HO CHI MINH FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

The main airport servicing Ho Chi Minh City is Tan Son Nhat Airport, situated about 5 miles north of the city center. The airport offers a few transportation options to get you to your hotel including taxis, buses, and cyclos.

What types of transportation can I find at the airport?

A metered taxi is your best option and the easiest way to get into the city. The taxi line is situated outside the main door of the terminal building on the first floor on the left. Prices from the airport to hotels in District 1 are around VND 150,000 - 170,000 plus a VND 10,000 airport surcharge.

There is a taxi counter situated outside the customs area for Mai Linh Taxi Company and Vinasun Taxi, which are two reputable companies in the city that offer taxi service from the airport where you can prepay for a taxi.

Uber is also available and can cost a little less than a taxi during low peak times; estimated rates are around VND 100,000 from the airport to the city center.

There is an airport bus route #152 available which is a cheaper option than a taxi. The airport bus costs around VND 6,000 plus a luggage fee (about VND 5,000 per bag). The bus leaves every 15 minutes making regular stops along the way, passing most major hotels. The bus operates between 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Bus route 109 (VND 20,000) to the backpacker district, Pham Ngu Loa via Ben Thanh Bus Station and 49 (VND 40,000) Pham Ngu Loa area via Ben Thanh Market also run from the airport and don`t charge any baggage fees, these buses are yellow and can be found across from the terminal. Bus route 109 runs from 5:30 am until 1:30 am running every 15 - 20 minutes.

Cyclos (motorcycle taxis) are not available at the airport but can be found just outside the airport grounds. They will only accommodate one passenger with very little luggage. The cost is around VND 90,000 but negotiating a price before you take the ride is highly recommended.

Foreign drivers are not permitted to drive in Vietnam so rental cars are not available at the airport. An alternative here is to hire a vehicle plus an English speaking driver.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

The main train station in Ho Chi Minh City is the Saigon Railway Station situated on Cach Mang Thang Tam (CMT8) in district 3 just north of the city center. Taxis and buses can be found outside of the station for further transportation options.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

Taxis are a great way of getting around the city, all taxis are metered and the first 0.62 mile costs around VND 12,000. Make sure the meter is not running before you begin your ride, some taxi drivers are renowned for starting their meters early and demanding higher fares. Reputable taxi companies to look for or call ahead to hire in the city are Mai Linh and Vinasun taxi companies. It is advised to avoid using taxis during rush hour from 7:00 - 8:30 am and from 4:30 - 6:00 pm due to bumper to bumper traffic in the city.

Buses in the city cover over 150 different routes and are a cheap and quick way to get around. The main bus station is located at Ben Thanh across the street from the Ben Thanh Market in District 1, where you can pick up a map of the bus routes and timetables. A single ride will cost around VND 4,000 - 8,000, purchase your ticket on board from the attendant. Bus route 152 and 49 will take you to the airport, route 149 goes to Saigon train station, route 1 goes to Binh Tay Market and the Cholon bus station.

A Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing tour is available in the city with over 4 lines to choose from that covers several different tourist attractions. The cost is around VND 34,000 for 24 hours and commentary is available in 7 different languages.

Cyclo`s were once popular in the city but are now slowly diminishing. Still, a cyclo is a great way to see the sights of the city at a slower pace, the cost is around VND 36,000 for an hour`s ride, bargaining the price of your ride is highly recommended and agreeing on your destination. Keep all valuables including cameras and phones out of reach when riding on a cyclo as thieves are known to drive by and snatch these items!

Xe Om`s are motorcycle taxis found everywhere in the city, they are cheap and a speedy way to get around. Helmets are required and provided by the driver (this is the law, you will be fined if not wearing one) and rates start around VND 10,000 per 0.62 miles so a short trip will be at least VND 20,000 - 40,000 (VND 80,000 to the airport).

Foreign drivers are not permitted to drive in Vietnam so rental cars are not available in the city. An alternative here is to hire a vehicle plus an English speaking driver.

Boats are another way to see the sights of the city. Saigon River Express is situated next to the Renaissance Riverside Hotel in District 1 they offer tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta and jungle canal tours around the city along with sunset tours.

Uber is available in the city and is sometimes a better option than a taxi when it comes to fares. Download the Uber app and set up your account on your smart phone, type in your location and destination and select a car.

How do I hail/call a taxi in Ho Chi Minh?

Taxis can be hailed from the streets, found outside hotels, shops, stations and popular tourist attractions. You can also ask your hotel to call and order you a taxi by phone.

Is Ho Chi Minh a walking city?

