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Far East Holidays - Amazing Choice of Vietnam Deals - Ho-Chi-Minh Independence palace

Ho Chi Minh City Holidays

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Ho Chi Minh City Holidays

Ho Chi Minh City, better known by its former name of Saigon, is an industrious and dense metropolis, the largest city in Vietnam and the business capital of the country. With a population of roughly seven million, it is crowded and noisy, yet also exciting, a historic city that encompasses the essence of the nation.

Today Ho Chi Minh City has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and having actively welcomed capitalism as its citizens are clearly business-minded. Although relatively modern, it has still managed to hold onto its historical character, and fine restaurants, chic hotels and bars line the sidewalks. The buzzing of motorbikes and scooters merges with the calls of street vendors and the urgent business of stall owners, selling a range of delectable street food and exotic delicacies. The sight of a family of four balanced precariously on a scooter, a squealing pig strapped onto the back of a bicycle, bowed heads topped by pointed lampshade-style hats and orange-clothed monks are just some of the vibrant images the city has to offer.

Although overshadowed by modern and Asiatic influences, a little of Ho Chi Minh City's French colonial charm still remains, evident in the graceful architecture, wide boulevards, and a sidewalk cafe society. It is not for the attractions that one visits Ho Chi Minh City, however, but for the vibrancy of its street life, and its proximity to the Mekong Delta.

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Detailed City Overview

Ho Chi Minh City in Detail

Ho Chi Minh City, better known by its former name of Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and the business capital of the country.

Today Ho Chi Minh City has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Although relatively modern, it has still managed to hold onto its historical character, and fine restaurants, chic hotels and bars line the sidewalks. The buzzing of motorbikes and scooters merges with the calls of street vendors and the urgent business of stall owners, selling a range of delectable street food and exotic delicacies. The sight of a family of four balanced precariously on a scooter, a squealing pig strapped onto the back of a bicycle, bowed heads topped by pointed lampshade-style hats and orange-clothed monks are just some of the vibrant images the city has to offer.

Although overshadowed by modern and Asiatic influences, a little of Ho Chi Minh City's French colonial charm still remains, evident in the graceful architecture, wide boulevards, and a sidewalk cafe society. It is not for the attractions that one visits Ho Chi Minh City, however, but for the vibrancy of its street life, and its proximity to the Mekong Delta.

Getting Around

Most of the major hotels and restaurants attract concentrations of taxi cabs that can be hailed from the roadside, and taxis can also be ordered by telephone. Most tour operators offer the services of a car and driver for the day.

Nightlife

With everything from rooftop bars and lounges to pubs and nightclubs playing all the latest dance hits, travellers looking to let loose on a night out on the town will have plenty of options in this bustling, neon city.

Start your night off at a rooftop bar or beer garden, from where you can watch the sunset over the busy streets before heading out to District 1. Here the bars and fashionable clubs can be found, particularly on the streets around Dong Khoi and Hai Ba Trung. Travellers can expect to encounter many popular spots for expats and other westerners, where partygoers can make use of the bar, dance floor and pool tables.

When you start feeling more confident, why not try your hand at hitting those high notes at one of the many karaoke bars, for a night of fun and singing. Then head over to District 3, where you can attend one of the nightly live gigs, including local rock bands. But if you are after something special and really different, why not hop on one of the many dinner cruises that operate from District 1 and cruise down the Saigon River in style. This is the perfect way to relax and spend a lazy evening.

Shopping

Most of Ho Chi Minh City's shopping can be done from the local markets and street vendors where polite haggling is expected, especially at the Anh Dong Market in District 5 or the Ban Thanh indoor market in downtown Saigon.

Shoppers looking for something a little more upmarket should head to Dong Khoi Street in District 1 where designer stores, boutiques, antique stores and jewellery stores abound while bargain hunters will also be pleased to know there is a duty-free store on Nguyen Hue Boulevard in District 1, which specialises in duty-free items such as perfumes and colognes.

Most shops in Ho Chi Minh City are open daily from 8am to 8pm.

Sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City stands out as Vietnam's premier commercial metropolitan and is without a doubt the embodiment of big city life in the country. As such, its major attractions include massive markets in the city's Chinese district, the famous nightlife of District One, various museums, French colonial buildings and older remnants of past emperors.

As with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City offers a blend of traditional, colonial and modern sites to see. War museums and history museums tell of the recent American invasion and earlier conflicts with European powers, while the Reunification Palace celebrates Vietnam as a nation.

Hidden within this hectic metropolis are temples, secluded gardens and cloisters that offer a brief reprieve from the whirr of activity. Rural Vietnam is also never too far away, so it's easy to leave the city for some fresh air among rice paddies, to visit a small village or retreat to a tiny temple in the surrounding country before plunging into the city once more.

The frantic construction of modern skyscrapers and office blocks is apparent everywhere you go, and the Saigon Skydeck Tower with its 360° viewing deck is the perfect lens through which to view this sprawling city in its entirety. It is this mixture of youthful flair, old-world charm and the ease of escaping to the tranquillity of rural life that makes this space so unique as a meeting place of history and modernity.

Eating Out

The flavours one experiences when dining out in Ho Chi Minh City will linger on the palate long after the last morsel has been eaten. Vietnamese cuisine makes use of the freshest ingredients, dishes are anchored around herbs such as lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves. Known as the culinary capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City offers a mix of delectable street food, casual dining and modern Vietnamese restaurants.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy a wide array of restaurants specialising in cuisines from all over the globe, peppered along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. With everything from French and Italian to good old American burgers and fries, travellers will find something to suit their taste.

Some of the best areas for dining out in the city are around the Ben Thanh Market where some of the best local fares can be sampled, including dishes like mien ga (vermicelli, chicken, and mushrooms in a broth-like soup) and the Vietnamese staple, pho (noodle soup). Dine on a riverboat while you float along the Saigon or grab your meal on the go from one of the city's popular street vendors - the choices are endless!

Top 5 Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels - A large maze of wartime tunnels used by the Viet Cong to great effect during the Vietnam War. Today the tunnels are a fascinating war-time exhibit and is an extremely popular tourist attraction.
Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, is a very important historical landmark of the city. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War when a tank drove through the front gates.
The War Remnants Museum is a museum dedicated to first Indochina War and the Vietnam War.
Notre-Dame Cathedral - A cathedral located in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the main attractions in the City. Completed in 1880, the church retains its Romanesque look and feel.
Suối Tiên Amusement Park - The landscaping and attractions in the park illustrate Vietnam's history and legends, such as Âu Cơ and Lạc Long Quân as well as the Battle of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh (The Mountain God and The River God).

Location

When to Visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Currency The currency used in Ho Chi Minh City is the Vietnamese Dong.
  • Flying time from the UK The average flight time from London to Ho Chi Minh is 11h 55min.
  • Primary Language The official language of Ho Chi Minh is Vietnamese.
  • Passport & Visas Until the 30th June 2018, British Nationals do not require a visa for business or tourism stays, up to a maximum of 15 days. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months by the date you travel.