>HCM City’s People Committee House
In 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) but today they are both used interchangeably by foreigners and locals alike, most preferring the former. Technically speaking, Saigon is actually downtown District 1 of the larger HCMC (which has 19 urban and 5 rural districts.) Downtown Saigon is the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam. In the past it was referred to as the Pearl of the Orient and Paris of the East because of its wide boulevards, colonial-style villas and lively café society. Today, it is a curious mix of the past and present. The streets bustle with pedestrians, cyclos, bicycles, motorbikes, taxis and SUVs all vying for right-of-way. Foreign businessmen and tourists share the walkways with noodle soup vendors and pajama-clad Vietnamese women balancing their weight’s worth of seasonal fruit on their shoulders. Modern skyscrapers loom beside elegant, dilapidated villas. Bars, cafes and Hotels for every budget and taste and restaurants for every cuisine line the streets. Shop in multiple-storied, upscale malls or haggle for bargains on the street. Get a manicure, facial, shampoo or foot massage for under US$ 10 with a cup of tea or be fitted for a suit or gown in a boutique. Saigon has it all within an area no more than a 15 minute walk from end to end. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s commercial hub and its center of international business.
- Visit to the Reunification Palace, the former President Palace of South Vietnam, and the War Remnant Museum.
- Ride on Cyclo – a local trishaw to get close view of Saigon bustle life& traffic
- Dinner on the Saigon River cruise
- Experience the underground village of Cuchi Tunnels
There are two seasons in Southern Vietnam, with the annual average temperature is around 27ºC, rains during wet season from May and November, the best time to visit tropical climate zone – Ho Chi Minh City is in the dry season – from December to April. Even rainy season, but it rains some days. So, you can travel to Saigon all year around. You should ovoid to visit Saigon during Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year, it fails around the end of January or the beginning of February, very close to Chinese New Year) as you won’t see a busy daily activities of this City.
Getting there & away
+ Flights: Only one airport in Ho Chi Minh City is Tan Son Nhat, used to be a American Air Base, located about 5 miles (over 7 km) from downtown Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) serving both international and domestic flights. It takes 30 minutes to 45 minutes to drive to the downtown.
- Two hours to fly to Hanoi, 1200 miles or 2000km
- One hour to fly to Danang or Hue, 630 miles or 1000km
- Over an hour flight to Siemriep or Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+ Roads: Ho Chi Minh City is a great starting and ending points for tours that go up the coast towards Hanoi or down to Mekong Delta.
Where to stay
Saigon has wide range of hotels for you to choose from. Below are some of recommendations, please contact us for more options if those do not meet your inquiry.
Bong Sen Hotel, 3 stars. The Bong Sen Hotel Saigon, the Asian styled unique 3-star boutique hotel, is strategically located on hustling Dong Khoi street, also know under the name of shopping paradise. The heart of the city’s business, entertainment and shopping district.
All cuisines are available in Saigon and most of the restaurant has menu in English. You may not know that Ho Chi Minh City was voted as the best dining destination in 2007 by Bon Appetit Magazine. Just name a few Saigon specialties. Join us, we will show you the best dining in Saigon.
Goi Cuon Tom Thit (Vietnamese Fresh Spring rolls with pork and shrimps): These spring rolls are a refreshing change from the usual fried variety, and have become a family favorite. They are great as a cool summertime appetizer, and are delicious dipped in the sauces special for those rolls.
Cha Gio or Nem Ran (Vietnamese Deep fried spring rolls): Quintessentially Vietnamese, these delicate, crispy rolls are a refinement from the more robust Chinese rolls. The basic ingredient is minced pork, to which either prawns or crab can be added for savory flavor. The gossamer thin banh trang (rice paper) is hard to handle. You can use conventional spring roll skins as an easy alternative, but you won’t achieve the same crispy results.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall: originally called the Hôtel de Ville built in 1908 and now formally re-branded the People’s Committee Hall, it’s a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night. No entry, but the statue of Uncle Ho in front is a very popular place for photos.
Giac Lam Buddhist Temple: the most archaic pagoda in town, which built in 1744. Here is the inheritance of Buddhism preachers from China. Giac Lam Pagoda has architecture of unusual excellence with huge columns where golden – plated parallel sentences engraved. Within its precinct, there is collection of religion – oriented flowers and 113 Buddhism statues made from valued woods and copper.
Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Temple: Built in 1964, the seven-storey Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Temple in Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 3, opened in 1973. It is one of the largest and most beautiful Buddhist Temples in HCM City. It is half way from the airport to downtown.
Ben Thanh Market: The largest old-style market in the central district, with several hundred small stalls stuffed with goods on almost impassably narrow aisles. Due to its popularity with tourists, the market is now divided about half and half between tourist goods (Jeans, T-shirts, smaller souvenirs in abundance) and the stuff of regular life (fruit and vegetables, rice, kitchen wares, flowers, meat, fast food, and local-style pickled fruits and candies). Most items are not price-marked, and vendors always quote a higher price to tourists, so the fortitude to haggle will save you some money.Saigon Water Puppet Show: An unique art which has it origin in the delta of the Red river in the tenth century. The farmers devised a form of entertainment using what natural medium they can find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and the rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows. If you don’t go up to Hanoi, you should see water puppet right in Saigon.
How to design your tours in Saigon: three days in Saigon are enough for this city, the first day you can do City tour of Saigon, the second day tour to Cuchi Tunnels, the last day to have a full day tour to Mekong Delta. If you have one more day, I would recommend you stay one night in Mekong Delta.
- Saigon Stopover
- Mekong Delta in style
- Homestay in Mekong Delta
- Mekong Delta in depth
- Taste of Vietnam
- Vietnam Highlights
- Images of Indochina
- Budget Vietnam Experience
Cyclo tour in Saigon: If you want to get close to the life of local on the streets, join us on cuyclo, a kind of trishaw, we show you a Vietnam alive.
Motorbike Tour: Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie rode on a motorbike in Saigon. How about you. The best way to discover Saigon is on bike. Join us, we show you off the tracks of Saigon. Make sure that you have insurance and a spirit of adventure, then we can go.
- Watch out when crossing the road
- Don’t take cyclo, a kind of trishaw on your own
- Watch out your wallets as you are in the crowded markets
- Bargain hard as you shop in local markets and from street vendors
Have a good time in Saigon!