Ho Chi Minh City Travel: Ultimate Guide to Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. The former capital of South Vietnam nowadays is the main economic centre of Vietnam. You can find a combination of old and new attractions in Ho Chi Minh City with well-preserved colonial buildings, various temples, and Vietnam War relics mixed with skyscrapers, shopping malls and other attributes of modern metropolis.

Here is our comprehensive tourist guide to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), providing detailed information about what to do, where to stay, how to get to Ho Chi Minh City, best ways to move around the city, etc.

Ho Chi Minh City Attractions

There are plenty of things to see and do in the bustling largest city of Vietnam. Top tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City are listed below.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is a cathedral located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City. The cathedral was constructed by French colonists in the second half of 19th century.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace is a must-visit tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. The palace was the residence of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site where the Vietnam War ended in 1975, when a tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate.

Reunification Palace with all its antique furniture and rooms still looks like it was in 1975. Here you can also see former president’s car, army helicopter and even the original tanks used in the capture of the palace.

Reunification Palace


If your time in Ho Chi Minh City is limited, join this Saigon City Half Day Tour to explore the city and its key attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and Saigon Post Office.


Saigon Central Post Office

Saigon Central Post Office is a beautifully preserved colonial building in the downtown Ho Chi Minh City, near the city's cathedral. The building was constructed in the late 19th century when Vietnam was a colony of France.

Saigon Central Post Office

Saigon Opera House (Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater)

Saigon Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theater, is an elegant colonial building and a must-see attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. Built in 1898 by the French architect, Saigon Opera House now is a venue for many important events and cultural activities.

Saigon Opera House (Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater)

War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum is a tourist attraction suitable for those who love and are passionate about discovering national history. Here you will find many artifacts, materials and documents, reflecting the wars and the aftermath of wars.

War Remnants Museum

If you want to learn more about Vietnamese history and culture through the collections of artifacts on display in the museums, visit other top museums in Ho Chi Minh City.

Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville or Saigon City Hall is a French colonial style building where Saigon’s government office was established. This elegant colonial building is city's most photographed landmark as it offers great photo opportunities.

Hotel de Ville

Mariamman Temple

Mariamman Temple is the only Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh City. Built in the late 19th century, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of the rain Mariamman.

Mariamman Hindu Temple

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is one of the oldest landmarks and a must-visit in Ho Chi Minh City. Ben Thanh Market is a large marketplace that is conveniently located in the center of the city. This market is a great place to buy various local souvenirs such as handicrafts, pieces of Vietnamese art and other goods.

Ben Thanh Market

Cholon (Ho Chi Minh's Chinatown)

Cholon, city’s Chinatown, is the second center of Ho Chi Minh City occupying a large area that spans through the districts 5, 6, 10 and 11. Although not as luxurious and magnificent as the main center of the city, this area still makes its visitors to feel nostalgic with countless important historical moments. Cholon still preserves many works of cultural and historical value such as Ba Thien Hau Temple, Nghia An Hoi Quan, Minh Huong Gia Thanh Communal House, and Tue Thanh Assembly Hall.

Ben Thanh Market

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Nguyen Hue Walking Street is first place that you shouldn’t miss when looking for nightlife experiences in Ho Chi Minh City. This 670 m long and 64 m wide avenue is made from granite, provides shade from the trees and freshness from fountains. Nguyen Hue Walking Street is surrounded by luxury hotels, high-end shopping malls and old-fashioned houses, as well as Saigon’s other famous tourist attractions.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Bui Vien Street

Bui Vien Street is another famous street in Saigon where tourists come to have fun with lots of bustling entertainment activities. People often call this area as Western Street because it is mostly serving foreign tourists. There are many pubs and bars spread throughout the street which becomes very lively in the evening.

Bui Vien Street

Bitexco Financial Tower

Bitexco Financial Tower is the second tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City after Landmark 81, which bypassed it recently. However, this building still lets you admire the special view of Saigon center from above during the day and night. You can catch stunning views of the city from the 49th floor of Bitexco Financial Tower with Saigon Skydeck Admission Ticket.

Bitexco Financial Tower

Sitting at the bar on the rooftop and enjoying some drink while admiring the view of the city can be the best way to spend some relaxing time in Ho Chi Minh City. Bitexco Financial Tower also has a rooftop bar which is one of the Best Rooftop Bars in Saigon.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels is one of the places in Saigon that just has to be visited. Cu Chi Tunnels , located in Cu Chi district, about 70 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, is the place where you can experience life in an underground war zone.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Thanh An Island

Thanh An Island is a small island in Can Gio District which is not very popular between tourists yet but is a great place to run away from the bustling city. Thanh An Island still retains the pristine and peaceful features letting you discover the peaceful life of local people on the island.

Thanh An Island

Want to get away from the city to explore its surroundings? Choose some of the Best Places for Day Trip from Ho Chi Minh City.

Family-friendly Activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Most of tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City may sound like places for adults only. But there are lots of places for children to have fun time as well. Explore the best places to visit in Saigon with kids.

