Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh (HCM) adopted its new name in 1976 after Vietnam won their war against France. It was named after their most respected leader and a hero to locals all around the country.. You will see buildings, statues, places, and other landmarks dedicated to Ho Chi Minh.

This city is also the most crowded in all of Vietnam with a population of around 8 million and another 8 million international visitors annually. Not to mention hundreds and thousands of motorbikes going all around the city.

HCM has it all. A combination of sky scrapers & temples, parks and night clubs, urban and rural, rich and poor. It has attracted backpackers all around the globe and would usually pick HCM as their starting point to the Indochina route. It is also a great city to visit for those who are just starting to travel.

Weather
Just like majority of Southeast Asia, HCM is a tropical country. It only has 2 seasons, the wet and dry seasons. Average temperature all year is roughly 28C and very humid. Best time to visit would be from November to May avoiding the monsoon season.

Food
Vietnam has delicious local cuisine. There are lots to choose from but a must to try would be their Banh Mi, Pho (noodles), and Op La. Dining in a regular restaurant would cost around PHP 450 per person.

Budget and Currency
Local currency is called Vietnamese Dong (VND). It is easy to become a millionaire in Vietnam. Converting your $50 (USD) is equivalent to 1,000,000 VND! When we had our cash converted to VND, we were not used to having millions in our pockets.

Transportation
You can go around HCM via a local bus, taxi, Grab, and by motorbike. The fastest way to go around is by taking a motor bike. Traffic in HCM can be terrible during rush hours and the motor bike can just squeeze around traffic. However, the most convenient (but most expensive) would be to book a Grab car. Taking a taxi is cheaper but drivers usually don’t run their taxi meter but instead would bargain you for an fixed amount. Though Grab is more experience, it saves you the hassle of bargaining every time you call a taxi. A 4km (30 min) Grab ride would probably cost you around PHP 170. Unfortunately, they do not have a train system yet.

Where to stay? / Accommodations
Depending on what type of traveller you are there many districts in HCM you can choose from.

District 1 – If you are on a budget and looking for night life, this is the place to stay. It is near Bu Vien street, the backpackers area of HCM.

District 2 – If you have the money to spare, we would suggest this area. It has all the best hotels and lots of restaurants and shopping malls.

District 5 – You are fond of museums and Buddhist culture, then this is the place for you. This area is also called Chinatown. Costs of hotels here are less than District 2.

So where did we stay? We chose District 1 to save up on cost. We stayed in Dragon Palace Hotel 3 just 300m from Bu Vien. It has a lost of restaurants, bars, and massage parlors nearby. It is not as loud as you might think.

Let me walk you through the attractions we visited. Enjoy!

Check out the other places we visited in south Vietnam
Dalat
Mui Ne
Mekong Delta

The Attractions

Notre Dame Cathedral
Description:
One of the few Catholic strongholds in a Buddhist dominated country. The cathedral structure has a French inspired style was was built around 1800s.
Location:
01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours:
6:00AM – 8:00PM (Daily)
Best time to go:
4PM onwards when the sun is not too hot.
Tips:
If you have the time, make sure to hear English mass during Sundays at 9:30AM

Notre Dame Cathedral

Saigon Central Post Office
Description: This attraction is a good segway when visiting the Notre Dame Catheral since it is right beside it. This iconic landmark has to be one of the most beautiful post offices in all of Southeast Asia.
Location: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours: 7:00AM – 7:00PM (Monday to Friday), 8:00AM – 6:00PM (Saturday & Sunday)
Best time to go:
Avoid the rush hours which is 8:30AM – 10:00AM & 4:00PM – 6:00PM
Tips:
This place makes you feel like you are in 20th century Europe. Best thing about it is the free admission.

Post Office front entrance
Inside the Post Office

Thien Hau Temple (Ba Thien Temple)
Description:
A typical Buddhist temple you will usually see all around Southeast Asia. One thing unique about this place is the beautiful dioramas all around the roof depicting life in ancient China.
Location:
710 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường 11, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission but tourists are encouraged to give a donation
Opening Hours:
8:00AM – 4:30PM (Daily)
Best time to go:
Between 8:30AM – 10:00AM & 3:00PM – 4:30PM. The sunrise and sunset make the temple look more magical
Tips:
Make sure to buy some incense and say your wishes to the Buddhist Gods.

Ba Thien Temple
Chinese dioramas showing life 300 years ago

Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda
Description:
Dedicated to Me Sanh, Goddess of Fertility. Women who are planning to have a kid usually visit here.
Location:
184 Hùng Vương, Phường 12, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission but tourists are encouraged to give a donation
Opening Hours:
7:00AM – 5:00PM (Daily)
Best time to go:
3:30PM onwards when the sun is not too hot
Tips:
Make sure to wear appropriate clothes when visiting

Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda

Ben Thanh Market
Description:
The BEST place to buy cheap souvenirs and to experience local delicacies. Make sure to bargain before buying. Bargain to at least 40% off the original price.
Location:
Chợ, Đường Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours:
7:00AM – 7:00PM (Daily)
Best time to go:
7:00AM to 10:00AM before the crowds come in
Tips:
It gets hot inside since the place does not have air-condition. Bring water and extra shirt when you go shopping.

Ben Thanh Market
Local delicacies for sale


Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Description:
It is a very broad plaza with lots of restaurants and shopping malls surrounding the area. It is a good place to stroll around at night. The place is also a gateway to other attractions withing 5-10 mins walking distance.
Location:
22 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours:
Open 24 hours daily
Best time to go:
6:00PM onwards to experience the street go alive at night
Tips:
Make sure to visit the statue of Ho Chi Minh and watch the fountain show.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Cafe Apartment
Description:
Right in the middle of Nguyen Hue is the Cafe Apartment. Once a residential building now turned into small coffee shops and also one of the most Instagrammable places in Ho Chi Minh.
Location:
42 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours:
8:00AM – 10:00PM (Daily)
Best time to go:
6:00PM onwards. It always great to have that late night coffee session with friends
Tips: Average cost for dinner and coffee is around PHP 400-500 per person

Cafe Apartment night shot

Bitexco Financial Tower
Description:
One of the tallest buildings in Ho Chi Minh. Make sure to visit the Sky Deck and the World of Heineken tour. This place is a MUST see!
Location:
Bitexco Financial Tower, 7, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Around PHP 450 as of October 2019
Opening Hours:
8:00AM – 11:0PM (Monday to Saturday), 9:30AM – 11:00PM (Sunday)
Best time to go:
5:00PM and watch that epic sunset over Ho Chi Minh city
Tips:
You may also opt to visit the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh which is the Landmark 81 building.


Bitexco Financial Tower
With a view of Landmark 81. Tallest building in Vietnam

Bui Vien Walking Street
Description:
It may be quiet in the morning but come night time this places becomes the the center of night life in Ho Chi Minh. If you are looking for a great party experience is this is the place to be.
Location:
Bùi Viện, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Google Maps:
Link here
Entrance Fee:
Free admission
Opening Hours:
Open 24 hours daily
Best time to go:
7:00PM onwards and experience night life in Ho Chi Minh
Tips:
Do NOT forget to TRY the balloon 🙂 hehe

Bu Vien Street before it gets crazy at night
Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs!
Join us as we venture out on new local and international destinations!
Instagram: @marcusregime and @joshuadpacheco

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