When to Go
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is great to visit any time of the year. There’s always something happening and so many things to see and do. The weather is warm all year round and even in the rainy season it rarely rains all day. When it does rain there’s still loads to see indoors. Hot and sticky weather is no problem as most buildings are air conditioned and there’s always a café, restaurant or bar nearby to take in some refreshment. Click Here for more details
Festivals, Holidays and Special Events
Like many other Asian countries, the Vietnamese need very little excuse for a party and a celebration. TET is the main holiday and is very similar to Chinese New Year. After that there are several national days celebrating important dates of victory and independence, international celebrations and even one for old monarch of days long gone.
As well as official holidays, the vietnamese celebrate many non official occasions. These lend themselves to an insight into local cultural practices, with the added bonus that everything is still open for business.
Some of the most delightful experiences you might be lucky to have are the various festivals celebrated throughout the year. The flower, vegetable, lantern, Mid Autumn, international food and book festivals among many others, all combine to exhibit the best of South Vietnamese culture.
Click Here to read more.
Books, Guides and Maps
There is a tonne of reading for before, during and after your big trip to Ho Chi Minh City. Get some inspiration from the many guides available and choose one or more to bring with you. Read a historical account bought to life by many talented authors to help you understand more about this amazing city and its people or grab a cook book and get your taste buds salivating for the amazing food you are about to encounter. Whatever you tastes Click Here to see the huge range on offer.
Click Here to read more.
Costs and Money
Unless you really want to go 5 star, a trip to Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of Vietnam is likely to be one of your cheapest holidays yet. The biggest problem you’ll have will be adjusting to all those zero’s on the local Vietnam Dong. There certainly won’t be any worries, exchanging and accessing money and finding incredible bargains to spend it on.
Depending on where you are from you may or may not need a visa. Australian, American and British Citizens do. There are 60 or so countries that don’t. The good news is, that if you are arriving by air, you can pay a few extra bucks and get your visa on arrival. Unfortunately this option is not available if you arrive by land or sea.
Health and Safety
Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. So although I have given some general information from an experienced travellers perspective I have linked to more reputable sources than I. I suggest you do your own research and consult your own physician before leaving home
Staying Healthy on Your Visit
The Travel Doctor in Australia is a good source of information for health issues including recommended vaccinations when travelling to Vietnam. If you are only travelling to Ho Chi Minh city you may not need to do much at all. If you are travelling further afield however, you probably do.
Click Here to access the Travel Doctors Vaccination Information for Vietnam
My top tips for staying healthy on your visit include:
- Stay hydrated,
- wash your hands often and
- use your common sense when choosing a street food vendor or restaurant.
Click here if you’d like to read more. I have also included a list of important numbers if you do fall ill or need assistance.
A lot of people ask us “Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe?”. In general I believe it IS fairly safe for travellers provided they use common sense. If you ask my students however, they believe they live in one of the most dangerous cities in Vietnam and possibly the world. There are loads of reviews on the internet reporting theft and muggings but remember that people are unlikely to blog the fact that they were perfectly safe and fine on their visit.
In my time here I have seen and heard of a small number of incidents where people have been the victim of snatch and grabs, pick pockets and scam artists. I have only heard of one violent bashing and that was because the person tried to follow and confront the bag snatchers. I don’t think crime is any more common than in other Asian, or in fact, western cities where tourists are around. There are plenty of tourist police and locals who will advise you to be more careful if they feel you are acting “at risk”.
Click here for General Safety Precautions when visiting Ho Chi Minh City
What to Take to Vietnam
In general I would say take as little as possible when visiting Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general. It’s a fantastic shopping destination and most things you require will be available here for much cheaper than at home. The only exceptions to this are:
- your favourite travelling gear, especially comfortable walking shoes and
- your personal medicines (although prescription drugs at home are freely available at pharmacies here)
The first are essential for being comfortable as you explore the city and can’t necesarily be bought off the rack, the second is self evident.
Click here for a suggestions on what to take to Vietnam on your next trip.
Useful Services and Contact Information
There are police stations all over Ho Chi Minh City but the chances of someone speaking english vary.
For reporting stolen possessions you need to make the report near where the incident happened. Try and take a trusted local with you to help with language difficulties. (Reward them for their trouble appropriately)
For backpackers and budget tourists there is a police station right in Bui Vien, acoss from
Closer to the big hotels in District 1 there is one at 24-26 Pasteur Street in District 1 right near the Fideco Tower. They are open 07:30-11:30 and then 13:00-17:00 Ph +84 (0)8 38297373.
International Hospitals and Clinics
There are a number of international standard medical facilities here in HCMC. The following services have been used by us or recommended by my current employer, friends and acquaintances. I have only mentioned those in District 1 and 3. There are others in outlying Districts.
Family Medical Practice HCMC – Ph +84 (0)8 3822 7848
Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, District 1
Opening- 24 hours – Clinic, Ambulance and Medical Evacuation Services
This is where we go when we get sick. My husband spent a couple of nights as an inpatient and has visited as an outpatient. Services are top notch, if a little expensive. Our insurance covered ALL costs so make sure you have a good one. This is who we insure with. Here’s an article I wrote about the necessity of travel insurance.
Columbia Asia International Clinic – Ph +84 (0)8 3823 8888
Opening – Emergency Room – 8am to 9 pm 7 days. Consultations by appointment.
International SOS Vietnam, Ltd. – Ph +84 (0)8 3829 8520
167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, District 3
Opening – 7 days a week, 24 hours
I have needed these guys in Cambodia and they were excellent.
Victoria Healthcare International Clinic – Ph +84 (0) 8 3910 4545
79 Dien Bien Phu, District 1
Opening – 7 days a week, 24 hours for Emergency
They have another clinic in District 15.
International Medical Centre (CMI) – Ph+84 (08) 3827 2366
1 Han Thuyen, District 1
Opening hours for consulations – Monday to Friday 8.30 – 19h, Saturday 9 – 13h
For French speakers, this hospital is staffed by mainly French doctors. (Right near Notre Dame Cathedral.)
Consulates in HCMC
For a full list of consulates in Ho Chi Minh City Click Here
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