A Beginners Guide to Ho Chi Minh City.
September 16, 2018
by Emily Lowenna Coyle
In the South of Vietnam lies Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Also known as Saigon, this busy and vibrant city has quickly become a popular stop on many travelers lists. It is hard not to fall for this city’s quick paced energy, buzzing nightlife, and the abundance of culture waiting to be discovered. Want to know where to go, what to eat and how to get about? Read more below.
Places to Visit in Ho Chi Minh.
Take the time to walk around and discover the city of Ho Chi Minh for yourself. There is a wonderful mix of old and new architecture to be seen, and each street you turn down will be different. Make sure to stop for some street snacks and drinks along the way – all this walking can be tiring work! Some of the best places to be found in this city are the hidden places you will stumble upon.
Notre Dame Cathedral and Book Street.
This is by far one of Ho Chi Minh’s most famous landmarks. Built by French colonists in the late 19th century, this beautiful Cathedral rich in history stands apart from the skyscrapers that dominate this ever growing city. Notre Dame Cathedral itself is currently closed for renovations (and expected to be opened again at the end of 2019), but there is plenty more to see in this area. Just across the road is the grand Ho Chi Minh Post Office, and next to the big Mc Donald’s is Book Street. This is a wonderful pedestrian street lined with bookstores and quaint cafes. You can stop for a freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee and a delicious pastry while watching the world go by after a morning exploring the city.
Notre Dame Cathedral can be found here.
The War Remnants Museum.
If you want to know what happened during the Vietnam war and the Indochina war, this is the place to visit. Packed full of information, artifacts and graphic photos about this turbulent time in history, you will leave with a new sense of understanding for the country and its communities.
Be warned: Some images in this museum are not for the faint-hearted.
You can visit The War Remnants Museum here.
Parks Around Ho Chi Minh.
One of the great things about Ho Chi Minh is the abundance of parks and green spaces. Spend an afternoon in any of these parks, and you will understand more about local life. From the people using the outdoor gyms to the street food vendors calling out for their next customer, the parks are used by everyone. Don’t be surprised if students come up to talk to you and ask you questions: they are looking to improve their English!
What to Eat in Ho Chi Minh.
There are many incredible food spots in Ho Chi Minh. From the buzzing market stalls cooking up a variety of treats to the high-end fine dining experiences, there is something for everyone. Some must try Vietnamese dishes in Ho Chi Minh are:
The Banh Mi.
A crusty baked baguette filled with pate, sliced meats, fresh fragrant herbs, and pickled vegetables – what more could you want!
You will find these tasty baguettes everywhere across Vietnam, and especially lining the streets around Bui Vien for all the late night revelers. To soak up your hangover the next morning, try the trusty ‘Banh Mi Op La’, the same crusty baguette with a fried egg included.
Originally from Hanoi, Bun Cha includes grilled pork and little meat patties accompanied with rice noodles, plenty of fresh herbs, lettuce, and a side bowl of sweet sauce. Mix it all together and order a side of crispy spring rolls to dip in the sauce. A traditional and hearty Vietnamese lunch that will have you coming back for more. You can find a great Bun Cha at number 145 on Bui Vien street.
Being the national dish of Vietnam, there are many Pho restaurants and street vendors in Ho Chi Minh. Every cook has a different take on the classic dish, so its best to try a few to find your favourite combination. Generally consisting of a bowl of steaming broth with meat (usually beef or chicken), rice noodles and a heaping plate of herbs and chillis to add to your taste, half the joy of Pho is finding what you like best. Mix and match your flavours to create your perfect dish.
Where to Drink in Ho Chi Minh.
Like the food scene in Ho Chi Minh, there is a great range of drinking choices for every traveller. From high-end cocktail bars to plastic chair street bars selling very cheap cans of beer, you’re guaranteed to have a good night out in this vibrant city.
The first place many gather for a drink in Ho Chi Minh is Bui Vien Walking Street. Situated in District 1, this long street is packed with rows of sports bars and clubs, pumping music and ready to lure you in with their latest drink deal. Smaller bars also line the streets, where you can sit on tiny chairs and people watch for hours. There are many sights to be seen! Bui Vien is popular with young locals and tourists alike, all looking for a fun night out. The street can get very busy, and on certain nights traffic is still permitted to drive through, so watch out for scooters and cars dodging people. This is definitely a place not to be missed.
If you’d rather escape the craziness of Bui Vien, there are many beautiful rooftop bars with great views of the city skyline and tasty cocktails. The View Rooftop Bar on Bui Vien is a good place to start, as is Chill Sky Bar. Of course, some of these rooftop bars can be a little more on the pricey side. For the cost-conscious traveller, many venues run long happy hours – make the most of them!
Getting Around Ho Chi Minh.
It is relatively easy and cheap to get around Ho Chi Minh. There are many public transport options available, and bus timetables can be found online. You can also get local metered taxis on every corner, but these can sometimes be a more expensive option. The easiest choice for many travellers to the city is Grab. There is the option for a car or motorbike, and you just need to download the app to get yourself moving. Grab in Ho Chi Minh also accept cash. Unlike the cars, the motorbike taxis are able to zip through the traffic and these city streets are very busy. Stay safe and keep your wits about you. If you feel uncomfortable, get off.
There is so much to explore in Ho Chi Minh so get yourself out there and discover for yourself what this city has to offer.
Leave a Comment...
September 17, 2018
I Found your guide very easy to read and very informative and a very easy guide to follow with a lot of information on all subjects Looking forward to visiting Chi Minh city
September 26, 2018
Great job, Emily! Thank you for all of the wonderful insights! Looking forward to your review of Koh Phangan!
September 26, 2018
Love this article Emily. I would love to visit the city sometime!