I’ve visited Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam a couple of times for the last few years and did not have a chance to write up something about the city. The locals still love to call it Saigon instead of Ho Chi Minh City. This city is famous for its traditional food, especially Pho (authentic noodle soup), spring rolls, and millions of motorbikes.

Ho Chi Minh City Trip is not complete without trying out Xe Om (motorbike taxi) instead of a taxi. A cheap and faster way to move around the city.

xe om in Ho chi minh city
Need to try the Motorbike taxi (Xe Om) in Ho Chi Minh City

Helpful Information

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is between December and March when temperatures vary between 24- 26°C (75 – 78°F). During this time weather becomes very mild and beautiful with moderate temperature, less rain, and warm sunshine. Perfect for the beach when the sun is out all day, waters are calm, and lifeguards readily available from 05:00 to 20:00 daily. This area only has two main seasons; rainy and dry seasons instead of four seasons like in Northern Vietnam.

Many avoid visiting Ho Chi Minh City between September – January when it rains continuously may occur typhoon and flood may also disrupt your planned trip.

  • December – March daily average temperature is between 24 – 26 degree Celsius ( 75 – 78 deg F)
  • June – August The highest temperate may hit 38 degrees Celsius ( 100 deg F) during the day.

By Air

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is the largest airport in Vietnam. It is only about 4 miles (7 km) north of District 1 (city center). I found it most convenient to fly to HCMC from Da Nang, Hanoi, Bangkok, Hong Kong Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Siem Reap, and many other major cities. 

In addition to flying to HCMC Airport, there are several other ways to get to Ho Chi Minh City. 

Flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

By Train

Saigon railway station is located in district 3; Ho Chi Minh City is about 2 miles (3.4 km) from District 1. Train in Vietnam is a great way to travel between cities, and it is popular among tourists. You can check here for train tickets.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) by Bus

Ho Chi Minh City is well connected to most of the major cities in Vietnam by a widely traveled bus service. Bus from HCMC to Da Nang takes about 20 hours, you can check here for bus tickets

By Bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon

One of the most common ways to travel between these two countries is by bus. In fact, many companies offer direct bus service between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City for as low as $10. the newly-renovated road and the service are both pretty fast and affordable.

The driving distance between the two cities Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City is only 150 km. Usually, a bus ride takes about 6 hours, including crossing the Moc Bai – Bavet Border. So, considering all the excitement of crossing the international border and the opportunity of seeing the countryside, I planned this trip during my Cambodia visit.

Bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City
That’s our bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

xe om (pronounced, “say ohm”)

Considering safety and convenience, most tourists on their trip to Vietnam often choose a private car with an English-speaking driver, but of course, it comes with a price tag that can be unnecessary, especially if you are traveling solo. For solo travelers, “xe om” is a good option that refers to “motorcycle-taxi,” which is the primary means of transportation in Vietnam, and it is the cheaper and more interesting way for tourists to get around.

xe-om (motorcycle-taxi) in Ho Chi Minh City
xe-om (motorcycle-taxi) in Ho Chi Minh City

Metered Taxi

Taxi is the easiest and convenient way to get around in Ho Chi Minh City, and they are available all over the city. I would recommend using taxi companies such as Vinasun and Mai Linh Taxi to avoid taxi scams in Saigon.

From The Airport

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is the largest airport in Vietnam. It is only about 4 mi (7 km) north of District 1 (city center).

There are plenty of meter taxis and ATMs outside the arrivals hall. You can also find money exchange and booths selling SIM cards there. Since many hotels offer airport transfers for an additional fee or sometimes free when you book a room, so be sure to check with them.

By Bus: There are a couple of bus routes that can take you to the city center. The entire ride will be between 30 to 45 minutes. Check out the airport ground transportation desk. You can consider bus 109 or 49

By Taxi: A taxi ride from the airport to the city center takes about 30 minutes. The service is reliable and good, and also very reasonably priced.

Uber/Grab: Uber or Grab service is available; all you need is an internet connection to use their app.


The cyclo (three-wheeled cycle) diminishing in Saigon over the years. Most foreign travelers try cyclo to out of curiosity and for a unique experience. They are most available nearby popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and bars.

Cyclo in Saigon
Cyclo in Ho Chi Minh City

Visa Requirement for Vietnam

Vietnam visa on arrival is the most common way to get business or tourist visas through the internet. Many private online companies offer eVisa approval service, fill up an online application, pay the processing fee, and receive the approval via email. It takes about two days for regular processing.

When you arrive at your destination airport in Vietnam, show the Approval Letter and photos at the Immigration office for visa stamp. Total cost is US$ 16.00 for online service fee and visa stamped on arrival fee of US$ 25.00 (single entry)

Visa from Phnom Penh

Once I applied for a Vietnam visa at the Phnom Penh embassy and got my single entry visa the next day. Visa fee was US$ 40.00, and for multiple entries, the fee was US$50.00. Whereas during my earlier trip I had to pay US$100.00 when I applied for visa in New York City Vietnamese consulate

Processing time is usually one working day, and the three-month multiple-entry visa takes longer. They offer same-day processing for an additional $10.00.

Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Visit Tomb of Le Van Duyet

My local friend suggested this place, and guess what it was a beautiful place to visit, completely off the tourist map and no busload of tourists what so ever. Instead of a self-guided tour, you could also Book tours, attractions, and activities online.

Le Van Duyet (1764 – 1832) was a Vietnamese general who helped Nguyen Anh – the future Emperor Gia Long – Put down the Tay Son rebellion, unify Vietnam and establish the Nguyen Dynasty. After the Nguyen came to power in 1802, Duyet became a high-ranking mandarin, serving under the first two Nguyen emperors Gia Long and Ming Mang.

