Ho Chi Minh City
Eco-friendly travel guide to Ho Chi Minh City advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
- Air quality: 2 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 2.5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 2 / 5
- Public transportation: 2.5 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3.5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $200
- Budget per day: US$50 - $400
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of more than 9 million people in the main city. The larger metropolitan area of Ho Chi Minh has a population of more than 20 million. The city was the capital city of Vietnam until 1975 when it was replaced by Hanoi. In 1976, the name of the city was changed from Saigon to its present name in honor of the country's former leader, Ho Chi Minh.
Being the economic and commercial center of Vietnam, there are many options for responsible travel around and into Ho Chi Minh City:
- Commercial air travel from the main airport
- Public buses
- Water transport on the Saigon River
- Walking around the city
There are so many things to do in Vietnam that are eco-conscious and exemplify responsible tourism – you’ll have no problem putting together an eco-friendly itinerary! There are more green spaces within these city limits than there are in Hanoi – including our favorite, Tao Dun Park, and the city’s botanical gardens. Just walking around neighborhoods like District 1 where most of the major tourist spots are and sightseeing is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint and cover a lot of ground.
If you're looking to learn more about Vietnamese culture and history beyond museums, attend a show! The Saigon Opera House puts on incredible shows that encompass a range of genres. We recommend the AO Show – it's like Vietnam's version of Cirque de Soleil! You can also easily take a tour of the Mekong River – the river running from Tibet to the South China Sea – from Ho Chi Minh City. Various tour operators provide single- and multi-day tours that are jam-packed with food, fun and eco-friendly experiences.
To ensure that you travel and stay responsibly, there are several things that one can do:
- Walk where possible
- Visit the local markets and buy local products
- Sample local restaurants
Air Quality and Pollution
Vietnam is struggling with alarming levels of air pollution. It's two biggest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are now among the top 15 polluted cities in Southeast Asia. Among the main causes of this pollution is transportation. Vietnam now has 3.6 million automobiles and 58 million motorbikes, mostly concentrated in big cities. Many of them are old vehicles, with limited emission control technology. They cause daily traffic jams and emit a large amount of air pollutants. There are many old buses and motorbikes with visibly black exhaust smoke in the country.
Vietnam’s transportation issues are exacerbated by poor urban planning. Mushrooming high-rise buildings in city centers, each with thousands of inhabitants, create enormous pressure on the already overloaded road infrastructure. No mass transit systems exist except for the yet-to-be-convenient bus fleet. Open and green space is considered luxurious in Vietnam’s big cities.
Another problem is dust from commercial and residential construction sites. Thousands of construction sites filled with trucks that are heavily loaded with sand and cement create perpetual dust storms. Old industrial sites inside cities and air-polluting facilities such as coal power plants and cement and steel manufacturers worsen air pollution. Solid biomass cooking stoves used by hundreds of thousands of city dwellers as well as the burning of rice fields after harvest in peri-urban areas of Ho Chi Minh contribute significantly to air pollution, particularly in the dry season from October to February.
Respect the Culture
Vietnamese culture is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia and is heavily influenced by Chinese culture. After Vietnam attained independence from China in the 10th century, the country began to expand southwards which led to the incorporation of elements of the Champa and Khmer cultures into the Vietnamese culture.
Vietnamese people care deeply about their reputations and how they're perceived by their friends, family and colleagues. You should avoid doing anything that will embarrass or diminish a person in public. That could include arguing, ridiculing, confronting or even bartering too aggressively. This is also the reason why you'll rarely see violent outbursts in Vietnam. Everyone is non-confrontational because aggression causes both parties to lose face. For the vast majority of minor infringements, a stern glance is enough.
After name and nationality, age is one of the first questions you'll be asked in Vietnam. Their society is built on Confucian beliefs, where experience and wisdom are highly respected. This means the older you are, the more respect you command. You shouldn't swear or bring up inappropriate topics when you're with older people – things like death or sex. At dinners, the eldest is served first, and at home or work, their opinions carry more weight. It can be frustrating when an older person speaks down to you at work, but that's the culture here.
Some people have learned this the hard way: Don’t speak ill of Vietnamese war heroes, or make jokes about anything related to the war. Generally speaking, Vietnamese people have a great sense of humor, but they don’t joke about the war years. Those were difficult times for everyone in this country. As a foreigner, you need to be careful with this topic – and also when speaking about their colonial past.
Tipping isn’t expected in Vietnam. If you feel the service has gone above and beyond, feel free to leave a little extra, but if you do, be discrete. Hide it under a plate or behind the bill. When you make an overt show of tipping, it could make a person feel like they're losing face – like they're begging. Some people will just flat out refuse a tip because they think you've made a mistake in counting your money.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Many of the best attractions in Ho Chi Minh City center on the events of the 20th-century war and conquest. It sounds somber, and in parts it is, but there are some truly fascinating historical activities suitable for all ages. From classic French architecture to perfectly maintained American warplanes, walking around Ho Chi Minh is like seeing the past come to life with so many famous places of interest scattered throughout the city:
- Binh Tay Market: Constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the center of Vietnam's largest Chinatown district. This market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam. Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
- The War Remnants Museum: It is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30-year long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines on the outside grounds, but the hard-hitting information is found inside. Photographs, exhibits and written documentation show the horrific lengths that the American Army lowered themselves to try and defeat the North Vietnamese Army.
