Ho Chi Minh City is considered the largest city in Vietnam by population with over 8 million inhabitants. It’s projected by 2025 that the metropolitan area will grow to nearly 14 million.
It’s often referred to simply as Ho Chi Minh or Saigon. The written acronym HCMC is also used. The city is located in the southeast part of Vietnam, south of Hanoi. The city has quite a friendly tropical climate with an average of 2,400 to 2,700 hours of sunshine per year. It’s a hot city year round, though its Northern Hemisphere June through September summers are hotter than its winters.
The rainy season usually begins in May and lasts through September, while the relatively cooler, dryer winter starts after. October is noted as one of the best months to travel in Vietnam. So, for those who are planning to backpack and visit this exotic country, you should take note of the best months to visit.
Also known by its nickname, “The Pearl of the Far East”, Ho Chi Minh City is very rich in history. Saigon was the name of the capital for 300 years before it was changed to Ho Chi Minh City – the name of the leader of the North – after the Northern government took over in 1975 which was referred to as the “Fall of Saigon”.
Because Ho Chi Minh City is also considered a municipality, the area is divided into rural and urban districts. To be specific, the city has five rural districts and 19 urban districts. Apart from its history, there are also fun facts about Ho Chi Minh City that you might be interested to know about.
- While District 1 is considered the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and serves as its business and financial district, expats are mostly found in District 2 and District 3 where there are more residential areas.
- Meanwhile, majority of the Chinese and Vietnamese populate Districts 5,6,10 and 11.
- There is also a place for backpackers called “Khu Pho Tay” which means “Western People’s Region”.
Unlike some places, a yellow traffic sign in Saigon actually means “drive faster”.
- Motorbikes are the most popular form of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City and in the country as a whole. There are more than 1.5 million motorbikes that enter the city everyday.
- Coffee is the most famous form of beverage in the city. Countless coffee shops flood the city for friends to hang out of for formal business meetings.
- “Pho” which is the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is eaten anytime of the day from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For those who are planning to visit the country, Ho Chi Minh City has countless of attractions and tourist spots. You’ll discover a world class city full of top things to do in HCMC. Listed below are some of them:
Ho Chi Minh City Museum – If you want to find out more about more about Vietnam’s history, why not go to the place where it can tell you the story best? The museum has photographs, artifacts and memorabilia which allow tourists to take a peek of what the city used to be and what it has gone through.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall – It also known as Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and Hotel de Ville de Saigon. It was built in 1902 and demonstrates the French colonial influence due to its architectural design. Although it is not open to the public, it is still a popular tourists attraction and offers a good photo opportunity for visitors.
Jade Emperor Pagoda – It is just one of the many pagodas you can spot in the country but this one in particular is the most popular in the city. It was built in the 19th century to honor the Hindu goddess Mariamman.
Ben Than Market – This is a great place located in District 1 where you can find local goods and handicrafts. There is a wide array of assortment of souvenirs that the market offers stall after stall. It might be a bit difficult to navigate around the market on a hot summer day because of its size but at night time, restaurants and food carts around the market offer open outdoor dining experience.
Scooter Tours – What about exploring and covering as much as possible within the city while seated on a scooter? There are companies that provide tours and allow you to personalize your trip according to what you want to see. This is a great way to travel around the city the Vietnamese way.
Ho Chi Minh City is one of Vietnam’s most diverse. From its chaotic history, the city is on its way to the top into becoming one of Southeast Asia’s most popular and tourist destination.
Boasting a wide array of accommodations, all travelers should be able to find a great collection of hotels and vacation rentals to choose from. There are more than a dozen five star hotels in Saigon, and even more affordable 4 star. You can also stay at super budget friendly hostels, apartments and room rentals. AirBNB is a usually a reliable choice in HCMC.
The climate of Ho Chi Minh City has two major seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs during the peak summer months, from May to November. It’s hot, humidity and daily rain showers are expected. It can rain for anywhere from 15 minutes to a week straight. Plan a nice hotel and plenty of indoor activities if visiting during this time of year.
The dry season is the most tourist friendly time to visit. It runs from December to April, bringing with it slightly cooler temperatures, but still hot and humid, just not as much of either. During Tet holiday around January and February, the city gets quiet as the locals head for their hometowns. This can be a favorite time to visit and discover Saigon when it’s not jam packed.