Cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh City are available from Darwin and Perth International airports, typically with a transfer through Singapore on Jetstar Airlines. AirAsia has cheap flights exiting Perth, the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne all stopping in Kuala Lumpur. The flight time from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City is slightly less than two hours. Direct flights are available departing from Sydney International Airport. Cheap flights are available from Brisbane International Airport with a stopover generally in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, depending on the airline. On the ground taxi services provided by Vinasun or Mai Linh are the most reliable in terms of metered taxis and tourist inflation. Pre-booked accommodation may send a private car or shuttle if organised ahead of time and this is the safest transition from airport to Ho Chi Minh City.
The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is chaotic at best so be patient, plan ahead, keep hydrated and stay alert in the most densely populated area of Vietnam. The city itself is easy to navigate by foot with well-signed streets and a grid-like layout. Motorcycle taxis (Xe Oms) are the easiest way to compete with the city’s traffic. Have addresses written down to show the driver and negotiate a price prior to undertaking a journey. Although not the most comfortable, Cyclos are also a cheap option to transport you short distances. Private car rental including a driver is the best way to streamline an itinerary and with prices from $40 per day, this is a great way to capitalize on sightseeing opportunities.
History is all about perspective and this is best displayed at the War Remnants Museum. Visit the Reunification Palace, Vietnam History Museum and if confined spaces don’t bother you, the amazing Tunnels of Cu Chi. Gorgeous architecture can be found at the Cao Dai Temple, Mariamman Hindu Temple, Chua Ba Thien Hau and Notre Dame Cathedral. Theme park offerings include Dam Sen Water Park or ride an ice-slide and visit the zoo at Lac Canh Dai Nan Van Hiem. Ho Chi Minh Square is best viewed at night when the highlights of the area are beautifully illuminated. The Emperor Jade Pagoda is a tumultuous visit with conflicting God’s presiding over the temple. Take a day tour paddling on the Mekong and immerse yourself one ingredient at a time with a class at the Vietnamese Cooking Centre.
Shop at Diamond Plaza, Saigon Centre or Parkson Plaza for reasonably priced mall-style shopping. The Tax Department Store has cheap options in a mall setting or visit the Zen Plaza for upmarket retail offerings. The Ben Thanh Market covers everything from delicious market food to staples and souvenirs or meander through the four floors of stalls at An Dong Market. Grab a quirky shirt from Papaya Tshirts to round out your retail experience. Pho is a traditional dish of broth, rice, noodles, herbs and meat. Try Pho Anh or Pho 2000 for a tasty introduction to this Vietnamese breakfast cuisine. For fine dining, visit Mandarin, Hoi An or book in advance for a special customised tasting menu at Bobby Chin. Have a relaxing meal at Zan Z Bar, adore the view at The Deck Saigon and relish in the barbeque cuisine at Quan Nuong. Sip cocktails at Saigon, Saigon and Q bar or people-watch over a cheeky wine at Rex Hotel Rooftop Bar. For a casual drink visit Voodoo, or the live music offerings at Yoko and Acoustic Bar. Party hard at Apocalypse Now and themed club Tropical Rainforest Disco.