- Cu Chi Tunnels: This marvelous tourist attraction lets visitors experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. There is an informative movie to watch, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle.
- Cao Dai Temple: Cao Dai Temple is the center of the Cao Dai faith, a religion that has taken bits of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism. Tourists are welcome to visit the temple and learn more about this faith that is practiced by a few dedicated followers. Each Cao Dai practitioner wears a white robe to enter the temple with an additional sash to signify their previous religion.
- Jade Emperor Pagoda: One of the most revered temples in Ho Chi Minh. Originally built in 1909 by Chinese immigrants this Taoist temple now welcomes Buddhist worshipping and is incredibly atmospheric with incense smoke hanging heavy in the air. Intricate architecture, carvings, statues of gods and goddesses and Chinese characters create an exotic and timeless ambiance.
- Bitexco Tower: It is an ultra-modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension that acts as a helicopter landing pad. Standing at 262 meters tall, this 68 story building is the highest in all of Vietnam with a sky deck offering 360-degree views of the city and surrounding area as well as a fantastic sky bar called Alto where you can see all of Ho Chi Minh while enjoying a cocktail and some tapas style international dishes.
- Reunification Palace: The centre of the allied command and the place where the North Vietnamese claimed victory in the American War, Reunification Palace has played its part in some incredible scenes. This aging palace has essentially been frozen in time since a North Vietnamese Army tank smashed through its gates in 1975.
- The Central Post Office: Ho Chi Minh is a glorious example of French colonial architecture, perfectly preserved with as much style as when it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office and sending a letter or postcard home is highly recommended for a taste of living history. This building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
- Mariamman Hindu Temple: It is a beautiful example of the bright and vibrant architecture of Hindu places of worship. As the only active Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh, it acts as a community base for the small community of Hindus living in the city. Non-Hindus are also welcome to visit.
- Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral: Built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Located in Paris Square, the name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959. A Virgin Mary statue also stands in front of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, which locals claimed to have shed tears in October 2005.
Ho Chi Minh City is a clamorous, chaotic sensory feast. Motorbikes honk in a tidal wave across clogged intersections, locals crouch on street corners slurping steaming hot bowls of noodle soup; and the sultry air is thick with exhaust fumes and exotic spices.
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's commercial hub and largest city, and it's a place where old abuts new with striking contrast. Temples huddle amid skyscrapers and designer shops; locals cast bamboo fishing rods into the languorous Saigon River; and in places, the city feels almost European, with its elegant French colonial architecture and wide, tree-lined avenues. Adding to the fascinating cultural jolt is a clutch of intriguing tourist attractions, from the poignant War Remnants Museum and captivating water puppet shows to colorful markets and the time warp of the Reunification Palace.
- Tao Dan Park: Probably the most popular park in Ho Chi Minh City, Tao Dan Park is also one of the biggest public green spaces. It is neatly tended to, with towering century-old African mahogany trees, intricate plant sculptures of animals such as tigers and dragons, exercise machines, clean sidewalks and benches everywhere to sit down and enjoy some peace and quiet within the hustle and bustle of the city.
- The Crescent Walk: This is a traffic-free, paved promenade along the Crescent Lake, all part of The Crescent—a high-end residential area, with office spaces, public recreational areas and a string of international dining and drinking chains with outdoor seating overlooking the water.
- September 23 Park: 23-9 Park is one that most visitors to the city will walk through without knowing it’s quite a popular park. It is named after the brutal rebellion against the reinstatement of French control in Ho Chi Minh City; just three weeks after Ho had declared independence on September 2nd, 1945.
- Van Thanh Park: Van Thanh Park is a large, government-owned tourist park and makes for a lovely escape from the city’s urban chaos. Inside, in addition to all the gorgeous and refreshing greenery, there is an artificial lake, swimming pool, tennis courts, a small children’s playground and a quirky touch with decorations.
- Cát Tiên National Park: Cát Tiên is the closest national park to Ho Chi Minh City and an oft-overlooked gem. The lowland forests are the largest and most important in the country, home to gibbon, deer and wild boar. The nature trails are extensive and well maintained, most of which can be completed without a guide and on a bicycle.
Ho Chi Minh is not located next to the sea. However, there are beautiful beaches within reach of the city:
- Vung Tau: As this is the Ho Chi Minh City closest beach, the place is flocked by tourists and locals, especially during weekends, for day trips and picnics. Previously known as Cap Saint-Jacques, this beach has a waterfront promenade that is dotted with cafes, shacks and shops for renting out loungers, beach umbrellas and kayaks.
- Long Hai: About 12 kilometers from Vung Tau beach, there lies another scenic beach called Long Hai, the second nearest beach to Ho Chi Minh City. Azure water and golden sand describe this coastal gem, whereas the serenity and spectacular vista have made it one among the prettiest beaches in Vietnam.
- Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre: The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is perfect for families with young children and anyone who enjoys light-hearted traditional entertainment. Live music enhances the experience; the talented musicians play traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and two-stringed violins.
- Thiên Hau Temple: The atmospheric 19th-century Thiên Hau Temple is one of the best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown (ChoLon) and one of the oldest Chinese temples in the city. Dedicated to the Lady of the Sea, Thiên Hau, this evocative temple is visited by local worshippers, as well as tourists, and many of the materials used in its construction were brought from China.
- Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon: A fine example of Neo-Romanesque architecture, the red-brick cathedral is a distinctive landmark in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Its twin square towers rise almost 60 meters above the city, capped by iron spires. Built from 1877 to around 1883, the cathedral was intended to be a place for the colonial missions to worship and a symbol of the power of the French colony.
- Saigon Opera House: Also known as The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, the elegant Saigon Opera House, at the start of the famous tree-lined Le Loi Avenue, is eye-candy for architecture buffs - especially fans of the French colonial style. It was built as Opera de Saigon in 1897 by Eugene Ferret, a French architect, to entertain French colonists, and its striking facade echoes the style of the Petit Palais, which was built in the same year in Paris.
- Museum of Vietnamese History: Within the grounds of the botanic gardens, the Museum of Vietnamese History unveils the country's cultural evolution from the Bronze Age to the early 20th century. The exhibits are organized chronologically and include artifacts from Vietnam's former ethnic groups, including the Dong Son, Funan, Khmer, and Cham civilizations. Almost as interesting as the museum exhibits is the building itself, which dates from 1929 and fuses French and Asian architectural styles.
- Ho Chi Minh City Museum: Near the Reunification Palace, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum occupies an impressive neoclassical building, formerly known as Gia Long Palace that was once home to the Cochinchina's governor. It's worth a stop for an overview of the city's history and a look at the grand architecture, which includes Oriental and European flourishes.
- FITO Museum: Although it's a little challenging to find if you're traveling without a guide, the first Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine (FITO) occupies a beautiful old five-story building framed by bamboo. It's worth a look for anyone who is interested in alternative medicine or wants to soak up some Vietnamese culture away from the main tourist trail.
- South Vietnamese Women Museum: South Vietnamese Women Museum was constructed to honor Vietnamese women for their contribution to the country’s development and also to celebrate the role of women in the war as mothers, wives and fighters. The three floors and 10 display halls depict historical figures. The museum also serves as a center for organizing educational activities, scientific talks, and cultural exchanges.
The best Ho Chi Minh City dishes are well regarded as nutritious, savory, and hearty delights that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Some of the defining traits in Vietnamese cuisine include rice, noodles, seafood, pork and beef, as well as various fresh herbs and spices, all of which result in robust flavors and unique interpretations. Although the city is evolving into a cosmopolitan landscape with sprawling shopping malls, fine-dining restaurants and luxury hotels, you can still find plenty of roadside eateries, vibrant street market, and street food carts to satisfy your appetite for authentic Vietnamese delicacies.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Banh Xeo 46A: As the name suggests, Banh Xeo 46A specializes in the traditional Vietnamese rice-flour crepe, which is served with huge portions of pork, shrimp, diced onions, mung beans, and bean sprouts, as well as a side of raw leafy vegetables and herbs. As these are made to order, vegetarian options are also available here. It also serves summer rolls (goi cuon) and spring rolls (cha goi), chicken wings and fried calamari rings, as well as cheap local beer.
- Pho Hoa Pasteur: Pho Hoa Pasteur has a steady following amongst the local population for serving arguably the best pho noodles in Ho Chi Minh City since 1968. Today, it's set within a two-story building just across the street from the Pasteur Institute. Pho Hoa Pasteur also serves a selection of Vietnamese coffee, soft drinks, and Vietnamese dessert.
- Secret Garden: For authentic, home-cooked Vietnamese food, this rooftop oasis is the go-to place. Secret Garden is a secret garden–beautifully decorated with central Vietnamese-style lanterns, a lot of greenery and wooden furniture to match, and is hidden among the Ho Chi Minh City skyline.
- Anan Saigon: Anan in Vietnamese means “eat eat," which is all you will do at this restaurant. Located along Ton That Dam Street, the restaurant is right in the middle of a wet market, Cho Cu. The kitchen is run by an award-winning chef who creates masterpieces with only the freshest of ingredients that come together creating vibrant flavors.
- Bun Cha 145: Bun Cha is a delicious Hanoian dish made of vermicelli noodles, grilled pork patties, a broth made of vinegar, fish sauce and sugar with pickled papaya and carrot, served with a basket of greens. A great place to try this dish is Bun Cha 145, located right in the heart of District 1, in the backpacker street of Bui Vien. It’s also great hangover food!
- Five Oysters: Just as its name suggests, the restaurant specializes in seafood, and has a huge menu that covers delicious northern, central and southern Vietnamese dishes. Five Oysters also has a rooftop–perfect for watching drunk backpackers sway about from bar to bar as you enjoy beer.
