Ho Chi Minh City
Once dearly called The Pearl of the Far-East with the luxury level overriding that of Hongkong or Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City is now the most populated city in Vietnam. Modern office skyscrapers, amidst Chinese style pagodas and food stalls along the street, create a dynamic urban area in very special sense. It is not oddly tidy like in Singapore, nor is urban slumps omnipresent like in India.
Ho Chi Minh City’s architecture and lifestyle is the reconciliation between American and Chinese influence, with many dots of modernity yet without losing Vietnamese traits and as much historical as it is modern. Ho Chi Minh city is the economic engine of Vietnam and is the largest software offshore service hub of the country.
Reunification Palace is definitely the place to visit, for its significance and archival of Vietnam War. If this building still does not impress you enough, rest assured that museums are abound and the admission fees are generally low. Among the most recommended ones are: Ho Chi Minh Museum, Revolutionary Museum and Vietnam History Museum.
If you are tired of talking about the past and want to learn more about the present, District 1 may be the best way to experience a dynamic and booming economy. Streets and boulevards are lined with tall evergreen trees and you can easily walk around with a map. Here and there you will see men walking and dressed up like those in the Wall Street, amid women wearing conical hat and selling street drinks. A few notable sights you will spot on the way are the city post-office, Notre Dame church and Ben Thanh market.
It might be a relief for some to know that Ho Chi Minh City is also considered the best place in Vietnam for entertainment . The three main amusement parks: Dam Sen, Suoi Tien and Dai Nam are the three complexes with zoos, sceneries, water and non water games - well-fitted for a family trip. There is no Disneyland in Vietnam but these complexes do their job: they replace the fairy tales of Andersen stories with the folk tales in Vietnamese. You play and have fun, while learning about a different culture and tradition.
If Ho Chi Minh has things to win the rivalry against Hanoi, it is the colourful night-life. Bars are open late and vary in style. Adding to that, Ho Chi Minh has many tea-houses which hosts live music performance of both Vietnamese and international artists. For a change, you can also go local for one night or two, hop into one of the street food stalls, order some drink and roasted peanuts and chat until midnight (more ideas to spend your night in Ho Chi Minh City).
Ho Chi Minh City owes much of its form and character to the French colonists: channels were filled in, marshlands drained and steam tramways set to work along its regimental grid of tamarind-shaded boulevards, which by the 1930s sported names like Boulevard de la Somme and Rue Rousseau. Flashy examples of European architecture were erected, cafés and boutiques sprang up to cater for its new, Vermouth-sipping, baguette-munching citizens and the city was imbued with such an all-round Gallic air that Somerset Maugham, visiting in the 1930s, found it reminiscent of “a little provincial town in the south of France, a blithe and smiling little place”.
Saigon in the American War
Designated the capital of the Republic of South Vietnam by President Diem in 1955, Saigon was soon both the nerve centre of the American war effort, and its R&R capital, with a slough of sleazy bars along Dong Khoi (known then as Tu Do) catering to GIs on leave from duty. Despite the Communist bomb attacks and demonstrations by students and monks that periodically disturbed the peace, these were good times for Saigon, whose entrepreneurs prospered on the back of the tens of thousands of Americans posted here. The gravy train ran out of steam with the withdrawal of American troops in 1973, and two years later the Ho Chi Minh Campaign rolled into the city and through the gates of the presidential palace and the Communists were in control. Within a year, Saigon had been renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
In 1986, when the economic liberalization was established, and a market economy reintroduced, the fortunes of the city show signs of taking an upturn. Today, more than two decades later, the city’s resurgence is well advanced and its inhabitants are eyeing the future with unprecedented optimism.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi tunnels and Vietnam War remnants
War Remnants Museum
Ben Thanh Market
See more sights in HCMC here: