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Ho Chi Minh City Quick Guide

Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City is as intriguing as it is energetic, offering a bouquet of poignant history, modern development and some of the tastiest food from anywhere in the world. The Saigon from the city’s war past pops up ever so often; and is represented adequately at its museums and monuments. Explore this slice from South East Asia’s rocky history – walk the streets that witnessed its avatar as a French colony; follow the incense that drifts out from its many temples; get overawed by big name hotels that loom large over myriad guesthouses; or jump right in and get lost in the chaos that is culture heavy Ho Chi Minh City. The tropical city is best visited during its dry season between the months of December and April.

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Places to see in Ho Chi Minh City

Face up to Vietnam’s past – visit the War Remnant’s Museum and the Independence Palace, now known as the Reunification Palace, for a crash course in the region’s history. Go to the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica made with material from France and admire its iconic twin bell towers. Visit other 19th century wonders in the Saigon Central Post Office or the French colonial opera house which is now the Municipal Theatre. Keep one day for pagoda hopping – if you are tight on time, do only the Jade Emperor Pagoda – and another one for the very interesting tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels from the Vietnam War Era. What you do with your time in Ho Chi Minh City depends on what you are in to; but here are some tips for foodies and experience seekers. The Vietnam tourism website has some interesting information too.

Notre Dame

Food in Ho Chi Minh City

The hawker stalls of Ho Chi Minh City are one of the reasons that Vietnam enjoys the street-food-to-write-home-about reputation that it has. Head to Cho Ben Thanh in District 1, one of the best known markets where street food vendors set up stalls in the evening. Frequented by both locals and tourists, the market is perfect for good bargains and better bites. Some dishes you must dig into are Goi cuon or translucent spring rolls, a baguette sandwich known as banh mi, pancakes called banh xeo, small hamburgers or bun cha and a fish called cha ca. No Vietnamese gastronomic exploration is complete without a bowl of pho noodle soup – dug into preferably at a pop up stall on a busy street! And don’t forget to treat yourself to some Vietnamese coffee; it is one of the best in the world, extremely cheap, and available practically everywhere.

Street food heaven

Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Experience Ho Chi Minh City the local way – wander along Dong Khoi, a stretch of colourful shops, bars and street food stalls extending from Notre Dame Cathedral all the way to the Saigon River. You could also venture into Cho Lon and browse around the Chinese market that deals in a huge variety of goods and get your hands on some souvenirs. Then there is the famously busy Ben Thanh Market, with its stalls brimming with local handicraft and textiles. A quintessential Ho Chi Minh City experience is hopping on to the back of a motor cycle and exploring the city. You could also take a day trip to the Mekong Delta – cruise along and get a peek into rural Vietnamese life, cross floating markets on the way, and get some of the most beautiful views ever!

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