Ho Chi Minh City is considered the largest city in Vietnam by population with around 9 million inhabitants. It’s projected by 2025 that the metropolitan area will grow to nearly 14 million.
It’s often referred to simply as Ho Chi Minh or Saigon. The written acronym HCMC is also used. The city is located in the southeast part of Vietnam. Saigon has quite a friendly tropical climate with plenty of sunshine and a hot city year-round. The country’s Northern Hemisphere June through September summers are hotter than its winters.
The rainy season usually begins in May and lasts through September, while the relatively cooler, dryer winter starts after. October is noted as one of the best months to travel in Vietnam. So, for those who are planning to backpack and visit this exotic country, you should take note of the favorable times to go.
District 1 in Saigon. Photo:
It earned the nickname, “The Pearl of the Far East”, Saigon is very rich in history. Saigon was the name of the capital for 300 years before it was changed to Ho Chi Minh City – the name of the leader of the North – after the Northern government took over in 1975, which was referred to as the “Fall of Saigon”.
Because Ho Chi Minh City is also considered a municipality, the area is divided into rural and urban districts. To be specific, the city has five rural districts and 19 urban districts. Apart from its history, there are also fun facts about Ho Chi Minh City that you might be interested to know about:
- While District 1 is considered the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and serves as its business and financial district, ex-pats are mostly found in District 2 and District 3 where there are more residential areas.
- Meanwhile, the majority of the Chinese and Vietnamese populate Districts 5,6,10, and 11.
- There is also a place for backpackers called “Khu Pho Tay” which means “Western People’s Region”.
- Motorbikes are the most popular form of transportation in Saigon and in the country as a whole. There are more than 1.5 million motorbikes that enter the city every day.
- Coffee is the most famous form of beverage in the city. Countless coffee shops flood the city for friends to hang out of for formal business meetings.
- Pho is the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup eaten any time of the day from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Saigon aerial view from Bitexco Financial. Photo: Diego Delso
Ho Chi Minh City is one of Vietnam’s most diverse. From its chaotic history, the city is on its way to the top into becoming one of Southeast Asia’s most popular and tourist destinations. For those who are planning to visit the country, here are just a few of the countless attractions and tourist spots in Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
If you want to find out more about Vietnam’s history, why not go to the place where it can tell you the story best? This museum has photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia which allow tourists to take a peek at what the city used to be and what it has gone through.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
It’s also known as Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and Hotel de Ville de Saigon. It was built in 1902 and demonstrates the French colonial influence due to its architectural design. Although it is not open to the public, it is still a popular tourist attraction and offers a good photo opportunity for visitors.
Saigon Opera House
Discover Vietnamese performing arts year-round at the historic Saigon Opera House. Known formerly as the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, Lune Production hosts a nightly show of traditional Vietnamese performing arts that will blow your mind with their beauty, culture, and athleticism.
Saigon Opera House. Photo:
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Just one of the many pagodas you can spot in the country, Jade Emperor Pagoda, in particular, is the most popular in the city. It was built in the 19th century to honor the Hindu goddess Mariamman.
Ben Thanh Market
Located in District 1, Ben Thanh Market is where you can find local goods and handicrafts. There is a wide array of assortment of souvenirs stall after stall. It might be a bit difficult to navigate around the market on a hot summer day because of its size but that’s part of the charm.
Visit the night market outside after the sun goes down and the indoor market closes. Restaurants and food carts around the market offer open outdoor dining experiences.
What about exploring and covering as much as possible within the city while seated on a motorbike? There are companies that provide tours and allow you to personalize your trip according to what you want to see. This is a great way to travel around the city the Vietnamese way.
Discover a world-class city full of top things to do in Saigon.
Read about the closest golf courses near HCMC.
Saigon Grand Hotel in District 1, HCMC.
Boasting a wide array of accommodations, all travelers should be able to find a great collection of hotels and vacation rentals to choose from. There are more than a dozen five-star hotels in Saigon, and even more affordable 4 star. You can also stay at super budget-friendly hostels, apartments, and room rentals. Airbnb is usually a reliable choice in HCMC.
Hotels and lodging:
Bars and restaurants:
Streetlife in Saigon. Photo:
The climate of Ho Chi Minh City has two major seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs during the peak summer months, from May to November. It’s hot, humid, and daily rain showers are expected. It can rain for anywhere from 15 minutes to a week straight. Plan a nice hotel and plenty of indoor activities if visiting during this time of year.
The dry season is the most tourist-friendly time to visit. It runs from December to April, bringing with it slightly cooler temperatures, but still hot and humid, just not as much of either. During the Tet holiday, around January and February, the city gets quiet as the locals head for their hometowns. This can be a favorite time to visit and discover Saigon when it’s not jam-packed.
Activities near Ho Chi Minh City
Streets and Promenades:
Latest in Ho Chi Minh City
Keep shopping trips in Vietnam fresh with stops at the best markets in Ho Chi Minh…
There are three notable streets in the backpackers’ area of Ho Chi Minh City – Phan…
Opened in 1999 in Ho Chi Minh City, the Dam Sen Water Park is a popular…
The best way to explore the former capital of Vietnam is by staying in one of…
View more Ho Chi Minh City articles
Keyword: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam