Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (formerly named Saigon) is a huge magnet attracting people of all kind and background to gather, work, and earn their daily bread. If asking for the most bustling and less sleepy destination in Vietnam, then the answer might point to the city named after Uncle Ho: Ho Chi Minh City.
About Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City (people still refer to it as Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam. The city is positioned in the south of Vietnam, around 1750km from Hanoi Capital. It has an elevation of 19m and is encompassed by Tay Ninh and Binh Duong Provinces to the north, Long An Province to the west, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province to the east, and The East Sea to the south. This city did witness the victorious history of Vietnam during the French colonial time and then the independent Republic of South Vietnam (1955-1975). The city was named after Uncle Ho in 1975. Today, there remain lots of French-built constructions scattered throughout the land. As time is changing, Saigon today is beautified with lots of modern skyscrapers, commercial sites, and industrial zones, in combination with the old buildings to create the unique Saigon. With the current development momentum, Ho Chi Minh City is also the most populous metropolitan region in Vietnam. What’s more, this is Vietnam’s most expensive city, but the opportunities to earn money is most.
What to See in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam
Chinatown (called Cho Lon)
This refers to the biggest Chinatown in Vietnam whose history can be dated back to 1778. The little town is filled with various cultural and historical attractions such as temples, restaurants, and markets. Here, you see the long-dwelling Chinese who sell lots of Chinese products in wholesale Binh Tay Market. Nowadays, the cultural town is famous for tourist trail which is best explored on foot or by cyclo. Along the trail, you can stop by many charming Chinese restaurants for Chinese flavors (with iconic roasted duck and pork hanging before the eateries), contemplate the classical architecture (houses and Chinese-Buddhist style temples), enjoy shopping, and experience the hundred-of-year Chinese atmosphere. The Chinatown in Saigon becomes most dynamic, especially at night. Just come to the western bank of Ho Chi Minh River and mainly settle in District 5 for hours to discover the Chinese values well preserved amidst Saigon.
Ben Thanh Market
This is the iconic and historical attraction of Ho Chi Minh City. The tourists are predominantly advised to see Ben Thanh Market if they have scheduled to visit District 1 in the heart of Saigon. Though the Market today do not keep original architecture, it is still a feature of Saigon and the foreigners like to do trading activities in this dynamic Market. Lots of oversea tourists come there to buy food, flower, fruit, cloth, and handicraft… during their tour in Vietnam.
The Reunification Palace (Independence Palace)
This landmark is the historical witness of Saigon history under some governments since Vietnam was put under the French colonial domination, the World War II, and Vietnam War. The Palace was constructed on the building of the former Norodom Palace. That said, the original Norodom Palace was erected in 1866. Then, in the year of 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem, the Prime Minister of Vietnam self-declared as the President and turned Norodom Palace to Independence Palace. In 1963, the Palace was terribly bombed by Diem’s Air Force. That drove it to be reconstructed and redesigned to function as the residence and workplace for the President of the South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. When the War ended on April 30th, 1975, the Independence Palace was renamed to Reunification Palace. Since then, this has been a must-see landmark in Saigon. The remnants inside the Palace remains authentically for later generations to study.
The War Remnants Museum
In 1975, the War Remnants Museum (once called the “Museum of American War Crimes”) was opened to the public. Visiting this museum, people see the rough and brutal Vietnam War via many black-and-white photographs, the American military weapons on display (a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a 6,800kg bomb, etc.), and the infamous “tiger cage.” The “tiger cage” was where to keep the political prisoners. In the small sizes (2.7m x 1.5m x 3m), that cage could prison up to 14 people. From the historical photographs to the visible weapons herein, the War Remnants Museum teaches later Vietnamese generations to feel grateful to their ancestors and appreciate the current peace.
The Cu Chi Tunnels
The tunnel systems in Cu Chi are part of the extensive war museum that gives a glimpse of the Vietnamese soldiers’ underground life in the year of 1948. Cu Chi Tunnel is around 70km from Ho Chi Minh City to the northwest, and this attraction does attract numerous tourists coming to witness and experience the 120km underground tunnels with the trapdoor, kitchen, storage, hospital, command centers, and more. You will, for sure, admire the capacity and courage of the former soldiers who lived in the deep underground and fought successfully.
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
The long-lasting and sacred Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is another icon of the old Saigon. The Cathedral was erected in the late 1880s by the French colonists for the Catholics. This construction has the height of 60m and in the different neo-Romanesque characteristics with the stained glass window, the two big bells, the tranquil gardens in front, etc. This is the favorite address for people to practice their Catholicism, take wedding photographs, or gather to unwind.
The Saigon Post Office
The construction of Saigon Post Office took place between 1886 and 1991. It was originally built by the French Architect. Going through several times of renovation, the current Saigon Post Office features the architectural combination of the Western and Asian styles. Standing nearby the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Main Post Office contributes to the extraordinary settings for tourism. Furthermore, if noticed, you can easily spot the magnificently modern structures of Diamond Plaza and the Metropolitan.
How to Get to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam
Travel to HCM City By Air
As Ho Chi Minh City is the largest center of commerce in Vietnam, almost every country and location have the daily flights to its Tan Son Nhat International Airport. From the airport, it might take around 30 minutes to reach the city center. Know that Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the biggest and most bustling airport in Vietnam!
Travel to HCM City By Rail
Ho Chi Minh City is the train terminal for lots of Vietnam Railway train routes throughout the S-shaped country. Simply check your location to get the train ticket to Saigon! Expect to see some spectacular stops at cities and provinces along the train routes.
Travel to HCM City By Boat
Together with the continuous flows of cargo ships, the tourist boats can run daily between the other destinations in Southern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City. You can take it easy to boat from the Mekong Delta Provinces to Saigon!
When to Visit Ho Chi Minh City
Any time could be the ideal time to see the sleepless and bustling Ho Chi Minh City as this destination has the comfortable weather most of the year.
Visit HCM City from December to April
These months mark the dry season in Saigon, with the average temperature of 28 Celsius degree. December – April is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City because this season is characterized by lots of festivals (the Christmas and the New Year), and the dry condition that encourages outdoor exploration and celebration.
Visit HCM City from May to November
These months feature the wet season in Saigon, with the rainy and humid atmosphere. The rain might occasionally come to warn the tourists to come prepared in advance. This period witnesses the celebration of Vietnam Reunification Day (on September 2nd) when Saigon is most crowded with fireworks at night to celebrate the special day.
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