Study in Vietnam − Destination Guide Vietnam

STUDY IN HO CHI MINH CITY & EXPERIENCE THE RICH AND DYNAMIC CULTURE OF VIETNAM

Ho Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh city holds many historical locations which makes it rich and dynamic in culture.

Ho Chi Minh city is not just the country’s financial and business hub but is also the emerging education hub. Studying abroad in Ho Chi Minh city will make you both experience high quality education and discover the bustling city’s cultural heritage.

Key Facts

Red flag with a star in the middle
The flag of Vietnam

Country: Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)
Capital: Hanoi
Area: 331,210 km²
Population: 96.2 million
Language: Vietnamese
Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)
Religion: Large percentage of its population identifies a non-religious; But some practice Buddhism & Catholicism
Time Zone: GMT + 7

BEST OF HO CHI MINH CITY

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Vietnam
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral in downtown of Ho Chi Minh City

There are a lot of things that you can do when in Ho Chi Minh city (HCMc), from visiting historical places to trying out their local cuisines. Travelling is also easy, you can download the Grab app, you can either book a car or ride a bike. There are also other options like hailing a cab and if your destination is quite near, you can also opt to walk. If you will be visiting a tourist spot, you can book a tour so it will be easy for you to get around the city. Some of the places you can visit in the city during your free time are the following:

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

It was constructed between 1863 and 1880 by the French, and reaches a height of up to 60 meters. The cathedral is located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh city. It has a two-bell towers with a cross on the top of each bells. 

The cathedral is one of the places you should visit if you want to learn about the Catholicism history of the country.

Its design, apart from the intention to create a religious look, aims at showing the influence of French civilization and Christianity over Saigon. At the time it was built, the Basilica was the most beautiful cathedral of this kind amongst all French colonies. All the materials were directly imported from France like red bricks of the outside walls, which retain their bright and lively red color until today. To people’s amazement, the two bell towers, each with the height of 60.5m and 6 bronze bells have just been added in 1895.

Saigon Central Post Office

 Right across the Notre-Dame Cathedral is the Saigon Central Post Office. The building is still operating as post office and visitors can still experience the old-school way of sending postal mails. When you enter the post office, you can find a large portrait of the late Ho Chi Minh hanging in the middle.

Saigon Central Post Office in Vietnam
Saigon Central Post Office
People standing on the boat in Mekong Delta in Vietnam
Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

2 hours away from HCMC. You can join a tour going here and experience a lot of things: from visiting Pagodas, trying their local fruits, listening to folk songs being played in from of you and riding a boat from one place to another.

Saigon Skydeck Tower

View the whole Ho Chi Minh city through a glass-enclosed observation deck on the 49th floor of BITEXCO building. You can also visit the World of Heineken at the 58th floor. If you want to learn the history of the Heineken beer or you want to have free Heineken beers.

View from the observation deck
View from the observation deck -Saigon Sky-deck Tower

CLIMATE AND WEATHER

Ho Chi Minh city has a tropical savanna type of climate. The usual temperature ranges from 71°F to 94°F and is rarely below 67°F or above 97°F. The best months for Vietnam are from early December to late March. These months have the least rainfall and are the driest months.

HISTORY

Ho Chi Minh City View from Notre Dame buildings
View from Notre Dame buildings over Ho Chi Minh City

In 1976 the city has been renamed Ho Chi Minh city from Saigon to celebrate the reunification of north and south at the end of Vietnam War. The city has been named after Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary who played an important role in uniting Vietnam.

The name Ho Chi Minh means: Ho = enlightened will, Chi = will or spirit, Minh = light or light bringer. Although the city has been using Ho Chi Minh city or HCMC for the past decades, there are still many who still uses its latter name, Saigon or Sai Gon.

Furthermore, since the city has been the center of the Vietnam War and French colonization, it holds a lot of historical locations that is still present today. The city has preserved few French colonial buildings and some American-style boulevards.

SHOPPING

There are a lot of places you can visit around Ho Chi Minh city just to shop. One of the most popular is the Ben Thanh market at District 1. In here you can buy souvenirs, and local delicacies like the famous Vietnamese coffee. You can also find shops that offer a 1-day suit tailoring for men which costs around 75 EUR. This is a very popular market specially for tourists so expect that it will be crowded. You can always try to bargain for a lower price before paying especially if you will a lot of stuff from them.

There are also malls in the city, but they are often visited either to dine or because of its architectural structure.

FOOD AND DRINK

Ho Chi Minh City has a lot to offer when it comes to food. You can try the famous Pho at Pho 2000. The pho in this became a must try for both locals and tourists after the former US President Bill Clinton tried their Vietnamese Pho.

If you want to experience an authentic Vietnamese, that is also good for vegetarians, you can have a dine at Secret Garden. This has two branches in Ho Chi Minh city, one has a rooftop restaurant theme and the other one has a very private theme.

During night, you can enjoy drinking with your friends at the city. From enjoying nightlife at a rooftop bar to experiencing the popular street drinking along Pham Ngu Lao. If you are the type of person who enjoys listening to music while drinking, you can try visiting local bars that plays live bands.

a table full of Vietnam food
Vietnamese food

TRANSPORTATION AND GETTING AROUND

Transportation and getting around in vietnam
Transportation and getting around

It is easy to get around in Ho Chi Minh city. Although the do not have metro trains yet, and is still under construction, there are a lot of other transportation to choose from.

  • Grab – this one is very easy to use, just pin your pick-up and destination on the app. You can pay in cash or via credit card. A ride from District 1 to 2, may cost you around 4 EUR.
  • Metered Taxi – cabs are still present in Ho Chi Minh city. If you are having a hard time to book Grab, you can hail a cab.
  • Public Buses – there are also public buses in Ho Chi Minh city. You must do a little research when planning to take a bus, so you know which bus number to take. Bus fares are a lot cheaper than any other mode of transportation in the city. A single ride could cost you around 0.20 EUR.
  • Xe Om – the local name for motorbike taxi. They do not have an app for this one. You can spot them in different areas and just need to approach them if they can take you to your destination. You can negotiate the price with the driver if you have an idea of how much fare usually cost.

Currency

The Vietnamese currency is called Vietnamese Dong (VND) and is often represented with the symbol “d”. It may be hard to have your home currency exchanged to VND in your home country, but you can always opt to have it exchanged at the Vietnam airport. There are also foreign currency exchange establishments in malls and in the streets of Ho Chi Minh city.

 

You can also opt to pay using credit card in some establishments like hotels, shopping centers/malls, and fancier restaurants. However, some food establishments along the streets may not have this option though food in Ho Chi Minh city is cheap and average daily spending cost can be around 9 EUR.

Still, it is always safe to have VND cash in your pocket whenever you go out.

currency in vietnam - dong
Vietnam – Currency (dong)

SAFETY

Ho Chi Minh city is a relatively safe city for tourists and travellers. One of the country’s top source of income is tourism so they put their visitor’s safety as one of their priorities. However, you should still be aware of getting scammed and always be cautious of your belongings.

VACCINATIONS

Recommended travel vaccinations for Vietnam are for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies.

It is also advisable to keep up to date with your routine vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.