, silk and apparel. Items such as boxes and vases made from lacquer ware are very popular among tourists visiting the city. The locals prefer hand-embroidered tablecloths and napkins. Rosewood boxes, bowls and Lacquerware are popular as gift items.
The foreigners can purchase tax-free items from the duty-free shops located at the corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. The shops generally remain open on all days from 8:00 to 20:00.

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