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Guide to Ho Chi Minh

Guide to Ho Chi Minh

As you arrive at Tan Son Nhat Airport, you are embracing the very first moments in Vietnam, whether it is the blistering air or breezy chill that welcome you. Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, is the business and financial hub of Vietnam. It is a city that is rich in culture and history. Here in the most cosmopolitan city in Vietnam, you can immerse in the city’s elegant architecture and broad boulevards. Saigon offers a diversity of culture and colonial buildings with classic French architecture such as Notre Dame Church and glamorous skyscrapers like Landmark 81 or Bitexco Tower. You will also find ornate temples and ancient pagodas, which blend in well with the budding economical situation in this vibrant city.

Ho Chi Minh at a Glance

There are several neighbourhoods, which are called Districts (Quan) in Ho Chi Minh city. District 1 is the city centre with a plethora of popular landmarks. If you want to stay in District 1, you can find affordable accommodation, restaurants and bars on Pham Ngu Lao street. It is said that the best hotels are located around Dong Khoi in the city centre, and there are some smart mini-hotels on nearby Mac Thi Buoi as well. Expat community usually gather in District 2 with lots of high-end apartments, villas and houses.

What you may find fascinating in Saigon

  • A blend of modern and historical landmarks
  • Good range of restaurants suitable for all budgets

What you may find less fascinating

  • Traffic Jam
  • More expensive than most cities in Vietnam
  • Things You Can Do in Ho Chi Minh

Notre Dame Cathedral

Located in Paris Square, Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the late 1880s by French colonists. It is among some remaining French Catholic Church, as Buddhism is more popular in Viet nam. In 1959, a statue called “Peaceful Notre Dame” was installed, which gave the Church the name “Notre Dame”. In 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral status as a basilica and gave it the official name of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Be prepared to endorse a peaceful setting in the middle of downtown District 1. 60 metres in height, Notre Dame Church features neo-Romanesque design with all red-brick facade with a few stained-glass windows. A statue of the Virgin Mary provides the centrepiece to the small park in front of the cathedral where you may catch sight of cyclo drivers. Some people even claim that they saw her shedding tears. The experience of listening to whispered prayers merging with the murmur of the traffic outside is worth your visit.

Reunification Palace

Pay this place a visit - Make your internship in Vietnam more enriching

Reunification Palace was once the Norodom Palace, a colonial mansion built in 1871 to housse the governor - general of Indochina. It used to be under Ngo Dinh Diem’s presidential palace under French colonization in 1954. However, in February 1962, the Palace was damaged extensively by two Southern pilots. In 1966, the building was named the Independence Palace, which then renamed into the Reunification Hall when 2 parts of the country united in 1975. The place which is a whitewashed concrete edifice, looks like a municipal library. You will learn more of the American and French war in Vietnam and listen to the story of glorious victory in uniting two regions of Vietnam as you visit it during your internship break.

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market in 1921

If you are a foodie, Ben Thanh market is a must where a cluster of food stalls offer a bewildering variety of dishes, many specializing in seafood. It is a place where you can find almost anything: food such as com, pho, baguette, souvenirs from conical hats to basketware, shoes and lacquerware. Ladies searching for eels, live frogs and hens for a home-cooked meal also come here to enjoy the lively and diverse food it offers. It is the busiest market in the city for almost a century and its previous name was the Halles Centrales under French colonization. Don't forget to check this out cause that's what a must-do to become Saigonese. 

Bars and pubs in Ho Chi Minh City

The number of tourists and expats renting apartments nearby the area of Dong Khoi is the reasons for the rise of bars and pubs on Le Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Thi Sach streets. Here you can find all types of bars and pubs, from hole-in-the-wall dives to elegant cocktail lounge.

More affordable cafes can be found around De Tham, where many bars will feature live music. For example, 17 Saloon features Filipino bands performing covers of current hits and old favourites. If you want to mix and mingle with local artists, Thi Café and Yoko should be on your list as it is the place you can find local singers making their name here.


came here because I wanted to have more confidence to speak up my mind in front of other people and it is hard to accomplish these when you are still in your comfort zone, so I chose to come to Vietnam for an internship and I was able to accomplish what I came for. And I realize, the key to develop yourself is to improve your competence in a whole new environment.


Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan

I was very appreciated and valued at the host school, they were extremely welcoming and friendly. The teachers provided me with plenty of opportunities to interact with different year levels and observe classes. In addition, even though it is not their responsibility to, they were also very keen on showing me Vietnam and making me comfortable, I got to go on a trip to pagodas in Ho Chi Minh where I got to wear ao dai and get to know more about another aspect of Vietnamese life. One inconvenience I had would be that my accommodation was quite far from the school and I was by myself. But overall, this can be improved on and I would recommend the internship program to anyone interested.


Monash University ,Education Internship

I am satisfied with the internship in Vietnam provided by ABROADER Vietnam. The internship placement was ideal and my local buddy was great. During the internship I worked at Ho Chi Minh Hospital of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. At the host organization, I was clear about the responsibilities & rules expected to accomplish & follow. I had a lot of supervisors who were all very caring. The doctors there were very gracious and explained a lot of cases to me; all in all I was well equipped to perform the job at my best.


Surgical Internship ,University of Oregon, U.S.A

I did a 4 months internship, in the National Childrens Hospital in Vietnam. The entire organization for me went really well, all you need is time and patience but when you reach the point where all is setteled it went really smooth and if you have problems you will get help asap and they will find a solution for you. I gained alot of new experience and was suprised by the high pratical skills of the Nurses and Doctors. Even though not everybody could speak propper english and sometimes communication was hard, there were ways to communicate with the colleagues (Googe Translate, Body language). All in all I just can say I would do it again, and I wouldnt be the person I am today with out going on this adventure. The way I see things definitely changed and I go home with newe knowledge and some wonderful memories. A big thank you to ABROADER Vietnam and especialy Miss Ha who made this all possible.


Nursing Internship ,FH Campus Wien

Great internship in Vietnam. I recommend to Westerners to go there at least one time to see things differently. ABROADER is very helpful (even if there is only women here haha) and found me a very decent internship. Time flies very fast, so you know what to do if you like the heat and cheep beers. À bientôt Vietnam!


Environment Intern ,Polytech Montpellier, France

The three weeks that I spent in Vietnam gave me a unique insight and greater appreciation into the world around me. Going to Vietnam has made me value the things I take for granted in Australia, such as just being able to drink clean water from the tap. I discovered that the people of Vietnam are so generous and forgiving. I made many new friends during the study tour and learned a course all whilst touring a great country. The study tour was very enjoyable and I had lots of fun along the way with the activities planned by the local buddies. The course itself was interesting and I genuinely enjoyed the content, despite it being so condensed into a few weeks. My advice for students wanting to go on ABROADER study tour would be to just enjoy the trip while it lasts and take as many photos as possible, because the time goes so quick. A huge thank you to all the organisers of the trip and to the local buddies for making this trip possible and the best it could have been.


Engineering Faculty-Led Program ,University of Newcastle, Australia

Being in Vietnam is the best experience in my life so far!!! I cannot believe 6 weeks have actually gone by. I love my internship at Siten. People in the company are really helpful and understanding. They are like a family. Like when I was sick and asked for a morning off, they told me to stay at home for the afternoon so that I can truly feel better. My Thuan – my supervisor has taught me so much. He actually encouraged me to go explore Vietnam – so different from other leaders I know. He let me do what I want to do. The largest problem was the language barrier but we managed to communicate with each other quite well. They said I inspire them to learn English. So yeah, everything is pretty perfect. The best experience in my life so far! At Siten I worked on a project for learning English in which I helped develop the website and prototyped games. The staff also me HTML which I really enjoyed learning. Besides going to work, I spent all of my weekend travel to new places like Sapa, Hoian, Danang, Ha Long Bay. I met with so many nice people who are so friendly and they really want you to immerse into the culture. If there is one thing I feel that I have grown, it must be my ability to talk with people, to be more open towards anything. Before coming here I knew pretty much nothing about Vietnam. Still I managed to live here and was actually never lonely my whole time being in Vietnam. I am glad that I came here. I cannot believe I am gonna leave this place so soon. Thank you all so much!


