Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Do's and Don'ts

Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, is full of traveler do’s (and a few don’ts).

For instance, DO know that Ho Chi Minh City was called Saigon until it was renamed in 1975. DON’T worry about confusing the two city names; many locals still fondly refer to the city as Saigon. Here are a few more do’s and don’ts that will have you navigating around the city in no time:

Do enjoy Ho Chi Minh City’s French influences. The late 19th-century French architecture of the Saigon Opera House is a reminder of Vietnam’s history of French colonialism. Another leftover of the French colonialists is the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral along Do Dong Khoi. Adjacent to the cathedral stands the impressive Central Post Office, which was designed by Eiffel Tower architect Gustave Eiffel.

Don’t attempt to drive a motorbike. Jump on the back of one instead. Make sure to negotiate the price with the driver before you hop on – a dollar or two per short ride should suffice. Definitely do hang on tight!

Do wine and dine for under $20. Dine on the outside patio at Quan An Ngon Restaurant and indulge in a bottle of wine and multi-course meal for well under $20. This delicious Ho Chi Minh eatery will leave you and your wallet full. Xu Restaurant is a bit more pricey, but one of the city’s most elegant Vietnamese restaurants.

Don’t worry about exchanging your dollars for dongs. U.S. dollars are gladly accepted in Vietnam. Make sure to bring one-dollar bills, and lots of them; they’ll come in particularly handy when bargaining at the Bến Thành Market. This indoor market is the place to stock up on hand-crafted pieces and accessories such as delicate chopsticks, wide-brim sun hats and colorful Vietnamese woven cotton totes (you might want to snatch a few of these unique bags).

Do try on try on some Saigon fashions. Khai Silk along Do Dong Khoi sells some of the city’s finest silk pieces. Thuy Nga Design, located in the elegant Opera House, is the definition of Vietnamese couture. Famous for their elaborate embroidery and brilliantly hued silk apparel, the incredibly wearable designs at Thuy Nga are nothing short of exquisite.

Don’t go to Apocalypse Now before midnight. This famous club is a tourist favorite, but doesn’t liven up until twelve. For a more relaxed atmosphere, check out the chic Q Bar lounge in the Opera House. For casual drinks and bar scene, visit Go2 Bar. Located on a lively street corner, this bar is always abuzz with international visitors.

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