Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Ho Chi Minh City by Roderick Divilbiss

Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon or by its abbreviations HCMC) is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the anti-communist Republic of (South) Vietnam from 1955 until 1975. The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River and located about 1,760 kilometers (1,090 miles) south of the Vietnamese capital of HanoiFollowing the fall of Saigon in 1975, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City but the old Saigon name is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners. The name is especially referred to the most central part of the city to which most tourists flock. 
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Ho Chi Minh City is full of energy and a fast paced city outpacing other cities in Vietnam including Hanoi. Though not as modern and efficient as Singapore, it is not a city of slums but a commercial city. Ho Chi Minh City is a mix of the old and new, with modern skyscrapers and shopping malls existing alongside street food stalls, traditional markets, wooden shops and colonial-era buildings. Though a commercial city, it is also a city of history and culture with its pagodas, museums and mix of American, French and Chinese influences but without losing its Vietnamese identity.

There is much to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City, and you have not discovered the city if you were to stay here for just a day or two. Major attractions include the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Dai Nam Tourist Park, and the observation deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower. While there are no shortages of modern shopping centres in Ho Chi Minh City, head to the crowded markets for the Vietnamese experience. Popular markets include Saigon Square, Ben Thanh Market and Cho Bình Tay in the Chinatown. When it comes to eating, you're spoiled for choice with a large variety of Vietnamese and international food.

Aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City by Linh

The Vietnamese dialect here is the southern dialect, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken in Hanoi, though speakers of both dialects are usually able to comprehend each other. English is spoken by most of the younger well-educated upper class. Educated senior citizens are usually able to speak French, though generally speaking, English is far more useful these days. Ho Chi Minh City is also home to a significant ethnic Chinese community (mostly around Chinatown), many speaking Cantonese and Mandarin besides Vietnamese.

Nguyen Hue roundabout by Smuconlaw

Ho Chi Minh City experiences a tropical wet and dry climate with a pronounced dry season and humidity averaging 75% throughout the year. Day temperatures reach a high of 31-34°C (88-93°F) and night temperatures drop to 21-26°C (70-78°F). The heat begins to build up around 9:00 a.m., reaching its peak by noon and gets cooler starting around 6:00 p.m. The rainy season is from May to November while the dry season lasts from December to April. Due to the year round hot weather, be sure to carry sufficient drinking water during your travel here.
Guide to
Ho Chi Minh City
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