Travel to Ho Chi Minh

Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City

I had a chance to travel to Ho Chi Minh City while on a field trip to some villages along the Mekong River in Vinh Long. The city itself is quite large, busy and cosmopolitan. I spent some time walking and taking taxis around to see a few city sights. I also booked a day tour to see the nearby Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels. That was very interesting and worth it! I tried shooting a gun there and didn’t hit anything. And one girl tried the original tunnel and got stuck because her hips were too wide. After that, no one else dared to try jumping in it. We waited for the tourist-sized tunnels.

Ho Chi Minh City used to be called Saigon, which was the capital of South Vietnam. The name was changed in 1975 when the North defeated the South in the Vietnam war. Ho Chi Minh was the communist prime minister at the time, and he is still celebrated by many Vietnamese people. His Mausoleum can be found in Hanoi

Cao Dai Temple
Cao Dai Temple
Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Tunnels AK47 firing range
Cu Chi Tunnels AK47 firing range

Highlights

  • Reunification or Independence Palace
  • Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Ben Tay Market in Cholon
  • Buu Dien (Central Post Office)
  • Nguyen Hue Walking Street
  • Ho Chi Minh City Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City Opera House
  • Ho Chi Minh Statue in front of Hotel de Ville
  • Walk along the riverside
  • Saigon Skydeck
  • Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts
  • Chinatown and Japan town areas
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Cao Dai Temple- colourful architecture

Before you go

  • Traffic can be very bad even when it is not rush hour, so allow plenty of time to get places
  • The weather is tropical, and usually hot and humid
  • Bring mosquito repellent
  • Beware of pickpockets
  • Some people speak English, but I would say not the majority so a translation app is useful
  • If you would like to book a tour outside of the city, try to find a travel agency or ask your hotel at least a day before. Shop around for the best prices as most go to the same places
Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Tunnels- original openings for very small people
Cu Chi Tunnels- original openings for very small people
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

Transport

  • Tan Son Nhat is the International Airport and there are flights available on many different airlines
  • Taxis are definitely a good, cheap way to get around the city, although the traffic is terrible!
  • For the day trips out of Ho Chi Minh City, I recommend booking through a local travel agency at least a day in advance

Accommodation

  • I can’t remember the exact hotel I stayed in for my visit to Ho Chi Minh City. However, I remember I was in an area of the city called Pham Ngu Lao. It seemed safe enough and the hotel was clean and comfortable
Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh City
Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh City
Jackfruit tree
Jackfruit tree

Food

While in Ho Chi Minh City, I ate simply. Mostly I had Pho noodles and spring rolls. Unfortunately, I can’t find the Pho place on GoogleMaps anymore. It was right next to my hotel and was called Sen Hong.

The Binh Tay Market was full of interesting foods and other things. It is in the Chinatown area. One of my favourite things to try was the fresh fruit, especially anything that could be peeled. Usually when I buy exotic fruits at home in London, it’s in a tin or in pieces. It was great to see jackfruit and other fruits growing on the trees in the nearby countryside.

On a funny note, there were signs at many hotels that said eating durian fruit inside is banned. This is because the fruit has a very pungent smell. It is hard to describe, but some have compared it to raw sewage. It’s not my favourite but most locals love it!

FAQs

Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No it is easy to find your way around the city to see the main sights. You may want to book tours to see surrounding places such as Cao Dai Temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Some speak English but it is a good idea to have a translation app such as GoogleTranslate

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: There are parts of the city that are walkable but it is usually hot and humid. Taxis are cheap if you do not want to walk

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