Banks & Currency Exchange -- As elsewhere in Vietnam, you can change money in banks and hotels. The exchange rate in Saigon is better than in many smaller cities.
Major banks in Saigon include ANZ Bank, 11 Me Linh Sq., District 1 (tel. 08/3829-9319); Citibank, 115 Nguyen Hue St. (tel. 08/3824-2118); HSBC, 235 Dong Khoi St., District 1 (tel. 08/3829-2288); and Vietcombank, 29 Ben Chuong Duong, District 1 (tel. 08/3829-7245). All offer international ATM services.
A good currency exchange is at 4C Le Loi St., right in the town center.
Western Union has a number of locations throughout the city. Their main office is at 104-106 Nguyen Hue St. (across from the Rex Hotel; tel. 08/3823-9116).
Dentists -- International SOS has a dental clinic.
Drugstores -- Vietnamese drugstores are on every street corner, and they're more or less the "prescribe it yourself" kind, whether you need antibiotics or stomach medicines.
Embassies & Consulates -- Ho Chi Minh's consulates are all in District 1, as follows: United States, 4 Le Duan St. (tel. 08/3822-9433); Canada, 235 Dong Khoi St. (tel. 08/3827-9899); Australia, 5B Ton Duc Thang St. (tel. 08/3829-6035); New Zealand, 9/F 235 Dong Skhoi St. (tel. 08/3822-6908); and United Kingdom, 25 Le Duan St. (tel. 08/3829-8433).
Emergencies -- For police, dial tel. 113; for fire, dial tel. 114; and for an ambulance, dial tel. 115. Have a translator on hand, if necessary; operators don't speak English, and for any major situation you will want to contact your country's embassy or consulate. For medical emergencies, contact one of the clinics listed under "Hospitals & International Clinics"). For an international operator, dial tel. 110.
Hospitals & International Clinics -- Saigon's large expatriate community gets sick, and when they do, they need doctoring, which means good emergency clinics are available. Any of the clinics listed below act as a general triage for emergencies and can help coordinate evacuation. They're staffed with both foreign and Vietnamese specialists.
International SOS is at 167 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., District 3. During office hours, call tel. 08/3829-8520, and in the evenings, dial their 24-hour hot line, tel. 08/3829-8424.
The Family Medical Practice is at the Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, District 1 (tel. 08/3822-7848).
The International Medical Center (1 Han Thuyen, District 1; tel. 08/3827-2366 during office hours, tel. 08/3865-4025 for emergencies) offers services similar to what you'll find at International SOS.
Internet -- Almost every upscale hotel provides Internet services in Saigon, but they charge a pretty penny. You won't find any service on Dong Khoi, but a short walk in any direction brings you to service for an average of 200 VND per minute. Try Welcome Internet, at 15B Le Thanh Ton (tel. 08/3822-0981). Service in the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker area is fast and cheap; Internet cafes line De Tham and charge 5,000 VND to 6,000 VND per hour. Hong Hoa (185/28 Pham Ngu Lao St., 250 De Tham St., District 1; tel. 08/3836-1915; www.honghoavn.com) is exemplary of the good, affordable services on Pham Ngu Lao (dial-up, though, which makes it a little slow). Bui Vien is lined with small Internet operators (try FTC Travel; 74 Bui Vien St.; tel. 09/201-228).
Maps -- The Tourist Information Center, at 4G-4H Le Loi St., District 1 (tel. 08/3822-6033), has free detailed city maps.
Post Office -- The main post office is at 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1 (tel. 08/3827-1149), across from Notre Dame cathedral. It's open daily from 7:30am to 8pm. Postal service is also available in most hotels and at various locations throughout the city.
Safety -- The biggest threat to your safety in Saigon is likely to be the street traffic. Cross the wildly busy streets at a slow, steady pace. If you're having a really hard time getting across, find a local who is crossing and stick to his heels!
Pickpocketing is a big problem in Saigon, especially motorbike drive-bys, with someone slashing the shoulder strap, grabbing the bag, and driving off. Keep your bag close and away from traffic. Hang on to your wallet, and don't wear flashy jewelry. Be especially wary in crowded places like markets. Women should avoid wandering around in the evenings alone past 11pm or so. Contact your consulate or your hotel if you have a serious problem. If you insist on going to the local police, bring a translator. But know that the Saigon police tend to throw up their hands at "minor" infractions such as purse snatching or thievery.
Telephone -- The city code for Saigon is 8. When dialing within Vietnam, the city code should be preceded by the 0 as indicated in the numbers listed in this guide; note that the 0 should be omitted when dialing from overseas.
Toilets -- There are no public toilets, per se. Seek out hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.