Here’s 10 tourist tips when visiting Saigon.
- The currency is Vietnamese Dong (VND). 1USD is roughly 21,000 VND. Do not fold. Some vendors do not accept folded money and also money which has a tear. The color of the 20,000 VND is similar to the 500,000 VND so be careful when handing your money.
Scam alert: This happened in a taxi. A passenger would hand their 500,000 VND for payment only to be told that they handed 20,000 VND. The 500,000 and 20,000 bills have the similar blue color. Better to pay in small bills.
2. Do not ride non-metered taxi. I don’t think I can stress this enough. What taxis do I recommend? Read more about it here. If you’re going to ride the xe om or the motorbike taxi, you should pay at least half the cost if you’d ride a taxi.
3. Aside from walking, riding a cyclo is a terrific way to go around the city but the drivers can be really opportunistic. Before riding, make sure you are clear on how much the ride costs. Better yet, let them write it down for you. 5 USD or roughly 100,000VND for 30 minutes sounds reasonable. If you can pay before you ride, that would be best. If you just want a photo with the cyclo, ask the driver first if they require payment or not. Cyclos are not as popular as before in Saigon and drivers may be tempted to rip you off. So be very careful.
- Bus No. 35 is a bus that stops at major tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City from 5:30 AM to 8:12 PM. The ticket cost is 4,000 VND or $0.19. You can take this from the Ben Thanh Bus Station.
5. Don’t be surprised if the taxi driver or grocery cashier helps himself to your wallet when you’re about to pay. These people think you are not versed in the VND currency so what may seem to be an out-of-line act is actually them trying to help you.
6. When coming from the airport on a taxi, you would have to pay an additional 10,000 VND. This covers the airport entry free — kind of a toll fee. (Thanks Windflower!) You may also be asked to pay for this when going to the airport as non-airport taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. Again, it’s 10,000 VND not 100,000 VND.
7. Sidewalks are for pedestrians but apparently for motorbikes too.
8. The police wearing dark green uniform are tourist police and are there to help tourists out especially in crossing the busy city streets.
9. Don’t be shy to haggle for the price especially in the market. Watch out for areas that state Fixed Price.
10. Mineral water is safe in Vietnam. Popular brands are Aquafina by Pepsi, La Vie by Nestle, Dasani by Coca Cola, and Sapuwa.
Adding more tips! 😉
Lisa’s Tip: I think any visitor coming here should take advantage of the fact the SIM cards and data is so cheap that it’s worth investing even for a short or long visit. I can’t remember but I got 2 SIM cards for $10 or less. And added mobifone data for another US$5 which is 1.5G and that lasts for 30 days.
As for me, I pay 75,000 VND ($3.6VND) for my 3G under Mobifone that lasts for one month. Really good deal! 🙂
Let me know if you have any other good tip to share!