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Travelling to Ho Chi Minh - Vietnam

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Overview of Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh city- the largest and most populous city in Vietnam locates in the central of Sothern part of Vietnam, share borders with the south of Southeast area, north edge of Southwest area. It is the major transportation connecting to provinces and international gate of the area as well.

It can be seen at the first sight that Sai Gon- Ho Chi Minh city is the biggest, busiest and most dynamic city in Vietnam
 

 Ho Chi Minh City
 
In Ho Chi Minh city, daily activities and entertainment with bright light streets last until midnight. There is flow of vehicles running constantly. Sai Gon- shopping paradise is full of shops with a variety of goods, products of different colors and styles. Food become the indispensable pleasures of visitors coming to Sai Gon with lots of restaurants of various menus
 
Ho Chi Minh people take a liberal and harmonious life with long-standing customs of traditional culture which has adapted to life of reclaiming land and interfered with regional and western culture.
 
Local people have built hundreds of pagodas and shrines worshiping the national heroes and the talented and preserved relic of national liberalization career. A part from formal holidays such as Tet holiday, they hold many holidays showing the grateful tradition such as Nghinh Ong festival, “ngay gio to nghe” (death anniversary of people who created and developed the certain job), Doctor’s Day, Teacher’s Day, Women’ Day, mid-July day (in this day, people pay their gratitude to their parents)….

 
Binh Quoi

Architectures of Sai Gon –  once called “diamond of far east” have been preserved and improved to become the interesting destinations. Besides, there are modern architectures inspired by Vietnamese traditional architecture. Roads and avenues shadowed by old trees, beautiful parks and peaceful villas attract lots of tourists. Beside new skyscrapers in the city central, visitors can pay a visit to Cho Lon (big market) of Chinese people with many crowded old squares where people busy involving in trading and producing activities all day long.
 

 23/9 park.
 
Ho Chi Minh city- a central tourism and the biggest tourism gate in Vietnam has advanced infrastructure and good tourism services from amusement parks to hotels and restaurants.

Visitors can visit city in any season because the climate is nice with light sunshine and short raining.

City people who are very friendly and generous are willing to welcome visitors from all around the world.

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh:

Ho Chi Minh city has 2 distinctive seasons: rainy season and dry season. Rainy season begins from June to following November. In general, you can pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh city in any time except for Lunar New year because the city is quite at this time when people came back to their hometown.


Nguyen Hue flower road on Tet holiday.
 
In the holiday seasons, there are lots of shopping and entertaining activities occurring on every corner of the streets. On Christmas time, streets are full of lights, crowded with vehicles and entertainment activities last until midnight. You can enjoy the lightly cold atmosphere and warmth of city people.

There’s no need worrying about the noise of this city because resorts, ecotourism zones are available at any time.
 

Top places to go and things to do in HCM
 
There are must visit places making a perfect trip to Ho Chi Minh city.

Ho Chi Minh city, with system of 11 museums becomes the city of most museums in Vietnam. Museums not only display objects about history and culture of city but also all Northern area and South East Asia.  
 
 Over 1000 pagodas, churches, temples, shrines and communal houses which were built through many phases are valuable heritages on culture, architecture and art. You will find typical Buddhism pagodas of the northern area and communal houses linking to land reclaiming history. Besides, there are the biggest churches which are the harmonious combination between modern architecture styles and traditional styles. Ho Chi Minh city has the most Chinese churches with haft a million of Chinese people in Vietnam. Many pagodas have been recognized as historic and cultural relic of city and nation.

The French left much beautiful and diverse architecture in Sai Gon- Ho Chi Minh city. The city is one of some cities in South East Asia that have various architecture and the western art styles. The City People’ Committee with the Third French Republic style, the State Bank affected by New Art trend, the Children Hall with neoclassical style, the Dragon House with Indochina style, Post Office with Chiet Trung style, Duc Ba (Notre Dame) cathedral with Romance art, Huyen Si cathedral on New Gothic… are some typical examples.

