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Formerly the capital of French Cochinchina and later South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is today Vietnam’s largest urban centre. Many westerners will be more familiar with the city’s former name, Saigon, which is still what the Vietnamese call their capital.

Still heavy on culture, this city of more than eight million people is packed with energy and has vibrant art and food scenes. You’ll find that in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s a juxtaposition of old and new. Glistening skyscrapers compete for space with colonial buildings; and ancient temples are as popular with visitors as modern shopping malls.

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Ho Chi Minh City highlights

For a glimpse into Vietnam’s history, don’t miss the Reunification Palace; then get on a motorbike and visit old marketplaces such as Ben Thanh, where you can also sample authentic pho; Ho Chi Minh City is oozing with charm.

  • Tourist attractions

    Ho Chi Minh City – named after a Vietnamese revolutionary leader – is best known by outsiders as the place where the Vietnam War ended. Many visitors explore this legacy by visiting the Reunification Palace, a stark reminder of this troubled era. It remains much as it was then, with a few additions, such as a replica of the tank that penetrated its gates in 1975, effectively ending the war. The War Remnants Museum and the Museum of Vietnamese History provide further insight into the country’s history.

    To learn more about the man who gave his name to the city and is considered the father of modern Vietnam, head to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. There are also many inspiring architectural marvels worth exploring when you travel to Ho Chi Minh in the , including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Thein Hau Pagoda in Cholon. For a stunning overview of the whole city, head to the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower.

  • Leisure activities

    A practical way to get a wider perspective during your trip to Ho Chi Minh City is to take a motorbike tour. There are many local tour companies that offer themed journeys related to the history of the city, its cuisine and culture. The Saigon Opera House hosts regular nouveau cirque (contemporary circus) shows, offering an introduction to modern Vietnamese culture.

    A must-do is an excursion to Dai Nam Tourist Park, which features a zoo, various entertainment options, shopping centres and an artificial beach. This is an ideal destination, especially if you are travelling with children. To discover an entirely different perspective of the Vietnamese landscape, go on a cruise along the Mekong Delta.

    If you’re a keen photographer, sign up for the five-hour photography tour in Ho Chi Minh City. This will take you to all the best spots in the city so you can capture a lasting record of your visit.

  • Food

    Ho Chi Minh City offers a wide spectrum of both traditional Vietnamese and international cuisine. Some well-known American fast-food chains have even gained a foothold in recent years.

    For authentic Vietnamese eating, try a bowl of noodle soup, locally known as pho (pronounced “fur”). Bún riêu cua (a tomato-based soup with freshwater crab meat) and gỏi cuốn (translucent spring roll with vegetables, shrimp and coriander) are also highly recommended.

    Most Vietnamese delicacies can be found at stalls on Ben Thanh Market, one of the city’s oldest landmarks. For something more upmarket, head to one of the many traditional restaurants in District 1.

  • Shopping

    In Ho Chi Minh, there is no shortage of shops and stalls where you can get touristy souvenirs. Many of these are mass-produced, so if you buy anything purported to be from the war era, don’t expect it to be authentic.

    Popular markets to search for a bargain include Saigon Square, Dan Sinh Market and Binh Tay Market.

Essential facts about Ho Chi Minh City

Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip

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