Overview of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Although most people would know Ho Chi Minh City as the old Saigon, it is the largest and most commercialized city in Vietnam located in its Southern corner. Ho Chi Minh City is technically the new name of the city, which fell in 1975, but despite this fact most people still consider the titles interchangeable especially when it comes to tourists and the central town square. Despite its rocky history of war, Ho Chi Minh City is known as one of the most modern cities in Vietnam today and easily stands out as notable against the rest of the country.

For history buffs the city offers a great deal of historical sites of interest including the Reunification Palace on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, which marks the end of the Vietnam War and the following reunification of North and South Korea. Cathedrals and Pagodas also are scattered through the city and are worth a stop to see the architectural wonders and the magnificent courtyards that surround these areas that feature sculptures and fountains. Like most cities in Vietnam, there are also a fair amount of temples open to the interested tourist.

Scattered elsewhere in-between attractions are plenty of hair salons, which are considered a must stop attraction to tourists as the Vietnamese are known for their styling. In addition, there are two water parks that are quite large and offer an array of attractions and resort like activities of their own. It is also considered a must to try your hand at the markets as there are plenty of great handmade crafts and knock-off items at markets across the city starting in the more expensive areas of the Dong Joi Market and moving towards the west onwards into the Ben Than Market.

Getting around in Ho Chi Minh City is fairly simple since there are plenty of taxis and finding one is usually pretty simple outside of peak hours of travel. The taxis are not regulated by the government however, so be careful and always be sure to set fares before a trip or make sure that the meter is running properly. There is also a public bus system that travels around the city and a City Look Bus route that will take you across the city to all of the main sites. You can hire a vehicle while in town, but it is not advised as the streets can be intimidating for a westerner and the driving patterns are erratic.

The main language in Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnamese but you will also hear French and English. For the most part the educated class of younger citizens is well versed in English as well as employees at all of the major tourist sites, so communication should not generally be a problem. As you leave the airport you will also be given a free ‘VN Trip Map’ which is helpful for planning, and most hotels can offer guides and point out major shopping areas and tourist sites as well.