The development of modern architecture with various forms has created lively images for the city. Some of them are beautiful buildings with high aesthetic value.
 

The tunnels of Cu Chi- the most special destination in Ho Chi Minh is a unique construction in the world military history, symbolize strong will and intelligence of city people in anti- America resistance war. Can Gio mangrove swamp is also worth visiting with battles destroying invaders’ ships on Sai Gon estuary. Nowadays, it is a wonderful eco-tourism site with endless green mangroves.
 
 Museum of Ho Chi Minh

Museum system in Ho Chi Minh city includes 11 museums and commemorative houses, tradition houses, tradition rooms in districts.

Vietnam History Museum- the biggest and the first museum in the city, was established in early 20th century. By constantly collecting and preserving objects, History Museum has an abundant collection of nearly 30,000 valuable objects.  

Ho Chi Minh museum which introduces Ho Chi Minh’s life and career attracts the most domestic visitors. War Remnants museum- a top place to go of foreign visitors, shows the barbarous crime of American invader to Vietnamese people.
  •      Vietnam History Museum – Ho Chi Minh City, no.2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, district 1.
  •     Ho Chi Minh City museum – 65 Ly Tu Trong, district 1

  •     War Remnants museum – 28 Ngo Van Tan, district 3.
  •     Ho Chi Minh museum – Ho Chi Minh City, no.1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, district 4.
  •     Ton Duc Thang museum – no.5, Ton Duc Thang, district 1

  •     The Ho Chi Minh Campaign museum – no.2, Le Duan, district 1.
  •     Northern Women museum – no.202 Vo Thi Sau, district 3.

  •     The Southeast Armed Forces museum – no.247, Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh district.
  •     Fine Art museum – Ho Chi Minh city, no.97A Pho Duc Chinh, district 1.
Pagodas of Ho Chi Minh
 
Many Buddhism pagodas were built by the traditional architecture in Northern Part with leisured surroundings and discreet interior and tens of worshiping statues, wooden pillars which are delicately carved. Some pagodas are built with modern style, inspired by traditional architecture. They has high, wide and bright inferior with simple decorations, solemn atmosphere. They have concrete structure but still maintain their traditional posture.

Hundreds of communal houses worshipping Thanh Hoang (God of a village) relating to land reclaiming history. Annually, in summer, villagers celebrate “le ki yen” (praying for safety in village and prosper of country) with offering rituals and solemn offering dances. Shrines worshiping national heroes are not only beautiful architecture but also a place for people praying for happiness and wealth.

Besides, there are more than 30 Chinese pagodas or shrines actually linking to settlement history of old Sai Gon – Cho Lon. Architecture of Chinese pagodas is colorful with many lively sculptures and paintings, dragon and phoenix calligraphy. Each shrine has distinctive feature of 5 people groups: Quang Dong, Phuoc Kien, Chao Zhou, Hai Nan and He.

 Old Buddhism pagodas:

  •     Giac Lam pagoda
             No.118 Lac Long Quan, Tan Binh district
 
  •     Giac Vien pagoda
             161/85/20 Lac Long Quan, district 11.
  •     Phung Son pagoda
               1408 Ba Thang Hai, district 11.

 New Buddhism church:
  •     Vinh Nghiem pagoda
                339 Nam Ki Khoi Nghia, district 3
 
  •    Xa Loi pagoda
               89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, district 3
  •     Nam Thien Nhat Tru pagoda
               511 Nguyen Van Bi, Thu Duc district
 
Communal houses:
  •     Phong Phu Communal house
                Phong Phu hamlet, Tang Nhon Phu village, district 9
  •     Phu Nhuan Communal house
               18 Mai Van Ngoc, Phu Nhuan district
 
Temples of HCM:
  •     Hung Vuong temple
              2B, Nguyen Binh Khiem, district 1.
  •     Tran Hung Dao temple
               36, Vo Thi Sau, district 1.
  •     Le Van Duyet Tomb
            1B Phan Dang Luu, Binh Thanh district