IT Internship ,Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A

Prior to arriving in Vietnam, I had never had a so-called “life-changing” experience. There is no guidebook on how to achieve one, nor was I able to grasp such a concept, moments so strong as to change the path for your life. That is until I went to Vietnam. There is so much more than meets the eye in the beautiful country of Vietnam. A tourist or temporary visitor may only be granted with picturesque views of rice fields and the women in their hats, the mountains of the north, or a steaming bowl of Pho placed on their plastic red table. And while these experiences are all incredible in their own right, there is so much more to discover, whether it be the story of the people under the hats, the sellers on the streets, or the history of the land that you have the opportunity to travel. ABROADER Vietnam granted me the opportunity to uncover such stories, and an internship with memories that has left me longing to go back since the moment I returned home. Vietnam has become my second home. Granted, I had gotten the opportunity to travel and become accustomed to Vietnam for about four months prior to starting the internship. My University had allowed me to study abroad during which time I adjusted to the food and language, learning about almost every aspect of Vietnam culture. But this was only a preview of what was to come. My time with the internship let me interact with the people, practice my Vietnamese, take trips with my coworkers, and uncover passions for things I didn’t know existed. I have too many incredible stories to be able to write them all throughout this review, and so I’ll pick a few of the mostly little interactions that really meant the most. ABROADER Vietnam set me up in a homestay, perhaps one of the highlights of my journey, and I can say with complete honesty that I felt like part of the family. There was a cook by the name of “Vui”, meaning happy in Vietnamese, and how appropriate as she radiated happiness onto me throughout my entire stay. She did not speak any English, but somehow I was able to coordinate trips to the market, request my favorite food for dinners, and convey to her how much I loved her country. She bought me 21 roses on my 21st birthday, only proving her kindness. The mother of the household, unlike Vui, spoke some English. She often taught me Vietnamese when I had free time, as well as took me to the market, and made me feel extremely welcome when I felt the slightest bit homesick. But as for the internship itself, I was placed in two hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, one directly in the center, and one located more on the outskirts. I’m not going to lie and say that there were no challenges. Originally people were confused to why I was there, I got lost several times, and some days I had no one to teach me, but those were a minuscule few days as most, out of a ten week internship. I made friends with the doctors who taught me about topics from infectious diseases in Vietnam, to the catheder lab, and even more in the surgical urology department.. We frequently went out to eat, where we exchanged stories, and I answered curious questions about my time in Vietnam thus far. Other friends I made were medical students, originally too shy to approach me, but through my time in the hospital gathered up the courage to speak to me. I served to help them practice their English and was happy about it as I know how many opportunities it can open up for them. They invited me for bubble tea, food, and even once to a Vietnamese fruit farm, two hours by train. I was gifted the opportunity to dress up in the MOST attractive brown cloth attire, and proceed to pick and eat as much fruit as humanly possible on perhaps one of the most humid days. While I felt almost at home, eating to my hearts desire, I most certainly looked out of place with the brown pants acting more like a short capri on my long legs. It was days like this that I got to thinking of how grateful I was for the opportunity to stay in Vietnam for a little bit longer. I learned lots about my friends, and one of my favorite aspects of their culture is how open they are to strangers; how they just immediately let them in to their personal lives, and are completely honest. It is something that I miss the most. And lastly, as I don’t want to write a novel here, I have to talk about my experiences with the nurses at the second hospital that I worked in. The first week as usual was slightly stressful with not much sense of direction, but I quickly made friends, and their generosity was incredible. My days consisted of learning from doctors for a few hours, walking from room to room, checking patients vitals, or just practicing Vietnamese. But as soon as I took a break in the nurses “lounge”, I was bombarded with different Vietnamese foods coming my way. Each nurse wanted to share with me a piece of their dish, and talk to me as much as they could. Each morning from there on I would be asked in Vietnamese “Ali an sang chua?”, a phrase meaning “have you eaten breakfast yet?” Per usual I had not, and my answer encouraged them to start making me a coffee, and once again piling different foods in my bowls and encouraging me to eat mysterious shaped foods. My response that the food was delicious, or “ngon”, only encouraged them more. This routine continued until the end of my internship. The goodbyes were not easy, and there were many I had to make. Each attempted goodbye always ended with another attempt by them to try and meet up once more, at which I sullenly had to refuse. There are only a few things I will say to end this review that went much too long. These moments that I experienced were granted to me due to my opportunity to take up an internship with ABROADER, who set me up in the select hospitals, with my host family, and opened the doors for me to make connections. And of course when you take on an internship you have to do your part. You must be open, able to laugh when things don’t go your way, and not let any roadblock deter you. Looking back I know that I have changed. While I couldn’t see it in the moment, the internship boosted my confidence and improved my relationship with failure. It also made my more open with myself and those that I met. I wished my internship could go longer, and perhaps I will find a job in Vietnam one day, so for now all I can do is reminisce through reviews about the most life-changing time I had with my internship and with ABROADER.


Medical Internship ,Loyola University Chicago

My internship in Vietnam with ABROADER was a life changing experience. I was a marketing intern at a travel company in Hanoi and now work for the same company as a full time employee. Being in Vietnam has taught me so much about different people and cultures, as there are many other foreigners working here as well from all over the world. My internship coordinator at ABROADER was so helpful, and was a huge support for me whenever I needed it. I would definitely recommend ABROADER if you are looking to do an internship here. They really cater to your needs and care about what you want and are looking for.


Marketing & Communication Specialist Intern ,University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S.A

It was an overall enjoyable experience having my internship done through ABROADER Vietnam. The host company that they connected me with has been welcoming, friendly, I have been able to experience a lot of different elements of the company’s culture, helping different people and learning new things about not only the company but also working in general. I felt that I contributed to the host company and my particular help with the MWRP (checking English) was of great importance to them as the deadline approached. They have given me feedback and said that some of my research into potential donors and other youth initiatives in climate change adaptation has been of use to them too. Regarding ABROADER Vietnam intern service was my placement and the amazing support from local staff and volunteer in Hanoi. Would I recommend the internship to anyone interested, definitely!


Environmental Engineering Internship ,University of Edinburgh, Scotland