Walking around the city other than in secured tourist attractions can be dangerous due to a large number of motorcycles that take over the city streets and sidewalks. Sidewalks in Ho Chi Minh are not geared towards pedestrians and motorcycles zip along them in a dangerous fashion. You have to constantly be on the lookout when walking and trying to cross the busy streets. Your best bet is to take a Xe om ride (motorcycle) and take yourself out of the dangerous walking conditions or enjoy a slower paced ride on a cyclo to see the city sights.

Can I rent a bicycle in Ho Chi Minh?

Bicycles are a popular way for many of the locals to get around but can be another daunting experience for travelers. Traffic in the city is chaotic and the air quality is poor. Motorcycles are everywhere and don`t give way to anyone! The roads are set up differently than in the US with cars in the left lane, buses, and taxis on the right and the bike lane is normally filled with motorcyclists and taxis. There are a few bicycle rental outlets in the city such as cafes, hotels and travel agencies the cost is around VND 40,000 a day.

Is Ho Chi Minh a dangerous city, is there anything I should be aware of?

Ho Chi Minh is a relatively safe city but unfortunately has a lot of pick pockets, scams, and theft that take place here than any other city in Vietnam. `Motorbike Cowboys` are well known to ride by and steal cameras, tablets, phones, etc this is especially prevalent in the area of Dong Khoi, Pham Ngu Lao, and the Ben Thanh Market. Practice street smarts and common sense at all times when in and around tourist areas such as District 1, keep your belongings secured and be aware of your surroundings.

What are some popular areas for shopping?

The shopping scene in Ho Chi Minh features plenty of traditional street markets including Ben Thanh Market the largest old style market in the city. The market is open daily and is filled with hundreds of stalls selling fresh food, seafood, produce, coffee, clothing, and souvenirs. There is also a very popular night market held here every night that runs until midnight. The market is a great place to come in the evening time and sample all of the tasty street food offered from the local stalls and surrounding restaurants.

Binh Tay Market is another popular local market situated in Chinatown, a wholesale market that sells fresh produce, fish, poultry and retail items such as silk and textiles in an amazing authentic atmosphere with street food and locals.

If you are looking for a good mall the Vincom Center is the largest mall in the city with over 250 different stores housed in two buildings featuring brand names such as DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Jimmy Choo and Hugo Boss.

Saigon Square is another mall situated in the city, a place for bargain shoppers with all kinds of merchandise on sale including clothing, jewelry, shoes, luggage, and purses, be sure to haggle the price down and never pay the price shown on the tag.

What is the currency? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The units of currency in Vietnam are the Vietnamese Dong (VND). US dollars are accepted but it is always better to pay in VND. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Vietnam by clicking Vietnam

When is a popular time to visit?

Vietnam experiences four distinct seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The rainy season runs from May through September when it is very hot with monsoon rain and dry season runs from October to April when the climate is cold with little rain. Average temperatures during the summer are around 73F and the average winter temperatures are around 62F.

What is the food like?

Ho Chi Minh offers some of the most delicious cuisines in all of Vietnam, serving Vietnamese classic dishes such as pho noodles, banh mi, banh xeo, bun bo hue, banh mi thit, spring rolls and delicious Vietnamese coffee. The road side or street food stalls and street hawkers offer some of the best meals found anywhere in the city, served from the streets filled with locals and their decade old stalls. Other international flavors found in the city include Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, French, Indian and Mexican featured at many fine dining restaurants.

What is the nightlife like?

The nightlife in Ho Chi Minh can be found throughout the many districts found within the city. From the Night street markets to the Opera House, live music and rooftop bars, nightclubs and bars, street food and pubs to casinos and sunset cruises on the Saigon River. There is something for everyone to enjoy in the city depending on your partying preference. Sip on an ice cold beer brewed in the city while wandering around the street markets and sampling tasty eats. Enjoy a sophisticated night at one of the swanky roof top bars where you can catch a sunset and then head to the ballet at the Opera House. Party the night away at one of the many street bars and districts filled with live entertainment and pubs and clubs that stay open until the wee hours.

I don’t speak Vietnamese will there be many people who speak English?

The official language spoken in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Most Vietnamese speak enough English for tourists` needs, and it is common for hotels, restaurants, and shops that are aimed at tourists to use the English Language. We suggest you get a good English-Vietnamese guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you and numbers 1-10.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

In case of an emergency dial 113 for Police, 114 for fire, 115 for an ambulance.

Hospitals:

FV Hospital tel. 84-28-5411-3333

City International Hospital tel. 84-28-6280-3333

Columbia Asia International Hospital tel. 84-8-3803-0678