Saigon Snow Town

Other Attractions

The extended list of top tourist attractions in the city can be found here: Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

There are several areas in Ho Chi Minh City that are good to stay for tourists and each of them has different advantages and disadvantages. The main area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City tends to be around District 1 where the city started and most of tourist attractions are found. However, we would suggest planning your trip in advance and booking the room nearby attractions you want to visit so you could save travel time and costs.

If you are wondering where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City and looking for the best neighborhood to stay, check our Guide to Ho Chi Minh City’s Best Areas.

Choosing the place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City can be overwhelming. This city offers accommodation for various tastes and budgets, from luxury to budget hotels. Some of the best rated hotels in Ho Chi Minh City are listed below.

Luxury hotels for the best relaxation:

Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh City

Park Hyatt Saigon

Hotel Des Arts Saigon

Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh City

Our top recommendations for the best luxury hotels in the center of Ho Chi Minh City can be found here: Top Luxury Hotels in District 1.

Mid-range hotels that offer affordable and comfortable stays:

Chez Mimosa Boutique Corner

Fusion Suites Saigon

Lief Mojo Sai Gon

Chez Mimosa Boutique Corner

Hostels and hotels with affordable room rates:

The Hut Boutique Hotel-Notre Dame

Goo Hostel SaiGon

City Poshtel

The Hut Boutique Hotel-Notre Dame

Check out our list of places to stay that wouldn't break the bank: 15 Best Cheap Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.

Modestly priced Ho Chi Minh City hotels we were staying at recently: Khoi 2 Hotel [Review] and Ngoc Linh Hotel [Review].

Cafes in Ho Chi Minh City

If you are a coffee lover and love hanging out at cafes, then Ho Chi Minh City is a great city to visit. There is the ridiculous amount of nice coffee shops in Saigon that will truly surprise you. Some of the top suggested coffee shops in the city are listed here: 19 Best Cafes to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon Cafe

If you will be staying at District 1 and want to find a perfect place for sipping coffee nearby, get familiar with The 14 Best Cafes in District 1.

Saigon Cafe

Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife

Ho Chi Minh City is well known for its vibrant party scene and is famous in Vietnam for its fantastic nightlife. Ho Chi Minh City nightlife offers plenty of night clubs, bars, pubs, many restaurants and other places to enjoy your time. Let's find out what you can do and what places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City at night.

Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife

Ho Chi Minh City Transportation

There are three main options for getting from other cities in Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City as most of visitors come here by plane, train or bus. The city also receives a big number of international flights and can also be reached by international buses from Cambodia.

Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City is the busiest airport in Vietnam. The airport is only 10km from the city center so it is very convenient for travelers. Domestic flights to Saigon are offered by low-cost airlines such as Jetstar, Vietjet as well as the national carrier Vietnam Airlines. Domestic flights are quite cheap and there are many trips during the day but they are quite often delayed. Vietnam Airlines are slightly more expensive but are more reliable in terms of delays and the quality of service is also better.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN)

Ho Chi Minh Airport also attracts a big number of international flights that let conveniently reach the city from other countries in Southeast Asia and more distant destination.

Flights from Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City

There are directs flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Bangkok and Phuket. Flight deals for these routes can be found here:

Flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City

Flights from Phuket to Ho Chi Minh City

From Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City you can fly directly with low cost airlines AirAsia, Jetstar, Vietjet Air, Nok Air as well as full service carriers Vietnam Airlines, Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways. Phuket – Ho Chi Minh City route is served by Vietjet Air.

How to get from Tan Son Nhat Airport to city center

Bus is currently one of the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam because of its low price. The same can be said about getting from Tan Son Nhat Airport to city center as there are several bus routes that let you reach the center of Ho Chi Minh City cheaply and conveniently. For more information about airport bus routes and schedules check Saigon Airport Bus.

Saigon Airport Bus

If using public transportation in foreign country doesn’t look attractive, you can choose to travel from the airport by motorbike taxi or taxi. To experience the best airport transfer service, you should book a private transfer from Ho Chi Minh Airport to your hotel here: Private Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN) Transfer for Ho Chi Minh City.

Hotels near Saigon Airport

If you have an early arrival or late departure and need a place to stay near Tan Son Nhat Airport, look through the list of the best airport hotels and choose an accommodation that fits your travel needs, from 5-star to budget-friendly hotels. Some of these hotels also offer free airport shuttle.

Train to Ho Chi Minh City

Train is the choice for leisure travelers who want to see the mountains and rivers along the way. Certainly, you will have an enjoyable experience when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City by train.

Train

If you will be traveling by train from Hanoi, it can take more than 32 hours to reach Ho Chi Minh City as the distance between Vietnam’s two largest cities is about 1,700 kilometers. However, along the way you can get off and visit other popular destinations including Ninh Binh, Vinh, Dong Hoi, Hue, Da Nang, and Nha Trang.