Chinese pagodas:
  • Ngoc Hoang (the Jade Emperor) pagoda
         Mai Thi Luu, district 1
  • Ba Thien Hau pagoda
         710 Nguyen Trai, district 5
  • Nhi Phu Shrine
         264 Hai Thuong Lan Ong, district 5

Cathedrals:

Most cathedrals in Sai Gon were built in late haft of the 19th century. In general, the French architecture style of this period is the combination of Romance and Gothic style in Medieval in Europe. Cathedrals were built to serve as emotional support for the French colonialists or to cater to spiritual life of local followers.
 

Notre Dame Cathedral (also known as the State Cathedral because it was built by the French money) which was completed in 1880 has the biggest scale in Ho Chi Minh city. Major ceremonies were held here as well. It was built with Marseille brick, stained glass and steel frame from France combining with Bien Hoa bluestone. The rolled doorways designed based on Romance style and folded arch of Gothic style are similar to the Great Cathedrals in Paris, Chartres, Reim.
 

Tan Dinh- the smaller church for the Vietnamese followers is typical for the mixture of different architecture styles of French church because it was built and enlarged several times. Huyen Si church is the prototype of small church in France. Cha Tam church in Big Market is similar but it is decorated with “hoanh phi lien doi” (lacquered board engraved with Chinese characters) as in shrines of the Chinese.

Types of cathedral built in recentl periods own more native style. Vuon Xoai church is a typical example with harmonious combination of modern features with old Vietnamese style such as three-door entrance and big dome.

 
  •     Notre Dame Cathedral

               The Paris Commune, Dong Kho, district 1
  •     Tan Dinh Church
               289 Hai Ba Trung, district 3
  •     Huyen Si Church
               No.1 Ton That Tung, district 1.
  • Cha Tam Church
         No.25, Hoc Lac, district 5.
  •    Cho Quan Church
         No.120, Tran Binh Trong, district 5
 
  •     Vuon Xoai Church
            413 Le Van Sy, district 3.

Other architecture

The French left many beautiful public buildings which are harmonious with city’s landscape and become the elegant features of Ho Chi Minh city.

Various public buildings of different art styles range from the city’s administrative offices, to museums, opera houses and schools….Some architecture works combining harmoniously between western styles with native styles such as patterns of Viet, Cham and Khmer’s art form a distinctive style called Indochina architecture. Some typical examples are the Dragon House, Vietnam History museum and Le Hong Phong school.
 

Before 1975, Sai Gon architecture left many valuable works. Typically, “Tropical” architecture trend focused on factors of tropical climate and other trends tried to show traditional culture and art in modern architecture. Some famous architecture constructions are Thong Nhat hall, General Science library, Commercial Credit bank, the France Culture Exchange Institute IDECAF and some Buddhism churches…
 

In opening times, there are many new and diverse constructions from skyscrapers to villas, city houses of new technology and many other new ideas. Sai Gon Commercial Central - 128m high with 33 storeys is the tallest building among the emerging buildings of tens of storeys. Some constructions are highly appreciated by their high art values.

Architecture under French colonization:
  • Head office of People’s Committee
               No.86, Le Thanh Ton, district 1.
  • City Opera House
      No.7 Cong Truong Nam Son, district 1.
  • City’s Post Office
Paris commune, Dong Khoi, district 1.

Architecture before 1975:

  • Unification Hall
No. 106, Nguyen Du, district 1
 Seeing from the Unification Palace  
 

Seeing from outside into the Unification Palace  
  • The General Science library
No. 67, Ly Tu Trong, district 1
New architecture
  • The Metropolitan building
No. 61, Nguyen Du, district 1.
  • Sai Gon Commercial Central
No.37, Le Duan

Sightseeing places of HCM
 
Cu Chi tunnels, in the north westernmost of Ho Chi Minh city are famous all around the world for their complicated underground tunnel system. Dia Dao area and Ben Duoc Monument on the edge of Sai Gon river are historic and cultural relic with peaceful scenes, exuberant orchids and immense rice field.

