The largest city in Vietnam used to be called Saigon, and some of its citizens still use that name even though it's officially been Ho Chi Minh City since 1975. This is one of many Asian cities that are dominated by motorbikes to the point of being chaotic and unsettling at times. There are endless food carts and shopping opportunities everywhere you go, but particularly in the tourist center.
The dry season is from December to March, and visiting during this time means you get the best weather, but also the biggest crowds. If you are sensitive to humidity you might want to avoid the wet season because the sweltering climate can quickly demoralize some visitors even if they are staying in an air-conditioned hotel room at night.
What to do
Two large museums are dedicated to the gruesome civil war fought in the country during the 60s and 70s. The Reunification Palace was formerly the Presidential Palace and it now houses more or less what was there during the war as sort of a time capsule. The War Remnants Museum nearby displays supposed war crimes committed by the south and its supporters with no mention of any wrongdoing by the north. It's an interesting display of propaganda gone wild.
The Ben Thanh Market has hundreds of stalls, many of which carry items specifically meant for tourists, although local food and household items can still be found. This is a good place to practice your bargaining skills because almost nothing has a price tag. There's also a night market just outside the main market, which starts up each evening as the main one closes. The War Surplus Market is also sometimes known as the American Market, and it specializes in supposed war surplus as well as cheap clothing and electronics.
You should book a flight into Tan Son Nhat (code: SGN), which is the county's largest airport. Fares tend to be competitive and all major airports in the region have flights into Ho Chi Minh City. There is a special bus that will take you cheaply into the city center, but if you are in a hurry you can hire a taxi, although be careful for scams and overcharging.
Where to stay
There are hundred of hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. The best neighborhood for budget hotels is Pham Ngo Lau, which is near the Ben Thanh Market, and prices tend to be quite reasonable, although the quality might be lower than you are used to. There are also high-end international hotels in the city, with prices to match. There are a few hostels in Ho Chi Minh City, but a budget hotel might be a better value and only a bit more expensive.