- Cuc Gach Restaurant: Located in a calm area, the restaurant gives customers the best pleasant feeling of tranquillity. The key value that Cuc Gach Restaurant wants to bring about is a standard Vietnamese family meal. The menu is full of Vietnamese comfort food; locals refer to the food as “cooked by mom.” No Pho, no Bun bo, there are only foods that can be found in Vietnamese family meals and are related to every Vietnamese childhood.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Prem Bistro and Cafe: Prem Bistro is nestled on a busy street in District 3 and features a beautiful balcony and air conditioning inside. The menu has an enormous variety of vegetarian delicacies and they are especially known for their “Bowl of Prem,” a mouth-watering mix of vegetables, spices, and hummus over caramelized onion rice.
- Bếp Thuần Chay: Vegan Kitchen: Vegan Kitchen is a tidy restaurant and cafe that sits on the border of District 1 and Binh Thanh. This delectable spot is famed for its wide assortments of vegan meals, desserts, and ice creams, but even more so for their organic coffee. It’s hard to come by in the land of strong Vietnamese espresso, so savor a cup if you’re near this healthy, hip cafe.
- Pi Vegetarian Bistro: This cozy spot has a lovely terrace where you can gaze at the night sky amid the soft string lights and gardens. Pi Bistro has a great selection of fresh, Asian-fusion dishes guaranteed to impress even a die-hard carnivore. Like most Vietnamese restaurants, Pi also offers fresh juices and smoothies to complement your meal.
- Tandem Café: Tandem Cafe was opened in 2015 and has retained a steady list of regulars who are happy to while away the afternoon in owner Thao’s cozy, breezy, peaceful cafe. Tandem offers a huge variety of fresh, healthy, delicious smoothies and juices as well as several amazing Vietnamese curries made by Thao’s mother.
- Saigon Vegan: Saigon Vegan is one of the first recommendations any visiting vegan receives when looking for a local Vietnamese restaurant to dine in. The menu consists of classic Vietnamese favorites with a vegan twist. Among their top-rated meals are their selection of flavorful noodle soups and spring rolls.
- Banh Mi: As a quick bite to pacify sudden hunger pangs, the best go-to meal or the most popular street food in Ho Chi Minh City. It is fusion food, where pieces of roasted pork, rice pate, chilies, pickles and aromatic coriander are wrapped inside French baguette. This local sandwich variant is sprinkled with a generous amount of soy sauce which makes the taste sour, sweet and tangy.
- Bun Mama: Locally called 'Vietnamese gumbo' this is another must-eat in Ho Chi Minh City. Bun Mam is a thick fermented fish and vermicelli soup, available in most of the street food market in Ho Chi Minh City. Other than vermicelli and fish broth, the soup contains crispy pork bellies, squids, tender prawns, herbs and raw vegetables; which makes it tasty, healthy and tummy-filling.
- Goi cuon: When pork, prawn and vegetables are wrapped within Vietnamese bánh tráng- we get Goi Cuon. This is a form of fresh local spring roll and certainly one of the best Ho Chi Minh City street foods one cannot miss. Also known as Nem Cuon or salad roll, Goi Cuon is served with peanut sauce which enhances the taste manifold.
- Banh xeo: Locally translating into ‘sizzling cake’, Banh xeo is a savory crepe, made of deep-fried pork fat with a batter of flour, turmeric and water. Finally, the pork is mixed with bean sprouts, folded and served with lettuce leaves and a sweet chili fish sauce, which makes it super tasty and flavorsome.
- Banh trang nuong: A flat rice cracker, which expands when heated; Banh trang nuong is delicious and soul-filling. Though it can be consumed without any accompaniments; traditionally Banh trang nuong is served with noodles or local vermicelli. In Vietnam, Banh trang nuong is available in many varieties which include prawn, sesame seed, sweet milk and dried spinach.
- Bo la lot: Ba la lot is pepper flavored minced beef wrapped in betel leaf. Local people eat Ba la lot in rice paper, or wrapped in lettuce or with cold vermicelli and consider this as one of the best foods in Ho Chi Minh City. Always ask for nuoc cham – the authentic chili fish sauce that enhances the taste of Ba lo lot manifold.
A typical night out for the Vietnamese people is having food and drinking coffee, milk, tea, or beer. In Ho Cho Minh City, out for the night means the same thing. Vietnamese drinking culture will always be about toasting beer. For liquor, wine, and cocktails, it’s a different story. Since these fancier beverages only made it into the scene a few years ago, the drinking culture is still at an early stage. Vietnamese clubs tend to favor over-amplified, aggressive techno with a little concession for Western tastes.
Vietnam is the world's second-biggest coffee producer. Whiling away a morning or an afternoon over endless glasses of iced coffee, with or without milk (caphe sua da or caphe da), is something of a ritual for Vietnam's male population. Espresso coffee is also available in all cities and tourist destinations. The preparation, serving and drinking of tea (tra in the south and che in the north) has social importance. Serving tea in the home or office is more than a gesture of hospitality; it is a ritual.
