Although Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, it’s Ho Chi Minh City (also known as HCMC) that’s the most vibrant and modern. Walking around in the biggest city of Vietnam, you’ll quickly notice how developed it is in comparison to the rest of the country. The city is always full of live, there’s an abundance of cafés, restaurants, stylish boutique shops, and an international feel to it. The city has tons of things to offer. Even though traffic can feel a bit overwhelming at times, you’ll quickly fall in love with the pace of the city.
The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the winter months, between December to March, when temperatures range between 21 to 34 celsius. But the temperatures in the city are almost always favorable, so if you’re looking for tropical heat, it’s a great city to escape to. If you’re going there between late January or early February, you’ll be able to celebrate Tet Festival, the Vietnamese New Year, in the big city too. The city becomes even more full of life, the streets get crowded with families and there’s a few events happening across the city. It’s an exciting time to be in HCMC.
Most people who travels to HCMC tends to stick in the touristic areas such as Bui Vien, also known as the backpacker district. During daytime, there’s plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops opened for travelers to walk around in. Walk around in one of the small alleys to and get a glimpse into the life of the locals. Why not spoil yourself for a manicure or pedicure as well? The prices in Vietnam are very affordable and you’ll get very far with your money. In fact, in Forex city index, it shows that HCMC is one of the most affordable cities in the world to go on vacation. So if you want to spoil yourself, Ho Chi Minh City is a very good option. At night, head back to Bui Vien and see how the city transforms itself. The bars get crowded, there’s people sitting in small, plastic chairs on the streets drinking and eating, the music gets loud, and you’ll see why it’s called the backpackers district – almost all travelers come here for a cheap drink, a good laugh, and dance the night away in one of the night clubs.
Besides partying, there’s also lots of culture, art and museums you can visit, almost for free! If there’s an entrance fee, it’s usually not more than 2 USD. One of the museums you must visit is the War Remnants Museum, depicting the horror of what happened during the war with stories and photos. It’s open everyday from 7:30 am to 6 pm, but closes for lunch.
Then there’s also the shopping, because it’s impossible to skip this part if you come to here. You can buy everything you want here! There’s the more high-end shopping with brands such as Gucci, Chanel and Lacoste. But if your budget is a bit more tight, there’s plenty of budget friendly shops. Whether you’re a fan of the more known brands such as H&M and Zara, or you prefer to shop more local, you can find it all here. District 1 is where most of the travelers spends their time in, but don’t be afraid to venture a bit outside. That’s usually where you’ll find the nicer boutique shops.
When it comes to food, there’s everything here. You can go to cheap hole-in-the-wall local spots, to international restaurants and eat everything from Italian, Mexican, Indian, etc, or why not opt for a plant based meal? Just ask for “com chay” and they’ll know you want vegetarian food. There’s also the fancier restaurants, if you want to treat yourself. Safe to say – there’s a bit of everything here! Which is exactly what makes this big city so thrilling.
If you find yourself in need to get away from the hustle and bustle of HCMC, take the bus to nearby Mui Ne, a lovely beach town just a few hours away where you can lay on the soft sand, swim in the clear water, learn how to kitesurf (or just improve your skills!), eat authentic seafood, and relax your mind and body. Transportation is, just as everything else, affordable, so make sure you take advantage of it. So what are you waiting for? Head over to Ho Chi Minh City and explore everything the city has to offer!
Just remember to apply for a Vietnam visa before you arrive to the country. If you’re not on the visa exempt list, or wishes to stay for longer than your visa-free period, you must apply for a visa. There are three options to choose from, depending on which country you’re from: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa, or apply via the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. The latter is only recommended if you’re planning on arriving to Vietnam by land. Otherwise, the online visas will save you both money and time.