Ho Chi Minh City, sitting astride the banks of the Saigon River and home to more than nine million people, is the most populous city in Vietnam. As the former capitals of French Cochinchina and South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is still known as Saigon to the locals and is a bustling metropolis that is guaranteed to wow visitors with its mix of street vendor capitalism, ancient pagodas and an intriguing combination of colonial and local styles of architecture. The unique tall, thin structures, framed with an entanglement of wires, is a characteristic of this enchanting city.
The first thing you will notice when arriving in the city, is the constant hum of motorbikes that will make crossing all roads into a death defying experience. Motorbikes are the life blood of the city and it isn’t rare to see a whole family and its weekly shopping packed onto one small bike.
View our videos and pictures of crazy traffic in Vietnam.
The city has also undergone profound changes in the last 15 years and an ever increasing number of hotels, restaurants and bars, are forcing their way onto a market, still relatively tightly controlled by the government.
This photo was also published by Yahoo! Travel on 15th May.
The city is adorned with many beautiful religious building including the spectacular Jade Emperor Pagoda. A must-see for all tourists is the War Remnants Museum that documents many of the atrocities committed during the Vietnam War. Photographs, abandoned equipment and personal testimony give a unique chance to hear from the victims of the US military action. The Presidential Palace is also worth a visit as well, not only for the historical importance but also the discerningly strict tour guide.
As a backpacker you will probably find yourself situated in ‘District 1’. Home of the Pham Ngu Loa district, it is replete with bars, cafes and restaurants. Cheap accommodation can be easily found here. To the west of District 1, the large Chinese quarter (Cholun) can be found, a testament to the centuries of Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.
The city of Ho Chi Minh is an integral stop on any journey around Southeast Asia. It offers a nice contrast to the, noticeably sterner and colder in atmosphere, northern capital of Hanoi and a gateway both in and out of Vietnam into the wilds of Cambodia.
written by: Jon