Bus to Ho Chi Minh City

Buses are chosen by a significant part of tourists traveling to Ho Chi Minh City because most of the provinces and cities in Vietnam have bus routes connecting them with Saigon.

Saigon Bus

There are two large bus stations in the city, the Eastern Bus Station and the Western Bus Station. Depending on the starting point of the trip, the bus to Ho Chi Minh City will end up at one of them in most cases. However, some of tourist bus companies also offer pick-up and drop-off at their offices in the city center.

Bus from Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City

When traveling from Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City by bus, normally a connection in Cambodia is needed. From Thailand you need to take a bus to Phnom Penh in Cambodia and then get on a bus going to Ho Chi Minh City. A bus between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City usually takes around 6 hours. Bus schedules and tickets for this connecting route can be found here:

Bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh

Bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City

Domestic Travel

If you are looking for transportation for you trip to/from Ho Chi Minh City, use this search form.

Transportation within Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Bus

Walking: Most tourists explore Ho Chi Minh City on foot, especially the central areas.

Cyclo: Like in Hanoi, cyclo is also a vehicle that many travelers choose when visiting tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. The cyclo should cost you around 250,000-300,000 VND per hour. This type of Saigon’s transportation can also be experienced by taking a Cyclo Ride with Lunch or Dinner.

Taxi: Taxi is also suitable for traveling around the city but you should know that traffic jams are frequent in Ho Chi Minh City. Every morning from 7:30 to 8:00 and every evening from 17:00 to 18:00 is city’s rush hour, so you can expect to just sit in the taxi without moving anywhere.

Motorbike Taxi: Traveling to Saigon tourist destinations by motorbike taxi is a good choice. Motorbike taxi is a fast and economical way to reach your destinations. You can also choose the motorbike ride service offered by Grab or Uber.

Bus: Bus is the cheapest public transport in Saigon as bus tickets normally cost only 5,000-7,000 VND. You can experience the local feeling of sitting on the bus while passing by the crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Self-driven: If you prefer to drive by yourself, you can rent a motorbike or car. The motorbike rental price is about 100,000 VND a day. Keep in mind that if you will decide to rent a motorbike or car, you need to bring your driving license and comply with traffic laws to avoid incidents affecting the trip schedule.

Private Car Charter: You can travel comfortably around Ho Chi Minh City with a driver and create your own itinerary without worrying about how to travel between each stop. You can easily visit surrounding areas like Vung Tau, Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple as well. Choose the right type of vehicle to fit your traveling needs here: Ho Chi Minh Private Car Charter.

Weather in Ho Chi Minh City

Unlike the weather with 4 seasons in the North, Ho Chi Minh City is located in the tropical monsoon region, so there are clear signs of the rainy and dry seasons. Both seasons in Saigon have their own beauty that captivates visitors. 

Average temperature in Ho Chi Minh City is around 25 - 35 degrees Celsius but during the peak time of sunshine it can be over 40°C. The rainy season here usually lasts from May to November so you might need to bring an umbrella or raincoat with you. The dry season is from December to April.

You can absolutely travel to Ho Chi Minh City at any time of the year but the best time to go there is at the start of the year from January to March. During this time, the weather is good with no rain and you might also get a chance to participate in the biggest January full moon festival in Chinatown or Tet lantern flower festival on Saigon River.

Food in Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Food

Banh Trang Nuong: The popular Vietnamese street food made of grilled rice paper as a pizza base topped with egg, spring onion, cheese, sausage and meat.

Bun Bo Hue: Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup packed with flavor, originated from the beautiful ancient city of Hue in Central Vietnam. In Hue, this noodle is made with clear broth and beef while in Saigon, the noodle flavor is stronger, the color is more attractive with more toppings such as spring rolls, pork rolls, crab rolls.

Banh Xeo: Vietnamese pancake which is a typical yellow cake made from rice flour and coconut milk. It is stuffed with shrimps, pork, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs.

What's the best food in Saigon and where to eat it? Read our list of must-eats in Ho Chi Minh City to get an answer.

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is known as a "shopping paradise" with many shopping centers, shops, and markets that are always busy day and night. There are many places for tourists to shop, from traditional markets, boutiques shop to luxurious department stores.

The gifts from Saigon are countless. You can go to Ben Thanh Market or night market to buy some meaningful souvenirs for your friends and relatives.

Ben Thanh Market: The most famous market for tourists with beautiful architecture. It is best to come to Ben Thanh Market at night to try local dishes and buy souvenirs.

Binh Tay Market: Chinatown’s main market that sells everything you can think of, from fresh produce to Vietnamese goods.

Saigon Square: This is the place to buy fashionable clothes. If you buy many items at the same time and try to bargain, you should get them at a surprisingly low price.

Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary

3-4 days in Saigon give you time not only to discover the city but also to begin exploring Southern Vietnam. Read our Perfect 4 days Itinerary in Ho Chi Minh City that will take you through Saigon's highlights, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta and much more!

Saigon

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