Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. For newcomers, Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis in the south of Vietnam. Not the capital, but the country's biggest city and economic powerhouse nonetheless. One where the stream of motorbikes is endless and the city's energy is equally so.
But for old timers, the city located on the banks of the Saigon River will always be known as Saigon. A name that officially ended in 1975 when the Viet Cong and Northern Vietnamese troops crashed into the South Vietnam president's home, reclaiming the city and ending the Vietnam/American War. The name Saigon still endures as an important part of history and is often used to refer to the city's central area.
Almost 5 million motorbikes make for a chaotic welcome to Ho Chi Minh City. Jump on the back of a motorcycle taxi or take a scooter tour to discover the beat of the streets teaming with bikes, food carts, cyclos and plenty of people. Take a load off with a late-night pedicure, enjoy a cheap bia hoi (fresh beer) from a streetside bar and hone your bartering skills at one of the many city marketplaces.
Whatever name you choose to adopt, Vietnam's largest city is one that will draw you in with its gusto, flavours and history. While new urban areas continue to bring the city forward into the future, Ho Chi Minh City's French colonial roots can still be seen. As can fragmented pieces from the war as seen in the sobering War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels and Reunification Palace. As such, there are moments of sorrow and solitude to be found, but Ho Chi Minh City also encompasses a thousand other emotions as well; delight, intrigue, happiness and pure ecstasy by way of a bowl of mouth-watering pho or a crusty pork roll baguette. Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? Either way, you're going to love it.