First Timer’s Travel Tips For Saigon

If you’re traveling someplace, especially for the first time, it never hurts to learn a little about the area you’re visiting. If you’re headed for a boutique hotel in Saigon, it might be prudent to read these little tidbits.

  • First impressions.
    • Ho Chi Minh City, more informally known by and referred to by its old name, Saigon, Vietnam’s most populated city, beating out even the capital, Hanoi. It was once just the city of Saigon, until the merger with Gia Định Province back in 1976, led to the renaming in honour of the communist leader that is credited with the unification of Vietnam at the end of ‘Nam.
  • When to head there.
    • Saigon, unlike the capital has only two seasons: dry and wet. The former goes from December to April, the latter from May to November. The area’s in a tropical zone, so it’s fairly warm all year round. All the same, it’s still best to visit during the dry season, despite the heat . In terms of holidays, Vietnam does celebrate Christmas and New Year, despite being primarily Buddhist, though the Tet; the Vietnamese New Year, which happens between the end of January and the start of February.
  • Stay for a while. Or not.
    • Most people treat Saigon as a stopover to Vietnam’s more provincial destinations, usually Da Lat or Mekong Delta. That being said, the city does have a lot to offer, so a few days of staying in the area is worthwhile.
  • Got any cash?
    • Having local currency on you whilst in another country is prudent, whether you’re in a boutique hotel in Saigon, or on a bus to Hanoi, most services and establishments in Vietnam will only accept the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Even by Southeast Asia’s standards, Vietnam is pretty cheap. You’ll probably need at least 700,000 VND/daily to handle your essentials plus some light shopping. Having some extra can’t hurt. Of course, if you’re looking to exchange your foreign currencies, banks and jewellery shops are the best place to handle that particular issue.
  • By air or by land?
    • There are a lot of ways to get into the city, you have the option of Uber/Grab, taxi, and bus. There’s also some hotels that offer a private transfer, which might not be the cheapest, but it allows for direct travel from your airport to your hotel.

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