Bustling, noisy, vibrant, Vietnam’s economic centre of the country, Ho Chi Minh City, is this and more!
We had recently spent 3 weeks in Hanoi the political capital of Vietnam and we were keen to experience Ho Chi Minh City, the financial capital. Travellers we met on the road would smile when we asked them about their experiences in Ho Chi Minh. They always asked if we had been to Hanoi first. Most said exactly the same thing when we said ‘yes we had’ to them, ‘that Vietnam was one country, two big cities, people different.’
Now that we have visited both we understand what they meant. The people of Ho Chi Minh city did seem different at first, we could not put our finger on it, but after a few days we realised that they were friendlier, they had more time to chat and they were very welcoming to travellers. They were also happy to know that we were spending more than just a few days in their city. They liked to show their city off and offered us many tips on things to do and see. Could be a little city rivalry going on here between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City don’t you think?
We understand that you may have time constraints when you travel and that you can only allow yourself a weekend or a few days visiting Ho Chi Minh City, but if you can we recommend that you spend at least 5 days in Saigon.[su_note note_color=”#ffc400″] You Can Read Our article on Vietnam: Best Vietnamese Restaurant Guide[/su_note]
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This article will cover staying at the best hotel in Saigon, Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel, our preferred accommodation in the city, based on comfort, location and the facilities on offer and what you can do in 5 days in Ho Chi Minh City.
Our YouTube Video on the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel
Is it Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? You will hear people say both but officially since 1976, it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate the reunification of Northern and Southern Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War.
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Our stay at the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel was hosted. As always our opinions are our own.
PRO-TIPs on Security
In general Ho Chi Minh City is a safe city for travellers. The concierge at the Pullman Hotel warned us to beware of our surroundings at all times. There is a high incidence of ‘snatch and grab’ from motorcycle riders, so don’t flash your phone around in front of you and make sure that your handbag is securely fastened over your body. Keep your camera safe and close to you whilst sightseeing.
Avoid wearing singlets, shorts and revealing clothes when visiting temples or pagodas.
Ho Chi Minh City Map
It is all about location in Ho Chi Minh City. The best place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City is District One. One of the reasons we chose the Pullman Saigon Centre was it’s location to the major sites and being in District 1. The second reason is that we are big fans of the Pullman brand. During our time in Vietnam, we have stayed at the luxurious Pullman Danang Beach Resort and the Pullman Hanoi.
We love their tag lines “Our World is Your Playground” and “Work Hard Play Hard”.
If walking is not your thing it is easy to travel around the city by taxi. We use Grab in Vietnam which is the Asian version of Uber. Download the Grab App before you arrive in Vietnam, and make sure you have a SIM card. Staying in District 1 puts you right in the heart of the hustle and bustle, close to restaurants and bars. From the Pullman Saigon, the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City are in walking distance:
- Ben Thanh Market 15 minutes walking 1km
- Fine Arts Museum 15 minutes walking 1 km
- The City Hall 2 km walk or 5 minutes by car
- Opera House 2 km walk or 5 minutes by car
- Bitexco Tower 2 km walk or 5 minutes by car
- War Remnants Museum 2.4 km or 8 minutes by car
- Notre Dame Cathedral 2.5 km or 10 minutes by car
- Post Office Central 2.5 km or 10 minutes by car
- Reunification Palace 2.5 km or 10 minutes by car
The Pullman Hotel runs a complimentary Shuttle Bus that departs the Pullman Saigon Centre:
and travels to the Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House, Bitexco Tower and then back to the Pullman.
Sign up for their special offers here to stay in touch with their special yearly events.
On Independents Day 2nd September you can view the Fireworks Display from the Pullman Saigon Centre.
New Years Eve bookings need to be made well in advance – there are only 100 spots to see the New Year in.
Accommodation at the Pullman Hotel
The Pullman Saigon has 306 signature rooms all designed for comfort, functionality and connectivity.
We sleep very well at Pullman Hotels and it is because of their Pullman Signature Beds and their crisp luxury Egyptian cotton linen. You can even design your own pillow menu from their special sleep pillow menu collection.
- 154 rooms from the 9th floor and higher
- 40″ LED IPTV with international channels
- City views
Our very comfortable Deluxe room.
