Going on any trip abroad can be both fun and confusing for inexperienced travelers. This can be doubly true if you’re going to a country with a culture as unique as Vietnam’s. And if you’re choosing one of the country’s biggest tourist hotspots in Ho Chi Minh City for your first time abroad, you’ll likely have an even harder time. But even newbie travelers can end up enjoying their first trip as long as they come prepared. If you’re looking to visit Ho Chi Minh City, here are tips you should keep in mind to help you enjoy your stay.
Booking an Accommodation
As one of the region’s busiest cities and most popular tourist destinations, Ho Chi Minh City has no shortage of accommodation options to choose from. Indeed, you can even book a convenient place to stay by putting in a search for hotels near Tan Son Nhat Airport. Locals tend to get the best results by searching, “Khách Sạn Gần Sân Bay Tân Sơn Nhất.” This way, you’ll have an easier time getting to your hotel once you’ve landed, as well as lessen the likelihood of missing your flight back home. Alternatively, you can book a more modest accommodation nearer to the heart of the city to add a more authentic vibe to your stay. When it comes to booking an accommodation, you won’t have a hard time in Ho Chi Minh City. Just consider how you’d like your tour to go, and book the place that will match your preference and budget.
There are many transportation options once you’ve reached Ho Chi Minh City. Because the train system is underdeveloped compared to more developed countries, most locals prefer to go around by taking the bus. However, for tourists who don’t speak or read Vietnamese, the learning curve can be a bit high if you want to get around through buses.
Because of this, you’ll have to rely more on taxis for convenience—especially if you want to travel longer distances. Alternatively, you can also get around through ride-sharing apps. In Ho Chi Minh City, Grab has a reliable network and should be a viable option if you’re having a hard time hailing a cab.
Cash vs Credit
Unlike with other tourist destinations in more developed countries, you won’t encounter as many establishments that support credit card or NFC payments in Ho Chi Minh City. However, you may still use these forms of payment if you’ll be dining in bigger restaurants or staying in a hotel. Nevertheless, remember to have plenty of cash on you for your general shopping needs. This is also especially important if you’ll be going around sampling some local delicacies like banh mi (Vietnamese baguettes) or pho (Vietnamese noodles) in small eateries around the city. Indeed, before you even leave for the airport, make sure you have enough cash converted to the Vietnamese Dong to last through your entire stay.
Wearing Proper Clothes
As with the rest of Southeast Asia, most of Vietnam only has two seasons: the wet and the dry. Compared to countries in temperate regions, this means higher but more stable temperatures. For many westerners, this means that you should pack a lot of comfortable clothing to keep yourself cool during your stay. But if you’re looking to visit the city’s many temples, then you want to make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing. Ensure that whatever you’re wearing to any temple covers your shoulders and reaches up to your ankles. This means no tank tops or shorts if you want to enter a Buddhist temple.
Other Safety Tips
As with most major cities in developing nations, security isn’t guaranteed in Ho Chi Minh City. Just as a precaution, you should remain vigilant while walking through the streets and avoid bringing along flashy accessories. After all, you wouldn’t want to attract thieves with your expensive jewelry or designer bags. And if you’re planning on taking pictures during your stay, always mind your smartphone or camera to avoid getting it stolen while you’re distracted.
Much like visiting any other foreign country, traveling to Vietnam can mean encountering understandable difficulties when it comes to adjusting to local customs. The cultural difficulties can be further exaggerated when you visit major metropolitan areas like Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. But as long as you keep the above tips in mind, you’re sure to have a great time taking in the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese urban life.