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Ho Chi Minh City: 4 Tips Every US Traveler Should Know

more than a year ago
 Ho Chi Minh City is to Vietnam what Bangkok is to Thailand. Although the two metropolis-like cities have a similar vibe, the culture can be quite different, and one of the first things you’ll notice is that the former is much more prone to scamming an unwary tourist compared to the latter. Still, if you know what to look out for, that shouldn’t take away from the pleasure of experiencing the hustle and bustle of the big city. Below, we’ll share with you 4 tips you should take to heart if you’re planning to visit.
Ho Chi Minh City- 4 Tips Every Traveller Should Know © Huỳnh Tấn Hậu / Unsplash
Ho Chi Minh City: 4 Tips Every Traveller Should Know © Huỳnh Tấn Hậu / Unsplash

1. Transportation

Unlike Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City does not have a subway system. The good news is, there is one that’s already in the works, with construction likely to reach the ending phase somewhere around late 2023 or early 2024. Until then, you’re going to have to resort to other forms of transportation, such as taxis, buses, trains, and similar. You can also rent a vehicle, although Vietnam’s chaotic driving culture may make you think twice about that one.

Since Taxis are cheap compared to the west, many westerners use them as their primary means of transportation. Just make sure to be on your guard so that you won’t get overcharged or outright scammed by the local taxi drivers. If you want to avoid the hassle, you may want to consider booking a Grab, which is, in essence, an Asian version of Uber. This way, all the prices will be displayed in advance.
Ho Chi Minh City- 4 Tips Every Traveller Should Know © Georgios Domouchtsidis / Unsplash
A typical HCMC high street at night © Georgios Domouchtsidis / Unsplash

2. Shopping and payment methods

As a hustling and bustling big city, Ho Chi Minh is a fantastic destination to get some shopping done. Here, you will find a healthy mix of both local and international brands, whether it be in a conventional shopping mall or a night market. What you will find is that most stores are open the whole week long, which gives you the freedom to explore them whenever you see fit.

Our recommendation is to get yourself a custom-tailor suit made to your exact specifications – you will be amazed how affordable it is to do that here. As for payment methods accepted, Vietnam is still more or less a cash-based society, so don’t be surprised if your cards aren’t working. For getting money in and out of the country, Bitcoin is a popular approach. In fact, Ho Chi Minh City has several Bitcoin ATMs which make it incredibly easy to convert your funds into Vietnamese Dong and vice-versa.
Ho Chi Minh City- 4 Tips Every Traveller Should Know © Kashish Grover / Unsplash
Accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes in HCMC © Kashish Grover / Unsplash

3. Safety and accommodation

Although Vietnam is not a particularly violent place in general, there is an issue with petty crime, especially in the metropolitan areas like Ho Chi Minh City. There are various street scams lurking about – from the infamous shoe polish scam where the service provider ends up running away with your shoes, and all the way to motorcycle bag snatching, taxi overcharging, swapping out your bills for smaller denominations, and the list goes on. However, if you get educated about them in advance, most of these can be avoided.

There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget. In fact, a hotel can be found for a couple of dollars a night, although these won’t be top-notch for obvious reasons. But it’s surely a way to get by as a backpacker. Typically, the central city areas will be more expensive, so don’t be afraid to venture outside of them if you’re hunting for a bargain.
Ho Chi Minh City- 4 Tips Every Traveller Should Know © Tony Pham / Unsplash
There's always something happening in HCMC © Tony Pham / Unsplash

4. Entertainment options

A big city like this offers all the entertainment you could possibly want. From tours, water sports, shows, workshops, golfing, racing, cinemas, and others, it has virtually anything and everything you can possibly imagine. That includes the occasional “happy pizza” place and the vibrant nightlife if you’re into these.

One drawback of Vietnam is that gambling is technically illegal. However, there are ways around it, especially if you’re a foreigner. For instance, you could turn to an innovative provider of gambling stuff that accepts Bitcoin as payment. This way, there won’t be a need to be concerned about banks blocking your deposits. Plus, Bitcoin has a built-in privacy element to it that will make your activities harder to track.


All in all, Ho Chi Minh City has something for everyone. Whether you’re a budget-minded backpacker or a high-end tourist looking for luxury amenities, the city is definitely worth exploring. As a US citizen flying in, don’t forget to take advantage of Vietnam’s visa-on-arrival scheme that makes things a lot simpler.


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