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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Ho Chi Minh City

Each year there are many festivals in Vietnam.
Here are the main ones:

1st January: New Year (national)

The European New Year is especially celebrated by the younger generation in Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City, as in other major cities, youth meet in the centre for a drink. Around midnight, the streets fill: everyone awaits the countdown and the traditional fireworks.

28 January: Lunar New Year (national)

Tet, or the (Chinese) New Year lunar calendar, is a major event in Vietnam. The festivities begin every year on the first day of the first lunar month and last one week. During the Tet holiday, shops close, people return to their hometown to visit their parents and pay homage to their ancestors. Families and friends gather for sumptuous traditional meals. The houses are decorated with yellow flowers—one of the largest flower markets in the country is in Ho Chi Minh City. Not to be missed!

6 April: Anniversary of the death of the first emperor Hung (national)

The death of the first known king of Vietnam is celebrated on the tenth day of the third month of the lunar calendar. On this holiday, many celebrations are held throughout the country.

30 April: Anniversary of reunification (national)

This date marks the end of the two conflicts in Indochina, led by France and then the United States. Hanoi's troops having liberated the former Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), it is here that the most significant military parades take place, as well as sports races.

1st May: International Labour Day (national)

Even if it is declared a public holiday, this day is far from a day of relaxation in Vietnam! Numerous tourists, notably from China, enjoy visiting the country at the beginning of May. Shops, restaurants, and tourist sites are in full swing!

First week of June: Annual Festival of Southern Fruits (local)

Hoa Loc mango, An Phuoc plum, Star apple, dragon fruit, mangosteen Lai Thieu: the fruits of southern Vietnam are an invitation to travel and exoticism! There is a floating market, a parade of giant fruits, and culinary workshops. This festival is an explosion of colours and flavours to promote the benefits of this region of Vietnam and the local agriculture.

2 September: National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (national)

This holiday commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by Ho Chi Minh with official speeches and military parades. Big cities are adorned with the colours of the country and pay tribute to the founder of the current Vietnamese Communist Party and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (became Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976).

From 5 to 9 September: Fishing Festival (local)

The fishermen of the Saigon River are honoured at this traditional festival in Can Gio in the coastal district of Ho Chi Minh City. Nautical competitions, seafood and fish tastings, as well as tribute ceremonies to whales, considered a sacred animal in Vietnam, mark the festivities.

15 September: Mid-Autumn Festival (national)

On the occasion of the feast of the moon, the Vietnamese eat crescent-shaped cake made of sticky rice stuffed with lotus seeds. In the evening, children carry lanterns in the shapes of dragons, unicorns, and carp through the streets, accompanied by the sound of drums and cymbals. Dance performances and traditional music are also held outdoors during the day.

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Ho Chi Minh City

The city of Ho Chi Minh is marked by a tropical climate, which is characterised by its monsoon. The rainy season runs from May to October. Though temperatures remain relatively high throughout the year, April is the hottest month. To enjoy the mild temperatures of the region of Ho Chi Minh City without experiencing torrential rains, the months from November to March are preferred.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 22 33 14 Good period to go Good period to go
February 23 34 3 Good period to go Good period to go
March 24 36 12 Good period to go Good period to go
April 25 36 42 Not the best period to go
May 25 34 220 Not the best period to go
June 25 33 329 Not the best period to go
July 25 32 314 Not the best period to go
August 25 32 268 Not the best period to go
September 24 32 334 Not the best period to go
October 24 32 268 Not the best period to go
November 24 32 113 Good period to go Good period to go
December 23 32 55 Good period to go Good period to go
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HO CHI MINH CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is located about seven kilometres northwest of the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Two terminals:
    • T1
    • T2 (Air France)

To get to Ho Chi Minh City and back to the airport:
  • Car
    • Access: central Ho Chi Minh City is accessible by car from the airport in 20 minutes.
    • Parking: each airport terminal offers short- and long-term parking. Allow about 20,000 VND per day.
    • Rentals: several car rental companies are available at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Warning: it is essential to have a Vietnamese driving license to drive in Vietnam.
  • Bus
    Three bus lines connect the Tan Son Nhat Airport to downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
    • Bus 152. The bus stop is located right at the airport exit. It serves the main points between the airport and the city centre of Ho Chi Minh City (the Reunification Centre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office). The trip takes about 30 minutes. This bus runs every day of the year between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You can purchase your travel ticket from the driver for 5,000 VND per person, and as much for baggage (excluding hand luggage).
    • Bus 109. The bus stop is located right at the airport exit. Launched in March 2016, this bus line connects the Tan Son Nhat Airport to the very touristy area of Pham Ngu Lao via the main streets of downtown. The trip takes about 45 minutes. The bus runs every day of the year, from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the rate of one bus every 20 minutes. You can purchase your travel ticket from the driver, for 20,000 VND per person (slightly less if you do not go to the terminus: when you purchase your ticket, specify your stop and the driver will give you the rate).
    • Bus 49. The bus stop is located right at the airport exit. Launched in May 2016, this line is especially for tourists (English-speaking staff, stops near major hotels in town), and it runs every day of the year, from 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the rate of one bus every 30-40 minutes. You can purchase your travel ticket from the driver, for a flat rate of VDN 40,000 per person, luggage included.
  • Taxi
    Taxis are available outside the airport. The fare to downtown is 150,000 VDN on average. Warning: only call taxis belonging to one of the two official taxi companies in the city. The cab will be equipped with a kilometre and time counter.
  • Services Security post, ticket distributors, shops, duty-free and fast food services.

