Lay of the Land
“I had seen the flowers on her dress beside the canals in the north, she was indigenous like an herb, and I never wanted to go home.”~Graham Greene
Ho Chi Minh City is a sprawling metropolis, though most of the areas of interest to visitors are located in District 1, the neighborhood that runs west of the river and which holds such major landmarks as the Reunification Palace, Saigon Central Post Office and Notre-Dame. Both the Park Hyatt Saigon and InterContinental Asiana Saigon hotels are in District 1, as are most of the shops.
Two major tourist attractions, the Cu-Chi tunnels and Mekong Delta, are located outside of the city center. The tunnels are approximately an hour and 30 minute drive from District 1 while the drive to the Mekong Delta can vary depending on which entry point you choose (the drive is generally between 2 and ½ to 4 hours). Even though it’s relatively compact and easy to get around on foot, for sightseeing tours, it’s worth getting a driver and guide.
When to Go
The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is late November through February. Monsoon seasons runs from May to October, though temperatures are steamy year-round. For the driest weather and temps “only” in the mid-80s, plan a trip for January.
Need to Know: Visa
Please note that Vietnam requires a Visa that may take between two weeks to a month to acquire the appropriate paperwork, so booking your trip in advance is advisable.