Ho Chi Minh City is one of the largest city in Vietnam and informally referred to as Saigon. It is remarkable for the harmonious blending of traditional values with northern and western cultural features. Skyscrapers dot the city and everywhere are the signs of growing status cars, mobile phones, upscale cafes, fine dining and trendy nightlife. And yet the city still retains a uniquely Vietnamese feel with the hustle and bustle of the local markets, incessant horns and local vendors on every street corner. Today, Saigon is the big tourism center as well as the commerce and financial hub, attracting a large number of business and leisure travel to Vietnam.
What to expect
Saigon has various attractions such as the Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Reunification Palace, the China town, Cu Chi Tunnels, numerous museums, theatres and cultural houses, shopping centers, etc... Moreover, Saigon is a good starting point for excursions to the Mekong Delta or nearby beach destinations of Phu Quoc Island, Phan Thiet (Mui Ne), Vung Tau, Long Hai.
Saigon is up there with Asia’s best culinary cities. The delicious distinct flavours that mark out Vietnam’s south, centre and north are all plentifully showcased, as is an impressive turnout of other Asian and western cuisine
Vietnam has its fair share of pickpockets, especially in large cities like Saigon and Hanoi. Thus, always keep an eye on your valuables or better to leave them at hotel before going out. Sometimes while traveling, a desperate beggar or street vendor suddenly grabs your arm, then follow you to ask for money or sell their stuffs. Please do not offer money to them; instead donate to a local charity. For the traffic, when crossing the road, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly.
Generally, the climate in Saigon is hot and humid with an annual average temperature of 27 Degree Celcious. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season (May to November) and the dry season (December to April next year). The hottest month is April and coolest is December. It is possible to visit Vietnam and Saigon in winter for the best weather, avoiding the monsoon (May to October). But be prepared for humid conditions throughout the year, especially in the south. The best month is January.
Most regional airlines connect with Ho Chi Minh City, check with United flights or with Cathay Pacific for good fares. Domestically, Saigon is linked by Vietnam Airlines flights from Hanoi, Hai Phong, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang, Dalat, Buon Me Thuot, Pleiku, Phu Quoc, Con Dao. Just about everyone in town can book your onward domestic flights on Vietnam Airlines.
Saigon is the hub of transport in the south, and all bus lines pass through here. Saigon is the terminus of the "Open Tour" Ticket for budget bus tours, and Saigon's many traveler cafes that line the streets of the Pham Ngu Lao budget travel area are your best bet for convenient onward travel by road, whether by air-conditioned bus or minivan. Tourist buses also connect Saigon by road via the Moc Bai border crossing with nearby Cambodia. The all-day ride leaves daily in either a minibus or a large air-conditioned coach from the De Tham-area tourist cafes.
Saigon is the southern terminus of the Reunification Express, Vietnam's north-south rail connection. SE4 and SE2 are the fastest trains and comfortable, air-conditioned sleeper berths. Vietnamese trains are quite efficient and a good way to meet locals.