LUXE City Guides - Ho Chi Minh City - - Front Page -

Once ’Nam and GI ter­ri­tory, it’s the moped army that now rules Saigon’s streets. While cap­i­tal Hanoi is quaint and proper, this mis­chievous South­erner is caught in a hyp­notic swirl of hip cafés and hum­ble street eats, colo­nial man­sions and gleam­ing tower blocks, baguettes, spice, and el­e­gant silk ao dais. She’s de­ter­mined to prove her cosmo cred, so hop on, hold tight and en­joy the ride...


Ho Chi Minh City sprawls over 24 dis­tricts, but thank (the) God(s), your main ac­tion sta­tions are in the com­mer­cial and retail cen­tre District One and lower-key, tree-lined ad­join­ing District Three, plus a gen­er­ous smat­ter­ing of good­ies across the river in ex­pat com­pound District Two.

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Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? Though tech­ni­cally HCMC, lo­cals use the lat­ter. Take your pick, Nick Dec-Apr dry sea­son and best time to visit, May-Nov wet sea­son (wettest Jun-Sep). Warm all year round Tan Son Nhat air­port to city by cab: 30-60 min­utes some­times more, traf­fic de­pen­dent / ap­prox. US$5-$7, grab a me­tered cab like Mail­inh, Vi­na­sun or Vi­nataxi Tet (Lu­nar New Year) oc­curs around mid-Jan to mid-Feb and Saigon shuts down for 3-4 days – can be pleas­antly cool, un­crowded and colour­ful US$ 1 is ap­prox­i­mately VND21,000 Dol­lar ver­sus dong, it’s all money, honey Have plenty of small dong for taxis/bikes Road safety and traf­fic law – dream on, Dolly Have your ho­tel’s busi­ness card on you at all times as most cab­bies/lo­cals don’t speak English Taxis – avoid scams with me­tered cabs from re­li­able com­pa­nies (see above), have places writ­ten down, and pre-ar­range trans­fers; or hire a driver (see V. Use­ful) Quick­est way around town and to ruin your hair­style is on the back of a mo­tor­cy­cle, pay VND12,000 to VND25,000 a pop de­pend­ing on desti­na­tion Most large restau­rants and shops take credit cards Many kitchens open and close early, so dine early Beware of light-fin­gered rogues, es­pe­cially in crowded places – keep your hand on your dong Bag-grab­bers on bikes can also be a prob­lem Hawk­ers. Po­litely but firmly de­cline their ad­vances un­less you’re keen to buy – in which case, hag­gle HCMC is in a state of flux and busi­nesses change their ad­dresses and hours more of­ten than you change your knick­ers, so call ahead to avoid dis­ap­point­ment The in­ter­na­tional code for Saigon is +84 8 Po­lice 113, Ambo 115, Info 1080, Int’l Op­er­a­tor 110, but lim­ited English is spo­ken

The fol­low­ing Viet­namese phrases will come in handy...

Chao chi (to gals) / Chao anh (to guys) : Hello / Ta ta Cam on chi / Cam on anh : Thank you kindly, guv’ Troi oi! : Oh my god!

...’kay let’s party

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