Get in Ho Chi Minh City
By plane. Airport at Ho Chi Minh City: Tan Son Nhat Airport (IATA: SGN), this is Vietnam's largest international airport. There are two terminals: Domestic and international. The airport is conveniently located about eight kilometres from the downtown of the city, however, it takes about 45 minutes - 1 hour by taxi or car due to traffic.
By train. Station at Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Station. It is located about more than 1 kilometre from the downtown and it takes about 15 - 30 minutes by taxi or car.
By ship. International gateway to Ho Chi Minh City is Phu My Port. It is located about 60km from Ho Chi Minh City, which is about 1 hour over the new expressway.
By bus. There are many sleeping and sitting buses connecting Ho Chi Minh City with other popular tourist destinations such as Mui Ne Beach, Nha Trang Beach, Da Lat Highland…
Get around Ho Chi Minh City
Taxi. Caution: Some travellers have reported that taxi scams at the airport are rife. Taxi rates are very reasonable in Ho Chi Minh City as long as you use a reputable company and the meter is used. Recommended taxi companies: Mai Linh (called +84 8 38 38 38 38) and Vinasun (called +84 8 38 27 27 27) only.
Grab. Grab is available in Ho Chi Minh, and generally undercuts the established taxi services.
Cyclo. A ride on a cyclo through downtown HCMC is a great way to see the city the way the locals do. Warning: Be careful with cameras, purses and watches while cyclo riding as these items are easily stolen by motorbike riders.
Motorbike. Motorbike taxis (xe ôm, literally hug-vehicle) are plentiful, however, always check prices before using, as most motorbikes will tell you a very high price. Make sure a driver supplies you with a helmet.
Bus. Bright green public buses serve 150 routes throughout the city. You can find maps of the bus system at the large Ben Thanh bus station across the street from Ben Thanh Market. The buses are cheap. Some are safe, yet some are not due to pickpockets. Some are not crowded, yet some are very crowded.
Rental car. Tiim® Travel can offer a good rate for car rental.
Eat in Ho Chi Minh City
Eating is one of the many joys of a visit to Ho Chi Minh City. The city has a rich array of restaurants serving delicious Vietnamese, Chinese, International and other Asian cuisine. You can choose to dine in the most elegant of French restaurants or a street café - in either case wonderful culinary experiences await you.
As in all of Vietnam, meals in even the best of Saigon’s restaurants are inexpensive by Western standards. In general expect to pay 40,000-120,000 dong for a main course. Alcoholic drinks range between 20,000 and 80,000 dong - wine is comparatively expensive, and its availability varies.
In addition to our suggestions below, Saigon has a huge selection of restaurants scattered around town. Your Local Guide will be happy to make some further suggestions to cater for your specific tastes.
Here are some of our favorites:
• Nam Phan Restaurant: House in a the 4-floor villa, Nam Phan is the most recent Khai family endeavour and another jewel in their culinary crown. Nam Phan is a restaurant that is dedicated to providing quality Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine and the ability to experience and absorb Vietnamese culture in tranquil. 34 Vo Van Tan Str., Dist. 3. ☎ (8) 3933 3636.
• BBQ Garden: Sister restaurant to the popular 3T's, if you are looking for a tasty BBQ experience in a great outdoor setting and at extremely reasonable prices, then this is the place! Very popular with locals, expats and travelers alike. Corner of Le Thanh Ton & Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3823 3340.
• Hoa Tuc: For a slightly upmarket introduction to Vietnamese food, Hoa Tuc offers a great selection of local dishes in a comfortable setting. Situated in the back courtyard of a former Opium Refinery, now known as ‘The Refinery’. 74 Hai Ba Trung Str., Dist.1. ☎ (8) 3825 1676.
• Lemongrass: This long standing restaurant offers a safe introduction to the local cuisine for new arrivals. An intimate atmosphere and consistently good food. Bookings essential. 4 Nguyen Thiep Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 0496.
• Mandarin: A beautifully decorated restaurant boasting a menu that encompasses dishes from all over Vietnam. 11A Ngo Van Nam Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 9783.
• Maxim Nam An: An old favorite of ours, particularly on our Small Group Journeys, popular for its great location, beautiful setting and great service. Bookings essential. 13-17 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 6676.
• Ngoc Suong Marina: An incredibly popular mid-range restaurant, delicious Vietnamese food and excellent seafood. 5-10 minutes by cab from the city center, bookings essential. 19C Le Quy Don Str., Dist. 3. ☎ (8) 3930 4209.
• Quan An Ngon: ‘Ngon’ means delicious in Vietnamese, and you can try many such dishes in this restored colonial building, surrounded by multiple small kitchens specializing in individual dishes. Great lively, local atmosphere, just down from the Reunification Hall. Be prepared to queue for a table! 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Str. Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3825 7179.
