Ho Chi Min City embodies a mix of ‘fast paced’ city life, traditional markets and architecture, and nearby countryside beauty. Formerly known as Saigon, this city houses 7 million people today, starting out centuries ago as a small fishing village! Centrally located, use Ho Chi Min as a starting point or base city while traveling throughout Vietnam and the rest of Asia.
Streets of Saigon
Temperatures in Ho Chi Min City range a few degrees between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of a year. To avoid the rainy season, visit between December and April, considering the average 71 inches of rain per year! The Saigon River, which weaves through the city, sometimes floods during this season.
While famous for its crazy driving practices (beware of scooters!), visitors find quiet stroll-able streets as well. Kong Khoi Street has a European feel in the midst of Asian culture. With the most desirable hotels and many cafés located here, this street should be a stop on your tour of the city no matter where you stay. Once a colony of France, the French influence can still be seen throughout the city.
Day and Night Markets
The markets in Ho Chi Min set the scene as Vietnam’s most commercial city. Most notable, the Ben Thanh Market gives Ho Chi Min its symbol as the bright yellow clock tower signifies its entrance. Truly at the center of the city, streets wind in and out of the market. Meet interesting locals, hear their stories and taste the Vietnamese culture on every corner. A wonderful place for lunch, visitors stroll and taste small bites from many different stalls. If you enjoy the atmosphere of the market, you may want to try thePho Mau Sam NightMarket for dinner and a bit more shopping.
A la Miss Saigon
The Municipal Theater resides as the most famous theatre in the city among hundreds of others. This grand building attracts tourists for its façade and interior. Shows run daily and frequently, so check with your hotel for listings! The Fine Arts Museum also attracts tourists with its abundant collection of art ranging from the French colonial era to present day cultural pieces. Also necessary to include in your itinerary is the Giac Lam Ancient Pagoda. Just miles from the city center, this temple beats all others in age. Comprised of many types of local wood, Giac Lam sits among trees and blends in to its surroundings. With over 100 statues, its intricate architecture and historical significance, the pagoda warrants a visit.
A more modern tourist attraction is the Saigon Water Park. The rides, pools, wave pools and water slides make all visitors reconnect with their youth! During a hot day, especially when traveling with children, the Saigon Water Park is a must! Enjoy the array of inexpensive food and fully staffed, life guarded pools for utmost safety.
Tourists can use the backpacker district, Pham Ngu Lau, to find discount accommodations, food and accessories, like scooter rentals. Rent a scooter to visit the Can Gio Beachan hour south of Ho Chi Min. The ride is breath taking and once there, pass the day with locals on holiday, hiking or boating. With so much to do in Ho Chi Min City, your itinerary will be full of activities and days passed with culture, history and excitement.