The following Ho Chi Minh travel tips can help you navigate your way around Vietnam's largest city.
When in Ho Chi Minh, it’s recommended you get a prepaid SIM card from a convenience store so you can access affordable 3G data. This will then allow you to use your mobile's maps and contact emergency services by dialling 113.
You should also note that the tap water isn't drinkable, so buy bottled water from convenience stores or supermarkets to stay hydrated.
Here's some more Ho Chi Minh travel advice for you to keep in mind.
There are two ways for Australian passport holders to get a Vietnam visa. You can send your passport and a completed application form to the Vietnamese embassy and have them returned to you by mail. Alternatively, you can apply online to have a visa stamped upon your arrival at the Vietnam airport. This is only a guide, so if you want the most accurate information, please visit the Vietnam Embassy website.
Vietnam’s currency is the dong. You'll need to have banknotes on hand during your holiday as most retailers don't accept coins anymore. These you can withdraw from most ATMs; look for the corresponding symbols on your debit or credit card. You can also pay with your credit card, but only at big hotels and restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. To exchange currency before you go, head to your nearest Travel money Oz outlet. For more on currency, visit the currency page.
Street food is an important part of Ho Chi Minh's food culture. Vendors offer pho (rice noodles in broth), banh mi (baguette sandwich), and many more specialities. Be sure that the stalls are clean and that a lot of locals are eating there for the safest and tastiest food experience.
While it's not mandatory, tipping in Ho Chi Minh is much appreciated by your servers. Hotel housekeepers, restaurant wait staff, massage therapists and tour guides all earn low wages. So be sure to show your gratitude with a small token when they provide you with excellent service.
The voltage in Ho Chi Minh is usually 220V, and very rarely 110V. Either way, it’s different from Australia's 240V. So you may need to have a converter as well as a universal adapter for your electronics when you visit. Most accommodation will have a two-pin or three-pin plug with flat prongs. However, there are some with plugs for round prongs.
When visiting Vietnam, it's best to know some basic phrases such as hello (xin chao) and thank you (xin cam on). If you're staying at District 1 and other areas of Ho Chi Minh that tourists frequent, you'll encounter locals who speak English. If you stray off the beaten path, you might find elders who speak some French.
Tan Son Nhat International is the name of Ho Chi Minh's airport, located just 6km north of the city centre. Its Terminal 1 is for domestic flights while its Terminal 2 is for international arrivals and departures. You can get a taxi from the main queue or from pre-paid taxi counters after clearing customs. There are also car rental services available.