• Temple Club: One of the best places around to ‘chill out’ and enjoy delicious Vietnamese food in stylish surroundings. An excellent spot for a drink or two, Temple Club also offers a relaxed, art deco style lounge bar. Bookings essential. 29-31 Ton That Thiep Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 9244.
• Ashima: A unique concept for HCMC, the specialty is a delicious mushroom hotpot with an amazing variety of optional ingredients on offer. An interesting dining experience in a comfortable setting. 11 Cong Truong Me Linh Square, Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3823 8799.
• Wrap and Roll: A growing chain. Wrapped Vietnamese fusion food in a modern minimalist setting. Try the desserts. 62 Hai Ba Trung Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 2166.
If you feel like delving into the local scene, check out “local dining” suggestions or ask your local guide or tour leader for their personal favorites:
• Bun Bo Hue: Very popular local restaurant serving a small but very tasty selection of Hue style cuisine. The famous ‘Bun Bo Hue’ soup starts at only VND44,000 a bowl! 39A Ngo Duc Ke Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 3526.
• Ben Thanh Market: During the day, in the midst of the market are a multitude of very local stalls selling cheap, fresh and extremely tasty food - for the more adventurous. At night the surrounding streets become a ‘night market’ of sorts with number of outdoor restaurants and a great atmosphere.
• Pho (pronounced “fur”) is Vietnam’s favorite breakfast. Pho is a noodle soup served with either chicken (ga) or beef (bo). Clusters of good pho restaurants can be found street side, along Nguyen Hue Str., Dist. 1. Try these:
• Pho Hoa: Very popular with locals, with its huge servings! 260 Pasteur Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 7943.
• Pho 2000: 1-3 Phan Chu Trinh Str. (to the left of Ben Thanh Market), Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 2788.
• Pho 24: A chain of Pho restaurants with many locations nationwide and now even overseas. Outlets are clean and air-conditioned. 89 Mac Thi Buoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3825 8325.
• Kem Cafes: Pull up a little plastic chair and wooden table, and try the wonderful ice-creams in a coconut! 24 Ho Huan Thiep Str. (just off Dong Khoi Str.)
Don't forget that these are local restaurants so hygiene at some may not be quite up to western standards - great for the adventurous and those after some unique taste sensations!
• Augustin: Tasty, inexpensive French cuisine in a cozy, buzzing atmosphere. Very popular with locals and expats alike. Bookings recommended. 10 Nguyen Thiep Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 2941.
• Au Manoir De Khai: Arguably the finest French restaurant in town. Excellent food and service at a price! 251 Dien Bien Phu Str., Dist. 3. ☎ (8) 3930 3394.
• La Fourchette: A small, bistro-style French restaurant extremely popular with the local French community. Excellent food and not too expensive, it gets very busy so bookings are essential. 9 Ngo Duc Ke Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 8143.
• Amigos: The best steak in town! The extensive menu includes soups, seafood, chicken, dessert, a great salad bar and of course all kinds of steaks. Prices (including salad bar) start around 175,000 dong. 55-57 Nguyen Hue Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3824 1248.
• Golden Elephant: Excellent, authentic Thai food and good service at very reasonable prices. 34 Hai Ba Trung Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 8554.
• Al Fresco’s: Huge portions of ribs, steaks, burgers and burritos are on offer, together with pizzas, pasta and salads. Excellent for a ‘western fix’ with a good selection of beers, cocktails and wines, all at reasonable prices. 27 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 7317.
• Au Parc: Modern, relaxed restaurant and delicatessen serving fantastic gourmet sandwiches, salads and contemporary style cuisine. Extremely popular with expats. 23 Han Thuyen Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 2772.
• Japas: Sister restaurant to Al Fresco’s and well located opposite the Grand Hotel, this Australian owned/managed restaurant offers a large menu at reasonable prices. A great place for a cold beer with a wide variety of bar snacks available. 33 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 9926.
• Juice: Cool café serving excellent sandwiches, coffee, cakes and fresh fruit shakes, right in the middle of town. Open for breakfast and great for takeaway also. 49 Mac Thi Buoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 6900.
• Seoul House: Good range of authentic Korean food. Serving a large Korean expat community. Servings are big and the free side dishes make it good value as well. 37 Ngo Duc Ke Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 4297.
• Saigon Indian: Excellent North and South Indian cuisine, just off Dong Khoi Str. 1st floor, 73 Mac Thi Buoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3824 5671.
• Pacharan: A very popular Tapas bar with rooftop terrace right in the heart of Saigon. Great selection of food and Spanish wine, a favorite for expats. 97 Hai Ba Trung Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3825 6024.
• Sao Mai: If you're simply craving a gourmet sandwich you'll find satisfaction for your taste buds here. A large selection of imported and local ingredients on offer. 35 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 4814.
