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

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Ho Chi Minh City each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1: 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.

January 28: 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!

April 6: Anniversary of the death of the first Hung Emperor (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.

April 30: 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.

May 1: 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.

September 2: 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).

September 5-9: 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.

October 4: 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 22/72 33/91 14/0.5 Good period to go Good period to go
February 23/73 34/93 3/0.1 Good period to go Good period to go
March 24/75 36/97 12/0.4 Good period to go Good period to go
April 25/77 36/97 42/1.6 Not the best period to go
May 25/77 34/93 220/8.6 Not the best period to go
June 25/77 33/91 329/13.0 Not the best period to go
July 25/77 32/89 314/12.3 Not the best period to go
August 25/77 32/89 268/10.5 Not the best period to go
September 24/75 32/89 334/13.1 Not the best period to go
October 24/75 32/89 268/10.5 Not the best period to go
November 24/75 32/89 113/4.4 Good period to go Good period to go
December 23/73 32/89 55/2.1 Good period to go Good period to go
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Tan Son Nhat International Airport

The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is located about 7 kilometres (4 miles) northwest of central Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Two terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2 (Air France)

Getting from the airport to Ho Chi Minh City and back:
  • By car
    • Central Ho Chi Minh City is accessible by car from the airport in 20 minutes.
    • Each airport terminal offers short- and long-term parking. Allow about VDN 20,000 per day.
    • Several car rental companies are available at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Warning: even though the international driver's license is valid since 2015, it must be accompanied by a translation in Vietnamese, certified by the local police. A Vietnamese guide is also to board your vehicle. It would be recommended to hire a driver instead.
  • By 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 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You can purchase your travel ticket from the driver for VDN 5,000 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 2:30 a.m. at the rate of one bus every 20 minutes. You can purchase your travel ticket from the driver, for VDN 20,000 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.
  • By taxi
    Taxis are available outside the airport. The fare to downtown is VDN 150,000 on average, VDN 200,000 maximum. Warning: only use taxis belonging to one of the two official taxi companies in the city. The cab will be equipped with a meter.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, free Internet access (Wi-Fi), ATMs and security office in the airport.
  • Telephone: +84 (0)8 3848 5383

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GETTING AROUND Ho Chi Minh City

Rickshaws are rare, forget about tourist folklore—opt instead for the bus, the perfect way to explore the city and its surroundings.

Bus

The city of Ho Chi Minh and the surrounding districts are connected 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 VDN 3,000 and 10,000 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: stay away from unofficial taxis. Taxis must be equipped with a meter. The price of a trip is negotiable. On average, count on VDN 12,000 for the first 700 metres, then VDN 18,000 per kilometre in a 7-seat taxi.

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 VDN 7,000 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

Offers practical information and useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address: 45, Lê Thanh Tôn, Q1 – Hô Chi Minh City
  • Telephone: +84 (0)8 38 27 92 79
  • Website: www.vietnamtourism.com

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel. It is recommended to take out health insurance covering medical expenses abroad and the costs of repatriation before a trip to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City counts several hospitals and medical institutions, as well as quality medical practitioners and health specialists.

Vaccinations

The update of diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccines before departure is recommended.

Other vaccinations, such as those against hepatitis A and B and typhoid are also recommended (see your physician).

For long stays, it is recommended to get a rabies vaccination.

For more information, contact the Air France Vaccination Centre:

Water

It is recommended to drink bottled water.

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ADMINISTRATIVE FORMALITIES

Entry requirements for French citizens

Since June 30th, 2016, French citizens no longer need a visa for journeys less than 15 days (travelling included).

For longer stays, or to cross borders within 15 days, a visa is mandatory.

There is a 30-day waiting period to re-enter Vietnam after your visit if you do not hold a visa.

French passports must be valid for 6 months after the end of your stay in Vietnam. To travel serenely in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam, follow the travel advice of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays/vietnam

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USEFUL ADDRESSES

Vietnamese Embassy in France:

Embassy of France in Vietnam:

  • Address: 57 Tran Hung Dao, Hang Bai - Hoan Kiem - Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Telephone: +84 (0)4 39 44 57 00
  • Website: www.ambafrance-vn.org

French Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Address: 27 Nguyen Thị Minh Khai, Ben Nghé, Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam
  • Telephone: +84 (0)8 35 20 68 00
  • Website: www.consulfrance-hcm.org

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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, cam on

Thank you very much: Cam on

I don't understand: Toi khong noi tieng viet

Could you repeat that?: Ban co the lap lay

Please: Xin moi

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

00 84
+ phone number without (0)
-1 : 00
of time difference with
Hong Kong
There is no daylight savings time in Vietnam.

BANKS
Usually 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
Usually open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
220 V / 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.

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