What was my expectation before I had gone to Ho Chi Minh City? What I remember I’d thought that the city itself, is crazy, safe and developed. So now what you are going to see, it might change even your expectations like me.
What you can really see in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) 2019
Why the City of Two names
Before you are going to read some tips to enjoy real Ho Chi Minh City, you should know the difference between “Ho Chi Minh City” and “Saigon.” There is no difference at all! The only difference is the history involved. After the Vietnam War, when North of Vietnam won, they changed the name of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City (1975)!
A quick and An accurate plan of A Sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh
From my experience, you do not need many days to explore the see the beauty of Famous buildings, Museums, typical street food, and local bars. Why seen beauty?
3-4 days is maximum in order to see everything calmly which makes Ho Chi Min City famous.
To understand the real culture of Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam in general), you would need at least 5 or 6 months. Don’t worry, I will try to slowly bring you there to understand how the mysterious hidden culture of Vietnam is.
Which famous buildings you should see in Ho Chi Minh
Take a fast mode of transport (I am going to talk about it below) and go and check these interesting places:
- Reunification Palace
- A huge building which played a big role during and the end of the Vietnam War. You can get tapes or a private guide who can tell you more about the history.
- Open from 7.30 am -12 am and 1 pm-4 pm
- Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
- Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
- Definitely nice, the old cathedral where you can take a couple of pictures. You should definitely go there. It’s a busy touristic place.
- Address: 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh
- Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda
- In some parts of Vietnam, you can see old beautiful Chinese architecture. I personally like the old Chinese style, like the movies. So we are lucky to see it in Ho Chi Min city as well.
- Address: 244 Ba Tháng Hai, Phường 12, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh
- Saigon Central Post Office
- The nice post office which is situated next to Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. So if you are there, you might want to send some mail to your closest friends.
- Address: Số 125 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 710009
- Southeastern Armed Forces Museum Military Zone 7
- I believe that many of us are interested in seeing the history of the Vietnam war. In the museum, you can see old weapons, War vehicles, Vietnamese underground tunnels and important people during the war.
- Opening time: 7.30 am to 11.30 and from 1 pm to 4.30 pm daily except Monday.
- Ticket: 50 000 VND ($3) included pictures taking.
- Address: 247 Hoang Van Thu Street, Tan Binh District,
Which kind of entertainment you can find in Ho Chi Minh
If I were there alone, I would look for entertainment for sure! Because being there alone, it’s not really fun, right? Of course, when you travel, you are never alone. You can always find many backpackers or locals around.
Anyway, where can I finally meet those people?
I would recommend to you to meet local people who are very helpful to show you around and in return, they are happy to improve their English. As you might see in my video, they have a couple of issues with responding in English. Nothing against them, it has all happened because of not a very pleasant war history, a lack of education and influence of surrounding post-communist countries.
Download Couchsurfing or Tinder to meet people who can show you around
I recommend you download the mobile app called “Couchsurfing.” On their website, you can see many free events where you can go and meet people. Sometimes you meet travelers like you or you meet locals which can take you to special, not really touristic places.
Trust me, translators in Ho Chi Min city are always brilliant! But on the other hand, if you want a language adventure, you are more then welcome!
I almost forgot to mention that you can also download the application “Tinder” where (if you are single or might want another adventure with your girlfriend) you can meet a nice girl/boy from Ho Chi Min who takes you even somewhere where not many tourists have been to (I know what I am talking about).
Above all, the people are who make your trip spicier!
There is also contact on Facebook Group where you can ask any questions regarding your travel. The group is run by people who live in Ho Chi Min.
Where to go for entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City
Let’s be direct, there are places where you can be entertained. I tried to write a variety of places for different scale of travelers (Singles, Couples, Family):
- Bui Vien Walking Street
- If you watch my video (From 6.43 until 7 minutes), you could see very wild performances of street kids playing with fire (Parents used to teach me to not play with the fire) and very attractive Vietnamese women offering their service (Special massage with happy ending). Not even that, you can find there many nice noisy clubs or restaurants.
