Ho Chi Minh City – still often known by locals and expats as Saigon – is a thriving cultural and economic hub of Vietnam. A visit to this southern Vietnamese city is an open-end encounter with a mixture of antique French architecture and energetic vibe of the rising star. Here are some useful Saigon travel tips from visitsaigon.net that will help you enjoy your stay in this fantastic city.
Saigon downtown (Source: Internet)
What is the best time to visit?
Saigon is famous for its tropical climate of 2 regular seasons: dry and rainy season. One of the most important tips that visitors often receive is to pay a visit to this city during the dry period, which starts from December and lasts until April. The range of temperature varies from 39 °C (102 °F) around noon time to the lowermost 16 °C (61 °F) in the early mornings. This period of the year marks the change of humidity level. Humidity begins to slightly decline from January to April, leaving travelers a chance to enjoy the rare non-sticky weather of Saigon.
If, however, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of million interested visitors during the tourist period, the rainy season offers some of its advantages, such as the chance to encounter with extraordinary lovely climate.
What to do
Fascinated by old French architecture? Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office will satisfy you. If you’re more on oriental culture side, various markets and museum are your ideal places to visit.
Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Post Office
Designed and built by famous French architect Gustave Eiffel, and made its debut in 1886, Saigon Central Post Office has become one of the most famous structures in Vietnam. This Gothic-styled building still keeps its original decorations inside and entirely functions as the most prominent post office in the city. Mr. Duong Van Ngo, who has spent half of his life helping people write letters and send packages, is the oldest staff in the post office.
Notre Dame Cathedral, another influential French architecture in the middle of Saigon, remains as the most popular attraction of the city and the local worship place. The small garden in front of the building appears to be the regular get-together location of all the pigeons in Saigon around the statue of Mary. Though people may find it hard to see any resemblance between Notre Dame Cathedral and its twin in Paris, this place is still a remarkable historic building worth visiting when traveling in Saigon.
Notre Dame Cathedral from above (Source: Internet)
Tips: The church and the post office are right next to each other, you don’t have to worry about the transport.
War Remnants Museum
Besides its beautiful buildings and vibrant culture, Saigon is also a living witness of the brutality of the Vietnam War. The War Remnants Museum has documented all of its bloody historical periods. One of the well-known sites for those interested in Vietnamese history.
Equivalent to Ta Hien in Hanoi, Bui Vien is now known as Saigon’s backpacker district. Visitors will be captivated by the noise and bustling atmosphere with hostels, pubs, dining places, cafe, and street vendors. Drinks and food here are incredibly expensive; however, its impressive view compensates for all.
Saigon nightlife (Source: Internet)
What to eat
The first and foremost thing you should eat once in Saigon is probably Banh Mi – the famous Vietnamese sandwich stuffed with pork, luncheon meats, paté, carrot or cucumber pickles, herbs and sometimes fried onion. There are a few places that are often recommended such as Banh Mi Huynh Hoa in District 1 or Banh Mi Hoa Ma in District 3.
A good Banh Mi makes a good day (Source: Internet)
Hu Tieu Nam Vang is another noodle dish besides the famous Pho or Bun Cha. Hu Tieu Nam Vang was invented by the Chinese residents in Nam Vang (Phnom Penh) and gradually brought to Saigon. This noodle soup consists of beansprout, chopped pork, shrimp, and all sorts of organs. You can easily find Hu Tieu Nam Vang in street noodle stalls with only 22,000 to 25,000 VND. If you go for a more fancy option, Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan offer a bowl for 65,000 VND with better quality and location.
Other must-try dishes once in Saigon include Bot Chien (fried rice cakes), Banh Trang Tron (mixed rice paper with herbs, fish and quail eggs) and Banh Xeo (crispy salty crepe with beansprout, chopped pork, and shrimp). The food stalls located around Turtle Lake or Notre Dame Cathedral are the best places to try.
A bowl of Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Source: Internet)
Saigon, once nicknamed the “Pearl of the Orient,” is a worth-visiting place in Vietnam. Perhaps, the best tip for travelers is just to walk around and explore this city. Then you will find behind the bustling of a young city; there is one Saigon of the past.