the POSH guide
The best of Southeast Asia

Ho Chi Minh City Mini Guide

For many, it will probably always be Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam before the north and south were reunited in the dramatic events which ended America's military involvement in Southeast Asia.

Hotel de Ville
The old city hall (Hotel de Ville) of Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon was the center of French power in the region from the middle of the nineteenth century until World War II, and thus it has some beautiful French colonial architecture, as well as some interesting mid-twentieth century pieces that are quite good examples of the period. The city is full of museums, many but not all of which have something to do with the war. In addition there are markets, parks and a wealth of other attractions that make the city a great place to wander around in.

When To Go

The ideal time to visit is from January to March. This is when the weather is relatively dry and cool. Although many of the city's main attractions are indoors, you'll still want to have fine weather so you can stroll the streets from one to another. The rainy season is rather prolonged in Ho Chi Minh City, lasting from May right through to November. You can check Asia for Visitors for a full breakdown of the weather external link and a current forecast.

Getting To Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the major international gateway for Southern Vietnam, so you can find flights there from all neighboring countries as well as several European and North American cities. You can also get flights to and from most other domestic destinations.

How Long To Stay

Depending on your interests, you can see the major sights of the city in two to three days. There are a number of interesting places around Ho Chi Minh City that can be visited on day trips. These days will extend your time in the city by a day or two.

Where To Stay

The city has a huge number of hotels - over 600 in my database alone. A few of these are old pre-war classics while there are some new and highly regarded properties as well. You most likely want to stay in 'District 1' to be at the center of things, but there are quite a few hotels to chose from in that area alone. See my hotel suggestions or use the hotel search page to find just what you're looking for.

Getting Around

If you choose a centrally located hotel, then most of the sights should be within easy walking distance. There are taxi, motorcycles and even a few cyclos around that will vie for your business. They can be quite aggressive, so you may need to use a firm hand.

What To See & Do

You'll want to spend at least some time strolling the streets taking in the fine examples of colonial French architecture, from the city hall (Hotel de Ville) to the cathedral and post office. There's also the 'American era' presidential home, now called the Reunification Palace external link. Restored to its 1975 state, the palace is now a museum. The other major sights of interest are also museums. The Fine Arts Museum external link is definitely worth a look, as is the Museum of Vietnamese History external link.


Day Trips


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