- Address: 206 Bùi Viện, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
- HCM City Opera House
- If you like a bit of Entertainment, you can go for a Vietnamese performance of Ballet or Culture performance. The tickets are around 1 000 000 VND ($40).
- Suoi Tien Theme Park
- If you are traveling as a family or you might feel hot these days in Vietnam, you should visit Suoi Tien Park. There you can, for example, feed crocodiles, swim and see interesting Buddhist attractions.
- Ticket price: 140 000 VND ($6)
- Opening time: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
- Artinus 3D Art Museum
- If you are a fan of very unusual artistic pictures, go to Artinus 3D Art Museum, you will have lots of fun, for sure!
- Address: Số 2 Đường số 9, Tân Hưng, Quận 7, Hồ Chí Minh
- Opening time: From 9 am to 6 pm. Weekends are until 8 pm open.
- Ticket price: 150 000 VND ($6)
- Dam Sen Water Park
- Snow Town Saigon
- If you miss snow while you traveling, you can go with your co-travelers (With Kids) to the beautiful hall where you can ski, see a Vietnamese performance in the snow and even more.
- Address: Căn hộ CBD Premium, 125 Đồng Văn Cống, Phường Thạnh Mỹ Lợi, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh 760000
- Opening time: 9 am to 9 pm
- Ticket price: 150 000 VND to 220 000 VND
Shooting from Machine Gun or AK47 away from Ho Chi Minh
If you are not lazy and you have spare time, you should definitely go for a live experience:
- Cuchi Tunnel (Cu Chi tour)
- It is 50 km away from the City center, so it might take 2 hours by local mini-bus, special tour or by Grab. You will experience “Defense shooting” from weapons like from “Call of Duty” which are Machine Guns, Ak47 (Paintball is available as well) and more. You can camp there and go through Vietnamese tunnels or go for kayaking.
- Address: TL15, Phú Hiệp, Hồ Chí Minh, 733814
- Opening time: 7 am to 5 pm
Where to go for good food and shopping?
From my experience, I always try to choose a good place to eat. I know it’s obvious, why I would choose a bad place, right? But we must be very careful what we eat in Vietnam generally.
You do not want to end up in Hospital the whole night with stomach poisoning, do you?
What to be aware of eating in Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)
So these are my tips for finding a good place to eat a typical safe Vietnamese dish and which I’d chosen during my stay in Ho Chi Minh:
- When it comes to street food, always check if there are some people. If it’s full, of course, it’s good.
- If you see that the person who is serving a portion of food and is taking it from the leftovers (he/she has last bits of food), you should go away.
- Do not choose hidden places, try to find a visible one.
- When you see how they are making food (If they are using gloves, clean plates) also brilliant.
- Always ask people on the street where is a good place to eat! That’s why I always try to connect with local people. They know the best!
I had chosen places where to eat delicious and typical Vietnamese food:
- Cozy restaurant close to Independence palace – Quan An Ngon 138
- Nice Vietnamese restaurant with typical food – Spring rolls, Bun Bo Hue (soup with pork), Vietnamese omelet with Seafood and even more.
- Developed street food – Ben Thanh Street Food Market
- It’s a place where you can find almost everything. It’s a big market for different cuisine and it’s a bit pricy for typical Street food.
- Typical street food – Vinh Khanh Food Street
- You can see it in my video (5.54 until 6.30) at the end as well. It’s a place where you can find many street foods. People sit on small chairs and drink lots of beer.
- Opening time: From 5 pm ongoing
- Vegetarian restaurant – BONG SUNG VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
- I have to recommend you a vegetarian restaurant as well. Vietnam is famous for tasty vegetarian dishes (Buddhist country) and on the other, I’ve become Vegetarian. So, if you are looking for healthy food, go there.
- Address: 86 Nguyễn Du, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
- Open from 7.30 am to 10 pm.
Where to go shopping for souvenirs or fancy clothes in Ho Chi Minh City
Right, you want to get a small or even a big piece of Vietnam home, yeah? So I recommend that you visit these markets and shopping malls:
- A typical shopping place for Vietnamese souvenirs – Ben Thanh Market
- I would recommend you to go inside the market. You can find everything that you need: posters, hand made stuff, clothes, and food. Don’t to be afraid to negotiate, they always put the price up for foreigners.
