Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport serves Ho Chi Minh City as well as the rest of southeastern Vietnam, the country’s most urbanized region. It consists of two major terminal buildings with separate sections for international and domestic flights. The airport is located north of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, which is also known as the city centre.
The most economical way of getting into the city from the airport is by the airport bus, and you can find out if the bus serves your destination by checking with airport staff. Although the bus comes at regular intervals, the service does not operate round the clock. If you intend to take a taxi into the city, get one from the taxi stand outside the terminals. Two of the bigger and more reliable taxi operators are Mai Linh and Vinasun. Unless you’re absolutely certain of the going rate, insist on following the metered fare.
There are several ways you can get around the city including by taxi and the ubiquitous motorcycle that is arguably the vehicle of Ho Chi Minh City. Combining the two, motorcycle taxis are great for short jaunts and a trip on one can easily qualify as an adventure ¾think of them as the equivalent of an exhilarating theme park ride as you weave through the intense and chaotic traffic in an unpredictable fashion, especially since traffic in the city is governed by unwritten rules and "right of way" is a nearly unknown concept. Another way of getting around is the cyclo, something like a reverse tricycle with the passenger sitting in the front. It is a great, and perhaps less harrowing, way to see the city.
Otherwise, the public bus system that serves 150 routes throughout the city is an alternative. Public buses are generally cheap, safe and comfortable. However, if you don’t read or speak Vietnamese, finding the right line can be challenging and frustrating. It will be best to have your destination’s name written down in Vietnamese, so you can show it to a friendly local for help.
A must-visit place is the War Remnants Museum, located in District 3. The museum displays exhibits relating to the Americans’ role in the Vietnam War. It is a sobering experience to walk through the museum, where you will see the atrocities of the war presented in the form of gruesome photographs and artifacts. There is even a section displaying jars of deformed fetuses attributed to contamination by Agent Orange. Although it might be a bit hard to stomach, the exhibits are a good reminder about the devastating effects of war.
Next, walk over to the Reunification Palace, also known as the Independence Palace. The structure was formerly South Vietnam's presidential palaceduring the Vietnam War, with many restored buildings still looking exactly as they used to. You will also get to see vintage paraphernalia throughout the five floors and a photo gallery that documents the Fall of Saigon.
To bolster your new knowledge of Vietnam’s history, be sure to book tickets for the A O Show (translated phonetically as the Ahhh! Ohhhh! Show) at the historically significant Saigon Opera House. The show depicts Vietnam’s history, culture and development through a well-choreographed mixture of song, dance, drama, and acrobatic acts. Modern elements are incorporated into the show’s storytelling process and it is a must-watch for visitors!
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