The most populous city in Vietnam is a thriving place and a truly wonderful destination for something a little outside the ordinary. Here we give you the lowdown on what to do, where to stay and when to visit.
What to do in Ho Cho Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it’s otherwise known, was the capital of South Vietnam when the two countries were divided. In 1975 however the nation was reunited, ending a long period of conflict in the country. It’s therefore little surprise that Saigon has plenty reminders of the Vietnam War, no more so than in the War Remnants Museum which includes American military vehicles. Similarly informative is the Independence Palace which also goes by the name of the Reunification Palace. Both impressive architecturally and steeped in history, a walk around the former administrative heart of South Vietnam isn’t to be missed.
North of the city you will find the Cu Chi Tunnels, another remnant of the Vietnam War and one which acted as a base for the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive. You will have the chance to walk through the narrow passages although they have been widened a little to accommodate tourists. There’s plenty to keep the history buffs satisfied in Ho Chi Ming City but there is far more that the place offers.
Perhaps you fancy having a drink 52 floors up in the huge Bitexco Financial Tower. Skip the viewing platform and ask to be taken up to the bar/restaurant. It’s free to do so and even the cost of a drink will be less than viewing platform admission. The southern city is also thriving with cheap massages parlours that will typically offer a massage for around £5 per hour. After several hours dealing with the frantic Saigon traffic there is no better way to unwind.
When to visit Ho Chi Minh
Whenever you visit Ho Chi Minh it’s going to be hot, with very little differences among temperatures between each month. Ideally you’ll want to go during the dry season though (December to April). Outside of this period and there’s a fair chance you’ll see a few tropical showers.
Where to eat
Street food is very popular here and you’ll never be more than a stones throw from someone cooking food in a little stall on the pavement. The food on offer varies but in most cases it’s very tasty and will likely include some form of meat. Vegetarians may have to look a bit harder to find some place to eat but there are a fair few decent restaurants. The Pi restaurant, located very close to the Independence Palace is a particularly great one. The food here is of sublime quality as is the accompanying ambiance.
Where to stay
Staying in Saigon is very inexpensive and you can even quite luxurious hotels are available on the cheap. Three star hotels including a breakfast buffet can be easily booked for around £30 a night for a double room. If this is what you are after then the Sonnet Saigon and the Emm Saigon are recommended.
For cheaper accommodation, Da Blend Hostel is an excellent choice with their free breakfast, free drinkable water and air conditioned rooms. A bed can be booked for less than £7 per night and you will struggle to find a better value for money stay in Ho Chi Minh City.