Fruit juices and drinks of every flavor are widely available. Interesting local options include mia da, a freshly squeezed sugar-cane juice that's especially refreshing served over ice with a squeeze of kalamansi. Sinh is fresh-fruit smoothies blended to order.
The tap water in Ho Chi Minh City is not safe to drink. According to the Ministry of Health proved that the content of chlorine, broadly used to purify water as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, fails to meet required standards. Chlorine concentration was seen exceeding the maximum level in areas near the reservoirs of Saigon Water Supply Corporation and being under the minimum rate in other areas far from the lakes, according to the results of the check. In some areas, especially apartments, the chlorine content was nearly zero, as measured during the check sent out by the Department of Health and Environment Management under the ministry.
Currently, around 93 percent of the drinking water in Ho Chi Minh City originates from two treatment plants on the Dong Nai River and Saigon River, while the remaining 7 percent comes from groundwater reservoirs polluted by seawater intrusion and chemical contamination. In the city, they have two primary treatment plants the Hoc Mon District and Thu Duc District. In the outer lying regions have several smaller plants that treated their water. Reservoirs treated the water by sedimentation, filtration, and chlorine disinfectant.
In keeping up with the trend of healthier lifestyles in Vietnam, new restaurants and shops carrying organic products have been popping up all over Ho Chi Minh City. It has never been easier to find specialized organic products:
- Bookworm’s Coffee
- Journeys Sandwich Café
- The Organik House
- The Vintage Emporium
- The Snap Café
- The Organic
The craft beer boom that has been spreading across the world has reached Vietnam and is only gaining steam. Expatriates, tourists and locals raised on Saigon Red have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the new bevy of options. Peak economic conditions have only added to the craze:
- Heart of Darkness
- Pasteur Street Brewery
- East-West Brewing Company
- Rooster Brewery
- Bach Dang Brewery
- Saigon Brewery
Ho Chi Minh City used to be known as Saigon although this was officially changed after Ho Chi Minh unified Vietnam following the Vietnam War. As such, Ho Chi Minh City is a place that is steeped in some of the most important modern histories in the world, and you will find references to this on every street corner. If you want to learn more about the period of reunification in Vietnam, then you can visit monuments, museums and spots used during the Vietnam War like the Cu Chi Tunnels, but you will also find a vibrant modern side to the city at the same time.
Despite its historic and cultural significance, Ho Chi Minh City is also one of the most dynamic spots in Vietnam, and you can see this through the cutting edge buildings and the exciting nightlife on offer here. If you want to sample some of the local delights, then the street food scene in the city is also one of the best in the country, and you can happily spend your days eating your way around Ho Chi Minh City, or join a dedicated food tour.
Yoga and Retreats
Among both locals and foreigners, yoga is huge in Saigon with loads of studios offering classes, courses and even retreats.
Some of the yoga retreats in Ho Chi Minh City are:
- Yoga Pod
- Rooftop Yoga Saigon
- Sivananda Yoga Vietnam
- Suzzane Vian
- Yoga Sculpt n Shape
- Body by Jovie
For a first-time visitor to Ho Chi Minh City, it is important to know where to stay and which hotel that best suits your budget and preference. Without proper research, this could lead to unnecessary hassles and travel expenses. Hailed as Vietnam’s biggest city and business capital, Ho Chi Minh City features plenty of things to see and do, from fascinating historical landmarks and beautiful pagodas to hip bars and sprawling shopping malls.
District 1 is Ho Chi Minh City’s main financial and commercial hub, featuring French colonial architecture, tree-lined boulevards, as well as ample dining and shopping opportunities. Due to its popularity, District 1 offers plenty of accommodation options that range from five-star hotels set along the upscale Dong Khoi Street to budget guesthouses within the backpackers street of Pham Ngu Lao. Within District 1, you’ll find several different areas, each of which offers a different experience for people visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
- Mango Bay Phu Quoc: The Mango Bay Resort is a favorite getaway located in the rugged and remote northern shores of Phu Quoc Island. You can choose from wooden bungalows and fired earth cottages. They all come with outdoor bathrooms and minimal furnishings, without TVs, A/Cs, or even kettles — hot water is provided in flasks every day. The resort also offers excursions around the local area to keep you busy during the stay.
- Six Senses Con Dao: Con Dao is a breathtaking location, protected for decades as a national and marine park. The resort, despite being luxurious, is committed to improving the ecological and carbon footprint resulting from its operations. In cooperation with the National Park, Six Senses has made it a mission to fully care for the bay area in front of the resort, paying special emphasis on protecting the rare and dwindling Dugong population around Con Dao.
- Ninila Fruit Farm Bungalow: Ninila is a great little place in Phu Quoc Island, with only 14 guest rooms, and is a little far from the beach. The rooms are basic and simple with outdoor bathrooms that often welcome geckos and frogs. It's a little adventure! The retreat tries to minimize electricity consumption and its impact on the environment.