In the past, Can Gio mangrove forest blocking Sai Gon estuary was military base of special forces destroying invader’s ships. It was denuded by bombs and Agent Orange. Now, it has been restored and becomes the World Biosphere Reserve- an attractive ecotourism site.
 
Thu Duc egret garden is another ecotourism site which is in a tranquil water area, not far away from city central.
  • Cu Chi tunnels
Phu Hiep hamlet, Phu My Hung village, Cu Chi district

Inside Cu Chi tunnels
  • Can Gio mangrove forest.
Ly Nhon and Long Hoa village, Can Gio district.
Can Gio forest
  • Cruise on Sai Gon river
Start from Bach Dang pier
  • Thu Duc egret garden
124/31, Go Cong, Long Thanh My, district 9.
 Transportations of HCM

Tan Son Nhat airport locating in Ho Chi Minh city is the major international and national airport in Vietnam. It takes 20 minutes by taxi to get to the city central.  
 
You can take a train from Northern provinces to the South and vice versa. Trains are available all around the year to meet customers’ demands. You can visit and book ticket at http://vetau.com.vn. Or you can use passenger cars such as Mai Linh Express passenger transport services and other transport enterprises. The last choice is to ride motorbike.
 
There are many choices to travel to Ho Chi Minh city such as taxi, bus, motorbike taxi,… bus ticket price in Ho Chi Minh city is 5,000 vnd for long routes and 3,000 –  4,000 vnd for short routes. The buses are very crowded in peak hours and taking a bus will be comfortable at other time.

Price for taxi in Ho Chi Minh city is as following: 12,000vnd for the first 1km; 10,000vnd for following km and 8,000vnd for more than 10km. Some big taxi firms are Mai Linh Group, Taxi Future 8181818, Taxi Vinasun, Vinataxi… all dialed numbers are on the taxis.  
 
Motorbike taxis are available all the corners of city. How much you pay depends on your bargaining with riders. In general, 5,000vnd for 5km and about 30,000vnd for 10km.

Shopping and price in HCM.

Commodities are various with lots of colors and types ranging from daily tools to famous specialties of all regions, from domestic products to international brands. Most shops, especially, handicraft shops and fashion shops are nicely decorated. Each shop like a small work art.  
 
Sai Gon people with community spirit have established many areas trading same commodities which are easy for customers to see and select. You should be cautious about the price when shopping in markets.
 
City itself is industrial central and international and national trading hub. Big Market has been renowned for a long time for handicraft skills so the commodities are abundant. You could be surprised to find out that it doesn’t take time to find local specialties in Sai Gon. Many local products have been produced in Sai Gon with even higher quality.
 
Now, it is hard to say what is the specialty of Sai Gon but surely, various commodities will satisfy visitors all around the world.

Price is not tagged on most products in markets in Sai Gon, the sellers can raise price to very high price so you should go with people who are good at shopping in markets. Or you can go shopping in commercial centrals, supermarkets and plaza system in Ho Chi Minh city because there are official price tags on products.
 
 Market system in Ho Chi Minh city
  • Ben Thanh market- a symbol of city is considered as biggest retail market. You can find all kinds of commodities, especially food, from cheap ones to luxuries.
  • An Dong - a new market with 6 floors, equipped with modern facilities. Many kinds of commodities, mostly cloths and leather goods.
  • Binh Tay- the biggest wholesale market in southern area is major hub which distributes handicraft products of Big Market, agricultural products of Cuu Long delta and the Central Highland and imported products from China and Thailand to every regions in Vietnam. the 2 words “retail and wholesale” here should be understand relatively because in reality, big markets or small markets have both these trading forms.
Binh tay market
 