• Xu Restaurant Lounge: An upmarket option featuring beautiful décor, modern Vietnamese cuisine and a great wine list, plus a lounge bar with an extensive cocktail selection. 71-75 Hai Ba Trung Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3824 8468.
• D'Nyonya Penang Restaurant: Malaysian owned, authentic Malaysian cuisine and local Vietnamese menu. 58 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1 (besides the Mosque and Sheraton Hotel). ☎ (8) 6678 6044.
• Four Season Restaurant: Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisine. 2 Thi Sach Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3825 7186.
• Halal@Saigon: Has a Malaysian owner and there are several Malaysian staples on the menu. 31 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1 (opposite to the Indian Jamia Mosque, near Sheraton Hotel). ☎ (8) 3824 6823. Open 10am-10pm.
• Lion City Cafe & Restaurant: The biggest chain of Singaporean restaurants in Vietnam, all ingredients imported. 100% Singaporean food with a head chef and owner from Singapore. 45, Le Anh Xuan Str., Dist. 1 (opposite New World Hotel). ☎ (8) 3823 8371.
• Pro döner kebab: Turkish place with good service serving real doner kebabs, halal style. 169 De Tham Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 2200 5959.
Drink in Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon boasts many bars, nightspots and a burgeoning café scene to suit a range of tastes and moods... currently the best selection is: BARS/NIGHTCLUBS
• 1960 Presidential Club: The venue is actually a combination of a restaurant specializing in Vietnamese and Italian cuisines, a spa offering traditional Vietnamese therapies as well as an out-door swimming pool with a great view of the city. 22nd Floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 2220 2600.
• Q Bar: Located under the Opera House and perhaps the most hip, stylish bar in town. Fantastic décor, cool music and open late. 7 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 1299.
• Chu Bar: Stylish, modern bar with an international feel. 158 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 3907.
• Majestic Hotel Rooftop: Elegant bar overlooking vibrant Saigon River, great for a pre-dinner cocktail with a view. 1 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 5515.
• Rex Hotel rooftop: A must for visitors - rich in history and atmosphere. Located in the center of town with a great view down to the busy streets below. 141 Nguyen Hue Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3829 3115.
• Saigon Saigon Bar: Caravelle Hotel rooftop - perhaps the best views over Saigon… it’s the place to be seen! Live music nightly. 19 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3823 4999.
• Qing: A funky little wine bar/restaurant with a great wine selection. Great for a pre-dinner drink and snack. 31 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3823 2414.
• ZanZBar Restaurant and Bar: Just opposite the Sheraton Hotel, ZanZBar is a great addition to the Saigon bar scene. Offering a large selection of quality wines, cocktails and beers, as well as contemporary cuisine. 41 Dong Du Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 7375.
• Lush: For the younger crowd - a cool, western style club offering thumping music as well as snack food in the open courtyard. Full of locals and expats nightly! 2 Ly Tu Trong Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3824 2496.
• Trung Nguyen Coffee: Vietnamese famous coffee chain. Two convenient outlets are east side of Nguyen Hue right before City Hall, and corner of Thu Khoa Huan and Ly Tu Trong.
• Highlands Coffee: Popular chain with many stores nationwide serving good Vietnamese and western style coffees. Try one of the following: 235 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1; or Tax Trade Centre 135 Nguyen Hue Str., Dist. 1; or 7 Lam Son Square (opposite the Caravelle Hotel), Dist. 1.
• Mojo: Trendy café serving coffee, drinks and food straight out of the Sheraton Hotels’ kitchen at reasonable prices. Popular with locals and expats. 88 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3827 2828.
• Ciao Café: A favorite with locals serving both drinks and food but specializing in great ice cream and deserts. 74-76 Nguyen Hue Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3823 1130.
• Gloria Jeans and Brodard Bakery: Australian coffee chain also serving cakes and snacks. Try the long standing Brodard Bakery just next door for French style cakes and pastries. 131-133 Dong Khoi Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 3966.
• Fanny's Ice-cream: This is a long standing favorite located underneath Temple Club. Great ice-cream! 29 Ton That Thiep Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3821 1633.
See in Ho Chi Minh City
The best way to soak up the atmosphere of Saigon is to wander the streets. Sightseeing in and around the city will provide you with an excellent insight into Vietnam’s remarkable history, its intriguing people and culture and the amazing drive and energy that is transforming the city.
Dong Khoi Street: Meander down the famed Dong Khoi street - once the French Rue Catinat - from the Saigon River to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The street features some of the city’s most historic French colonial buildings including the Majestic and Continental Hotels, the theatre, cathedral and post office - arguably one of Saigon’s most beautiful pieces of architecture. Like all streets in the center, both sides of Dong Khoi are lined with tamarind trees.