Hostels and Guest Houses
- Beauty Guesthouse: Beauty Guesthouse is located in the District 1 district in Ho Chi Minh City, 600 meters from Ben Thanh Market. Some units feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. Beauty Guesthouse features free WiFi throughout the property. A flat-screen TV with cable channels is available. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property.
- Kiki's Guest House: Kiki's House Saigon is one of Kiki's House hostel in Vietnam. This hostel is a newly renovated townhouse in the center of the Tourist area. Situated in Ho Chi Minh City, Kiki House is 500 m from 23/9 Park. The property features a restaurant, bar and free WiFi throughout the property. Every unit features air conditioning, tiled flooring and personal safe. Some units have a seating area. The bathroom comes fitted with a bath or shower. Extras include slippers and free toiletries.
- 9 Hostel and Rooftop: 9 Hostel and Rooftop is close to many of the most famous attractions in the city including Ben Thanh Market, Opera House, War Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Saigon river. It is well arranged with air-conditioning, separate free Wi-Fi, private curtain and secure locker in each dorm, 1st-floor and rooftop chill-out space. It is a perfect home base to plan your travel throughout the country.
- City Backpackers Hostel: City Backpackers Hostel is located in the center of District 1. Ho Chi Minh City, Only 200m from Tao Dan Park, 300m from Ben Thanh Market and Art of museum. City Backpackers Hostel features free WiFi. All private rooms come with fully modern facilities and every dormitory room has air conditioning and a private bathroom.
- Long Hostel: This well-rated hostel is just a short stroll away from Bui Vien, which is the epicenter of nightlife action in Ho Chi Minh City. All the amenities a backpacker could need are nearby as well. The staff is helpful, friendly and they do an excellent job of making for a lively, fun atmosphere. Plus, the tours sold through this hostel are all reasonably priced. Breakfast is included and you can get a bed in a dormitory room for less than $6 per night.
- Oakwood Residence: Situated in Ho Chi Minh City's fast-growing new urban center of Phu My Hung in District 7, Oakwood Residence Saigon offers 237 fully furnished, elegantly appointed serviced apartments - ranging from studio to three-bedroom units. Relocating families will appreciate the ideal location - perfectly nestled in an expatriate neighborhood surrounded by numerous international schools, hospitals, shops and eateries.
- Intercontinental Residences: With a stay at InterContinental Residences Saigon, you'll be centrally located in Ho Chi Minh City, within a 5-minute walk of Saigon Central Post Office and Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Featured amenities include a business center, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a 24-hour front desk. Event facilities at this apartment-hotel consist of conference space and a meeting room.
- Compass Parkview: Whether you're a tourist or traveling on business, Compass Parkview Residence is a great choice for accommodation when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. The city center is merely 0.2 km away and the airport can be reached within 28 minutes. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations. At Compass Parkview Residence, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay.
- Riverside Serviced Apartments: The Riverside Serviced Apartments are an extremely well-appointed property found along the banks of the Saigon River in District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City. Guests staying here short-term will be in awe of the view that every unit commands of the river, and from its proximity to all the main attractions, found in District 1.
Couchsurfing is an affordable way for one to get comfortable accommodation in a foreign country. The Vietnamese living in Ho Chi Minh are very friendly and welcoming to visitors. However, very few locals speak English or any major international language. Vietnamese is the major language meaning that you need to learn a bit of it or look for a host who understands your language.
Ho Chi Minh is one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting cities, yet it’s also one where the stream of motorbikes is constant, the concrete endless, and the heat and humidity stifling almost every day of the year. It can become a bit overwhelming for the most seasoned of expatriates and travelers. Luckily, for outdoor enthusiasts, nature and camping under the stars are not far away:
- Cat Tien National Park
- Bank of the Saigon River
- Pine Forests of Dalat
- Coco Beach Camp
- Sao Biển
How to Get There
Much of Vietnam's modern transportation network can trace its roots to the French colonial era when it was used to facilitate the transportation of raw materials to its main ports. It was extensively expanded and modernized following the partition of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is also a terminal for many Vietnam Railways train routes in the country. The city's location on the Saigon River makes it a bustling commercial and passenger port; besides a constant stream of cargo ships, passenger boats operate regularly between Ho Chi Minh City and various destinations in Southern Vietnam and Cambodia.
The city is served by Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, the largest airport in Vietnam in terms of passengers handled with an estimated number of over 15.5 million passengers per year in 2010, accounting for more than half of Vietnam's air passenger traffic. Long Thành International Airport is scheduled to begin operating in 2025. Based in Long Thành District, Đồng Nai Province, about 40 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City, Long Thành Airport will serve international flights, with a maximum traffic capacity of 100 million passengers per year when fully completed; Tân Sơn Nhất Airport will serve domestic flights.