Hot tip: Request a corner room for amazing views over the city from the bedroom and the bathroom.
- designer bathtub with views
- separate rain shower
- Espresso Coffee Machine
- 40″ TV
- 80 rooms from the 22nd floor and higher
- 55 rooms from the 25th to 29th floor
- Executive Lounge Access with complimentary breakfast, special check-in and check out, evening pre-dinner cocktails, all-day coffee and tea, the use of the boardroom, in-room fitness for executive business travellers of a yoga mat and dumbells
- private living room
- on Executive Floors with access to the Executive Lounge
- 46″ LED TV
- Espresso machine
- yoga mat and dumbells
- a sliding partition between the bedroom and living room
Pullman Signature Suite
- 1 bedroom studio
- private deep soak bathtub
- 46″ LED TV
- Bose Sound Dock
- yoga mat and dumbells
- Executive Lounge
- Espresso coffee machine
- 160m2 of sheer opulence
- 180-degree city views on the 29th floor
- spacious living room
- dining area
- study room
- master bedroom
- state of the art entertainment system
- 46″ TV
- yoga mat and dumbells
- Executive Lounge
General Information on the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel
The Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel offers:
- 306 signature rooms
- all-day dining restaurants
- pop up burger bar
- free Wi-Fi throughout
- outdoor swimming pool
- fitness centre
- high tech meeting venue for up to 500 people
148 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 070000, Vietnam
Restaurants and Bars
Food Connexion on the 3rd floor is open daily for breakfast and all-day dining till 10.00 pm.
Food Connexion offers specialist dining, examples during the month we visited:
- Seafood Buffet from Friday to Sunday nights from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm
- Funday Brunch on Sundays from 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm
- Flavours of Asia from Monday to Thursday from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm
You can enhance your buffet experience with their special beverages offer for the month VND350 nett for adults that includes:
- free flow juices
- free-flow soft drinks
- red and white wines
Located on the ground floor and is open daily from 07.00 am to 11.00 pm. Check out their ‘burger of the month’ specials.
Each month the Pullman Saigon Centre creates their own Signature Cocktails at the Urbane Lounge. We loved their Blanco Margaretto which included Olmeco Tequila, Amaretto Liqueur, Orange Juice and Hazelnut Syrup.
Check out their Combo specials as well. Whilst we were visiting they had a Hawaii Burger that included 1 glass of local beer and french fries for VND380 nett. Make sure you are hungry when you go for the Combo burgers. The Hawaii Burger included 2 chuck roll beef patties, cheddar cheese, pineapple in a classic burger bun. Have you heard of free flow french fries? Yep, free flow. A good reason to visit the Urbane Lounge.
Craft beer is a new trend in Saigon and the Urbane Lounge was one of the first gourmet burger bars selling craft beer from Pasteur Street Brewing Co.
Check out the wine prices. The hotel prides themselves on keeping their wines affordable, you will find the same prices in the local grocery store and on their menus in each of their restaurants and bars.
The Pool Bar on the 6th Floor is adjacent to the outdoor swimming pool. The Bar is open for snacks from 10.00 am to 7.30 pm. It is a great menu with items such as:
- Poke Bowl with salmon, avocado, cucumber, edamame, radish, pickled ginger, rice, tomato and teriyaki sauce
- Smoked Salmon Wrap
- Vegetable Chips
- Shrimp and Avocado Salad
and if you enjoy beer you can order a Bucket of Beer either Saigon Special, Heineken or Tiger
Mad Cow Wine & Grill
Location on the 30th Floor and open from 4.00 pm to 12.00 am. With 50 different wines to choose from, you could visit once a week for a whole year just to sample their wine delights.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday they have specials.
If you enjoy the best of meat from all around the world, you will not want to miss the opportunity of trying Mad Cow’s Mad Wagyu Beef Trio which includes:
- Korean style brisket with gochujang sauce
- Argentinian style flank steak skewer with chimichurri sauce
- Mediterranean hanging tender, red wine sauce, smashed garlic potatoes
The specials range from:
- When you buy a signature cocktail you can enjoy 50% off all tapas for the night
- Enjoy a bucket of 3 Pasteur Street beers for only VND400 nett
- Choose a Mad Sharing Signature dish and supersize your bottle of wine to a Magnum
- Seafood & Sauvignon Sunday – share a charcoal-grilled seafood board for 2 and enjoy 2 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc
You can enjoy 180 stunning degree views from the Rooftop Bar on the 31st floor which is accessed from Mad Cow. You must try one of their Tiki Cocktails – they are wicked.
