Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, situated in the south of the country and formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s biggest city, with a population of almost 9 million. This is the financial centre of Vietnam and is home to many banks and international companies.

The city still retains many of it’s wide boulevards and French colonial buildings, most of which are in District 1. Two buildings of particular interest from this era are Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.

Independence Palace was constructed between 1868 and 1871 and it was the palace of the French governor general. In 1962, two Republic of Vietnam pilots bombed the palace in a failed coup attempt and the palace was subsequently rebuilt by the celebrated Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu.

The War Remnants Museum is the place to go to learn about the history of the conflict in Vietnam. The museum also shows in graphic detail, the effect the war had on the civilian population and details many of the atrocities committed during the war.

Cholon, is the Chinese quarter of Ho Chi Minh City. Here you will find many pagodas and will see Chinese characters written on shop signs. You are just as likely to hear a Chinese dialect being spoken as well as Vietnamese.

Ho Chi Minh City is the culinary capital of Vietnam with numerous good quality restaurants, particularly around the Dong Khoi area. This is also where you will find the best bars and nightclubs.

Around 30-40 Km from Ho Chi Minh City can be found the Chu Chi tunnels. These were the tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. Some of the tunnels have been enlarged to accommodate tourists, but if climbing through a subterranean network of passages seems too claustrophobic, there is plenty to see and learn about the tunnels above ground.