The largest Vietnamese city is located in the south of the country, almost 2 thousand km from the capital of Hanoi and covers an area on which two Moscows could be located – more than 2000 square km.
The central part of the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) is one of the most densely populated urban settlements in the world: almost 10 thousand people per 1 sq. km.
Two-thirds of tourists visiting the country enter Vietnam through this city. Amazing panorama opens to travelers in clear weather from the side of the plane.
A bit of geography and history
Ho Chi Minh City is located about 20 meters above sea level, and, in addition to the Saigon River in the west, in the east, the coastline is cut by the riverbed of the Nyab River.
Here is eternal summer, the temperature is 26-28⁰C, and there are only two seasons: from December to April it is dry in Ho Chi Minh City, and from May to November, it rains. But they are mainly short-term and interesting excursions around the city and its environs are not a hindrance.
In addition, from May to September, airlines significantly reduce flight prices, and the prices of many tour operators for package tours to Ho Chi Minh hotels are also very attractive. Discounts can reach up to 50%.
Did you know that the largest Vietnamese city was once the main sea gate of Cambodia? In the 17th century, the Vietnamese conquered these places, and the port of Prey Nokor was renamed Zyadin, and then it became Saigon (like the river on the bank of which it stands).
At the end of the 19th century, Saigon was the capital of French Indochina, in the second half of the 20th, exactly two decades – the main city of South Vietnam, and in 1976 after the reunification of the North and the South, it was renamed in honor of the first president of the reunited country Ho Chi Minh.
And although the last name of the city is already almost half a century, in everyday life in a colloquial speech, the townspeople still often call themselves Saigonians and feel metropolitan. And not only the older generation, but also the youth. There is good reason for this: there are many important historical and cultural attractions. The city is not only the country’s air gate, but also the largest industrial and commercial center.
And although officially Ho Chi Minh City is not the capital of Vietnam, in its importance it occupies the same place as Hanoi.
What religion do the townsmen profess?
More than 90% are indigenous people – the Viet, about 6% – Chinese (Hoa), the rest: Khmers, Tyama and even fifty or so different nationalities.
80% of the townspeople are Buddhists, about 10% are Catholics, and 3% are Protestants, Hindus, followers of Islam and Baha’ism combined. The remaining residents (about 7%) consider themselves atheists.
Best locations to stay in Ho Chi Minh
The main administrative units of Ho Chi Minh City: quận – this is the urban area in Vietnamese and huyện – rural county. In 19 urban areas of 260 neighborhoods, and 5 rural counties consist of 63 communes.
Borders of urban areas of Ho Chi Minh City
“Record” figure – 46 thousand people. per sq. km So many people live in the district (district) №11. The skyscrapers of hotels, offices (Flemington Tower) and residential buildings that have grown here in recent years are adjacent to houses and temples of the old building. The most famous Dam Sen amusement park is also in this densely populated area.
Most often, it can be seen in the photo of travelers who visited the city of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
But the least populated is the largest urban area, No. 9: here, on every square kilometer, only a little more than two thousand people live. This is a completely new industrial and business district with high-rise residential complexes under construction.
The most famous and notable buildings and quarters of the French colonial buildings are located in the area number 1.
This is the central Saigon administrative district, it is here that the city hall and the city hall, the Reunification Palace, the opera house, the botanical garden and the zoo are located, and the Notre Dame Cathedral is the most famous architectural landmark of Ho Chi Minh City.
There are about 2,000 hotels, guesthouses and apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. About half of them correspond to the level of one star. There are only a few dozen international-class hotels with 5 *****. Prices for them in the high season start at $ 200, but from May to September, housing can be rented at half the price. There are large international-class hotels in different districts of the city, but most of all they are in discretions No. 1-2, 3, 7 and Dong Khoy.
Where is it better to stay in Ho Chi Minh city, which hotel to prefer? It depends on the length and purpose of your stay and financial capabilities. For tourists who have package tours to the resorts of the South coast of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City can only be the point of arrival and departure, and the main goal is a vacation at sea. But many of them in their schedule also plan a certain backlash in one or two days to get to know the city: either at the beginning of the trip, or before flying home.
Most independent travelers, those who flew to Ho Chi Minh on purpose and to stay longer, stay in a special area for foreigners – Becker District (Pham Ngu Lao Street), where they rent budget accommodation.