- Address: Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
- Opening time: 7 am to 7 pm
- A huge shopping mall – Saigon Center
- To be honest, while I was shopping I’d got lost. There are plenty of well-known stores like CHANEL, NIKE, PUMA and more. If you like to go fancy shopping, you must visit the Saigon Center!
- Address: 65 Lê Lợi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 70000
- Opening time: 9.30 am to 9.30 pm (Weekends included Friday until 10 pm)
The fanciest place with an amazing view of Ho Chi Minh City
There is also another building where you can go shopping, but it’s a bit expensive. Apart from shopping, you can also see whole Ho Chi Minh City from the top of the building called “Bitexco Financial Tower.”The tower looks like from a movie. There are 68 floors and on the 49th floor, there is a beautiful restaurant with live music and tasty drinks.
- Address: Bitexco Financial Tower, 7, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
- Opening time: 8 am to 11 pm.
What is the best, fastest and safest transport in Ho Chi Minh?
Above all, you need to know how to get from A to B (You need to see all the sights, right? in Ho Chi Minh, right? From my experience, I’d use the GRAB app. Whenever I needed It, it always worked. Sometimes something might happen, that you can have a problem with finding each other, but for the price you are paying, it’s worth it.
I’d paid for driving a whole day with GRAB around the city, approximately 100 000 VND ($4).
Where to rent a motorbike or Scooter for a good price?
If you are brave enough to rent a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh, check these places out:
- Bui Vien Walking Street
- Apart from bars, you can find also here many places where you can rent a motorbike or scooter.
- Address: 206 Bùi Viện, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
- Tigit motorbikes
To be honest I do not have experience with renting bikes in Ho Chi Minh. I had a beautiful lady who had been driving me around. On the other hand, I know how it goes there (The condition for renting motorbikes is similar to other Vietnamese cities like Hanoi, Danang or Hue).
By the way, the good price is between 100 000 VND and 300 000 VND. It all depends on how spoiled you are with the quality of motorbike or scooter. I always go with the cheapest price. The vehicles are always in good condition and if something happens, they will fix it. It is not a big deal in Vietnam.
What do I need to rent a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh?
You cannot be blind! I am just sort of kidding. Here you don’t need to be afraid that you don’t fit into their requirements. Again, it’s not a big problem in Vietnam. But if you face a good shop, they will ask you:
- Copy of your passport (They will do it in the shop)
- Address of your hotel and contact details
- Showing a driving license (If they would ask, you found a top rental place!)
If you don’t have a driving license, it’s fine, but please be confident and drive with A GOOD PREDICTION!
Can I get free accommodation in Ho Chi Minh?
Of course, you might be asking yourself where I stayed all of the trip. Again, I’d chosen a local girl company (Check my video from 0.38 – 0.52 how it looked). I know that it will not happen often to everyone, not even me, but there are always ways to get free accommodation in Ho Chi Minh.
I will mention again, “Couchsurfing.” Before you go to Ho Chi Min, install the app Couchsurfing. Ask 10 nice (There are usually nice open-minded people) people with a good profile, that you are going a specific date there and ask them if you can stay over a few nights.
They usually reply and offer you couple of days to stay.
Where to find a cheap accommodation?
I know that it is not for everyone to be somewhere accommodated with a strange person, right? So if you are looking for cheap accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City, try to use portals like Booking.com, or my favorite google.com/travel.
I would not recommend “Airbnb,” why? It’s been becoming more expensive these days. You have to pay a fee to Airbnb which increases the total amount for the accommodation.
Bui Vien Walking Street – the place with the most hostels and hotel in Ho Chi Minh.
Sometimes, I like to check a place first before I take it. You don’t have to be worried about not finding any place in Ho Chi Minh City at all. Every 2nd or 3rd business is a home-stay or hostel.
The price for a night in hostel is between 100 000 VND and 400 000 VND.
Enjoy your travel dear readers, I hope it was helpful and you had a brilliant trip with spicy experience.