The balcony was small and had no view but at least it has the merit of existing. The breakfast served on 7th floor bar and restaurant at the top of the hotel was correct but limited. With nightlife nearby all in all a good place to stay. However, beware if you book the cheapest room available through Agoda I would say not the best deal and no the better place to stay.
Middle range hotel well located in the Western Quarter near Ben Nghe with many resturants, bars, and massages. Entertaiment side, the hotel is 20 mins walk to Benh Thah market and provide a easy acces to the Lush, Apocalypse Now and Shark Discotheques located at proximity. Guest Friendly policy reply by The Sophia Hotel: Small budget hotel in a central location. My deluxe room with a window I booked for one night was neat and clean. Nothing fancy here. Good budget hotel located in the busy Bui Vien walking-street with many excellent small bars, restaurants and tourist activities.
Not much to say here: No far from Pham Ngu Lao and Central market less than 10 min walking. Standard rooms are small, deluxe rooms a bit larger. Nothing exceptional or fancy here except the good price and the central location. Particularly recommended if you are in the budget. You will enjoy position in the shopping, sports and religious interests hub of Ho Chi Minh City. Mariamman Hindu temple is located at proximity and hotel is about 3 to 4 blocks away from Independence Palace. This hotel has also advantage to provide good and easy location to public transportation.
Small modest hotel conveniently located in district 1, close to China Town and about five minutes from town by taxi. Rooms while small with classic decor boasts a number of upscale touches like terra cotta tile and marble. The hotel also comprises a number of larger deluxe rooms which include a small living room, bedroom and two baths, and represent great value.
Ideal for single budget travelers.
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Guest Friendly policy reply by The Empress Hotel: The Blue Diamond Signature Hotel is a very good middle range hotel in a good location in the city, close to Ben Thanh which is really just a tourist hub , and a lot of other stuff too. The hotel offers both price and quality. The rooms are nice, clean, cozy and comes with everything you could need: The Cap Town is a modern hotel centrally located few minutes away from the central market and 10 minute walk to the lively backpacker tourist area. Rooms are well laid out, attractive and spacious with medium sized LCD TV, safe, small desk, and modern bathroom.
The breakfast was most satisfactory as the selection, ample, offering both vietnamese and western food. Free wifi. High floor are preferred. The Signature Saigon is small pleasant hotel typical of a lot of new 3-star hotels in Vietnam: Many restaurants and cafes in the local area. Superior rooms have no windows but Deluxe rooms and Junior suites with windows are convenient and highly recommended. The Thien Tung is a another good base in District 1, short walk to the Ben Thanh market around meters and Saigon Square, so in an excellent place to shopping and bargains.
Offering rooms with flat screen TV, sitting spastyle bathtub bathroom, and providing indoor-pool, small gym and traditional asian breakfast, this small hotel is also a good value for money. A conveniently 3. Bathroom is spa bath style perfect place to relax after a day long day. Many attractions and landmarks at proximity including famous sightseeing places, nightlife and restaurants. The hotel is being renovating now so it is noisy, please note if you intend to sleep late. Great Location directly in front of all the action in Pham Ngu Lao!
Big room executive Deluxe with Balcony facing the park. Big bathroom, very comfortable bed, everything is pvovided for! Breakfast is on the Top Terrace, good breakfast , terribly addictive coffee here, thick and smooth! Fast wifi! I have no complains at all! The hotel is in a good location close to Ben Thanh Station and Market, perfect for shopping and nightlife.
The rooms are well appointed, spacious and the newest bathroom was definitely a special surprise. Reasonably priced, though the pool was small, but clean, comfortable to lounging on the rooftop. The Saigon Pavillon Serviced Apartment is a really nice apartment complex in the heart of Ho Chi Minh, 10 minute walk to main attractions of District 1.
Rooms are clean, spacious, and comes fully-furnished, kitchen with full equipments too. Hotel also features a small gym, a roof pool too and there is a good selection of restaurants and shopping facilities at proximity. Not really a hotel, more a place perfectly recommended for long stay. The hotel set in an very quiet alley but close to the main road and near to the restaurants, coffee shops, shopping center, pubs and around 10 minutes walk from Ben Thanh market.
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Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel. Saigon Pavillon Serviced Apartment. They have uniformed taxi wardens who will try to capture your business as you approach. Taxi rates are very reasonable in HCMC as long as you use a reputable company and the meter is used. At the airport, Mai Linh taxi wardens wear green shirts with green ties, and Vinasun wardens dark green shirts with maroon ties. These wardens can radio taxis for you. Be cautious of taxis from dubious companies with names that resemble the reputable companies mentioned above.