Ho Chi Minh City has several coach houses, which house coach buses to and from other areas in Vietnam. The largest coach station – in terms of passengers handled – is the Mien Dong Coach Station in the Bình Thạnh District. Ho Chi Minh City has two expressways making up the North-South Expressway system, connecting the city with other provinces. The first expressway is Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong Expressway, opened in 2010, connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Tiền Giang and the Mekong Delta. The second one is Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway, opened in 2015, connecting the city with Đồng Nai, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu and the Southeast of Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a terminal for many Vietnam Railways train routes in the country. The Reunification Express (tàu Thống Nhất) runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi from Saigon Railway Station in District 3, with stops at cities and provinces along the line. Within the city, the two main stations are Sóng Thần and Sài Gòn. In addition, there are several smaller stations such as Dĩ An, Thủ Đức, Bình Triệu, Gò Vấp. However, rail transport is not fully developed and presently comprises only 0.6% of passenger traffic and 6% of goods shipments.
Hitchhiking in Vietnam is generally easy, especially if sticking to the AH1 (Asian Highway 1) from Hanoi to Saigon. The hitching method is to use the flat palm sign, like in China or using a sign. Using the thumb is less likely to work. Vietnamese people will often tell you that hitchhiking is impossible, but in almost any road in the country pedestrians are offered to hop in various vehicles. Generally, people are expected to pay, but the concept of a free ride is accepted if you are a strange foreigner. Inside of the cities or when in a bad spot, a universal distance of two kilometers applies. Using a sign with "Xin Xe" ("please drive me to") followed by your destination works well. You can also expect every bus and van to stop as well, even if you don't have your hand stretched out. Most of the time they will charge, but you may get a free ride.
Ho Chi Minh City is situated along the Saigon River. This river connects the city to the interior of the country. Traffic between Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam's southern provinces has steadily increased over the years; the Doi and Te Canals, the main routes to the Mekong Delta, receive 100,000 waterway vehicles every year, representing around 13 million tons of cargo. A project to dredge these routes has been approved to facilitate transport, to be implemented in 2011–14.
Despite its notorious traffic, getting around in Ho Chi Minh City is a fairly easy task once you have learned how to maneuver before making your way to this lively city. Ho Chi Minh City is made up of 24 districts, with District 1 to 5 hosting the highest number of attractions, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping venues in the city. Traveling via the iconic cyclo is a tourists’ favorite way of getting around, but there is also an efficient network of motorcycle taxis, public buses, and private taxis that connects you to the city center and beyond. Travelers can also rent a bicycle or motorbike, though navigating through the city’s busy and dangerous traffic might be quite a challenge for the inexperienced.
Ho Chi Minh City is quite safe. Besides some scams and petty thefts, there isn't much that a traveler will have to worry about if they are traveling wisely. One of the best ways of getting around Ho Chi Minh is by walking. Most self-guided walking tours cover the main tourist attractions in Saigon. The actual walking time is only about 90 minutes, but it should take you the better part of a day with all the stops. Saigon is hot and the sidewalks are broken, cluttered, or non-existent. Be careful and take breaks regularly, especially if you are doing this in the hotter times of the year.
Bicycle and motorcycle rentals are available all over Vietnam, though most travelers decide against renting one in Saigon due to the city's chaotic traffic. Most hotels can help arrange for bicycle and motorcycle rentals, but these come with very inflated prices, so your best bet is heading to the Pham Ngu Lao district, where the cost of renting one is significantly lower.
The electric vehicle market in Vietnam is barely in its infancy. This rapidly developing country is home to two of the three most polluted cities in Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh City takes first place, and Hanoi comes in third. While the Vietnamese public supports the idea of electric vehicles as a solution to the poor air quality, very little has been done to encourage and develop an environment that would promote their adoption. Vietnam faces a variety of obstacles to its becoming an electric vehicle-friendly country. These include low personal incomes, no charging infrastructure, high vehicle prices, lack of supportive government policies and incentives, and dirty electricity.
Serving more than 100 routes around Ho Chi Minh City, buses are great for exploring the city on a tight budget. Easily distinguished by its white and green exterior, all buses are fitted with comfortable seats and air-conditioning, with tickets priced as low as VND300. Major bus terminals within the city include Ben Thanh Station where you can get a free map of the Ho Chi Minh Bus Route, Cholon Station, and Mien Dong Station.
Tram, Train and Subway
Currently, there is no train service operating within the city. The main train station of the city, Ga Sai Gon is used for intercity transit. However, construction has begun for a city railway system. This is designed to help ease congestion in the city’s transport system.
Environmentalism is on the rise in Ho Chi Minh City, as people begin to take heed of the dangers of single-use plastics. Single-use straws, cups, bags and cutlery are increasingly being refused by consumers trying to avoid adding to the alarming amounts of waste piling up in Vietnam. As a result, several businesses have stepped up and started offering sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics. Several initiatives have come up to try and promote sustainable shopping in the city.
Zero Waste Saigon is a popular Facebook group currently boasting of over 4,200 environmentally-conscious members who regularly discuss alternatives to plastic waste. Zero Waste Saigon offers a range of locally made reusable products on their online store such as bamboo straws, canvas bags, coconut bowls, and more! They’ve even launched a program that awards medals to businesses for meeting various goals, such as ’Plastic Free Delivery’, to encourage local businesses to adopt more sustainable practices.
