It is said that Ho Chi Minh (formerly named Saigon) is a city of contrasts: old and new, tradition and modern. If Hanoi is the capital, then here is the Vietnam’s commercial metropolis on the move.
It is the city that never sleeps, where people always seem to be busy either buying, selling, studying, working or just enjoying themselves. From the luxurious hotels to the cheapest guesthouses, from the finest restaurants to the famous street food, the city has it all to see and savor.
Hidden inside the hustle and bustle, the glorious shining past is still alive in numerous historical monuments and fine examples of French colonial relics. A wander through Dong Khoi Street will reveal the remaining of grand colonial architectures in the city like Majestic, Continental and Caravelle hotels as well as dozens of tempting boutiques and galleries.
Another point of interest is Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica built in 1877 with all original materials imported from France. And the nearby Saigon Central Post Office was designed and constructed by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel in the late 19th century. Its vaulted roof and arched windows bring to mind the early European railway stations.
Numerous worth-visiting historical sites and museums in the city include the Independence Palace, the War Remnants Museum with an extensive collection of exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and Museum of Vietnamese History featuring a rewarding collection of artifacts illustrating the evolution of Vietnamese cultures from all times. Within a day’s drive there are also several attractions such as the Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh province and the Cu Chi tunnels. Ho Chi Minh City is also a great place to just sit and watch the action or take a leisurely tour in a cyclo.
The city also boats an impressive collection of temples and pagodas of Buddhism and Taoism. They vary in size with the biggest pagodas being highly decorated, and filled with many religious relics.
For shopaholics, you must not miss this real shopping paradise, from huge commercial halls to trendy boutiques to street markets. The most famous is perhaps Ben Thanh market where you can find almost everything from meat and vegetables, fruits to local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs and local dishes. It is really the feast for your senses!
For winning and dining it is hard to beat Ho Chi Minh City. From street stalls where you can sit down on plastic chairs and enjoy a bowl of noodles at cheap price to luxurious restaurants serving fine international dishes. Nightlife even becomes more vibrant and alluring than anywhere else in Vietnam with hundreds of bars, pubs, night clubs and discotheques.
Located in the southern Vietnam, the city has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons of wet and dry. Dry or wet, it’s always hot. If you visit here during the rainy season (from May to November), be prepared for sudden downpours or showers every day.