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Your guide to Ho Chi Minh City
All About Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a metropolis in the south of Vietnam that boasts sleek skyscrapers, fine dining restaurants, and fashion boutiques. Yet the city’s greatest charm remains its street life: the sounds of scooters buzzing through traffic, the smell of bubbling vats from street vendor stands, and the sight of crowded alleys and bustling markets. Remnants of the French colonial occupation of Ho Chi Minh City linger in the architecture of buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the gothic Central Post Office. Ornate temples and pagodas pay testament to the long influence of Buddhism here.
Pham Ngu Lao Street is the city’s entertainment hub, with rooftop bars offering city views and restaurants featuring a mix of cuisines. At Tan Tao Park, you’ll find street stalls selling ca phe sua da — iced coffee with condensed milk. Ho Chi Minh City is the gateway to the Mekong Delta, and its many waterways are home to floating markets where vendors fill the river with boats selling goods as varied as banh mi sandwiches and fresh pineapple.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has two seasons — the dry season and the monsoon season. The most enjoyable time to visit the city may be during the dry season, from December to April, as temperatures are warm yet the humidity is low. The famous Lantern Festival is a spectacular sight, when lanterns made by children are lit all over the city and sent up to the sky. The festival takes place on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month on the Chinese calendar, which is usually in September or October. The monsoon season normally takes over from May to November, so you can expect hot and humid days, as well as a high chance of rainfall and thunderstorms. During the Southern Fruit Festival, which takes place in Suoi Tien Park in July, colorful floats filled with local fruits parade through the park.
Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Giac Lam Pagoda
Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest temple in the city, dating back to 1744. This hexagon-shaped pagoda is 100 feet high, and you can climb to the top for views of the city. The temple sits in a traditional garden, and at its entrance, you will find a lovely bodhi tree — a native fig tree sacred to Buddhists. You can walk around the grounds and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere here.
Ben Thanh Market
Housed in a beautiful 17th-century building in District 1, Ben Thanh Market is one of the largest markets in the city. Come here for cheap and wildly savory local dishes like pork rice rolls (banh cuon), savory fried pancakes (banh xeo), and mixed-meat noodle soup (hu tieu) as well as traditional sweets (che). You’ll also find locally made clothes and hats, bags, shoes, and many handmade items.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Take a stroll along this pedestrian street, which begins at the Saigon River and stretches to City Hall. Along this broad promenade, you’ll spot French-influenced architecture, an impressive fountain show, and a 50-foot bronze statue of the former president whom the city is named after. There are plenty of benches where you can stop and admire the surroundings, as well as cafes and restaurants.