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Taxis are already a relatively cheap and easy way to get around Ho Chi Minh City – but things have just got even easier. Uber and Grab, two taxi-booking apps, are now available in the city, and both offer very competitive rates and quick pick-ups. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can use GrabBike for a motorbike taxi, so you don’t miss out on Saigon’s atmosphere as you’re whisked from A to B.
Although there are plenty of cafés and restaurants with free wi-fi, it can be frustrating to be tied down to the nearest hotspot just to be able to find your bearings. Not any more: Maps.Me provides offline maps to help you navigate your way around Ho Chi Minh City, minus the hefty roaming charges. The offline mode includes handy features like route-mapping and recogniseable landmarks. Just make sure to download the map of Saigon before you go out exploring!
It’s pretty likely you’ve already got the Facebook app on your mobile phone, but you might not know how incredibly useful it can be in Ho Chi Minh City. Over the past 10 years, the number of internet users in Vietnam has grown tremendously, and many locals are part of active, Saigon-based Facebook groups. Take a few minutes to search for groups with the words ‘Ho Chi Minh City’ or ‘Saigon’ on the app and you’re sure to discover a useful network for your trip. Locals are often willing to explain things about their home city, give local travel advice or even meet up to show you around their favourite places.
Useful for travel anywhere in Vietnam, as well as many parts of the world, Couchsurfing has recently launched a new feature called ‘Hangouts’ where you can spend time with other travellers in the same area. Join meet-ups and gatherings that have already been planned or organise your own, and explore Ho Chi Minh City in good company.
If you’re looking for a café, restaurant, petrol station, shop – pretty much anything! – then Cốc Cốc could be the answer. It’s the equivalent of ‘Google Maps’ in Vietnam and has much more information than Google on Ho Chi Minh City. All you need to do is pick a category and an area, then the map will light up with nearby options.
A couple of useful apps that will be helpful wherever you are in Vietnam are Google Translate – so you don’t have to embarrass yourself trying to use Vietnam’s six tones – and XE Currency, to convert thousands, or millions, of Vietnamese dong.
And a couple of reliables for anywhere on your travels: Splitwise, a hassle-free way of groups of friends to work out who owes what, and 1 Second Everyday, to record and edit your travels in a quirky video.