The entire infrastructure of the quarter is designed for their needs: souvenir shops, clothes and shoes, catering establishments – cafes and restaurants with local Vietnamese cuisine, manicure rooms and spas.
In the evening, the entire quarter turns into a noisy party. You can rent a house in this place in the range from $ 5-10 in a mini-hotel and up to $ 40-60 in 1 * – 3 *** hotels, depending on the season.
What is a budget accommodation at Minihotel Alley? The guesthouse room is clean and quite comfortable. Mandatory kit: hot water, air conditioning or fan, TV and small fridge. But when climbing into a room, on steep stairs, guests can sometimes not disperse even together, although the rooms themselves are not cramped.
Useful advice: if you are looking for a mini-hotel in Becker Quarter, prefer housing not on the main street, but in the side lanes: there will be less annoying street noise bothering you.
You can compare the cost of housing in Ho Chi Minh City on the most popular tourist portals and choose the hotel that suits your cost and location where it is best to stay here: Room Guru.
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Transport: how to move in the city and between cities
From the largest Vietnamese international airport Tan Son Nhat (Tan Son Nhat) to the center of Ho Chi Minh City (6 km) can be reached from 6 am to 6 pm by bus number 152 for less than $ 1, but you need to pay for luggage separately.
A bus will take you to the bus station near Ben Thanh Market. The fare for a taxi to Pham Ngu Lao or your hotel in the area is $ 7-10.
Auto, city taxi
Interesting Facts. In Vietnam, there is no own car production, and the tax on the import of cars is often much more than their value. For this reason, such transport is not available to the vast majority of Vietnamese, only very wealthy citizens own cars.
But the taxi service in Ho Chi Minh City is quite developed, it is mainly used by tourists, travelers and foreigners living in Vietnam for a long time.
Here are the coordinates of the main city services:
- 08-84 24 242 taxis Saigon Taxi
- 08-82 26 666 taxi Mai Linh (Mai Linh Taxi Company)
- 08-81 11 111 taxis Vina Taxi
Useful tips. A good test guide to the sanity and adequacy of the amount indicated by the taxi driver (in case you intend to use a taxi in your further movements around the city) is the table on this site www.numbeo.com. Here, in Vietnamese currency, which can always be converted at the exchange rate, the cost of the trip is indicated depending on the mileage.
Ho Chi Minh City Bus Depot
Transportation is carried out by several local companies, the most famous of which is Sinn Cafe.
There are two types of bus parking in the city: OpenBus tourist sites and ordinary state bus stations.
There are several intercity bus terminals in the city, two of them in the Bintan area, the first serves the north, the second – the south:
- Ben Xe Mien Dong (Miedong) is the main city bus station; here the main tourist routes around the city and its environs begin and end.
- Ben Xe Mien Tay (Mientai)
Buses departing from Ben Xe An Suong (Ansiong) Bus Station in Hoekmon Village to Tainin
It is better to take tickets at the ticket office of the bus station, but not at the bus driver, there are no telephone reservation services.
Tickets for OpenBus buses are sold at some local travel agencies, at the reception desk at hotels and at the box office of the main bus station. All night tourist buses (slipbuses) are double-decker, and the seats in them are arranged in three rows. Each passenger is given a light blanket and a headrest pillow.
This is how one of them looks in the photo, departing from Ho Chi Minh City for a night flight.
The scheme of city routes for the uninitiated is confusing, but you should not neglect the movement of a bus around Ho Chi Minh City: this is a rather cheap way compared to some other methods, and it is safer. It is worth buying a scheme and using it to move along the main streets of urban areas.
The railway station in district 3 (1, Nguyen Ton Street) is still officially named the old name (Ga Sai Gon) – Saigon station.
From Ho Chi Minh City, in addition to Nha Trang, trains go to Danang, Hue, Hanoi. In principle, this is the same route along which four trains leave at different times from south to north: evening SE2 at 19:00, night SE4 at 23:00, and two morning, SE8 and SE6 – at 6:25 and 9 a.m.
Moto bike (motorcycles, scooters, mopeds)
By analogy with Amsterdam, which is called the cycling capital of the world, Ho Chi Minh city can rightfully be the world’s scooter capital. On the local roads, a man riding an “iron horse” is the main character.
The main part of the Vietnamese moves on two-wheeled motor vehicles of different capacities, 3-4 people together with the driver on one motorcycle is the norm.
If you trust your driving skills, lack of adrenaline and do not like to ride a bus, you can rent a motorbike for $ 5-15. The rental price depends on the power of the iron “horse”.
Such and similar shots are a favorite plot of street photos shot in Ho Chi Minh City by a variety of photographers.
Join the daily multimillion-dollar stream of the same risky drivers, but be extremely careful – at first, even just contemplating this chaos, here called traffic, is terrifying for those unaccustomed to the sight. And you have to dive headlong into it and maneuver among thousands of the same motorbikers and pedestrians.
If you are not ready for this, but you want to ride a motorcycle, just hire a motorcycle taxi. They are everywhere here, on the corner of any street, men on motorcycles, sometimes sleeping or lying, but more often sitting on their bikes and waiting for their passenger. The closest trip will cost $ 1-2 (about 20-40 thousand dongs), and then it all depends on the distance and ability of the client to bargain.
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Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
“Mua” and “deputy for” – these are words that are funny for our ears and must be known to every tourist who comes to Vietnam. The first is a purchase, the second is a discount.
By the way, about discounts, or rather about economical shopping in Ho Chi Minh City. If you keep all checks or accounts in which the amount of your purchase is not less than 2 million dong and present them at the airport, then within a month after making it there is a chance to return the VAT (minus 15% of its amount). Naturally, only if the goods you bought “did not commit a mistake” and the customs officers did not find it in the lists of those that were withdrawn from circulation or completely prohibited.
What tourists bring from Vietnam
- Coffee and green tea
- Bamboo & Mahogany Products
- Hats as a souvenir: non – women’s round conical hat and men’s “colonial” helmet
- Handmade embroidered paintings on silk
- Multi-colored T-shirts with pagodas and dragons
- Ivory smoking pipes
- Products from river and sea pearls and silver
In large shopping centers in Ho Chi Minh City, it is easy and more profitable than at home or in other countries to buy products from Adidas and Nike, Kipling bags from Louis Vuitton, shoes from famous brands Ecco, Jeox and Clarks.
Many are interested in where to buy good Vietnamese cosmetics as a gift in Ho Chi Minh City. There is not enough decorative cosmetics of own brands here, Vietnamese manufacturers produce only natural cosmetics using ingredients such as pearl powder, rice powder, cucumber, coconut oil, ginseng, lingzhi mushrooms, snail extract.
- Lana safra
Guaranteed genuine Vietnamese cosmetics can be bought in the stores of the manufacturer.
Snail masks, soap-based saponin-based shampoos, popular face cream, white tiger ointments and much more can be purchased in boutiques of large shopping centers and in specialty stores. One of them: “Cosmetics from Andriana” (24 Hai Ba Trung St.).
Popular places for shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
About two hundred large and medium-sized markets, a myriad of street spontaneous and night markets, state-of-the-art shopping centers, department stores and supermarket chains from foreign investors from Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and even Germany – this is the field of activity for avid shopaholics in Ho Chi Minh City.
Large and popular trading establishments are located in discrepancies of 1.5.7, but there are many of them throughout the city.
Ben Thanh Market
The city has many architectural and iconic monuments of colonial times. But not one of them has become a symbol of the city. But the building, relatively unpretentious in architectural significance, but functional in content, has been successfully playing this role for more than a hundred years.
His image can most often be found on various souvenir products: key chains, magnets and simply on various photos of Ho Chi Minh City.
The French built the building with a tower and a huge clock for almost three years, from 1912 to 1914, although the market at this place in the heart of Saigon has been noisy since ancient times.
You can get to Ben Thanh from Chiang Nguyen Han Square, the main entrance is located directly under the clock, and all 4 entrances, by the number of cardinal points, are the gates.
Whichever way you enter the market, you will immediately fall into the tenacious hands of sellers of all kinds of souvenirs. Further along the perimeter are shops with clothes and shops of shoes, dishes and all sorts of things.
And in the center under a huge 28-meter dome – fruits, vegetables, spices and dried fruits, there is also a sea of Vietnamese catering establishments.
Our tourists have the most diverse opinions and reviews about the main market of Ho Chi Minh City. It amazes some with its size and assortment, while others it seems like an ordinary large Asian bazaar with a typical set of goods, a relatively meager assortment and an infrastructure inconvenient for shopping.
