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Ho Chi Minh City Shore Excursions: Know-Before-You-Go Tips

Each year, roughly 8 million visitors are coming to Vietnam by plane, car, or through cruises. And without a doubt, Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, formerly known as Saigon, is one of the most popular destinations for a port of call. Whether you are on a 1-week cruise discovering Southeast Asia or you are on a 3-month journey exploring the world - this city discovery is not to be missed.

To help you make the most of your trip before you visit, I am writing this blog to give you, hopefully, some know-before-you-go useful insights about HCM’s port of calls.

Port of Calls: Nha Rong and Phu My

There are currently 2 active ports serving cruise ships in Ho Chi Minh City: Nha Rong Port and Phu My’s Tan Cang Cai Mep Port.

Depending on the size of your cruise ship, the port of call varies. Smaller ships can navigate up the Saigon river and dock adjacent to the city center at Nha Rong Port, but bigger cruise ships must dock at Phu My’s Tan Cang Cai Mep Port. (If you need help finding out your port of call, you can email the arrival date and name of your ship to [email protected]). Looking for a top-rated private shore excursion by motorbikes or car out of the port? Check out CUSTOMIZE MY ADVENTURE

Getting out of your Port by Taxi

-Nha Rong Port – You are in for convenience. Nha Rong Port is located right next to the main city center. This is a 5-minute taxi ride or a 15-minute walk from your port to the city.

I recommend the use of these 2 reputable taxis: VinaSun & MaiLinh

Vinasun 

Vinasun Number (HCM): 08 3827 2727

Xe Mai Linh

MaiLinh Number (HCM): 08 3838 3838

[For more information on how to avoid taxi scams, check our blog on “3 tips to avoid taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh City”]

-Phu My’s Tan Cang Cai Mep Port -

DSC00387

If your ship docks at Phu My, it is a containers terminal with no worthy attractions nearby. Your closest 2 cities are Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), which are 45 km and 60 km from the port, respectively.

There are limited taxis parked outside of the port’s gate, and these are first come first served. It is recommended to take these taxis with caution.

Here is a standard taxi meter fee for your reference:

4 seater car: 15,000 VND/km or $ 0.75 USD/km

7 seater van: 17,000 VND/km or $ 0.85 USD/km

If you plan to take a taxi to visit HCM, do not forget to negotiate the toll fees, parking fees, and the waiting time fees with your taxi driver before getting into one. There are no tolls to get to Vung Tau city.

Getting out of your Port by Private Car Transport

Phu My

If you wish to see and understand the city and get away from the traditional group tour, your best chance is to pre-book your private transport or pre-arrange a city tour with a travel agency in HCM.

Since most tour operators are located in Ho Chi Minh City, 2 hours away from the Phu My’s port, prior arrangement is strongly recommended to ensure you have sufficient time to tour the city and back to the harbour.

One of the ways to save on transport cost is to gather up a few cruise mates, pre-book a private tour and share the costs.

Getting out of your Port by Ship Shuttle Transport

Depending on your ship carrier, some offers complimentary shuttle services from the port to the city and back. These have their specific timetable and stop locations. Based on your nationality, a visiting visa is required, and this can be arranged on your cruise ship. You will need to check with your cruise on this offer. As of June 2016, Vietnam has extended visa waiver for these 5 European countries: UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

And as of Feb. 1st, 2017, visitors from 40 countries can apply for e-visas for Vietnam.

Tip: For pricing and itinerary comparisons, check with your cruise liner for their tour packages and make a comparison with the tour operators offering private tours. There usually is more option compared to a standard cookie-cutter tour.

FURTHER READING: 8 common scams and annoyances in Vietnam

If you have questions, feel free to leave a message in the comments below.

Linh is a native of Saigon. In her spare time, she likes to travel and takes pictures of the locals' lifestyle. She currently lives with her family and a cat named Hannah.

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