Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Why? Most people choose to holiday in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) because it makes a perfect base for exploring the magical Mekong Delta, one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations. The city is, though, also legendary for its exuberant, muddled society, streets crammed with motorcycles and all sorts of entrepreneurial wonders. Travel to Ho Chi Minh City to discover the heart and soul of modern Vietnam.
When? The best time to holiday in Ho Chi Minh City is during the dry season between December and March, when it is also slightly cooler than it is during the rest of the year in this tropical city.
Who for? Anyone who is fascinated with Asian culture and history, and particularly stimulated by the energy of a major Asian metropolis, will enjoy a holiday in Ho Chi Minh City.
More Info: If you intend to travel to Ho Chi Minh City it is wise to print out our comprehensive Ho Chi Minh City travel guide, which is packed with useful information. The guide explains currency regulations, entry requirements, duty free allowances and all sorts of other practical matters, as well as listing attractions and excursions to enjoy during your Ho Chi Minh holiday.

Ho Chi Minh City © Tracy Molony

Ho Chi Minh City, better known by its former name of Saigon, is a brazen, industrious and dense metropolis, the largest city in Vietnam and the business capital of the country. With a population of five million, it is crowded, noisy and dirty, yet it is also exciting and historic, the essence of the nation.

Located on the Saigon River on the edge of the Mekong Delta, Saigon became the capital of the Republic of South Vietnam and was the American headquarters during the Vietnam War. Two years later the Communist north took control of the country, the city's name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City, and recession and poverty ensued.

Today Ho Chi Minh City has a cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere, and having actively welcomed the new capitalist principle, the business-minded spirit of the people is much in evidence. Although relatively modern, it has still managed to hold onto its Asian character, and fine restaurants, smart hotels and chic bars line the sidewalks crammed with noodle stands, markets and shoeshine boys. The buzzing of motorbikes and scooters merges with the cries of street vendors and the urgent business of stall owners, selling barbecued dog, writhing snakes and tropical fruits. The sight of a family of four balanced precariously on a scooter, a squealing pig strapped onto the back of a bicycle, bowed heads topped by pointed lampshade-style hats and orange-clothed monks are just some of the vibrant images the city has to offer.

Although overshadowed by modern and Asiatic influences, a little of Ho Chi Minh City's French colonial charm still remains, evident in the graceful architecture, wide boulevards, and a sidewalk cafe society. It is not for the attractions that one visits Ho Chi Minh City however, but for the vibrancy of its street life, and its proximity to the Mekong Delta.

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