Some consider the prices in this market to be prohibitively high and advise you to go there only on an excursion, while others, on the contrary, recommend Ben Thanh as a cheap market where you can also bargain and profitably buy gifts, buy souvenirs and taste Vietnamese dishes.
But there are no indifferent reviews of the Ben Thanh market. This is the most visited place by foreign tourists in the city. And you can only make up your mind by visiting it. Even if you are afraid of the crowds, it’s worth allotting 1-2 hours to enter from the south through the main entrance, go through the market and then exit the city through the North Gate. And take interesting shots along the way to the piggy bank of a photo of the archive of your trip to Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street
Binh Tay Market
One of the main markets, located in the famous Chinese district of Tulon. There are fewer tourists, mainly this market is visited by the local population.
The large indoor market is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. there is a morning open market where the freshest products: vegetables, fruits, fish and meat, are all much cheaper than on tourist Ben Thanh.
The covered market is square in plan, with a tiled roof, retail space on two floors, and in the center of the courtyard – an interesting old fountain. The assortment is very similar to the first, but all the products here are local manufacturers.
On Binh Tai you can find everything that grows and is produced in Vietnam: manufactured goods, clothes, shoes, food, mountains of spices and nuts. As elsewhere, in the local cafes you can try all the dishes of Vietnamese national cuisine, and it is very tasty and recognized by gourmets of the whole world.
Address: 57 Thap Muoi, | Ward 2, Ho Chi Minh City 7000
This market is located in District 6, and it takes 15 minutes by taxi from Central District 1 to it.
Sacrifice a sweet morning sleep and try to get here as early as possible, preferably at dawn. Then you will catch the noisy open rows of the morning trade with the freshest vegetables, fruits, food and plunge into the elements of a real Vietnamese market. You won’t regret it, and save quite a bit.
Saigon Center (Saigon Shopping Center)
In Ho Chi Minh City there are shopping centers much larger in area, but this one is especially loved by both local and tourists. Located in area 1. Its squares are located on the first three floors of a large 25-story skyscraper, once it was the highest in the country.
On the ground floor there are cafes and restaurants. Well-known brands: clothes, shoes and accessories of various manufacturers, which placed their facilities in Vietnam, found their place in the second, and household goods and interior items in the third.
The popular boutique is Catherine Denoual Maiso. Always buy only genuine china here: for every day, and art products, and master sets. Bedclothes – only from natural materials.
The atmosphere of this shopping center is distinguished by a pleasant and recognizable phytoaromat throughout the territory, the aroma is unobtrusive, but tangible. This is probably one of the marketing strategies that increase sales. Nevertheless, it worked, and there are always a lot of visitors in the center.
Address: 65 Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, Ho Chi Minh City, 7000.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday from 9:30 to 21:30, and from Friday to Sunday for half an hour longer.
The beaches nearest to Ho Chi Minh City
Part of the outskirts of the city is located on the coast of the South China Sea. But a full-fledged beach holiday in Ho Chi Minh itself will not work.
In the evening, on the promenade you can enjoy the sunset and dine at one of the fish restaurants. Swimming in the city is not worth it: the multiple tributaries of rivers and streams, which, like the main large river Saigon, flow into the sea, carry tons of silt into it. And even the color of sea water here does not prompt a desire to begin water procedures.
The closest to Ho Chi Minh is the Vung Tau resort, the road to the beach by car takes about 2 hours. You can get there directly from Tan Son Nhat Airport by minibus ($ 6) or by small buses with air conditioning (departure from the Mien Dong bus station in the city) for $ 2-4.
The water here is much cleaner, but in the high season there are a lot of people, as in Soviet times on the Black Sea coast, including the local population who come to swim in the sea for the weekend.
But Ho Chi Minh’s guests have a choice of other resorts on the south coast, although not quite nearby. If you travel with your family, you have a direct road to the Phan Thiet beaches adapted for young travelers, and for fans of surfing on Mui Ne.
The road (220 km) takes 4.5 hours. You can get there by night bus for $ 10-12, and a 7-seater transfer will cost the company about $ 100-125. Often tourists are looking for travel companions on Bla Bla or forums.
So our acquaintance with the city of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the place where 70% of tourists and travelers who visit the country of eternal summer fall annually, has ended. And what a coincidence: in recent years, about 8 million a year have been accepting foreign tourists in Vietnam, which is comparable to the population of the largest Vietnamese metropolis. After all, statistics say that even a little more live in developing Ho Chi Minh City – about 8.2 million people.