It has been reported that such companies charge outrageous fares to unsuspecting passengers, sometimes by using meters that run faster or by manually increasing the fare when passengers are not looking. There have also been instances of taxi drivers from such companies driving off with passengers' belongings still in the boot. Other taxi companies with smaller fleets that have been reported as reliable include Festive Taxi , Happy Taxi , Hoang Long yellow top and green sides , Petro Vietnam silver and green , Petrolimex white, blue and orange , Savico blue , Taxi Future silver with orange lettering and Vinataxi bright yellow.
Budget Car Rental offers English-speaking drivers and new model vehicles. A trip to the city costs a fixed price of , dong. Most private tour company buses drop passengers off on Pham Ngu Lao just west of De Tham, providing easy access to accommodation options in the backpacker area. Of course, this means that you'll have at least 40 people shopping for the same rooms, which can be daunting as the nearby spots get snapped up. Patience will reward those who dig deeper into the tiny alleys, which have a life of their own.
As you hop out of the bus, taxi drivers will surround you with questions like "Where you go? You'll most likely already be in Pham Ngu Lao and when you tell taxi driver to head to the same place, he'll just zigzag around a few blocks to inflate the fare. Visas to Vietnam cannot be obtained at the border, so have one before you arrive see " Cope " below.
Capital Tours operates a popular bus route from the Capital Guest House in Phnom Penh that takes passengers to the border. The ticket office at the train station has limited English proficiency. Other options include travel agencies, also in Pham Ngu Lao. There are five daily departures from Hanoi along the "Reunification line". Although several of the trains are called "express", all journeys take about 30 to 35 hours. The fastest train is SE3 departing from Hanoi at However, SE5 departing at Ticket prices are from 1,,—1,, dong for standard carriages and double that for tourist carriages.
Taxis are the most comfortable way of getting around, and very modest in price compared to other major cities in the world. Rates fluctuate over time depending on the cost of fuel. Expect to pay around 15,, dong per kilometre. Taxis are numerous and it's usually not hard to flag one down anywhere in the city centre from early morning until about Taxi rates are not regulated by the city government, so each company sets its own fare structure which changes from time to time.
You cannot choose a taxi at random and expect a standard fare; it is a caveat emptor market with a fringe of opportunistic drivers to overcharge foreigners. In general, the only taxi companies you should use are Mai Linh and Vinasun , as the risk of getting ripped off is much higher with the other companies.
Dishonest taxi drivers may start driving without starting their meters, then demand a high fare or try to negotiate for a fixed price at a location where it's difficult for you to hire another cab. Therefore, make sure your taxi driver agrees to use the meter, and turns it on before you get in. As mentioned above, some taxi companies such as Mai Linh and Vinasun have meters in their taxis that start automatically once the vehicle starts moving. Also beware of "fixed" meters. Drivers generally speak and do not speak any foreign languages, so it's wise to write the name and address of your destination, preferably in Vietnamese, to show the taxi driver; your hotel staff can assist.
Pointing the destination on a map application on your phone also works well.
It helps to carry one of your hotel's business cards so you can return to the hotel without too much fuss. Carry small change and notes for paying fares, since drivers are often short of change. Taxis are mostly Toyota Vios sedans up to four passengers and Toyota Innova minivans up to six passengers , which are assembled in Vietnam and inexpensive to buy. Fares are almost always the same regardless of car model, although anything larger than an Innova generally costs more.
Some older cars might lack working air conditioners. Taxi drivers are likely to drive too fast when given the chance. Ho Chi Minh City has a unique traffic pattern in which cars and buses drive in the centre lanes on two-way streets, or the left lanes on one-way streets, while the outside or right lanes are reserved for motorcycles. During weekday rush hours, the car lanes often barely move for blocks on end, while the motorcycle lanes move a bit faster.
Taxi drivers vary in their tendency to squeeze into the motorcycle lane and jump ahead of other cars. In theory, they can be fined for doing so. Rush-hour traffic in the city has become so bad that you might consider just planning not to go anywhere between Using a taxi booking app may also prove less hassle and avoid being over charged. Regional operator Grab Taxi has a free app to download. For trips outside of the city or for the convenience of having a private vehicle for the day, hiring a car with a driver for the day is a good option.
Many of the taxi companies such as Mai Linh and Vinasun offer these services. It is geared more towards local commuters than tourists, but one of its stops is located near the Hotel Majestic, making it easily accessible from the Opera House and other downtown attractions. Getting to Vung Tau by hydrofoil is normally a good way to see the commercial maritime areas as the boat speeds down the Saigon River to the sea. The cost is , dong for adults and , dong for children. If you are planning to visit Vung Tao be sure to consult a Vietnamese calendar. Tickets often sell out over holidays.