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GETTING AROUND Ho Chi Minh City

Forget the “rickshaw” anchored in the imagination of tourists: they have become rare, and no Vietnamese ever uses one to get around! The city of Ho Chi Minh is provided with an excellent bus network, making the bus the ideal way to explore the city and its surroundings.

Car

Lack of signage in certain neighbourhoods, overloaded traffic in peak hours, parking problems: traffic in Ho Chi Minh City can be hellish. Better to avoid using a car to visit the city. Also, remember that a Vietnamese driving license is required to drive in Vietnam.

Bus

The city of Ho Chi Minh and the surrounding districts are crossed by more than 150 bus lines.

The most important lines run generally from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The most touristy lines are line 152, which connects the airport to the Ben Thanh Market, crossing the whole city centre; line 11, which runs as far as the Dam Sen theme park; line 30, which connects the Suoi Tien hotel area to the Hung Temple; and line 19, which connects the centre to the university.

The price of a ticket varies between 3,000 and 10,000 VDN on average, according to the line used and the distance travelled. You can purchase your tickets directly from the bus driver, or at a point of sale located at the bus station in Ho Chi Minh City.

Taxi

Taxis are a good way to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, if you take into account the potential difficulties related to traffic. Caution: take care not to board unofficial taxis. Taxis must be equipped with a time and kilometre counter. The price of a trip is negotiable. On average, count on 12,000 VDN for the first 700 metres, then 18,000 VDN per kilometre.

Motorcycle taxi

The motorcycle taxi is a quick and inexpensive way to travel in Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcycle taxis are usually parked on the sidewalks of the city and are identifiable by the second helmet the driver is holding. To ensure that it is a motorcycle taxi, ask ‘Xe Om?' (Pronounced ‘Che om?' and meaning ‘motorcycle taxi?') to the driver. The price of a moto-taxi ride is about half the price of a car ride, about 7,000 VDN per kilometre. This means of transport is reliable. It is preferable to agree on the price and settle the race before leaving.

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Visitor information

Once in Ho Chi Minh City, do not hesitate to get in touch with tourism professionals to advise you and to help you organize your stay.

Saigon Tourism

45, Lê Thanh Tôn, Q1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam

+84 (0)8 38 27 92 79

www.vietnamtourism.com

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Medical information

In Ho Chi Minh City, medical care is of good quality and the infrastructure and facilities are modern. It is recommended to take out health insurance covering medical expenses abroad and the costs of repatriation before a trip to Vietnam.

LIST OF OBLIGATORY AND RECOMMENDED VACCINATIONS

A booster vaccination for diphtheria-tetanus-polio is recommended.
Other vaccines, such as those against hepatitis A and B or typhoid can be recommended (see your doctor).

  • For longer stays, it is recommended to be vaccinated against rabies.

Zika virus cases have been reported in Vietnam. This virus is transmitted through certain mosquito bites and unprotected sex. This virus is usually benign, but can cause serious complications in new-borns whose mothers were infected with the virus during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, a trip to Vietnam is not recommended. If you are considering becoming pregnancy, it is advisable to postpone your trip to Vietnam.

For more information, contact the Air France Vaccination Centre:

FOOD SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

To ensure healthy eating, it is recommended that you follow good food hygiene practices (well-cooked food, wash fruits and vegetables before consumption, etc.).

DRINKING WATER

It is advisable to consume water from sealed bottles.

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Administrative formalities

A visa is required to enter Vietnamese territory, except for residents of the following countries: Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom.

For more information, visit Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: www.mofa.gov.vn/en

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Essential phrases

Here are some sentences in Vietnamese which could be useful during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City:

Hello: Xin chao

Good evening: Chuc ngu ngong

Good bye: Tam biet

Yes: Co

No: Khong

No, thank you: Toi khong muon, we caM

Thank you very much: Cam is

I don't understand: Toi khong noi tieng viet

Could you repeat that?: Ban co the lap lay

Please: Xin me

What time is it?: May gio king?

Excuse me?: Xin law

Airport: San bay

Train station: Tram

Taxi: Taxi

Hotel: Khach san

Hospital: Benh vien

Bank: Ngan hang

Telephone: Dien thoai

I am (…): Toi (…)

I'm looking for (…): Toi nhin (…)

What is the price of (…)?: Bao nhieu (…)?

Do you have (…)?: Ban co (…)?

Where can I find (…)?: Noi ma toi co the tim thay  (…)?

Where can I buy (…)?: Noi ma toi co the mua (…)?

I would like (…): Toi se (…)

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Good to know

+84
00 + country code
4 : 00
of time difference with
Moscow
There is no daylight savings time in Vietnam

Banks

Generally open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Government Offices
Generally open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., except post offic-es, which are usually open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in major cities and from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in smaller cities, including Sunday.
120 Volts - 50 Hz

TIPPING

Tipping is not mandatory in Vietnam, but it is appreciated. You can leave an additional 10 to 15% of the amount of the bill in bars and restaurants. Tips are also welcomed by staff at hotels and spas, and by tour guides and taxi drivers.