Ho Chi Minh City still called Saigon by the locals is the biggest city and the economic center of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City spreads its way on the banks of the Saigon River and has always been busy with trade since its formation. The areas more interesting to the travellers include the riverside, the city center and China Town.
The center and the riverside of Ho Chi Minh City boast the glittering skyscrapers which are home to deluxe apartments, offices and luxury hotels. The riverside can best be viewed from a boat cruising on the Saigon River at night. The city center is where many of the city’s tourist attractions, hotels, fine-dining restaurants and buzzing night life are found. There are some rooftop restaurants and bars in the center which can offer the panoramic view of the city from above. Cho Lon (China Town) is home to the biggest Chinese Community in Vietnam with Chinese-styled temples and pagodas full of atmosphere.
The good time to travel to Saigon is all year round; the sun shines everyday in this city. But the better time is from December to April as it’s less humid and more pleasant temperature. From May to December it’s more humid and it rains about 1 hour everyday. There’s hardly any storm or typhoon in Ho Chi Minh City.
Saigon started its history in late 17th century. It had been a swampy area before that. Thanks to the convenient location with easy transportation both by land and by waterway, Sai Gon quickly turned into a busy commercial port. In the 19th century, Vietnam was invaded by the French and Saigon was turned into the economic center of French Indochina.
After 1954, the French lost the war and gave up the control of Indochina; Vietnam was divided into the North and the South. Saigon then was the capital city of South Vietnam Repuplic. With large amount of US Dollars poured into South Vietnam, Saigon was one of the wealthiest cities in Asia and was nicknamed the “Pearl of the Orient”. The city was also on the headlines every day for many years showing the wrath of war to the World. In 1975 Vietnam was reunified and the parliament of the newly re-unified Vietnam decided to change the name to Ho Chi Minh City, honoring the country’s leader and his dream to reunify the country. Still many locals would refer to it as Saigon or just city for short nowadays.
Traveling in Vietnam you can call it with either name. Both are understood and loved by the Vietnamese. For some locals, Saigon would bring back nostalgia of the charming old city, while Ho Chi Minh City would refer to the young, energetic and bustling one. Vietnam is making its way to be a new economic tiger in Asia, Ho Chi Minh City or Sai Gon is turning itself again into one of the biggest international hubs in the region. There’s no doubt that Saigon is regaining its status as the “Pearl of the Orient”.
The major tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City:
Travel and Tours
It would take you a day to tour different highlights of Ho Chi Minh City. Paradissa Travel would include half a day tour of Ho Chi Minh City into our normal tour itineraries.
Ho Chi Minh City is the base for trips to the vicinity including the verdant Mekong Delta, Phan Thiet Mui Ne beaches, the mysterious Central Highlands, and Vung Tau seaside city.
There is a wide choice of accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City ranging from basic family-run hotels to luxurious 5 star ones. Those around District 1 have the highest rates of the same categories and very convenient for touring, dining and shopping. Booking accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City is difficult in high tourist seasons and early bookings are recommended.
Getting there and away
By air: There are daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and major cities in Vietnam such as Hue, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Da Lat and Ha Noi.
There are also direct flights between Ho Chi Minh City and major hubs in the world such as those in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and other South East Asian countries. Please contact Paradissa Travel for further details for the flights from your location.
By train: There are daily trains between Ho Chi Minh City and other cities in Vietnam such as Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue, Quang Binh, Quang Tri...The trains are in fairly good conditions with hard seats, soft seats, air-con soft sleepers....But they are not yet to be luxurious. The trains between Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi take 30 hours to 42 hours depending on each type. There’s also a tourist train for the travellers who wish to travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trrang.
By road: The road system is Vietnam has been dramatically improved since 2000. There are daily buses between Ho Chi Minh City and most other destinations in the contry. You can also travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) by road.
On foot: District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City is fairly small and can be explored on foot for a couple of hours.
Xe Om (motorbike taxi): There are many Xe Oms around every street corner of Ho Chi Minh City. You must remember that it’s fun and somewhat adventurous traveling on motorbike, still the price has to be agreed on before setting off.
Taxi: There are many taxi companies operating in the city. There are ubiquitous that you don’t have to remember their contact details.