All riders are now required to wear helmets, a rule that is strongly enforced. Make sure the driver supplies you with a helmet. If he doesn't, find another one, as you'll be the one stung for the fine. Agree on a price before you set off. Short hops around town shouldn't be more than 20, dong, if you go between districts this increases and all the way to the airport around 70, dong. Drivers are generally quite friendly and will go slower upon request. They're also not adverse to a bear hug if you're really struggling to hold on to the motorbike.
Many of the moto drivers, especially in District 1, speak some English and like many Vietnamese will repay you in a flood of smiles, and probably point out all the sights, if you make a little effort to get to know them. You can rent your own motorbike in many places, especially around the backpacker area Pham Ngu Lao in District 1.
Two main categories of motorbike are available for rent: The ubiquitous Honda Super Cub is a common 4-speed bike that has a semi-automatic gearbox, i. Other models may be fully manual and therefore you must also operate the clutch using your left hand. This takes a lot of skill and it's all too easy to over-rev and pull a wheelie or stall the engine.
If you end up with such a bike then practice releasing the clutch gently before hitting the roads. Rental agents tend to steer foreigners toward scooters if available, on the plausible assumption that they don't know how to ride motorbikes that have manual gears. Motorcycles of cc and above are only legal to ride if you make a connection with a Vietnamese motorcycle club. Driving in Saigon is best left to experienced drivers. The traffic is intense and has its own rhythms and logic.
However, if you're up for an adventure, it's best to keep a few things in mind: Beware of thieves: Independent parking lots are scattered around the pavements, alleys and basements of the city. Look for rows of neatly-parked motorbikes or signs that say giu xe. If you are here during the rainy season, make sure to buy a poncho or a raincoat before you start. They are available for as little as 10, dong. It rains daily for around 1—2 hours between However, the traffic doesn't stop, it just becomes more chaotic.
If you are hesitant or have not driven in such conditions before, it might be prudent to park and wait. Riding long distance in the countryside can also be harrowing depending on the route you take. Major roads between cities tend to be narrow despite being major, and full of tour buses hellbent on speed, passing slow trucks where maybe they shouldn't, and leaving not much room at the edge for motorbikes.
Most places you would want to stop have parking attendants who will issue you a numbered tag and watch over your bike. Sometimes these parking operations are overseen by the establishment you are visiting, and sometimes they are free-lance operations set up in places where a lot of people go. You will usually see rows of bikes lined up parked. Depending on circumstances, you might park the bike yourself, or just put it in neutral and let the staff position it.
In all but rare cases you keep the key. Parking is sometimes free at restaurants and cafes look for "giu xe mien phi". Elsewhere, fees range from 2, to 5, dong. Traffic police in the cities pull over lots of locals, for reasons that are hard to discern, but conventional wisdom has it that they rarely bother foreigners due to the language barrier. Obeying the traffic laws is nevertheless advisable, especially if you have failed to obtain a Vietnamese licence.
Cities like Ho Chi Minh have several one way streets, and it is too easy to just steer into them unknowingly as there are limited signs warning you. If you break the law, the police are sure to pull you over and fine you. They will also threaten confiscating your bike. The quoted price for fine is negotiable, and being apologetic and friendly can get you back on road quickly, with a few dollars less in your pockets. It is less likely that they will bully or harass you.
A ride on a cyclo through HCMC is a great way to see the city the way the locals do. Cyclos resemble a backwards tricycle, with the passenger s sitting in front and the driver peddling at the rear. The sights, sounds and smells are a large part of the excitement of the city, and are best experienced at the relaxed pace of a cyclo. A word of warning: For many reasons, not least the government's insistence on restricting cyclos on busy urban streets, this form of transportation is dying.
But at around 36, dong per hour and given their leisurely pace, they are a good choice for taking in the city. Be sure to bargain hard with the cyclo driver beforehand. Some drivers have been known to try to change an agreed price at journey's end. Another ruse is to stop unbidden at places where the driver earns a commission. To avoid these problems, make sure all are clear on price and destination at departure. Bright green public buses serve routes throughout the city.
You can find maps of the bus system at the large Ben Thanh bus station across the street from Ben Thanh Market in District 1. Go into the waiting room to the desk in the middle. The buses are cheap, safe and not too crowded. Many are modern and comfortable, with such amenities as air conditioning, music, and even television. Finding the right line can be a challenge if you don't speak Vietnamese, but with the help of maps and your hotel staff you can get where you want easily.
If you cannot find your way, ask the locals nicely, they will try their best to help. At the biggest bus stations you can read bus destinations at every single stop useful, for example, if you need to get to Cholon. A bus route can also be found using Google Maps. The number of the bus route will display along with its frequency and time to destination. The buses are efficient and fast. Most are staffed by two employees: The driver keeps the bus moving while the fare collector interacts with the passengers. If you show the collector your trip on your phone, they'll charge you the correct fare and flag you when it's time to get off.
