Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Square (and that’s Ho Chi Minh in the middle) and City hall. Photo by Brian Snelson.
Why visit Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon or HCMC)
Ho Chi Minh City, originally named Saigon by French occupying forces in the 1860s, is the wild child of Vietnam – buzzing, brashly modern, colourful and occasionally tiresome.
Streets hum with bike overload and the air is thick with two-stroke fumes but there are some worthwhile attractions and the shopping and eating options are superb, both down and up-market.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest (pop. over 7 million) and most economically important city in Vietnam, a leader in high technology and electronics not only in the country but in all Asia, as Vietnamese can now undercut Chinese labour costs.
But what’s good for Vietnam is not necessarily good for tourism as massive modernisation, thundering traffic and ever-expanding city limits is not what most visitors are looking for.
Saigon is still the official name of the city centre and commonly seen elsewhere, including at the main airport.