Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is still known locally, is one of the most extraordinary cities in Asia. With a population of close to eight million people, this booming free-market city is ablaze with life.

It is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and bars side-by side with roadside noodle stalls, street children and vociferous cyclo drivers. It is said that there are four million motorbikes and scooters in the city and the battle for road space in rush hour has to be seen to be believed. Bustling, booming, crowded and noisy – all words that barely scratch the surface of the addictive and often mesmerising chaos that is Saigon.

And yet within the madness are pockets of tranquillity and calm. Grand colonial era buildings and boulevards, parks and rivers and an array of cuisine served from roadside cafes to high end restaurant; it’s no wonder that British author Graham Greene was so drawn in by Ho Chi Minh’s charm that it inspired one of his greatest literary feats. “The Quiet American” was penned during his stay at the iconic Caravelle Hotel, now a deluxe hotel located in the centre of the city.

When it comes to hotels, whether you are looking for five-star luxury, or a smaller boutique hotel with local charm, Ho Chi Minh has it all. For the ultimate in luxurious living, try the beautiful Park Hyatt Saigon; a boutique 5 star hotel with world class facilities and a fantastic outdoor swimming pool. The centrally located Lavender Hotel offers comfort and basic amenities, whilst keeping you close to the action in downtown Ho Chi Minh. The Duxton Hotel is one of our favourite hotels in Ho Chi Minh with an excellent location, pool, spa, gym, restaurant and comfortable rooms. Or, why not try escaping the dizzying rush as day gives way to night by heading to the rooftop restaurant of the charmingly colonial Hotel Majestic. Sit back, relax and let the city whiz by you whilst enjoying unrivalled views of the city illuminated at night.

Excellent shopping is possible in the city’s two huge markets and stores. For a truly unique experience, join the throngs of locals on two wheels and take a Saigon Vespa Tour; the coolest way to explore undiscovered corners of the city. As well as city tours, it is also possible to take half day trips to the famous Cu Chi tunnels of the Viet Cong. In order to understand Saigon and where its residents are coming from, it really does make sense to combine the tunnels with the War Remnants Museum. Further afield, the city can be used as a base for excursions to the Mekong Delta, where the mighty Mekong River concludes its winding journey from Tibet. Take to the water in a traditional sampan (flat-bottomed, wooden boat) and cruise past colourful floating markets and shimmering rice paddies.  We generally suggest tours to the vibrant waterways of Cai Be; packed with fruit orchards, floating markets and lush tropical flora and fauna. A trip to Cai Be will truly take you away from the main tourist route and give you an authentic taste of real life in the Mekong region.


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