Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a colourful history going back hundreds of years. The Khmers originally settled the region, with the Vietnamese taking over later. Then the French who conquered Saigon, as it was then known, for years. Despite many wars and difficulties, HCMC managed to survive and is still standing proud.
The government may be Communist, but it understands well the importance of the tourism industry to the economy, and has vigorously promoted the country. The city now boasts a handful of five-star hotels. Guests at the top places are picked up from the airport in imported top-of-the-range S-Class Mercedes-Benz limousines. Vietnam’s luxury hospitality is now international standard.
Pre-paid SIM cards are available everywhere with MobiFone, Viettel and Vinaphone as the most popular brands. To buy a cell phone, visit the big national phone store, Gioi Di Dong on Tran Quang Khai St. To call another city from Ho Chi Minh City, dial the city code and phone number (dial phone number directly if calling within Ho Chi Minh City).
To call Ho Chi Minh City from outside Vietnam, dial 00, followed by +84, the country code, then (0) 8, Ho Chi Minh City area code and the number. To make an international call from Ho Chi Minh City, first dial the access code 001.
|Important Phone Numbers|
|FV Hospital||5411 3333|
|Cho Ray Hospital||3855 4137|
|Family Medical Practice Clinic||3822 7848|
|International Telephone Service Enquiries||143|
|Tan Son Airport Flight Information||3844 3179|
|Phone Number Enquiries||116|
If this is your first time in Vietnam, riding an iconic cyclo (or rickshaw) here can be a fun experience. Though the fee is fairly inexpensive, there have been reports of cyclo scams in HCMC. Agree your price and have your destination written down before making any move. Motorbike taxis are easy to find and, as always, it’s also best to settle the price before starting out. It might be a wise idea to hand down the exact fare to the driver to avoid any unpleasantness. For reliable taxi companies try Mai Linh Taxi (Tel: 3838 3838) and Vinasun Taxi (Tel: 3827 2727).
Renting a bicycle or motorbike is also another option but the traffic here might be too much for a non-local to cope with. HCMC’s public buses are very efficient and serve over 100 routes throughout the city but to find out about their schedule can be a challenge (unless you can get hotel staff to help you out).