The largest and highly frequented city in Vietnam is Saigon or Ho Chi Minh. The city is a popular destination for those who love to explore the enchanting Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh welcomes all types of travelers, ranging from backpackers, nature lovers, adventure travelers, to budget-friendly tourists.
This city is crowded and people are always on the move. A peek on the roads will show you bicycles, bikes, fascinating rickshaws, and cars everywhere you go. You will surely not forget the market spill and street stands on the lanes!
Besides the city life, there are many things that one can enjoy in and around this popular city. Although, Vietnam offers affordable tourism, you will be astonished by the excellent facilities they provide.
If you are traveling for the first time, here are some tips for you:
Safety tips as soon as you land
When you travel from Tan Son Nahi airport to the Ho Chi Minh city, it is important that you stay away from getting scammed. It is a pretty safe city, but that doesn’t mean you can take any chances. Therefore, it is advisable to carry exact amount of money that is needed for your transportation and stay.
The easiest and safest way of getting to Ho Chi Minh from the airport is via taxi, especially if you arrive late at night. If you reach during the day time, you can take a public bus from the international airport [De Than Street] as it will be much cheaper. The public bus no 152 is scheduled to run downtown once in every 20 minutes. However, it can be a bit uncomfortable, because if you miss it, you will end up waiting for the next bus with your entire luggage.
Bicycle is also a popular way for travelers enjoy getting around, because the city is quite flat. The only drawback is traffic, which can be intense in the peak hours. If you aren’t an experienced cyclist, then it is better for you to choose some other option.
Motorbike taxis are also preferred, but make sure that you negotiate the price before taking your pillion seat, and don’t forget to wear a helmet. You can reach places quickly on these bike taxis than on tuk-tuks. Cyclos [tuk-tuks] are man driven, but the problem is that they are banned from entering many fast roads.
Visit some websites to find, compare, and book your ground transportation tickets online. This will reduce the anxiety and stress of traveling to foreign, to some extent.
Ho Chi Minh City’s travel cost
The city is divided into 4 neighborhoods and each one offers a different vibe. Tourists planning to enjoy nightlife can choose accommodation in District 1, while more budget-conscious travelers can opt for hostels in District 5.
- Hostel rates – Low-cost dorms cost around $4 to $6. Private rooms cost around $15 to $20.
- Budget hotel rates – A 2-star hotel starts at $9 and increases to $28 per night.
- Average food cost – Street food meals can be $0.90. A restaurant meal can be $3.45. A burger can be bought at $1.70. The food in the downtown is delicious and you must not miss it.
- $30 daily for hostel dorm, public transportation, street food, cheap beer, and exploring a few attractions.
- $60 per day is a mid-range budget where tourists can accommodate at 2-star hotel, eat at any restaurant, get around town in taxis or, and enjoy the paid tour.
- $130 per day is a luxury budget, where travelers stay at a 4-star hotel, eat every meal at a restaurant, drink everything they desire, and move around in a taxi to explore the city in style.
Ho Chi Minh attractions and activities
Here, you’ll find a lot of temples, jade ornaments stalls, medicine shops, and restaurants. Besides the sprawling Binh Tay Market, travelers can explore the catholic cathedral and Chinese temples such as Cha Tam and Chua Quan Am.
Notre Dame Cathedral
This fascinating red brick imposing structure was built around 1877 to 1883. In the entrance, two towers rise above at 58 meters. The Virgin Mary’s neon-lit statue is very intriguing.
Emperor Jade pagoda
Emperor Jade was a supreme Taoist God and this temple was constructed in 1909 to honor him. It is an impressive pagoda in Vietnam. There are statues of heroes and divinities including Emperor Jade along with many other intricate woodcarvings exhibited inside the pagoda. The ceiling is detailed with tile work that displays the characters from Taoist and Buddhist legends.
Can Gio Island
It is not like any other beaches in Thailand, but can be a nice place to relax. For wildlife fans, there are mangroves and monkey sanctuary on the island to explore.
Enroll in a cooking class
Foodies can join a cooking class and learn to make classic Vietnamese dishes.
Ho Chi Minh offers the best foodie neighborhood tours. You can safely taste street food including coconut juice to rice vermicelli cooked with BBQ pork.
Visit the opera house
Plenty of performances including Vietnamese traditional dances, plays, and ballets are hosted in French colonial building built in 1897.