Sai Gon Travel Guide

Sai Gon Travel Guide - Things you have to know 

By Custom Vietnam Travel | Updated 1/5/2019

Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City where you can see lots of the high-rise buildings lying close, the entertainment, crowded shopping centers, but also no shortage of ancient villas, the houses. Traditional markets have existed for hundreds of years. Saigon is large and does not lack the "specialty" tourism such as Saigon River Cruise by boat, visiting West Pham Ngu Lao Street, shopping at Ben Thanh Market or returning to Can Gio beach .... This article is a Sai Gon Travel Guide which will show clearly things you have to know before traveling Sai Gon.

1.The climate in Sai Gon

Ho Chi Minh City has two distinct seasons: the rainy season from May to November, the dry season from December to April. If you come here in the rainy season, you should bring an umbrella (umbrella) or a raincoat when you go out. Because Saigon is famous for sudden rains. The rain stopped and stopped, then stopped. In addition, Ho Chi Minh City is also full of sunshine. It is estimated that there are 270 hours of sunshine a month, the average temperature of 27 ° C, the highest up to 40 ° C but not too harsh as other places.

Sai Gon post office in a sunny day

2. How to get around Sai Gion

The main means of transport for tourists in Saigon is motorbikes, followed by cars, bicycles, buses, cyclos. The cheapest public transport is the bus at only 5,000VND / route, followed by motorbike taxi and taxi. Currently, the traffic density in Ho Chi Minh City is quite crowded, many parts of the city have traffic congestion at rush hours: from 7:00 am - 8:00 am and 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

A picture of traffic in Sai Gon

 

3. The best destinations must visit in Sai Gon

Binh Tay Market

Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 17:00

Address: 57A Thap Moui, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City

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A main gate of Binh Tay Market 
 

War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30 year long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines in the outside grounds, but the really hard-hitting information is found inside. Photographs, exhibits and written documentation show the horrific lengths that the American Army lowered themselves to in order to try and defeat the North Vietnamese Army.

Opening Hours: Daily 07.30 - 12.00 & 13:30 – 17:00

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels

This marvelous tourist attraction lets visitors experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. There is an informative movie to watch, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle. Burnt out tanks make for a great photo prop and then everyone gets to crawl through a small section of the tunnels which has been widened and supported with concrete.

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 - 17:00

Location: 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City 

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple is the center of the Cao Dai faith, a religion that has taken bits of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and Confucianism. Tourists are welcome to visit the temple and learn more about this faith that is practiced by a few dedicated followers. Each Cao Dai practitioner wears a white robe to enter the temple with an additional sash to signify their previous religion. The temple itself is very bright and colorful with dragons flying up banisters and a cloud mural decorating the ceiling.

Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 - 17:00

Location: 60 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most revered temples in Ho Chi Minh. Originally built in 1909 by Chinese immigrants this Taoist temple now welcomes Buddhist worshipping and is incredibly atmospheric with incense smoke hanging heavy in the air. Intricate architecture, carvings, statues of Gods and Goddesses and Chinese characters create an exotic and timeless ambiance. 

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 17:00

Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Bitexco Tower and Sky Deck

Bitexco Tower is an ultra-modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension that acts as a helicopter landing pad. Standing at 262 meters tall, this 68 story building is the highest in all of Vietnam with a sky deck offering 360-degree views of the city and surrounding area as well as a fantastic sky bar called Alto where you can see all of Ho Chi Minh while enjoying a cocktail and some tapas-style international dishes. Head up here for sunset and don’t forget your camera!

Opening Hours: Daily 09:30 - 21:30

Address: 36 Ho Tung Mau Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Reunification Palace

The center of the allied command and the place where the North Vietnamese claimed victory in the American War, Reunification Palace has played its part in some incredible scenes. This aging palace has essentially been frozen in time since a North Vietnamese Army tank smashed through its gates in 1975. Visitors will get to discover secret rooms, grand reception halls and the command bunker where General Ngo Dinh Diem conducted his war strategies.

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 11:00 & 13:00 - 16:00

Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office

The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a glorious example of French colonial architecture, perfectly preserved with as much style as when it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office and sending a letter or postcard home is highly recommended for a taste of living history. Beautiful from any angle, this building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 - 19:00

Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Tel: +84 83 822 1677

Temple Goddess Mariamma

Temple Goddess Mariamma is a beautiful example of the bright and vibrant architecture of Hindu places of worship. As the only active Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh, it acts as a community base for the small community of Hindus living in the city. Open every day from 07:00 to 19:00, Non-Hindus are also welcome to visit, just remember to dress conservatively and take off your shoes before entering the inner temple.

