The city of Ho Chi Minh (HCMC) also known as Saigon is located on the banks of the Saigon River and on the edge of the Mekong Delta in the South of Vietnam, some 60 kilometres from the South China Sea. What was once known as the Khmer sea port of Prey Nokor in the 17 century, today became Vietnam’s largest city and the most important economical and industrial hub of the country. It is a dense, crowded, noisy and very busy metropolis with a city population of around 5 millions. Many believe that HCMC is the essence of the nation with many exciting historic and cultural places to be discovered and a vibrant street life to be enjoyed day and night. It is a perfect mix of old and modern, French and Asiatic influence.
- Introduction to HCMC
- About HCMC
- Top Places in HCMC
- Conclusion to HCMC
- Photographs of HCMC Wat
During the French ruling, in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Saigon was the capital of Cochinchina. Some of the French colonial charm still remains starting with its architecture, wide boulevards, and its sidewalk cafe culture. After the French left in 1955 and until 1975, Saigon became the capital of the independent state of South Vietnam and the American headquarters during the Vietnam War.
The following year in 1976, Saigon was taken over by the Communist North, and merged with the surrounding Gia Dịnh Province and was officially renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Today the most famous section of the city, the touristic District 1 is still commonly called Saigon.
A decade later, in 1986 came the capitalistic reforms. Shortly after the business-minded inhabitants put the principles into practice and many of the top hotels, fine restaurants and chic bars started developing all over the city.
Today, Ho Chi Minh is a cosmopolitan city with an energetic atmosphere offering all of the facilities of a 21st century metropolis. It also became a major player in the international game, especially in the textile industry.
The best places in Ho Chi Minh City include
- The Reunification Palace
- War Remnants Museum
- HCMC (Revolutionary)Museum
- People’s Committee Hall
- Rex Hotel
- Ho-Chi-Minh Museum
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- General Post Office
- Opera House
- Continental hotel
- Art Museum
- Tao Dah Park
- Xa Loi Pagoda
The Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace which is also known as the Independence Palace is a restored five-storey building from the Sixties. It represent the reunification of both Vietnams when Saigon felt to the communist North. What was once South Vietnam’s Presidential Palace, became the symbol of the country, when the war ended on April 30, 1975 and a tank crashed through the main gate. The palace is a reminder of the past with plenty of vintage 60s object such as phones, radios, and office equipment.
The Revolutionary Museum also called the HCMC museum (not to be confused with the HCM museum) is located only a short walk south of the Reunification Palace. This large colonial building which played several key roles contains archaeological relics and photographic records of Vietnam’s Revolution, starting with the French and ending with the Americans. Outside the museum are some impressive display of Vietnamese aircraft and French cars.
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum located north of the Reunification Palace was open only a couple months after the fall of the South. This three storeys building displays various U.S. military weapons used during the war including tanks, jets and helicopters. It also exhibits shocking photographs taken by war journalists from all over the world.
People’s Committee Hall
The People’s Committee Hall is HCMC City Hall located at the end of Nguyen Hue Street. This cream and yellow colonial building was originally called the Hotel de Ville under the French ruling. Although it is not possible to view the inside of the building, the outside is remarkably well decorated, especially at night.
Right next to the People’s Committee Hall is the Rex Hotel made famous during the Vietnam war as a base for international journalists. It is also a perfect place to enjoy the views of the city from its rooftop terrace.
The Ho-Chi-Minh Museum is located next to the banks of the Saigon River in the District 4. In this beautiful colonial building is shown the life story of the modern day father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. It also offers amazing views of the river and the city from its balconies.
Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is located at the end of the famous Dong Khoi street, right next to the astonishing General Post Office. It is a French-style Catholic cathedral built in the 19 century with ceramic red tiles imported from Europe.
General Post Office
The General Post Office is perhaps one of the most impressing French style colonial building of the city. It was designed between 1886 and 1891 by the Gustave Eiffel, the architect behind the world-famous Eiffel tower in Paris.
The HCMC Opera House also called the Municipal Theatre is a beautiful neoclassical building located at the end of the Le Loi Street. What was once known as the heart of the French elite is now a performance hall playing traditional Vietnamese theatre as well as classical western music.
Right next to the Opera House is located one of the most famous Hotel of the City, The Continental. It is another French style building and is famous for its central atrium where you many enjoy an afternoon tea. It is believe to be the place where Graham Green wrote his acclaimed novel the Quiet American.
The Art Museum, located south of the famous central Ben Thanh Market, offers a rich collection of Vietnamese artworks from classical sculptures to contemporary paintings. It is divided into 3 different floors in a impressive colonial building,
Tao Dah Park
The Tao Dah Park is the lung of the District 1. This peaceful oasis surrounded with very tall trees enables the city inhabitants to get away from the street noise and chaos for a few minutes.
Xa Loi Pagoda
The Xa Loi Pagoda located in the centre of the District 3 is a famous Buddhist temple with a massive bronze statue of the Buddha at its heart.
The name Saigon itself can evocate many vibrant images. Indeed it is a city of contrasts with grandiose skyscrapers surrounded with busy boulevards and oceans of motorcycles, designer malls next to peaceful pagodas and gourmet restaurants next to street stalls and cafes. Saigon is a vibrant, fast paced city with loads to be discovered. It is a must visit place in Vietnam I strongly recommend exploring it.
Photographs of HCMC