Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a bustling metropolis in Southern Vietnam that offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition. It is a city that is alive with energy, where you can experience a rich cultural heritage, taste delicious local cuisine, and shop for everything from luxury goods to handmade souvenirs.
If you’re planning a Vietnam trip from India, Ho Chi Minh City could be your ideal destination. The city is home to a vibrant Indian community and offers a variety of options for vegetarian and halal food. With its warm climate, affordable prices, and friendly locals, Ho Chi Minh City is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.
Ho Chi Minh City weather
Ho Chi Minh City experiences warm temperatures throughout the year, with a hot period from April to May and a rainy season from May to November. Temperatures are slightly cooler in December and January.
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How to get to Ho Chi Minh City from India
If you’re traveling to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) from India, the best option is to take a flight. There are a certain number of direct flights from India to Ho Chi Minh City provided by Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Indigo, departing from different cities in India.
Once you arrive at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a taxi, ride-hailing app, or bus to your hotel or destination. Taxis and ride-hailing apps are readily available at the airport, and fares are reasonable. The airport is also well-connected by public buses that serve various parts of the city, with fares ranging from 5,000-40,000 VND depending on the distance.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City
There are several ways to get around Ho Chi Minh City:
- Taxi: Taxis are widely available in Saigon and are a convenient way to get around. Be sure to choose reputable taxi companies such as Mai Linh or Vinasun to avoid scams.
- Grab/ride-hailing apps: Grab is a popular ride-hailing app in Vietnam, allowing users to book rides from their smartphones. It’s a convenient and safe option for getting around Saigon.
- Motorbike rental: Visitors can rent motorbikes from many shops in Saigon, with prices ranging from around 100,000 VND to 200,000 VND per day. However, driving in Saigon can be chaotic and challenging for inexperienced riders.
- Public transportation: Saigon has an extensive bus network, with fares starting at around 5,000 VND per ride. However, the buses can be crowded and challenging to navigate for non-Vietnamese speakers.
- Walking: For those who prefer to explore on foot, Saigon has several pedestrian-friendly areas such as Ben Thanh Market and Nguyen Hue Walking Street. However, be mindful of the traffic and the hot, humid climate.
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The best district to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for short-term visitors (in my opinion) is District 1. I would recommend staying near Ben Thanh Market or Bui Vien Walking Street as it allows easy access to the best attractions in the city. However, District 3 and District 5 are also good options as they are close to the city center and offer plenty of activities. District 2 (Thao Dien) is another option with a great art and expat scene, but it is further away from the city center.
For those who want to indulge in luxury, the city has plenty of high-end hotels that offer top-notch amenities and services. Some of the most popular options include the Park Hyatt Saigon, InterContinental Saigon, and Caravelle Saigon.
For travelers on a budget, there are many affordable hostels and guesthouses available in the city. Some of the best options include The Common Room Project, Saigon Backpackers Hostel, and CCentral Hotel.
If you’re looking for a more local experience, consider staying in a homestay or Airbnb. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and get a taste of daily life in the city.
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Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
- See the top landmarks: visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, the city’s Central Post Office, Saigon Opera House, Ben Thanh Market and the Jade Emperor Pagoda.
- Shop small boutiques: explore old buildings such as 22 Ly Tu Trong and 42 Nguyen Hue that have been repurposed as shopping centers with all kinds of fascinating stores.
- Explore the Chinese Quarter: walk around Cho Lon and visit Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda.
- Hop on a motorcycle: take a motorbike tour in the evening to see the city at its most romantic and its sidewalk vendors.
- Enjoying Saigon street food: try local favorites such as bánh mì, bánh xèo, and cơm tấm at roadside eateries for incredible roadside feasts
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Food to try
Saigon offers an endless variety of exquisite and reasonably priced selections, making it a street food lover’s delight. Banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich), pho (noodle soup), banh xeo (a savory pancake), com tam (broken rice), and bun thit nuong are some dishes you must try (grilled pork with vermicelli noodles).
There are additional options like balut (cooked duck embryo), oc (snails), and bot chien for intrepid eaters (fried rice cake).
Ben Thanh Market, Binh Tay Market, and the street food alley on Nguyen Thuong Hien street are a few of the greatest locations in Saigon to sample street cuisine. The Saigon street food scene is not to be missed, so make sure to bring your hunger and an open mind!
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FAQs about Ho Chi Minh City
Yes, Indian citizens need a visa to enter Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They can apply for a visa online or through the Vietnam Embassy in India.
The best way to get around Ho Chi Minh City is by taxi, motorbike taxi, or using ride-hailing apps like Grab. The city also has a reliable public transportation system, including buses and metro lines.
It’s important to note that traffic in Ho Chi Minh City can be very congested, so it’s best to plan accordingly when choosing transportation options.
The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City from India is between December and April when the weather is dry and pleasant.
Some must-visit attractions in Ho Chi Minh City for Indian travelers include the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Ben Thanh Market, and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Ho Chi Minh City has a wide range of vegan-friendly restaurants that cater to plant-based diets. Some of the popular options include:
- Hum Vegetarian: Offers a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, including Vietnamese and international cuisine.
- Ngoc Tho Vegetarian: Serves traditional Vietnamese vegetarian dishes such as vegan pho and vegan banh mi.
- Saigon Vegan: Offers a vegan buffet with a variety of Vietnamese dishes.
- Loving Hut: A worldwide vegan chain that serves vegan versions of Vietnamese classics, including vegan pho and banh mi.
- The Organic: Serves organic and vegetarian dishes, including vegan sushi and vegan pizza.
- An Lac Chay: Serves Vietnamese vegetarian dishes such as vegan pho, vegan spring rolls, and vegan banh xeo.
- Hummingbird Cafe: Serves vegan and vegetarian options such as vegan smoothie bowls and vegan sandwiches.
These are just a few of the many vegan-friendly restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. With the growing popularity of plant-based diets, it’s becoming easier to find vegan options throughout the city.
These restaurants offer a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and are highly recommended for Indian travelers looking for familiar cuisine while in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Baba’s Kitchen – 274 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
- Ganesh – 38 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Mumtaz Indian Restaurant – 226 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
- Tandoor Indian Restaurant – 39A-41 Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
- Saigon Indian – 35 Huynh Khuong Ninh Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1