Officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city and undoubtedly one of its most important, both economically and culturally. Only signs and government officials refer to the city as Ho Chi Minh City; everyone else uses Saigon – you should too.
The city has been at the centre of Vietnam’s frenetic economic growth, but remains uncompromisingly attached to its rich cultural heritage. It’s this meeting of past, present and future that means that you can be walking through crowded silk markets one minute and gawping at silvery skyscrapers the next. It’s a true adventure within a city and definitely not an experience that you should miss out on if you’re visiting Vietnam.
The rate of expansion has given Saigon not so much a split personality, as a full on personality disorder. Gentile monks share the streets with enthusiastic hawkers and tiny stalls serve up food just steps away from the classiest restaurants. Simultaneously communist and capitalist, traditional and hyper-modern, East-centric and West-tinged – nothing about Saigon makes sense, and that’s just the way we like it.
Why visit Saigon?
The myriad family-run restaurants serving delicious local food at impressively cheap prices
This is Vietnam’s ultimate shopping destination with a mixture of upmarket malls and traditional markets
The Fine Arts Museum is one of many fantastic exhibits across Saigon
Great nightlife – visit Pham Ngu Lao Street for cheap and very cheerful drinking while the larger hotels offer a more upscale service
See the Reunification Palace, formerly a Presidential Palace, which has been kept in the same style as it was in the 60s