Welcome to Ho-chi-minh - The Pearl of the Far East
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named and still also referred to as Saigon, is the largest city in the Socialistic Republic of Vietnam. It was the capital of French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam during 1955–75. On 2nd of July 1976 it was merged with the surrounding province and was offically renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh.
Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south-eastern region of Vietnam and it's the country's economic center. The metropolitan area is populated by more than 10 million people and it's the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City has many historical and religious sites for tourists to visit. Museum of Vietnamese History has a fine collection of Vietnamese antiquities. At Reunification Palace visitors can see a replica of the tank that crashed through the gate and ended the war on 30 April 1975. Just a short walk from Palace there is War Remnants Museumthat has 3 storeys of exhibits and various US military hardware. In the city center there is Notre Dame Cathedral. It's Catholic cathedral established by French colonists in 1880. In just a walking distance is also Ho Chi Minh City Hall that was build in 1902-1908 in a French colonial style. Even tough it's not open to public it's very popular among tourists and offers great photo opportunities. Located near Saigon River, Bitexco Financial Tower was the tallest building in Vietnam at its completion in 2010. Tower's viewing platform offers a 360° panorama of the city.
Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of places to drink. Many times Vietnamese and foreigners hang out in different bars and clubs, but this is slowly changing. Many places close around midnigh or 01:00, some remain open later. Late night clubs cater almost exclusively to the young Vietnamese group. Anywhere in the city there are Vietnamese bottled beer places that stay open until 03:00-04:00. Pavement bars get very busy with locals and travellers alike. Here the customers can enjoy a bottle of Saigon beer for 10,000 dong while sitting on the tiny plastic chair and enjoying the friendly atmosphere.
Vietnamese arts and crafts are sold in many shops around the central tourist district. Some shops have authentic woven silk textiles and also lacquered paintings, plates, bowls that are quite striking and unique to Vietnam. Vietnamese silk is excellent quality and buing a suit can be relatively cheap. In southwest end of Le Lai locates Ben Thanh Market. It's recognized from its clock tower on the large roundabout. It's the largest old-style market in the central district with several hundred small stalls. Here it's possible to find everything from tourist goods to regular items. Another good place for a visit is Saigon Square that is just a stone throw from Ben Thanh Market.
Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate with wet and dry seasons. The dry season is from December to April. From December to February temperatures and humidity are lower. March and April are the hottest months when the temperature can reach up to 40°C. The wet season is long and it usually begins in May and ends in October. During that time temperatures and humidity are high.
Indochina Time Zone: UTC+7 hours
Taxis are the most comfortable way to get around the city, and the price is much lower compared to other major cities in the world. Taxis are numerous and usually it's not hard to find one anywhere in the city centre from early morning until midnigh.
There are also a lot of motorbike taxis that are cheap and generally quite safe. It's also possible to rent own motorbike. Two main categories are available to rent that are scooters and four-speed motorbikes.
Public buses serve 150 routes throughout the city. Buses are safe, cheap and not too crowded. Many of them are modern and comfortable and include things like air conditioning, music, and even television.