Ho Chi Minh city, also known as Sai Gon is the largest city in Vietnam with the population nearly 9 millions. The city is called ‘Diamond of the Far-East’, the same luxury level overriding Hong Kong or Bangkok. Ho Chi Minh city becomes very important city in Vietnam ,creates a metropolitan area with Thu Dau Mot, Di An, Bien Hoa and surrounding towns.
In the early history, the city was a small fishing village name Prey Nokor inhabited by Khmer people. Then it was given to the Vietnamese as a dowry for the marriage of a Vietnamese princess to a Khmer prince in order to stop constant invasions and pillaging of Khmer villages. Under the French colonial , the city had a lot of influence from the Western style , and there still a lot of beautiful buildings in the city which are remained with French style. After 30 April 1975, the city under the control of North Vietnamese government and the name was changed from Sai Gon to Ho Chi Minh city.
Recently, Ho Chi Minh city is such a large area with 24 districts, the lifestyle and the architecture is the combination between American and Chinese, but not losing the traits. Beside the dynamic economy and modern life, the city is really developing in tourism , like the central of tourism in the South of Vietnam, and attracts millions of foreign tourists every year. The most prominent sites in the city is Reunification Palace, City Hall, the Municipal theatre also known as the Opera House, City Post Office, State Bank Office , City People’s Court and Notre Dame cathedral. All of them are the special structures, which are influent with French architecture.
There are also various museum and entertainment places in the city such as the Ho Chi Minh city museum, Museum of Vietnamese history, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of Southeastern Armed Forces, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Fine Art, the Nha Rong Memorial House, and Cu Chi underground Tunnels… The Dam Sen Tourist and Cultural Park, Suoi Tien amusement and culture park, The Sai Gon zoo and Botanical gardens.
District one is the best experience for a modern city in Vietnam. All streets and boulevard in the district are lined with evergreen trees with local people selling street drinks, some notable sights as Ben Thanh market, city post office and Notre Dame cathedral. The district is a quite good ideal for shopping with several shopping streets.
The nice location at central of the South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city becomes very important center of transportation lead to surrounding provinces , bring opportunities to develop the economy and tourism of Eastern and Western area of the South.
Places to visit and things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
War Remnants Museum: The War Remnants Museum is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30 year long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines in the outside grounds, but the really hard-hitting information is found inside. Photographs, exhibits and written documentation show the horrific lengths that the American Army lowered themselves to in order to try and defeat the North Vietnamese Army.
Cu Chi Tunnels: This marvellous tourist attraction lets visitors experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. There is an informative movie to watch, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle. Burnt out tanks make for a great photo prop and then everyone gets to crawl through a small section of the tunnels which has been widened and supported with concrete.
Cao Dai Temple: Cao Dai Temple is the centre of the Cao Dai faith, a religion that has taken bits of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism. Tourists are welcome to visit the temple and learn more about this faith that is practiced by a few dedicated followers. Each Cao Dai practitioner wears a white robe to enter the temple with an additional sash to signify their previous religion. The temple itself is very bright and colourful with dragons flying up banisters and a cloud mural decorating the ceiling.
Bitexco Tower and Sky Deck: Bitexco Tower is an ultra modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension which acts as a helicopter landing pad. Standing at 262 metres tall, this 68 storey building is the highest in all of Vietnam with a sky deck offering 360 degree views of the city and surrounding area as well as a fantastic sky bar called Alto where you can see all of Ho Chi Minh while enjoying a cocktail and some tapas style international dishes. Head up here for sunset and don’t forget your camera.
Jade Emperor Pagoda: Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most revered temples in Ho Chi Minh. Originally built in 1909 by Chinese immigrants this Taoist temple now welcomes Buddhist worshipping and is incredibly atmospheric with incense smoke hanging heavy in the air. Intricate architecture, carvings, statues of Gods and Goddesses and Chinese characters create an exotic and timeless ambiance.
Mariamman Hindu Temple: Mariamman Hindu Temple is a beautiful example of the bright and vibrant architecture of Hindu places of worship. As the only active Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh, it acts as a community base for the small community of Hindus living in the city. Open every day from 07:00 to 19:00, non Hindus are also welcome to visit, just remember to dress conservatively and take off your shoes before entering the inner temple.
Reunification Palace: The centre of the allied command and the place where the North Vietnamese claimed victory in the American War, Reunification Palace has played its part in some incredible scenes. This ageing palace has essentially been frozen in time since a North Vietnamese Army tank smashed through its gates in 1975. Visitors will get to discover secret rooms, grand reception halls and the command bunker where General Ngo Dinh Diem conducted his war strategies.
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office: The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a glorious example of French colonial architecture, perfectly preserved with as much style as when it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office and sending a letter or postcard home is highly recommended for a taste of living history. Beautiful from any angle, this building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Located next to the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral is another relic of French colonial times, but it is kept in perfect condition and is still holding masses every Sunday. Many of the building materials were imported from France and it has an unmistakable Gallic touch with two long spires measuring 60 metres tall. In front of the cathedral is a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary or ‘Notre Dame’.