Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Author: Crystal
Author: Crystal

“The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.” - Wallace Stevens

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Vietnamese lanterns

Navigate your way around Ho Chi Minh City with our Travel Guide

Ho Chi Minh City is the place to visit if you are looking for a captivating blend of history, culture, and vibrant energy. This bustling metropolis, once known as Saigon, offers an immersive experience that traverses time. Visitors are drawn to its poignant landmarks, such as the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace, which provide a deep understanding of Vietnam’s past.

As the sun sets, the vibrant streets of Ho Chi Minh City burst to life, bustling markets, tantalizing street food aromas, and the rhythmic hum of motorbikes paint an exhilarating living portrait. Beyond the captivating scenes the city’s inviting ambiance is perfect for leisurely exploration, from tranquil parks where you can unwind to beautiful spa retreats offering rejuvenating experiences. Whether it’s indulging in a rejuvenating massage or sipping on local delicacies at cozy cafes, this city seamlessly marries the art of relaxation with its vibrant spirit. 

Ho Chi Minh City is your passport to a culinary journey and a soothing escape, where every moment is tailored to your desire to savor, unwind, and discover.

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Getting There:

The primary airport serving Ho Chi Minh City is Tan Son Nhat International Airport (IATA: SGN). This airport is located within the city limits, making it the most convenient option for travelers heading to hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the busiest airport in Vietnam and offers both domestic and international flights. 

How to get around Ho Chi Minh City and How much it might cost?

Taxis are a convenient and relatively affordable option for getting around the city. Make sure to choose reputable taxi companies and insist on using the meter to avoid overcharging.

Average Cost: Starting fare of around 12,000 – 15,000 VND, which is about 0.71c – 0.88c AUD

Motorbike taxis are a popular and quick way to navigate through Ho Chi Minh City’s traffic. Negotiate the fare before getting on, and remember to wear a helmet for safety.

Average Cost: Short rides within the city range from 20,000 – 50,000 VND, which is about 1.18 – 2.94 AUD, while longer rides may cost $2.94 – $5.88 AUD.

Car rental prices can vary widely based on the type of car, rental duration, and included services.

Average Cost: A basic economy car rental might start around 500,000 – 800,000 VND per day which would be to around  about $29.41 – $47.06 AUD per day.

Grab (a Southeast Asian ride-hailing app) is widely used in the city. It offers both car and motorbike options, and the fares are usually fixed upfront, eliminating the need to haggle.

Average Cost: Base fare varies, usually around 8,000 – 12,000 VND with an additional per-kilometer charge of around 10,000 – 12,000 VND.

Base fare varies, usually around 0.47c – 0.71c AUD, with an additional per-kilometer charge of around 0.59c – 0.71c AUD.

Ho Chi Minh City has an extensive network of public buses that cover various routes. Buses are an economical way to travel, but they can be crowded and may not have much English signage.

Average Cost: Fares range from 5,000 – 10,000 VND per ride which is around 0.29c – 0.59c AUD per ride.

These traditional forms of transportation are more leisurely ways to explore the city. Negotiate the fare in advance and clarify the route.

Average Cost: Short rides within the city may cost around 50,000 – 100,000 VND. 

Short rides within the city may cost around $2.94 – $5.88 AUD.

Some areas of the city, especially around the central district, are bike-friendly. You can rent bicycles from various shops and explore at your own pace.

Average Cost: Rental rates vary, starting from around 20,000 – 40,000 VND per hour or 80,000 – 150,000 VND for a full day.

Rental rates vary, starting from around $1.18 – $2.35 AUD per hour or $4.71 – $8.82 AUD for a full day.

Traditional Restaurant Booking note pad - Vietnam


If you’re a foodie then Vietnam is one place on earth that you should add to your bucket list! Indulge in an unparalleled culinary adventure and experience the most delicious buns, rice and noodle soup dishes that you could ever imagine. 

Dive into fragrant bowls of pho at Pho Hoa Pasteur and relish crispy banh xeo at Banh Xeo 46A. Sample fresh seafood at Oc Dao Seafood Restaurant and explore local bites at Ben Thanh Street Food Market. Explore District 4’s hidden gems and District 3’s Nguyen Van Troi Market for authentic street food.

