HO CHI MINH CITY
Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a top choice for backpackers and tourists. It’s cheap but historic nature means it is the perfect place for budget backpackers in Vietnam. The doorway to the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh is a chaotic city; full of motorbikes, exciting nightlife and incredible food.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorm rooms start from as little as VND 92000 whilst decent private rooms in budget hotels and hostels start from around 250000 VND.
Midrange Hotel rates -Spacious, clean and comfortable double rooms in nice hotels cost between VND 820,000 – 1,200,000.
Luxury Hotel rates – There are many amazing hotels offering luxurious rooms, costing upwards of VND 1,500,000.
Transport – Buses cost around 3000 VND whilst taxi flag fall starts at 15000 VND for the first kilometre.
Average cost of food – You will often find small front room restaurants with tiny stools and tables. These serve some of the best food in HCMC and start around 20000 VND. Popular street food choice; Banh Trang Tron starts at around 12,000 VND and is worth a try. Sit down meals in restaurants cost between 70,000 VND – 100,000 VND. Local and imported beer can be found at some great prices, as is cocktails and wine.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – Saigon Inn offer dorm beds from 191452 VND with private rooms available from 478631 VND. Found in the backpacker area, and just 5 minutes from the popular Benh Thanh Market, the Luan Vu offers private, ensuite rooms from 430768 VND as well as high speed internet throughout the hotel and breakfast.
Midrange – Duc Vuong Hotel is a great choice for those wishing to be in the centre of the action. Located in district 1, tourists are in a great spot for nearby markets, shopping and nightlife. Double rooms start at 674,220 VND. Also found in District 1 is another great choice and my choice for our next HCMC trip, is Sunland Hotel. With a rooftop pool and gorgeous views, the Sunland hotel is just a few minutes walk from Saigon River and just a 10 minute walk from the Tay Ba Lo Backpackers Quarter; rooms start at 967,000 VND with river view rooms available.
Top End – Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel overlooks Saigon River and offers luxurious and modern hotel rooms starting at 2,089,000 VND. For those looking for relaxation and luxury after a busy day of sightseeing, check out the Silverland Sakyo Hotel and spa, a 4 star hotel that offers a full host of amenities alongside a a spa, swimming pool and beautiful terrace. Rooms start at 2,405, 370 VND.
How to get there
Fly – The main airport serving Ho Chi Minh City is Tan Son Nhat International airport, 7km away from central HCMC. Take a Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi from the arrivals taxi rank, costing around 195,000 VND from airport to city centre. For 5000 VND you can catch the air-con bus, route 152 to and from the international airport into HCMC centre; making regular stops along De Tham (Pham Ngu Lao area) and international hotels along Dong Khoi.
Bus – There are plenty of international bus services that connect HCMC to Cambodia, departing from Pham Ngu Lao area, whilst international bus service Sapaco offers 9 direct bus services to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Train – Trains are available to and from popular Vietnam cities such as Nha Trang, Danang, Hue and Hanoi; all leaving Saigon train Station.
When travelling to the airport, ask your hotel to call you a taxi to avoid untrustworthy and over charged taxis. Bikes can be rented but ride with caution, HCMC is a hectic and busy city with a lot of traffic. Buses are a popular choice as well as being incredibly cheap; get yourself a HCMC bus route diagram found in Ben Thanh Bus station. From Ben Thanh to and from Saigon train station, bus route 149 is useful whilst bus 1 takes trips between Ben Thanh to Binh Tay Market. Taxis are an easy and convient way of getting around HCMC, just make sure you travel with the highly regarded companies such as Mai Linh Taxi and Vinasun Taxi.