Saigon Suds began as an effort to fight Saigon pollution's negative effects on the skin. To combat itchy, red skin irritated by motorbike fumes, the team started experimenting with soap-making in their kitchens and (as they state on their website), soon had the "best smelling living room in the city!" They now offer a full range of zero-waste, homemade, natural soaps and have recently started offering face oils and shampoo bars.
Ho Chi Minh City is a churning, vibrant cauldron of sights, sounds and (usually) delicious smells. Its markets are possibly the best example of the city’s frenetic atmosphere. From dawn until the small hours of the morning, Ho Chi Minh citizens come to markets to shop for delectable sweets and pastries and fresh produce. On land, underground or floating on the water, Ho Chi Minh City’s markets are an unmissable example of Vietnamese daily life, and well worth paying a visit, whether you’re shopping for fruits or freshwater crabs or just taking in the sights.
- Ben Thahn Street Food Market
- Thai Binh Market
- Phan Boi Chau Night Market
The best markets in Ho Chi Minh City are must-visits for shopping enthusiasts and first-time visitors looking to experience the daily lives of the local population. Mostly set within the tourist-friendly District 1, these traditional markets open as early as 6 am with local vendors selling fresh produce, household supplies, and Vietnamese street food at attractive prices. If you're looking for a more unique shopping experience, some marketplaces specialize in niche items such as war memorabilia, authentic woodwork, fashion wholesale outlets, and branded sportswear:
- An Dong Market
- Dan Sinh Market
- Russian Market
- Tan Dinh Market
Second Hand Stores
With the increasing demands of using “second-hand” products, Saigon has provided many famous old markets. These markets usually sell clothing and accessories and other unique objects at a cheap price:
- Hoang Hoa Tham Market
- Nhat Tao Market
- Le Cong Kieu Antique Street
- Nguyen Tri Phuong Market
- Metiseko - Saigon Boutique Organic Cotton
- Anupa Eco Boutique
- Rustea Saigon
- Green Fabrics
In 2015, Vietnam was named fourth out of five countries that dump more plastic into the oceans than the rest of the world combined. A 2015 Ocean Conservancy report states that 60 percent of the plastic trash flowing into the ocean comes from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. Vietnam has developed a recycling-focused plan to deal with waste by 2025, hoping to collect and treat up to 90 percent of solid waste in cities, recycling or reusing 85 percent of it to produce energy or organic fertilizer. Unfortunately, Vietnam does not yet have the infrastructure to achieve this goal. As with many countries around the world, Vietnam requires a large investment into technologies to help keep its pristine countryside safe from mountains of trash.
Ho Chi Minh City is a megacity with a total population of more than ten million. The quantity of solid waste generated has been increasing significantly over the past two decades, and the average generated solid waste was 1,164 tons per day in 1992 and 8,845 tons per day in 2017. Municipal solid waste (MSW) management has been considered as one of the most severe environmental problems as the quantity of solid waste has increased while infrastructure for collection and treatment is not sufficient. The paper focuses on evaluating challenges and suggesting opportunities for reducing the amount of waste disposal in landfills through interception and separation of the waste at source.
Work and Study Abroad
As Ho Chi Minh City continues to gain a reputation as a hub for engineering and telecommunications, more and more international students are looking at it as an attractive place to further their studies. While there are plenty of options for international students regarding accommodation, leisure and sports activities, it can be a bit daunting for young students to move to a new country without the knowledge of the language. One of the advantages of Ho Chi Minh City as a university town is the fact that it is incredibly affordable for students. While there's the option to live the high life in Saigon given the array of high-end clothing shops and classy eateries, the city is dominated by affordable and delicious street food, too.
Although people may not be able to tell upon first glance, Ho Chi Minh City is home to more than 80 universities and colleges. Despite the fact there are so many, there are a few top contenders in town - most of them catering to those interested in working within the technology and science industries. To apply for most of the following universities in Ho Chi Minh City, international students must have a few documents in order. These include a notarized copy of your original senior high school graduation certificate with a notarized English translation. While everything mentioned varies from university to university, interested applicants should inquire with their desired higher education institution to determine the necessary documents needed for a successful application:
- Vietnam National University
- Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine
- Văn Lang University
- University of Industry
- Ho Chi Minh City University of Science
- Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology
To be an au pair in Vietnam, there are a few requirements that need to be met. All the participants need to be healthy, unmarried, without their own children and with some childcare experience as some will be working with kids. The preferred age is between 18 to 29 years and one must not have any criminal records. One must also fill in a contract form. The contract is a formal document that can help you avoid many problems during the Au Pair stay. It will be required during the visa process as well. Write down all the important details discussed between you and your Host Family in the contract and ensure that both parties sign it.
One of the many benefits of volunteering in Vietnam is that volunteers can work directly with friendly communities, helping them overcome the many challenges they face, including poverty and illiteracy. Volunteering opportunities include health education, teaching English, animal aid and rescue, and more. This kind of impact on the local communities allows for an unforgettable and rewarding experience! Home to lush forests, virgin beaches, and vibrant local markets, the country can quench the thirst of any seasoned traveler.