Tapas on the Rooftop is perfect for pre and post-dinner drinks with specials on their tapas whilst you reside in comfort in their laid back comfortable chairs. Believe us, you will not want to leave.
Urbane Lounge on the Ground Floor available from 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm
Pool Bar on the 6th Floor available from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm
Mad Cow Wine & Grill on the 30th Floor available from 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm
Rooftop Bar Cocktails & Tapas (access from Mad Cow) on the 31st Floor available from 5.00 to 7.00 pm
Thann Sanctuary for the best Spa Treatments in Ho Chi Minh City
The Thann Sanctuary at the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel has been voted as one of the Top Best Spas in the world by Conde Nast Traveller. That is saying a lot, there is so much competition these days in Spas and Wellness Centre.
During your stay, you must try their Signature Treatments. There are two available either the Thann Sanctuary Signature Massage for 90 minutes or their Nano Shiso Therapy for 130 minutes.
Thann Sanctuary offers a range of heavenly relaxing treatments:
- 6 massage treatments,
- 4 facial treatments,
- 1 body scrub
- 4 packages that cover stress, soul remedy, unveil the beauty and total serenity.
The Spa is open from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm. Reservations are required.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh City in 5 Days
Our YouTube Video on What To Do in Saigon
Day One Itinerary in Ho Chi Minh
Visit the Ben Thanh Market
Address: Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
The Ben Thanh Market is the oldest in Ho Chi Minh City dating back to 1914 in its current location opposite the Saigon Bus Station. You will be forgiven if you become lost as there are 4 entrances and 12 gates and over 13,000 square metres.
The market is open between 6 am and 6 pm. You can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and flowers. The wet market closes around midday. In other areas of the market, you can buy local handicrafts, souvenirs, Vietnamese art, branded goods and there is plenty of food stalls.
The night market on the east and west sides open from 6 pm to 10 pm. The same goods are sold and it is a great place for cheap eats. You must try the Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) Com Ga (chicken rice) and Ca Phe Sua Do (Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee).
If you enjoy cooking you can take a tour of Ben Thanh Market with a local chef, purchase your produce and return back to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking class.
Address: Bitexco Financial Tower, 7, 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
The Bitexco Tower, when completed in 2010, was the tallest building in Vietnam, but not for long. In 2011 the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower took the honour. It stands at 262.5 m tall and is now the 5th tallest in Vietnam and the 2nd in Ho Chi Minh.
You can visit the Skydeck on the 49th floor for 360-degree views of the city. If you are arriving by helicopter you will land on the 52nd floor. On the Skydeck level there is a gift shop as well as an Ao Dai Museum showcasing traditional Vietnamese costumes.
You can purchase online before you visit a Skip The Line Ticket for the 7 seconds per metre journey to the 49th Floor.
You can now enjoy a Heineken Experience Interactive Tour, Games, Beer Tasting & Gift as well as a visit to the Skydeck .
This tour is very popular and we would recommend booking in advance.
Fine Arts Museum
Location: 97A Phó Đức Chính, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
The Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is one of the major art museums in Vietnam showing over 20,000 works of art. It is housed in a French Colonial period building.
Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm and it is closed on Mondays.
Entrance Fee; VND30,000 (USD 1.30).
Ho Chi Minh City Hall (People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh)
Address: Số 86 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 710212
Built between 1902 and 1908 it is a fine example of French Colonial Architecture. Since 1975 it has been the home of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh. It is not open to the public.
In front of the Ho Chi Minh City Hall is Nguyen Hue Walking Street which has been closed off to traffic. It used to be a canal but since 2014 it is a pedestrian-only walking street which is used for music shows. During Chinese New Year flower exhibitions are held along Walking Street for a week. The street runs for 900 m down to the Saigon River.
The famous Cafe Apartment is along Nguyen Hue Walking Street. A 9 storey former apartment block that has been turned into cafes, restaurants, bookshops, co-working spaces and boutiques.
All shops face over the square. There is a lift at a small fee of VND3,000 per person (USD0.15) which is reimbursed if you buy something at one of the shops.
Open from 8 am to 10 pm.
The Opera House
Address: 07 Công Trường Lam Sơn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
The Opera House is located in a rather impressive French Colonial building. Its first performance was on January 17th 1900. It was closed during World War 2 and reopened again in 1955. The original location was 2 blocks away.
A popular way of visiting the Opera House is to book a show and enjoy dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant after.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Address: 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh,
Built by the French in the late 1880s the Notre Dame Cathedral stands proudly on Paris Square in downtown Ho Chi Minh opposite the iconic Post Office. The cathedral stands 60m tall. It was the first catholic church in Vietnam. It took 3 years to build from 1877 to 1880. The brick and stone came from Marseille in France which took 2 months by sea to reach Ho Chi Minh.
The best time to visit is Sunday Mass at 09.30.
Post Office Central
Address: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 710009
The Post Office took 5 years to build from 1886 to 1891. The tiles came from France. Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower also designed the Post Office. Each window is dedicated to a famous scientist or physicist e.g. Volta, Faraday, Franklin etc. The original tiles are still on the floor.
The Post Office is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
War Remnants Museum
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
The War Remnants Museum is located in District 3.
Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 5.00 pm.
Entrance Fee: VND15,000 (USD$0.75)
The Museum was originally named the Museum of American War Crimes. It is spread over 3 floors. Our tip is to start from the top floor on the left and work your way down. The last visit should be outside viewing the Tiger Cages which would hold up to 14 prisoners at a time.
There is a F 5A fighter jet at the entrance as well as an American Huey Helicopter and M48 tank.
We found the Agent Orange section with vivid photos very disturbing. This section is not suitable for children. You may want to miss this part out if you think you may also find it disturbing.
A recommended tour is a visit to the War Remnants Museum and a journey out to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This is a full day tour that also includes the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office and lunch at a local restaurant.
For more information and booking:
Reunification Palace (or Independence Palace)
Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
The Palace was built on the site of the original Norodom Palace. During the Vietnam War, it was the home and office of the President. On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the main gate of the Palace. Saigon had fallen to the communists.
Tickets are available at the gate. We would recommend hiring an Audio Guide to visit the 5 levels. The basement houses tunnels, the war room and the telecommunications centre with original maps still on the wall.
Opening Hours: 8 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 4 pm.
Entrance Fee: VND40,000 (USD$1.80) Audio Guide extra.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Address: TL15, Phú Hiệp, Củ Chi, Hồ Chí Minh 733814,
The top day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels. We would recommend organising a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels for a hassle-free experience. The tunnels are located 50 km from Ho Chi Minh and the traffic can be a nightmare. The tunnels are a network of tunnels around 75 miles in length.
We visited the Cu Chi Tunnels on a tour with Get Your Guide. We opted for the 6 hour morning tour which turned into 7 hours because of the traffic. Our guide was excellent, providing us with information on the drive to the tunnels. He accompanied us throughout and was very knowledgeable on the subject. There is an opportunity for you to shoot machine guns on the site at a small fee.
After a full explanation from our guide as we ventured around the site, we headed towards the tunnels. The tunnels start wide and then progressively become smaller in height and width forcing you on your knees, ending with you crawling on your stomach. At different areas throughout you do have the opportunity to abandon, we did after the first section. The heat became unbearable and the claustrophobic feelings started. Not many of our group managed to last the distance.
More Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh
To save time you can pre-book your tickets to the Ho Chi Minh Water Puppet Show and have them delivered to the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel. The traditional Vietnamese show is 45 minutes in length. The stories told are related to the spiritual life of the Vietnamese in the country side.
One of the top Ho Chi Minh City Tour is a Saigon Flavours Private Walking Tour. Learn more about Vietnamese cuisine and have the opportunity to sample some tasty dishes from the local night market and other locations.
Essential Visitor Information for Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
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Ho Chi Minh Weather
When is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City?
Between May and November, it is the monsoon season, and you can expect showers most day.
April and May are the hottest months with temperatures reaching to 40 degrees.
The driest and most pleasant months to visit is between December and March. Temperatures during these months hover between 21 and 34 degrees.
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