Be sure to check out these restaurants when visiting Ho Chi Minh City...

The Highlights

Steeped in history, the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace offer poignant insights into the city’s past. The bustling streets of District 1 come alive with the iconic Ben Thanh Market, where local life converges to offer an array of goods, from textiles to street food. As night falls, the city’s alleyways come to life revealing hidden cafes, street art, and the intimate pulse of its neighborhoods.

Beyond history, the city thrives with modernity. Iconic landmarks like the Bitexco Financial Tower grace the skyline, while the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon stands as a testament to its French colonial heritage. For a serene contrast, explore the Tao Dan Park, a peaceful oasis amid the urban bustle. Amid these cultural treasures, Ho Chi Minh City truly embodies the essence of Vietnam’s past, present, and future, offering a multi-layered experience that captures the heart and imagination of every traveler.

Ho Chi Minh City Markets

Ben Thanh Market: A true icon of the city, Ben Thanh Market offers an extensive range of goods, from textiles and handicrafts to street food. It’s a vibrant hub for both locals and tourists, offering an authentic taste of Vietnamese market culture.

Address: Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Binh Tay Market: Located in the heart of Chinatown (Cholon), Binh Tay Market is a major trading hub known for its wholesale goods and a wide range of products, including fresh produce, textiles, and housewares.

Address: 57A Tháp Mười, Phường 2, Quận 6, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700900, Vietnam

An Dong Market: This multi-level market is known for its variety of fabrics, textiles, and clothing materials. It’s a popular destination for those looking for fabrics to tailor-made clothes.

Address: 36 Đ. An D. Vương, Phường 9, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam

Saigon Square: A favorite among shoppers, Saigon Square offers air-conditioned shopping with a wide selection of clothing, accessories, and fashion items at reasonable prices.

Address: 77-89 Đ. Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Cho Lon (Big Market): Also located in Chinatown, Cho Lon is a sprawling market where you can find a diverse range of goods, from fresh produce to electronics and more.

Address: Chợ Lớn, phường 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tan Dinh Market: This local market is renowned for its fresh seafood and ingredients. It’s a great spot for food enthusiasts and those interested in exploring a more authentic market experience.

Address: 336 Hai Bà Trưng, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Pham Van Hai Market: Often referred to as “Leather Street,” this market specializes in leather goods, shoes, and bags. It’s a unique destination for quality leather products.

Address: chợ, Tân Bình, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam

Things to do

Bun Cha

Discover Street Food

Ho Chi Minh city is renowned for its delicious street food. Don't miss out on trying pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), com tam (broken rice), and various fresh spring rolls.

Street food is generally affordable. Meals can range from $2 - $10 AUD per dish.

River cruise - Ho Chi Minh City

Cruise the Saigon River

Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Saigon River, especially during sunset. There are various options, including dinner cruises, that offer great views of the city's skyline.

Prices for river cruises vary based on the type and duration of the cruise. Budget around $20 - $50 AUD.

District 5 - Ho Chi Minh City

District 5 (Chinatown)

Dive into the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese community in Ho Chi Minh. Visit the vibrant markets, pagodas, and enjoy authentic Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine.

Entrance to attractions is often free. Budget around $10 - $30 AUD for meals and shopping.

Cu Chi Tunnels Vietnam

Cu Chi Tunnels

Take a day trip to explore the historic Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. You can crawl through some of the tunnels and learn about their significance.

A guided tour to Cu Chi Tunnels can cost around $30 - $50 AUD, including transportation and entrance fees.

Katinat Saigon Kafe - Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam

Experience Vietnamese Coffee Culture

Saigon has a vibrant coffee scene. Enjoy a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee at a local café, whether you prefer the traditional drip style or modern twists like egg coffee.

A cup of coffee can cost around $1 - $5 AUD, depending on the café and style of coffee.

Night life - Ho Chi Minh

Clubbing and Nightlife

Saigon comes alive at night with numerous bars, nightclubs, and live music venues. Districts like District 1 and District 3 are particularly popular for nightlife.

Entrance fees to clubs and bars can vary. Budget around $10 - $30 AUD for entrance fees and drinks.

