Ho Chi Minh City, both formerly and still commonly known as Saigon, is Vietnam's largest city as well as the former capital of the non-communist Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975) and the country under French colonial rule. In 1975 it was captured by the communist North and a year later the city was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City.
History may be thick (and sometimes painful) wherever you go in Saigon, but this city has been firmly driving in the fast lane on the high way of development for a while now. Although not quite at the level of South-East Asian counterparts like Bangkok, leave alone Singapore, it has certainly left cities like Phnom Penh in neighbouring Cambodia miles behind it already. Colonial architecture merges seamlessly in Saigon with temples and pagodas, the smell of spices on seemingly timeless markets, motorbikes and towering skyscrapers. Saigon is bustling with activity and an exciting place to be a part of, even if only for a few days.
There are historical sites aplenty in Saigon, but Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum are definitely not to be missed. The former used to be the Republic of Vietnam's (South Vietnam's) presidential palace, but that all ended in April of 1975 when a tank came crashing through the gates. You can go inside and see how things were left behind - apparently it was all left untouched. The War Remnants Museum showcases captured US military hardware as well as some of the more disturbing aspects of the war in the form of pictures and glass jars (...), but is an interesting sight nevertheless.
Saigon is probably not a city that you will want to go to with a very tightly planned schedule. Instead you will just want to wander around, go through a market, explore a temple, view colonial architecture, enjoy a French croissant for breakfast and eat a Vietnamese Pho for lunch, and at night go up one of the skyscrapers to view the city from above while enjoying a cocktail. There is much in Saigon that warrants a visit. [Review by travelindicator]
You can find the best hotel deals in Ho Chi Minh City here.
- Ho Chi Minh City is a city in Vietnam's region of Ho Chi Minh. It has a population of 8,190,775, is situated at an altitude of 16ft and the best airport to fly into is SGN (Tan Son Nhat International, Ho Chi Minh City)
- The currency used in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Ho Chi Minh City Weather
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More Ho Chi Minh City travel resources
Some good basic stuff like where to shop, sleep and party can be found here at Travel and Leisure Asia. Wikitravel covers its bases while Rusty Compass has had a thorough look at the city too. Vietnam Online is a more than decent source. If you are looking for ideas for day trips away from the city look no further and as always Nomadic Matt gets to the point.