Locals claim, plausibly, that buses are even faster than taxis. The reason is that buses have an informal right of way on the streets of HCMC; when another vehicle sees a bus coming, that vehicle gets out of the way. Taxis know that they are supposed to back down from confrontations with buses. Buses are also cheaper, 4,, dong per ride, and safer than many of the alternatives. The biggest problem is that when you get off the bus, you become a pedestrian see below.
This means two things: Second, buses often do not come to complete stops, but slow down just enough to let passengers on and off; this is especially true the farther you get from the city center. The bus is more likely to come to a complete stop if there are elderly persons entering or exiting or a large group waiting at a bus stop. Also, if you are trying to catch a bus during rush hour traffic, it may not always be able to make its way to the side of the road where the stop is, so it may stop for passengers towards the middle of the road.
The website of the bus authority includes bus direction finder and real-time departure times.
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Routes and schedules are also available in apps including Google Maps. Traffic is made up of a staggering number of motorbikes and, since import duty was reduced when Vietnam's joined the World Trade Organization, an increasing number of private cars. Crossing the road in Saigon can be a nightmare. It is always scary. If ever in doubt, Saigon's "Tourist Security" officers guys in green uniforms will happily help you across. A quicker way of getting across is to simply follow the lead of a local crossing the street. The true trick to crossing the road is to stay aware, and walk slowly and confidently.
The motorbike riders are exceptionally good and will simply move to avoid you, just don't make any sudden erratic moves. Just look for a gap or seam in the traffic, and begin a slow, but steady movement. If you hear a beep coming your way it's likely a motorbike rider is about to enter your personal space. Be alert and prepared to stop putting your foot forward until he passes. Adherence to traffic signals in Saigon is terrible. Drivers tend to use "best judgment". Just remember though that vehicles can always turn right at any time regardless of lights.
Motorbikes often drive in the wrong direction to take a short cut from point A to point B even against the traffic flow. Crossing roads therefore maybe a challenge for Westerners used to traffic laws and traffic lights. The traffic police occupy themselves with random roadside checks and do not bother the motorcyclists who are running red lights or driving on the pavements.
The police have announced a crackdown on pedestrians. This does not mean that they will hassle you. The most likely meaning of the crackdown is that you will be held responsible if you are involved in an accident.
Ho Chi Minh City
A metro system is under construction. It had been scheduled to open in , but has been plagued by massive delays, with the latest estimates putting the opening at some time in or perhaps even later. Most hotels will provide a free tourist map of District 1 although these tend to be advertising-centric. The Sheraton has one of the best of these and will provide one if you ask at reception.
Fahasa Books also carries a full range of maps. They have two large stores in District 1: MySherpa Travel have also published tourist maps of central District 1 with all shops and points of interest marked. As in most other parts of Vietnam, the main language is Vietnamese. The local dialect is the southern, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken in Hanoi , though speakers of both dialects are usually able to comprehend each other.
English is spoken by most of the younger well-educated upper class. Educated senior citizens are usually able to speak French , though generally speaking, English is far more useful these days. Ho Chi Minh City is also home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese community, mostly around Chinatown and many of them are bilingual in Cantonese and Vietnamese.
Many of them also speak Mandarin. There are several Chinese temples in Cholon , the Chinatown district of old Saigon. Only a few are listed here. Ho Chi Minh City is a good place to experience traditional Vietnamese performances in a tourist-friendly way. For those who prefer more modern interpretations of Vietnamese culture, Lune Production stages several shows in the magnificent colonial-era Saigon Opera House , the most famous of which is the aforementioned AO Show.
Vietnamese arts and crafts, or mass-produced resin knock-offs thereof, are sold by dozens of shops around the central tourist district. The best, most expensive items can be mostly found on Dong Khoi or the immediate side streets. The goods tend to get progressively simpler and cheaper as you move west toward Ben Thanh Market though the best wood-carving shop is a stall on the back side of Ben Thanh.
A few shops have authentic woven silk textiles from Sapa and the north. Lacquered paintings, plates, bowls, etc. Vietnamese propaganda posters can be very impressive and offer a taste of history. It is very useful to have local currency when buying. Banks and formal exchanges will provide you with a decent rate, especially when compared with agencies like Statravel on Vui Ban St which will offer much lower rates.
Goldsmith shops will also change money at decent rates, though as always it is better to know the going rate than to trust to luck. There are two good guide books for shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City: Vietnamese silk is excellent quality. Buying a suit can be fun and relatively cheap, but do your research first, and remember that you get what you pay for.
Labour costs are not what make suits expensive. Any tailor should have multiple fittings, preferably three with the third just being a check-up that probably won't require further alteration. Visiting the local electronics district on and around Huynh Thuc Khang is quite a sight, where anything and everything is repaired, and nothing wasted.