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Formerly the capital of French Cochinchina and later South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is today Vietnam’s largest city. Many westerners will be more familiar with Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City under its former name of Saigon. Flights to Ho Chi Minh City are now accessible from nearly all international departure points, opening up this once-secretive location to the rest of the world. Fly to Ho Chi Minh City with Qatar Airways and you’ll discover a modern metropolis filled with culture and history.
The city is best known by outsiders as the place where the Vietnam War ended, and many visitors explore this legacy during their trip to Ho Chi Minh City. Reunification Palace stands as a reminder of this troubled era. It remains much as it was then, with a few additions such as a replica of the tank that penetrated its gates in 1975, effectively ending the war. The War Remnants Museum provides further insight.
For more ancient history, head to the Museum of Vietnamese History. To find out more about the man who gave his name to the city and is considered the father of modern Vietnam, at the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
There are many religious sites worth exploring during a trip to Ho Chi Minh City, including the city’s own Notre Dame Cathedral and the Thein Hau Pagoda in Cholon. For a stunning overview of the whole city, head to the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower.
A good way to get a wider perspective during your trip to Ho Chi Minh City is to take a motorbike tour of the city. There are many local tour companies that offer themed tours related to the history of the city, its cuisine and other elements. The Saigon Opera House hosts regular ‘New Circus’ shows that provide an introduction to modern Vietnamese culture.
A must-do during your trip to Ho Chi Minh City is an excursion to Dai Nam Tourist Park, which features a zoo, various entertainment options, shopping and an artificial beach – an ideal destination for visitors travelling with children. To discover more of the country, ‘discovery’ boat trips down the Mekong delta will give you an entirely different perspective on the landscape. Those prepared to brave Ho Chi Minh City’s notorious traffic can take a motorbike tour of the city. If you’re a keen photographer, sign up for the ‘early bird’ five-hour photography tour of Ho Chi Minh City, which takes you to all the best spots so you can capture a lasting record of your visit.
Ho Chi Minh City offers a wide spectrum of both traditional Vietnamese and international cuisine. Some well known American fast food chains have even gained a foothold in recent years.
For authentic Vietnamese eating try noodle soup and other delicacies from the stalls on Ben Thanh Market. For something more upmarket head to one of the many traditional restaurants in District 1.
There is certainly no shortage of shops and stalls in the city where you can get touristy souvenirs, particularly in central areas. Many of these are mass-produced, so if you buy anything purported to be from the war era don’t expect it to be authentic.
Popular markets to search for a bargain when travelling to Ho Chi Minh City include Saigon Square, Dan Sinh Market and Binh Tay Market.
As a communist country, Vietnamese culture can seem somewhat alien at first to westerners who travel to Ho Chi Minh City. Collectivism is an integral part of the country’s culture, and family is considered very important.
In addition to avoiding overt displays of affection, you should never touch anyone (including children) on the top as the head, as this part of the body is regarded as sacred. Women should dress modestly and ensure that the legs and shoulders are covered, particularly when visiting any temples or shrines.
Flights to Ho Chi Minh City arrive at Tan Son Nhat Airport.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Ho Chi Minh please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type A / C / D
International dialing code: +84