Ho Chi Minh CityCopyright: Tonkinphotography/Shutterstock.com
Ho Chi Minh CityLocated on the Mekong River, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest and most exciting city in Vietnam. Its population of nearly 9 million people makes it one of the densest urban areas in the world, and it's still common for several families to share a living space. Travellers will likely be amazed by the vibrant mix of old and new, including war relics from the devastating Vietnam War and well-preserved colonial structures. The vibrant nightlife of Ho Chi Minh makes it stand out from other cities in Vietnam.
The CitySaigon or Ho Chi Minh City? The first used to be the first city of the French colony and the latter – the once-capital of the state of South Vietnam until the end of the war in 1975. Despite the historic connotations, you'll hear some locals still lovingly call it Saigon, while others rule in favour of the new name. Upon arrival, you’ll immediately be plunged into a lively street atmosphere, cadenced by over 3 million motorcycles, racing along sidewalks dotted with colourful fruit stalls. Ho Chi Minh did not escape the war but it’s now a rapidly growing city. The nation’s economic heart has embarked onto important urban and education developments. Some 50 universities and colleges attract over 300,000 students. You will also find dozens of supermarket chains, luxury shopping malls and modern fashion centres. But Ho Chi Minh is also a city with a rich past: heavily influenced by the French in terms of culture and style, the city is still characterised by elegant boulevards and historic colonial buildings.
Do & See
Many of the tourist attractions, including the main walking streets or the famous Ben Thanh Market, are located in District 1. Here you will also find a range of temples and landmark buildings, as well as the Museum of Vietnamese History which houses 2,000 years of Vietnam’s past and enables you to gain deep understanding of the historical and cultural context.
Much like the rest of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is a city where a fantastic plate of food is never too far away. From high-end restaurants to backwater eateries, there's plenty to discover beyond 'pho' alone. A great place to start is Thi Sach Street, lined with many small restaurants.
Bars & Nightlife
District 1 is the best place to go when the sun goes down, especially around Hai Ba Trung and Dong Khoi. In Saigon, you can have fun and dance the night away in the company of like-minded revellers. As is the case with bars, the best nightclubs are also in District 1. They usually have a cover charge and no particular dress code to get in – you're welcome in as you are.
Welcome to a shopper's paradise! A rule of thumb is that anything without a price sticker on it can be purchased for a fraction of the price announced initially. Unique crafts and art work are to be had in abundance, and so are the expected knick knacks like the traditional cone hats that go for pennies.