Reunification Palace: Formerly the Presidential Palace, this building was the home to the last three Presidents of South Vietnam. Film footage of communist tanks crashing through the palace gates on April 30, 1975 came to symbolize the end of the Vietnam War. The building is now open to the public as a fascinating museum. 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Str., Dist. 1. ☎ (8) 3822 3652. Open daily 07:30-11:00, 13:00-16:00. Ticket VND 30,000.
War Remnants Museum: Here you’ll witness a graphic and disturbing account of atrocities committed by US Forces during the Vietnam War. Be warned - some of the exhibits are extremely confronting and some visitors will find the historical perspectives controversial. 28 Vo Van Tan Str., Dist. 3. ☎ (8) 3930 5587. Open daily 07:30-12:00, 13:30-17:00. Ticket VND 15,000.
Museum of Vietnamese History at the intersection of Le Duan Street and Nguyen Binh Khiem (just inside the zoo gates). There is a water puppet show in the museum compound that's worth watching, every hour between 9am-12pm and 2-4pm. Entrance: 15 000 dong; 50 000 dong for the water puppet show.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Ho Chi Minh City’s main Catholic cathedral was built by the French in the 1880's. The cathedral’s twin spires were for decades the city’s best-known landmark. A favorite setting for Vietnamese wedding photos! Han Thuyen Str., facing down Dong Khoi (next to the Post Office). Free entry.
Central Mosque Jamia Al Muslim: One of 12 mosques serving Ho Chi Minh City, the Central Mosque was built in 1935. It was originally constructed for worshipers from southern India then resident in Saigon, but now Muslims from as far as Pakistan and Indonesia come to pray. 66 Dong Du Str. ☎ (8) 3824 2903. Open daily 06:00-21:00.
Thien Hau Pagoda: Perhaps Chinatown's most ornate pagoda with its distinctive spiral incense burners and ceramic friezes. Thien Hau is dedicated to the Goddess of the sea. 710 Nguyen Trai Str., Dist. 5. Free entry.
Emperor Jade (Tortoise) Temple (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu), 73 Mai Thi Luu St. One of the older temples in Saigon filled with a good number of statues of Buddhist/Taoist deities. Advisable to take a cab there if visiting. Courtyard has a small concrete pond filled with turtles. Might be interesting if you are curious about local religions, as the temple is usually quite filled with devotees.
Saigon Skydeck 36 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, ☎ +84 8 39156 156. Open every day 9:30 am - 9:30 pm (last entry 45 minutes prior to closing). VND 200,000 for Adults; VND 130,000 Child 4-12 years, Seniors 65 years and above (ID required) & Disabled persons; No additional charge for children under 3 years.
A O Show: A worthy 60 minutes way fare on Vietnamese culture and people, taking place at the magnificent 114 years old Opera House, in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city. A O, which translated phonetically as the Ahhh! Ohhh! Opera House Saigon, 7 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1. A tickets: VND 630,000. O tickets: VND 1,050,000. W tickets: VND 1,470,000.
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
Ben Thanh Market: The city’s central market is packed solid with all kinds of local produce and souvenirs. A must see even if only for the experience of a packed Vietnamese market in full swing. Watch your wallet! On Le Loi Str.
Cholon: Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown district is a must see with its frenetic activity and Chinese ambience. Binh Tay Market is the main market of Cholon - take a walk through the packed aisles for a great look at Vietnamese and Chinese going about their daily business.
Night Market (just outside of Ben Thanh Market). Here you can enjoy many kinds of different food and drink, and go round to do your shopping as well. Open from 18:00 (when the Ben Thanh Market closes).
Saigon Square will be good place for visit. It is a twin of Ben Thanh but with air-conditioning.
Diamond Plaza further north behind the Notre Dame Cathedral
Parkson on Dong Khoi a block north of the Opera house
Vincom Center on Dong Khoi opposite to Parkson. The luxurious Vincom Center is Ho Chi Minh City’s largest shopping mall with over 250 shops spread out over two separate buildings. Vincom Center A is a charming, low rise colonial building housing many flagship stores for international fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Hermes. Vincom Center B occupies the first four floors of a modern glass skyscraper just across the street from the original premises.
Phuong Mai Art Gallery 129 B Le Thanh Ton St., District.1 (near the Norfolk Hotel and the Revolution Museum). A gallery showing contemporary Vietnamese artists, both established and emerging. There's another showroom at 213C Dong Khoi in District 1.
Long Beach Pearl: Long Beach Pearl is a famous pearl jewelry brand of Vietnam. At 72 Le Thanh Ton ☎ 08 625 25 777.
We trust that your stay here will be enjoyable and rewarding. This brief guide has been produced to assist you during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City. Of course if you have further inquiries, we would be happy to assist you directly.