Taxis are clustered around the bigger hotels and restaurants. They cost 10,000 VND to 15,000 VND at flag fall and 6,000 VND or so for every kilometer thereafter. Call Mai Linh Taxi (tel. 08/3925-0250), Vina Taxi (tel. 08/3815-5145), or Vinasun (tel. 08/3272-727). Stick with the larger companies listed here, as others (many with copycat names that sound similar) are famous for doctoring the meter and charging far more than the accepted price.
You can simplify your sightseeing efforts if you hire a car and driver for the day. Contact Ann Tours, Saigontourist, or any hotel concierge. Expect to pay about $30 for a day's rental with driver.
By Motorcycle Taxi
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Saigon's crazy motorbike traffic is maddening in a car, which feels something like an elephant in a forest of buzzing mosquitoes, so a motorbike is a great way to weave through the chaos -- a quick trip is 10,000 VND for the savvy haggler (usually closer to 15,000 VND), while hourly booking can be in the ballpark of $1 per hour (don't bother with the English-speaking drivers in the Dong Khoi area who tell you that they'll be your guide for 50,000 VND per hour). A bit hair-raising sometimes, but it is a good way to get around. Ask for a helmet; most city drivers carry one in a plastic bag on the side of their bike for safety-conscious clients. Keep your knees in, and many drivers will appreciate if, when merging in traffic, you help out looking back and signaling your turn with a wave to oncoming traffic. You'll come back caked in city grime, with some good stories for friends back home.
Cyclos are available for an hourly rental of about 20,000 VND, but they're simply not a good option in Saigon, especially outside District 1. First, drivers have an odd habit of not speaking English (or, indeed, any other language) halfway through your trip and taking you to places you never asked to see, or simply driving around in circles pretending to be confused. Second, riding in a slow, open conveyance amid thousands of motorbikes and cars is unpleasant and dangerous, and cyclo passengers are low to the ground and in the front, something like a bumper. A short jaunt around the Dong Khoi area or for hops between some of the city sights is memorable, but all-day cyclo tours are not recommended.
By Bicycle & Motorbike
Saigon traffic is chaos, so you might want to think twice before renting a motorbike or bicycle to get around the city on your own. Any hotel front desk can arrange rental at an inflated fee, or try the many little storefronts on Pham Ngu Lao, just west of the intersection with De Tham, where a full-day bike rental starts at $1 and a motorbike is from $5. Wear a helmet and drive slowly, staying in the middle of the herd.
Metropolitan Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 19 administrative districts, numbered 1 through 12 and including Tan Binh, Bin Thanh, Phu Nhuan, Thu Duc, Go Vap, Binh Tan, and Tan Phu. Be sure to know the name or number of the district you need when looking for an address, and try to group your travels accordingly (you don't want to try to crisscross too many districts in 1 day). Most of the hotels, bars, shops, and restaurants are in District 1, parts of which are easily covered on foot -- though you'll want to hop a motorbike taxi or cab to cross the length of a district. District 1 is home to the central Ben Thanh Market and includes the city's most busy commercial area, Dong Khoi, as well as the backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao. District 1 is flanked to the east and south by the Saigon River, which is where Dong Khoi Street terminates and marks the boundary of the most developed part of the city. Saigon's sightseeing attractions are spread among districts 1, 3, and 5 (Cholon). District 3 is just north and west of the central Dong Khoi area and is home to many foreign business offices and embassies. District 5 is a fair ride west of the town center and supports the city's large ethnic Chinese population, a number of older temples, and a market area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.