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Ho Chi Minh City Overview

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named and still informally known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam by population. It was once known as Prey Nokor (Khmer: ព្រៃនគរ) prior to annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam 1955–75. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Định Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh (although the name Sai Gon is still widely used).

Today, the city’s core is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. The majority of these tourist spots are located in District 1 and are a short leisurely distance from each other. The most prominent structures in the city center are the Reunification Palace, City Hall, Municipal Theatre (also known as the Opera House), City Post Office, State Bank Office, City People’s Court and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Some of the historic hotels are the Hotel Majestic, dating from the French colonial era, and the Rex and Caravelle hotels are former hangouts for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s & ’70s.

It was approximated that 4.3 million tourists visited Vietnam in 2007, of which 70 percent, approximately 3 million tourists, visited Ho Chi Minh City.


Because Ho Chi Minh City is the busiest city in Vietnam, you need to be sure you will take better care of your belongings when you go out. Be sure you will not flaunt or show your bags or pieces of jewelry to avoid troubles. If going out without a private car or tour guide, you should catch reliable taxi services like Mai Linh or Vinasun to keep yourself from hassles.

Get around

The easiest way to visit Ho Chi Minh is to take an international or domestic flight. There are many flights between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city every day. Despite its crowdedness, Ho Chi Minh City is still one of the biggest airports in Vietnam for the time being. 


The sun will shine throughout the year so make sure you bring good and light clothes.


When you want to buy things at a shop without a fixed price tag, be sure to make a bargain with the shop assistants at only 30% of their proposed price and you will not overpay. 

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