    Many markets buy only one product.
  1.         Soai Kinh Lam cloths market
  2.         Kim Bien chemical substance
  3.         Tran Chanh Chieu rice market
  4.         Hoc Lac tobacco market, Xom Voi chicken market
  5.         Ho Thi Ky flower market
  6.         Trinh Hoai Duc construction materials….
Sai Gon has specialized streets
  • Ngo Gia Tu street specializing in selling common wooden furniture; high graded wooden furniture in Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street;  sculpture products in Cong Hoa wooden street.
  • Decorative materials in Ly Thuong Kiet and To Hien Thanh; artificial flowers in Ba Thang Hai street; curtains and bedding materials in Le Van Sy and Ly Thai To- Dien Bien Phu; wedding ornaments in Nguyen Dinh Chieu….
  • Canned food in Nguyen Thong street; foreign wine in Hai Trieu, roasted dishes in Ta Uyen street, fruits in Le Thanh Ton, Tan Dinh and Yet Kieu
  • Fashion shops on Cao Thang and Nguyen Dinh Chieu street and shoes inTran Duy Lieu street
  • Antiquities in Le Cong Kieu street, souvenirs in Dong Khoi, Le Loi, Le Thanh Ton, Chinese traditional medicines in Trieu Quang Phuc, votive objects in Luong Nhu Hoc, worshiping objects in Nguyen Tri Thanh and Cach Mang Thang Tam streets
Food and addresses in HCM

Sai Gon- central of rich southern area, venues of people from different regions and the gate to outside world, has various and attractive food of different regions.
 
Sai Gon bread
 
Nowadays, we can find lots of specialties of 3 areas of Vietnam and of the world. However, most of them are “Saigonize”to make morish and delicious meals. Sai Gon’s styles are shown in sweet, lots of vegetables and fresh seafood. For example, Sai Gon sour soup is combination of sour-salty tastes of southern area, bitter of chili of central area and the sweet of southern area. Hue beef noodle in Sai Gon is cooked with less bitter, sweet taste, more fat and more vegetables. Western beefsteak is thinner and well-cooked, more spices, more vegetables and sour taste…
 

Keo fish hotpot- dish of southern area
 
 Recently, people have tended to eat food of rural area. Such dishes as roasted field-mouse, fried locust, eel steamed with gourd, stir-fried frog… are on the menus of luxurious restaurants. A good hotpot has more than 20 kinds of rural vegetables such as cu neo, tai tuong, cang cua, so dua and dien dien flowers…. Roasted food has many types such as than hong, trui, moi, lu, clay roasting….Sai Gon people have constantly improved and added new dishes to their menus from all around the world
 
Besides, there are some light dishes from 3 areas of Vietnam ranging from Hu Tieu Nam Vang, the Hue beef noodle and “pho” Hanoi  
 

Ho Chi Minh city currently has 641 hotels with 17.646 rooms.
 
 
Hotel system ranging from high-graded hotels managed by top international groups as Accor, Furama, Mariot or Shareton, long history hotels praised by heads of state, high-level businessmen and recognized by international organizations on tourism to the common hotels meet the customers’ requirements.
 

Rex - Five- star hotel

Most hotels located in favorable locations in city central, near commercial centrals, airports, stations…. City’s hotels are professional in facilities, services and service manners. Each hotel chooses its own impression: Caravelle is perfect hotel for businessman; Rex with slogan “Vietnamese House”, Majestic is elegant and classical of western style. … Small hotels also create their own styles with enthusiastic and warm service manners; cater to every demand of customers.
 
Hotel branch in Ho Chi Minh city can be proud to compare with those in other countries in region.
 
 
 
Other bear – in mind things

These are some notices when visiting Ho Chi Minh city:
  •  Don’t take a walk at midnight because you can be caught by police or robbed.
  • Don’t buy anything in “mobile” markets.
  • You should take a reliable taxi brand such as Taxi Airport. Don’t take taxi which has no logo.
  • It had better not hire motorbike taxi at night if you don’t know place you are going to incase of being deceived or even in danger

Other tips: