Our trip to Vietnam was centred in Ho Chi Minh city which is located in the southern region of the country. Ho Chi Minh is still widely known by its original name, Saigon, both locally and internationally. This amazing city is famous for its pivotal role in the Vietnam War and its occurrence is heavily represented and very evident today. We spent over a week here and left no stone unturned.
On arrival in Ho Chi Minh city, it certainly was a culture shock, although we were prepared for it to be very different from the comfort we are accustomed to in Australia. The city centre and surrounding towns are populated by about 12 million people, a number that is growing far quicker than anticipated by officials. The pressure of these huge numbers is very evident on the infrastructure of the city. The electric wires hanging loosely across major roads and the manic intersections riddled with ‘organised’ mayhem, certainly take getting used to! Bearing all this in mind and the debatable cleanliness of the city in general, it is advisable to choose your accommodation wisely.
Tip: Transport varies HUGELY in price, so don’t get caught out! If using a taxi, only use the Vinasun company as the alternate taxi service is SUPER expensive. Uber is available in Ho Chi Minh, so if you have an account, this is probably the most reasonable option.
We stayed in the incredible Hotel Nikko Saigon and would stay there again without a doubt. With reasonable pricing, we were blown away by the amazing service, high-class facilities and cleanliness of the hotel. Comfort and a high level of cleanliness is so important when visiting a city like Ho Chi Minh as having somewhere amazing to retreat to after a day exploring a culture so different to your own, makes the world of different to the whole trip.
The standard rooms were huge in our opinion. They had a shower room, separate toilet and stand-alone bath, perfect for a long soak after a day exploring in the hot, humid weather. Each night on our return to the room, we had handmade chocolates waiting for us on our pillows (I’m not going to lie…there may have been a race back to the room each night to have first pick!)
The location of the hotel was perfect for getting around and all major points of interest in the city were easily accessible from here. It was about 2 kilometres to the major markets in the city centre (Bến Thành Market),and 3 kilometres to some of the major historic tourist attractions such as the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. We walked to both areas of the city from the hotel on numerous occasions but if walking isn’t your thing, there is a complimentary shuttle bus from the hotel to the city that leaves frequently throughout the day.
The hotel also had a well-equipped gym and beautiful rooftop swimming pool. There were complimentary towels available in each and were never too busy which was ideal for a relaxing start to the morning or chill out in the afternoon.
The hotel bar was the perfect place to finish off a busy day and I will admit, we had one or two night caps there during our stay. Our cocktail of choice was the Saigon Rock, a ginger twist to the perfect mojito, and the perfect partner to the candied nuts that accompanied our drinks. A pianist on a grand piano and a honey-voiced singer set the ambience in the bar, adding the class you would expect from the incredible hotel.
The climate in this region is divided into two main seasons, the wet season and the dry season. Generally, the wet season falls between May and October with the wettest month being July. The dry season usually begins in December and comes to an end in April. The average temperate throughout the year is approximately 28 degrees Celsius, with slight variations between the wet and dry seasons.
With this being said, we travelled to Vietnam in July and not one of our activities were hampered by the weather. The rain that fell during our stay, fell at night and there was hardly any evidence of it the next morning. I know this may not be typical for this time of year, but I can certainly say our trip was not effected by rain at all. The humidity may be something to consider though, if you are travelling from a cooler climate. Living in Australia, hot days and high levels of humidity are conditions we are somewhat familiar with. As the humidity was quite high in the days leading up to rainfall in Ho Chi Minh, it may be a deciding factor depending on your ability to function in such an environment.
Tip: Considering the climate, especially mid-year, we found loose clothing and flat shoes were the most comfortable to get around in.
Wow, reminiscing on this trip makes me appreciate it all over again. This city is one steeped in such incredible history, with scars of the past and conquests of this nation bravely represented throughout the city. The astonishing features and breathtaking structures from different cultural influencers also communicate its tumultuous past. And even the interesting back streets and street culture of this city, is one of fascination in itself, making this an incredible trip from start to finish.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post. We are so excited to be sharing this adventure with you and can’t wait to show you the amazing places we visited and the remarkable food experiences we had, over the next few of weeks.
If you would like some sneak peeks throughout the week of what is to follow, pop over to Our Instagram page for some visual teasers.
We hope to see you again soon.
Richard and Michelle.