Entrance to the Tomb of Le Van Duyet, HCMC
Entrance to the Tomb of Le Van Duyet, HCMC

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral

Situated right in the east of Ho Chi Minh City is the most famous landmark as well as the core Cathedral of the city. It is a beautiful building, attracting not only Catholics but also many tourists for its architecture, historical background, and sacred atmosphere. A nice spot to visit on a hot summer day.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda

The Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda is located on 3 Thang 2, District 10 of Ho Chi Minh City. The pagoda is seven stories tall very colorful. There are oversized statues of Buddha. It’s on the way to the airport and worth a visit for those that enjoy something different and Temples.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist pagoda one of the beautiful and famous pagodas located at 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was built by the Chinese community in 1909. This is a pagoda that is on everyone’s HCMC must-see list.

This temple is dedicated to various gods, Taoists, and Buddhists of the China-Vietnamita culture and especially to the Jade Emperor, the Supreme of Taoism God.

Jade Emperor Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City
Jade Emperor Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City

The Ho Chi Minh Square

An open squire in the center of Saigon with a statue of Ho Chi Minh and The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City in the background. Upscale mall and a great place to visit.

Statue of Ho Chi Minh at the square, Saigon
Statue of Ho Chi Minh at the square, Saigon

Cho Ba Chieu Market

I like wandering around local markets and walking through the streets of cities to get a feel for the local lifestyle. During my recent Saigon trip, I visited an authentic local market called Cho Ba Chieu in Binh Thanh district. I spent time roaming the alleys of the market and met many locals vendors. The saleswomen in Cho Ba Chieu were by far the friendliest I met. I went through the wet market and observed the art of negotiation and lifestyle of shopping on the wheel (from the motorbike). It was a great experience.

In front of Cho Ba Chieu Market, Ho Chi Minh City
In front of Cho Ba Chieu Market

Late afternoon activities at Cho Ba Chieu Market, Saigon

Most of the shoppers are on the wheel, sometimes it’s difficult for the pedestrian to walk around due to constant motorbike traffic inside the narrow alley.

No need to get off the motorbike, Cho Ba Chieu Market, HCMC
No need to get off the motorbike, Cho Ba Chieu Market, HCMC

A Walk Along The Saigon River

A late afternoon walk along the Saigon riverfront gives an interesting perspective on the HCMC. Allow an hour or more if you want to stop, have a drink, and shot some nice pictures. My hotel Silverland Jolie was only one block away from the river a great location so heading to the riverfront was a daily routine for me.

Late afternoon walk along the Saigon Riverfront
Late afternoon walk along the Saigon Riverfront

You can find a growing number of new skyscrapers are popping up around the business district in HCMC

Tran Hung Dao statue, ho chi Minh city
Tran Hung Dao statue, ho chi Minh city
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Skyline
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Skyline

Giac Lam Pagoda

Built-in 1744 one of the oldest in Saigon. Grace Lam Pagoda is a fantastically atmospheric place, very peaceful and garden-like grounds. About 3 km from Cholon, it is best reached by taxi or Xe Om (motorbike taxi)

Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

This Pagoda is one of the biggest in Ho Chi Minh city which locates at 339, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 3. Lunar Year or 15th of each month is when the pagoda gets busy, when you may observe the traditional activities of Buddhists such as giving away lucky money good buds for the start of the new year. It is easily accessible by taxi or Xe Om.

Spend an Evening in District 1

The downtown area in district 1 of Saigon is an exciting place to visit. Bui Vien street is popular among backpackers. There are lots of bars and restaurants, and this area comes alive after 8 pm. It’s great to sit in one of the places, grab a drink, relax and watch Saigon life.

Backpackers area in Ho Chi Minh City, District 1
Backpackers area in District 1

Learn How to Cross the Street

If you find it difficult to cross the roads in Ho Chi Minh City then you are not alone. Everyone visiting the city went through the same trouble. There is an art to crossing the road, and the trick is to walk slowly and steadily, and to look through the rider and not into the riders eye. Or find someone local and follow them.

Eat Like The Locals

Minh Duc Restaurant, 35 Ton That Tung, P.Pham Ngu Lao, Quan 1

My local Vietnamese friend recommended this restaurant, this was a relatively clean restaurant popular among locals. This place sells family size dishes, where you can pick a selection of Vietnamese dishes served with rice. It’s fairly cheap and delicious.

Minh Duc - Traditional Vietnamese restaurant where locals go
Minh Duc – Traditional Vietnamese restaurant where locals go


Hotel Continental Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, 132-134 Dong Khoi St, Dist 1

This is an iconic hotel in Saigon. Rooms and bathrooms were spotless and very spacious with high ceiling, and the beds were very comfortable. Centrally located opposite the Opera house, 5 minutes’ walk to the City hall, next to the mall and a few minutes’ walk to other attractions.

Great delicious food at the restaurant, breakfast was complimentary and a lot to choose from. The staff was friendly and helpful. Excellent place to be while you are in HCMC.

Hotel Continental Saigon, HCMC
Hotel Continental Saigon, HCMC

Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, Ho Chi Minh City
Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, Ho Chi Minh City

Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, Ho Chi Minh City, 4D Thi Sach St, Ben Nghe Ward

This hotel is centrally located in Dist 1, only one block away from the Saigon River. I was on the 5th. floor with a great view of the river. Rooms were exceptionally clean so were the bathrooms. Rooftop pool was excellent, great view from the top as well. The staff was lovely and helpful in arranging taxis and breakfast to go. Breakfast was included and a variety of delicious items to choose from including local traditional food.

My Opinion and Tips

Have you been to Ho Chi Minh City? Any additional tips to share?

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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