When to Go

Ho Chi Minh City photos

1st rain, then sun, then both.

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

Practical Information - festivals

Parade at the food festival

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

Vietnamese Money and Card

Vietnamese dong and a debit card

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.

Click Here for more information on Vietnam Dong, Money and Costs.


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.

Click Here for more information on Vietnam Tourist Visa Requirements.

Health and Safety

Smecta - Travellers tummy

My favourite cure for tummy troubles

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.

Personal Safety

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

What to take to Vietnam - Pack lightly

Pack lightly. Stay calm and SHOP!

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

08 Alexander de Rhodes, District 1

(Very close to Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Basilica and the Saigon Central Post Office)

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

Postal Services

How to find a Ho Chi Minh City Postal Code.

Saigon Central Post Office

Note: I do not receive any payment for this post (or any others on the site for that matter!). I do receive a small amount of money by allowing advertisements on the site and any purchases made through those links.

2 Responses

  1. Kirk says:

    Hi Sharyn,
    I just came across your site great info Thank you. My wife and I loved Vietnam spending a month there about 5 years ago. My question is (oh we are also aussies living on Bribie Island just north of Brissy) as you guys have been travelling for some time now what sort of visa do you use (sorry if you have this info on your site, pls point me in a direction) we often talk about living in Vietnam but the visa or doing visa runs is confusing and would be expensive if you had to return home. My wife and I are both 48 so a retirement visa I believe is not possible. my wife and daughter did their TESOL course some years back not sure what I would do. Any advice or direction on how you guys deal with the visa would be great. Thank you Kirk and Peta

    • Sharyn says:

      Hi Kirk When we go over for extended periods we initially get a single or multi-entry 3-month tourist visa on arrival from the guys I talk about on this page. by the end of that three months we roll through the administrivia to get a work permit with our school. They then arrange for us to go to the Cambodian border and back so our next visa is a 12-month multi-entry visa. If we stay longer than 15 months which we did last time, they arrange for the next 12-month extension or help you get a temporary residents permit. Not all schools are as organised and helpful though. We got lucky. I believe you can get a 6 or 12-month business visas for quite a bit of cash but you still need to leave every 3 months. In that case, we’d probably prefer to take a short break and get a new one in say Phnom Penh, Bangkok or Vientiane. I’m not sure how much you would save (or not) with the 12-month visa. I have TESOL (from Brisbane) and hubby has CELTA (completed in Ho Chi Minh City). We both have degrees which is mandatory to get a work permit. finding work was easy in the larger cities and I believe further afield. We’ve since transitioned into Freelance writing. I write for International Living Australia and we have a big conference in Bangkok in February. I’ll be speaking on HCMC and ESL teaching among other things. Why don’t you come along?

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