Saigon Travel Guide
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is probably Vietnam’s best and the greatest city.
Certainly not one of the richest cities in the world, Ho Chi Minh city thrives on tourists. Small tips from tourists go a long way at Ho Chi Minh city and are usually expected especially from western travelers.
The easiest way to get to this city is by airplane. Tan Son Nhat is Vietnam’s international airport. For the convenience of the travelers, there are foreign exchange counters at the airport.
However, it is always better to get the money exchanged at foreign exchange offices in the city, rather than at the airport, as foreign exchange offices in the city charge less for their services. To go to the city a visitor can hop into a taxi from the airport. Usually, the trip to the city takes about 30 minutes and costs about 3 to 5 USD.
Inside the city, getting around is very easy and cheap, as there are various means of transport. The taxis are a relatively low cost option and can take you anywhere in the city. Usually, the taxi rate is about 6000 dongs per kilometer. A much cheaper option is the motorbikes.
Needless to say, motorbikes are quite risky as they are prone to accidents. Visitors should always check the rate before availing a motorbike to avoid confrontation later. Apart from taxis and the motorbikes there are “cyclos”. Cyclo drivers are known to rip off tourists and so, extreme caution should be exercised here, even if they sound cheap.
However, according to most tourists the best way to get around in the Ho Chi Minh city is by bus. Vietnam has recently invested a lot of money on improving its bus services. Buses are not only cheap and comfortable but are also the safest mode of transport in and around the city.
Walking which is probably favored by many tourists can be a dangerous option in Ho Chi Minh city unless the person is used to the “rules of the road” in Vietnam.
The streets of Ho Chi Minh are pretty much chaotic with most drivers showing scant respect to traffic rules. To worsen matters there are hardly any lights at intersections and the traffic policemen generally show to apathy to drivers who flout traffic rules.
So if you are in Ho Chi Minh city and you are planning to explore the city on foot, make sure you are always alert, especially when crossing streets.
The temperature in Ho Chi Minh city is usually on the higher side. The average minimum temperature for the city is about 71 degrees (or 21 degrees Celsius) during the months of December and January and the average maximum average temperature is about 99 degrees (or 35 degrees Celsius) during the month of April.
From a tourist’s perspective the best times to visit Ho Chi Minh city is either between October and December or between March and April. Moreover, during these times it usually doesn’t rain and therefore, the risk of running into a typhoon is minimal.
Accommodations in Ho Chi Minh city is plenty can cater to any type of tourist-rich or poor. There are both budget hotels and luxury hotels. If one is little short on dough there are always cheap “motels” in the city.
There are quite a few places of interest Ho Chi Minh city and it would be a folly for any tourist to miss them.
One such place of interest is the Reunification Hall, which was previously the Presidential Palace. Outside this building, there is a parked battle tank that played an important role in ending the Vietnam war by breaking the gates.
Then there is the War Remnants Museum which is also known as the Exhibition House of American War Crimes. This museum is a tribute to those brave soldiers of Vietnam who fought and died during the Vietnam War.
Inside this museum one can find lots of photographs from the war and also other things like a real guillotine and a “tiger cage” prison. However, the most gruesome thing that one can see inside the museum is the jars that contain deformed fetuses.
Another place of interest in the city is the City Hall. The City Hall was previously known as Hotel de Ville. Currently the building has been renamed as People’s Committee Hall.
Apart from these popular tourist attractions there is also the Museum of Vietnamese History. In this museum visitors can learn a lot of Vietnam’s history and culture. However, some of the exhibits that are on display at the museum are said to be distorted or skewed with communist ideas.
Considering everything, Ho Chi Minh city is certainly not a bad place to visit.
Ho Chi Minh city is worth visiting for people who are looking for a city that is quite different from any other city in the world. The weather is warm and usually nice. The same thing can be said about the local people as well.
But the most important reason for visiting Ho Chi Minh city is its history. A history that is violent but nevertheless has left indelible marks that are still be found both inside and outside of the city museums.