Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling cosmopolitan city in Vietnam, with everything from ancient pagodas and traditional markets to skyscrapers and designer shopping malls.
Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Located on the banks of the Saigon River, it was once a small fishing port known as Prey Nokor. It was then established as a political centre in the 17th century and became an important sea port.
In 1895, the French conquered Saigon, and the influence of this French colonial period can be seen in the architecture of the city today, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the grand Opera House and the Post Office building. At one point, Saigon was even referred to as the ‘Paris of the Orient’.
Any visit to Ho Chi Minh City should begin with the Reunification Palace, a museum spread over five floors with a collection of 1960s equipment and furniture, offering a glimpse of history during North and South Vietnam’s reunification. The War Remnants Museum is also a highlight, home to exhibits of military hardware and documentation of the Vietnam War.
Other attractions include Ben Thanh Market, a haven for bargain hunters looking for clothing, shoes, food, and where every narrow walkway between stalls is filled with locals and tourists – the perfect place to buy handicrafts and souvenirs.
Day trippers should also go for a Mekong Delta river cruise, where many tour operators will take you to see the picturesque countryside and colourful floating markets – a glimpse of authentic Vietnam.