Ho Chi Minh Abbreviations

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest city, larger than the capital Hanoi. The city has over 6.5 million inhabitants and over 300,000 businesses are located there, making it the core of Vietnam’s thriving economy.

Ho Chi Minh City still has neighborhoods characterized by over seventy years of French colonial rule and also has a large proportion of Chinese residents. Many Norwegians are still unaware that Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon are one and the same city. After North and South Vietnam became one nation again in 1975, the name of South Vietnam’s capital was changed from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the country father and guerrilla leader Ho Chi Minh. But the locals in the south still prefer to use the name Saigon in everyday speech.

Ho Chi Minh City is not the place to go on a longer holiday. Most tourists use Ho Chi MInh City only as a stopover to or from another destination in Vietnam. In many ways this is understandable as the city is not a romantic destination, nor a place you take with children. Ho Chi Minh City, like most other Asian metropolitan cities, is polluted, noisy, hectic and chaotic, and to top it all off, it became the carpet bomb during the 1960s war. But Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s cultural hub and offers a humming sea of ​​pavement restaurants and markets where everything is sold and bought. These are impressions that fascinate and leave traces.

It is hot in Ho Chi Minh City all year, even during the rainy season June – September. Normally, it is best to visit the city from December to April.

Get to know Ho Chi Minh City

If you have not been to an Asian metropolis before, the first encounter with Ho Chi Minh City can be a rather violent experience. The city is buzzing with sounds and smells, and there are a lot of visual impressions. When you stroll around the streets, it will rarely be more than a minute before someone offers you to take a motorcycle taxi, buy books, sunglasses, cigarettes, lighters, etc., which can be very tedious in the long run. The heat and humidity are usually like a sponge over the city, and the noise level from the traffic is deafening, even at night. Vietnamese drivers use the horn unstoppable, so remember ear plugs if you want to close your eyes!

Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 24 districts. As a regular tourist, you are hardly interested in more than a few of them. Most will spend most of their time in District 1, where many of the tourist attractions are located. It is this district that most associates with Saigon, though the name is still used throughout the city in daily speech.

Most of the attractions in Saigon are so close to each other that there is no problem for a fairly skinny person to visit most of the day. That is, if you are willing to embark on traffic. The few streets and intersections have traffic lights, and where they are located, far from all road users are willing to be stopped by a red light. If you have to cross a street (and you must, sooner or later), there is no need to wait for the coast to clear, because it never will. In fact, you just have to go out into the stream (Slowly! Don’t Run!) And maneuver yourself over to the other side as mopeds, cars and bikes rage past at a hair’s distance. The first day, most of us are most impressed and surprised that we do not witness fatal accidents every minute.The absolute easiest and cheapest way to get around Saigon is to use a motorcycle taxi or hire a cyclo driver. These can be found everywhere, or rather; they find you the moment you leave your hotel.

The Dong Choi area with the nearby streets of La Loi and Nguyen Hue is the best (and most expensive) area for shopping. Here you will find fashion boutiques, shopping malls, administration buildings and the larger and better hotels. This is the most modern part of Ho Chi Minh City, and not too much here reminds you that you are in Asia.

Also within walking distance are the Ho Chi Minh City Museum and the Old Presidential Palace, now called the Reunification Palace. To the south of this is the Pham Ngo Lao district, which mainly attracts the younger guard. Here you will find many of the cheaper hotels, bars and restaurants, Internet cafes and bicycle and moped rentals. Pham Ngo Lao and the Bui Vien parallel street are also good for most of the shopping. Here is also the backpackers’ gathering place number 1, Kims Cafe. Here you eat cheaply, here you can book tours and be picked up by tourist buses and above all: Here you meet other tourists.

District 5 is called Cholon and is the Chinese district. Ho Chi Minh City is home to around a million Chinese people, who make a distinct impression on their surroundings. Here you will find incense-filled pagodas, Chinese restaurants, shops and advertising signs. Unlike the Vietnamese who actually use the Latin alphabet, the Chinese characters are mainly used in Cholon. The huge Binh Tay market and the beautiful and exotic Thien Hau Pagoda are also worth a visit.

District 3 is the area most marked by 70 years under French rule, with its many western buildings from the early 1900s. Here you will find Ho Chi Minh City’s most visited attraction, the War Remnants Museum.

The other 21 districts of Ho Chi Minh City are mainly residential and of little interest to a regular tourist. It should be admitted that this is not the safest city for tourists. There are a lot of bag hangers there (they often operate two and two from motorcycles and many of them are women), and you can be robbed if you are alone.

Ho Chi Minh City Facts

HO CHI MINH CITY – Vietnam’s largest city

Population

Around 6.5 million

Official languages

Vietnamese. More and more people speak / understand English

Control Form

Socialist Republic

Religion

80% non-believers, around 9% Buddhists and 9% Catholics

Time Difference

Vietnam is 5 hours ahead of Norway in the summertime, 6 hours the rest of the year

Currency

Vietnamese dong. Although US dollars are widely accepted everywhere, at a July 2008 rate of 16,000: 1 which has been steadily increasing in recent years. Not all ATMs accept foreign credit cards, but Visa and Mastercard are increasingly available.

Tips

About 5 – 10% if you are satisfied with the service

Embassy

Norwegian Consulate at 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Str in District 1. Phone: 00 84 8 822 1696

Tourist

4G-4H Le Loi Street, District 1

Telephone

84

Emergency

Police 113, Fire 114, Ambulance 115. Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi (+84 4) 974 3301.

Electricity

220 volts as in Norway, but you may need an adapter to use local plugs.

Holidays and Holidays

January 1st, April 30th (Liberation Day), May 1st, September 2nd (National Day). Vietnamese New Year at the end of January / early February.

Visa

As of 2008, Norwegian citizens do not need a visa for a maximum of 15 days, but always double check on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ own pages, www.landsider.no. Take good care of the arrival card you need to fill out, the voucher will be shown on departure.

Vaccinations

No vaccines are required. Vaccines against hepatitis A and B are recommended. Check www.fhi.no.

Water

It is not recommended to drink from the tap.

Nearest major cities

Nha Trang, Can Tho, Long Xuyen.

Safety

Violent crime is rare in cities, but pay special attention to pickpockets. And watch out for traffic.

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