Ho Chi Minh City

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Fodor's Essential Vietnam
Written by locals, Fodor's Essential Vietnam travel guidebook offers expert advice and...

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Romantically referred to by the French as the Pearl of the Orient, Ho Chi Minh City today is a supercharged city of sensory overload. Motorbikes zoom day and night along the wide boulevards, through narrow back alleys, and past vendors pushing handcarts hawking goods of all descriptions. Still called Saigon by most residents, this is Vietnam's largest city and the engine driving the country's current economic resurgence, but despite its frenetic pace, it's a friendlier place than Hanoi, and locals will tell you the food—simple, tasty, and incorporating many fresh herbs—is infinitely better than in the capital.

This is a city full of surprises. The madness of the traffic—witness the oddball things that are transported on the backs of motorcycles—is countered by tranquil pagodas, peaceful parks, quirky coffee shops, and whole neighborhoods hidden down tiny alleyways, although some of these quiet spots can be difficult to track down. Life in Ho Chi Minh City is lived in public: on motorcycles, sidewalks, and in the parks. Even when its residents are at home, they're still on display, with many living rooms opening onto the street; grandmothers napping, babies being rocked, and food being prepared, are all in full view of passersby.

Icons of the past endure in the midst of the city’s headlong rush into capitalism. The Hotel Continental, immortalized in Graham Greene's The Quiet American, continues to stand on the corner of old Indochina's most famous thoroughfare, the Rue Catinat, known to American G.I.s during the Vietnam War as Tu Do (Freedom) Street and renamed Dong Khoi (Uprising) Street by the Communists. The city still has its ornate opera house and its old French city hall, the Hôtel de Ville. The broad colonial boulevards leading to the Saigon River and the gracious stucco villas are other remnants of the French-colonial presence. Grisly reminders of the more recent past can be seen at the city's war-related museums. Residents, however, prefer to look forward rather than back and are often perplexed by tourists' fascination with a war that ended more than 40 years ago.

The Chinese influence on the country is still very much in evidence in the Cholon district, the city's Chinatown, but the modern office towers and international hotels that mark the skyline symbolize Vietnam's fixation on the future.

Fodor's Essential Vietnam
Written by locals, Fodor's Essential Vietnam travel guidebook offers expert advice and...

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Language

Vietnamese

Electrical Outlets

220v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Vietnamese dong

Local Weather

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Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

Language

Vietnamese

Electrical Outlets

220v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Vietnamese dong

Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

The best time to visit the city is during the cooler dry season, roughly between November and April. Don't discount a visit during rainy season...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City with curated recommendations from our editors.

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Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

The best time to visit the city is during the cooler dry season, roughly between November and April. Don't discount a visit during rainy season...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

The best time to visit the city is during the cooler dry season, roughly between November and April. Don't discount a visit during rainy season...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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Fodor's Essential Vietnam
Written by locals, Fodor's Essential Vietnam travel guidebook offers expert advice and...

View Details

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