The dry season December through March, is the best time to book flights to Ho Chi Minh City as the rainfall is significantly less. The crowds start arriving in November and stay until April.
Reservations for Tet, the lunar New Year, must be made far in advance. Even though most businesses close for the holiday, including museums and shops, it is the most celebrated event in Vietnam. A running of events take place to celebrate the occasion through grand and impressive displays such as fireworks and street processions. It is tradition in Vietnam for the locals to dress in their finest clothing and visit relatives and friends. The holiday lasts for a week and falls between January 19 and February 20.
The wet season is humid and hot, but the showers tend to be short. If you book your flights to Ho Chi Minh in May, the city will be celebrating their former president, Ho Chi Minh’s, birthday as he was a crucial figure of authority in helping gain freedom for the natives of Vietnam. On 19th May the city hosts an array of events throughout the day which will see large crowds gather in the streets on this special and key national holiday.
Late autumn is a particularly nice time to visit southern Vietnam. The end of the high season, March to April, can also be somewhat less crowded.
Travellers booking cheap flights to Ho Chi Minh City are sometimes taken aback once they land. The city, often called HCMC, is bustling and buzzing and sometimes feels as if it is bursting at the seams. The city centre is filled with street vendors, cafés and family-owned souvenir shops all eager to make a living and stay afloat. But stay alert while you’re wandering between them or you’ll wind up flat on the street: Ho Chi Minh City’s chaos is fuelled by some three million motorbikes that run the streets on a daily basis.
Located on the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City is home to more than eight million people and is Vietnam’s commercial and industrial centre. Known as Saigon until 1970, its old name is still frequently used by tourists and locals. The city has a turbulent past, and evidence of its many periods can be seen in the architecture: a mixture of French-colonialism, pagodas and temples and Communist-style concrete blocks. The city is much younger than the venerable Hanoi, only growing to a significant size in the 17th century. It is an expansion that carries on today; the erection of modern blocks and skyscrapers constantly takes place throughout the city, adding to the general noise, chaos and sense of movement.
Ho Chi Minh City is in the tropics and close to the ocean, making the city hot and humid year-round. November through January are the coolest months with temperatures reaching the low to mid-20s. February through April the temperature rises to 32 degrees. Then it goes down to the high 20s during the rainy season.December to March is the dry season with the least amount of rain and humidity. The rain starts in May and is heavy from June to August with sudden but short showers. The typhoon season is July to November.
Ho Chi Minh City is considered by many visitors to have the world’s worst traffic… Deal with it as little as possible by taking a taxi. Just make sure the meter is running. Agree to a fare ahead of time if the meter is nowhere to be found.
Motorcycle taxis can also be hailed. They run off of an hourly rate which you can negotiate. Tour operators or travel agents can help you arrange for a car and driver to take you around for the day. If you’re taking a short trip, a cyclo (pedicab) is a good way to get around. There are no meters though, so negotiate a fare before you board. Many drivers speak English and are available for hire as tour guides as well. They will wait for you at your destination and can pick you up the next day, too.
If you’re really feeling brave, you can rent bikes, mopeds or motorcycles, but you’ll be on your own with the chaotic traffic.
A nice way to slow down and escape from the chaos is to hire a boat and view Ho Chi Minh City from the river.
Minibuses and metered taxis are available for transport from the Ho Chi Minh City airport (SGN) to the city centre. Make sure the driver is wearing an official name badge and that the meter is on. Most hotels can arrange transport for arriving passengers, but visitors should organise this in advance.