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 - 19:00

Address: 45 Truong Dinh, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon

Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Located in Paris Square, the name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959.

 

A Virgin Mary statue also stands in front of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, which locals claimed to have shed tears in October 2005. While this incident was refuted by the Catholic Church of Vietnam, thousands of visitors still flock to this statue in hopes of witnessing a miracle.

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 17:00

Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

4. What to eat in Sai Gon

 

Banh Beo

Part of the cuisine from central Vietnam, Banh Beo (literally “water fern cake”) are small round discs of rice flour, formed to look like lily flower pads found in the estates surrounding the old imperial city of Hue. Topped with crunchy pork rinds and toasted shrimp powder and served with fish sauce, they are a very rewarding dish to share as they usually come in multiples of 8 or 10.

Banh Canh Cua

 

Banh canh noodles are Vietnam’s version of udon, a thicker noodle that can be made with either tapioca flour, rice flour, or a combination of the two. The "cua" in this soup is crab, and the result is a viscous crab soup with thick noodles — not for those who shrink from goopy foods. Thickened with tapioca flour (and thus gluten-free) it’s a satisfying meal for those who like their food consistencies to be adventurous, and with chilies, green onions, and fresh lime chili holder in all of Saigon.

Bot Chien

A greasy fave, bot chien involves rice flour cakes that are chopped into chunky squares and then fried in a large flat pan with whipped eggs and green onions. For those familiar with Singapore food, it’s reminiscent of chai tow kueh, but with rice instead of radish. It’s served when crispy, with a sweet rice vinegar and soy sauce concoction, and some shredded pickled young papaya to cool down the dish. 

Bun Mam

This bun mam stand is also close to Ben Thanh market, but it is often full of locals. Tourists walk by with a concerned and curious look on their face, but rarely stop in. I usually bring people here if it is their first visit to Saigon, convincing them that the words “fermented” and “fish” don’t need to be a bad thing when grouped together.

Bun Moc

A simple bowl, with savory pork and mushroom broth. Broth aside, the soup’s fun lies in its accouterments — slices of cha lua (a pork meatloaf coated in a cinnamon outer layer), slices of thin pork meat, and meatballs made of pork.

 

Despite being a pork festival, it’s actually quite light, and the thin rice noodles compliment the meat well. The soup is topped with fried shallots and fresh cilantro. Most tourists haven’t heard of bun moc, but it’s a nice counterpoint to the strong flavors of the pork and rice dishes below.

Canh Kho Qua

Not everyone enjoys bitter tastes, but for those who do: bitter melon is for you. For this dish, canh kho qua nhoi thit, the bitter melon is boiled long enough so the bitterness curls just at the end of your tongue, after the other flavours sink in. A light but comforting meal, it is served in soup form, with the melon stuffed with ground pork, wood ear mushrooms and occasionally glass noodles. It is then tied together and cooked in a clear broth, topped with cilantro for serving.

Com Tam

Com tam, literally “broken rice”, started out as a dish served with lowered prices, since the rice did not meet standards for export and was thus available at a reduced price. It is a street food staple in Saigon, found on almost every corner in one form or another.

 

The broken rice is kept to the side, with a glass shelf holding the stars of the lunch show: a panoply of incredible cooked dishes, some braised, some boiled, some stewed, that are meant to be eaten with the rice. Some of the restaurants also give you a banana as dessert.

Hu Tieu

Hu tieu soups are a complicated beast. The three most recognized types are Hu Tieu Nam Vang (hu tieu Phnom Penh style,) Hu Tieu My Tho (after the capital city of Tiền Giang Province, located in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam,) and Hu Tieu Chinese style. The Chinese had a lot to do with hu tieu being in Vietnam in the first place. […] Chinese-Cambodian brought the dish from Cambodia (hence the Phnom Penh style,) and the Vietnamese borrowed it and made their own Viet versions.

The noodles in a bowl of hu tieu can be chewy clear tapioca noodles, opaque white rice noodles like you’d use for pho noodle soup, or thin Chinese egg noodles (mi). The toppings cover a wide territory and may include boneless pork, pork ribs, pork offal, shrimp, squid, wonton dumplings, fried garlic, fried shallot, and/or scallion. As usual, you pick and choose whatever you want. Hu tieu is the extreme have-it-your-way Vietnamese food experience. I’ve seen a ‘dry’ version too but have never tried it.

5. Some useful tips

• People in Saigon are very friendly and enthusiastic, you can ask for assistance when you want to ask anything.

• Don't be afraid to pay for any item.

• Look up first and take with you a mini-map when walking around.

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