Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam, and has a personality all its own. Full of interesting museums and historical sights, the city itself has enough to keep one busy for days on end. HCMC is also the gateway to the Mekong Delta- an incredible place of beauty and diversity at the southern tip of the country.
HCMC is serviced by the Tan Son Nhat International airport- the largest airport in Vietnam. It is also the origin/end point for the hop-on/hop-off tourist buses, as well as the Reunification Express railway, which links to Hanoi.
A trip to the Mekong Delta is best organized while in HCMC- there are trips of varying lengths that hit the highlights of the area.
Things to do in HCMC and the Mekong Delta
- Visit a museum, or six- The Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, the HCMC Museum, the Museum of Vietnamese History- all worth the time of having a look.
- Shop ‘til you drop- HCMC has an incredible street market, where one can find anything and everything. Knock offs, cheap souvenirs, war relics, local textiles- it is incredible. DELICIOUS street food as well. Don’t miss it...
- Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels- A Vietnam War site, the Cu Chi tunnel system is located just outside of HCMC, and is an interesting place to visit, even if you’re not a Vietnam War history buff. If you’ve got any sort of claustrophobia, you might want to pass on actually crawling through the tunnels. They are TIGHT.
- Get out of the ‘Western Quarter’- Though you’ll most likely be staying here- Backpacker Central in HCMC- there is so much more to see in and around HCMC. Ask at your accommodation about some good parts of the city to see for a more authentic vibe.
- Take a trip out into the Mekong Delta- beautiful scenery, locally made candy, and an adventure in itself, the Mekong Delta is well worth spending a few days to explore.
- Find the BBQ Master in the HCMC Night Market- the best street food in SE Asia, hands down.
- Shop around for your Mekong Delta trip, and negotiate on the price.
- There is the opportunity to shoot some serious guns at the Cu Chi Tunnel complex, but it’s pretty expensive, though you do get some serious bang for your buck... Sorry, had to say it.
- Bargain and haggle, haggle and bargain- the first price the vendors at the night markets give you is probably 4 times what they’ll actually sell for. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you can’t get the price you want- you’ll find the same thing a few doors down.