Local street in small town vietnam

Local customs:

Greeting: Greet locals with a smile and a slight bow. A simple “Xin chào” (pronounced “sin chow”) meaning “hello” in Vietnamese, is a polite way to initiate conversations.

Using Both Hands: When giving or receiving items, using both hands is a sign of respect. This gesture is especially important when receiving money, business cards, or gifts.

Crossing the Street: Ho Chi Minh City’s traffic can be overwhelming, but crossing the street involves a method of walking at a steady pace and allowing vehicles to maneuver around you. Avoid sudden movements and maintain eye contact with drivers.

Haggling: Bargaining is common at markets and street stalls. However, be respectful and maintain a friendly tone while negotiating prices.

Govt.vn recommends that you should avoid hugging, holding hands, and especially kissing in public. Even touching a member of the opposite sex is looked down upon.

Modesty: It is important to keep your body covered. Avoid overly short shorts and revealing shirts.

Sunset in Saigon


Ho Chi Minh City experiences a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The weather is generally warm and humid throughout the year. The two main seasons are:

Weather Season Thailand:

This is considered the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City. The dry season is characterized by lower humidity and minimal rainfall. Temperatures are relatively cooler, ranging from around 21°C (70°F) to 32°C (90°F). The months of December and January can be slightly cooler, while February to April sees warmer temperatures.

The wet season brings higher humidity and significant rainfall. June to August tends to be the peak of the rainy season, with frequent afternoon showers and occasional heavy downpours. September and October can still experience rain, but it usually begins to taper off towards November. Despite the rain, temperatures remain warm, ranging from around 24°C (75°F) to 31°C (88°F).

Vietnam Tourist & Visa Information

As an Australian tourist, you need a visa to enter Vietnam. You can apply for a Vietnam tourist visa in two ways: online e-Visa or visa on arrival.

  • E-visa is a single-entry visa, valid for 30 days.
  • You can apply for e-visa through the official website of the Vietnamese Immigration Department.
  • The processing time for e-visa takes three working days, and the fee is 25 USD.
  • You should apply for an e-visa at least three days before your intended travel date.
  • Visa on arrival is a type of visa that you apply for when you arrive at the airport in Vietnam.
  • You need to apply for a visa approval letter from a Vietnamese travel agency before you depart from Australia.
  • The processing time for a visa approval letter is two working days, and the fee depends on the agency you choose.
  • Once you arrive at the airport in Vietnam, you need to present your visa approval letter, passport, two passport-sized photos, and pay the stamping fee to obtain your visa.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Vietnam.
  • Apply for your visa well in advance of your travel date to avoid any last-minute issues.
  • Check the Vietnamese embassy website in Australia for any updates or changes in the visa requirements.
  • Keep a copy of your visa approval letter and passport with you at all times during your travels.

Note: Please double-check the above links and requirements before submitting your application, as they are subject to change.

As of May 2023, tourists travelling to Vietnam from Australia are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Vietnamese government accepts all COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Vietnam National Regulatory Authority (NRA).

Here’s what you need to know about COVID vaccination requirements for tourists travelling to Vietnam from Australia:

1. Proof of vaccination:

  • You need to provide proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status before entering Vietnam.
  • You should bring your vaccination certificate or digital vaccination record with you.

2. Quarantine requirements:

Fully vaccinated travellers from Australia can avoid quarantine if they have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure.

3. Health declaration form:

All travellers to Vietnam must complete a health declaration form, which includes information about their COVID-19 vaccination status.

4. Registration of vaccine status:

Currently, there is no requirement to register your vaccine status with the Vietnamese government.

Here are some useful links for COVID-19 vaccination requirements and information in Vietnam:

Please note that the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, and entry requirements may change without notice. It is important to check the latest requirements with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in Australia before travelling.

Other important information:

While Ho Chi Minh City is generally safe for tourists, it’s still important to take precautions to avoid theft and stay safe. Be sure to keep an eye on your belongings and avoid walking alone at night, especially in less touristy areas. It’s also a good idea to carry cash in case credit cards aren’t accepted or there are issues with the card machines.


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