Ho Chi Minh

Vibrating with energy, innovation and traffic – lots of traffic – Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam and the main hub of the southern region. A freewheeling, cosmopolitan metropolis, HCMC's dynamic cityscape draws together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of spaces, representing the city’s past as well as its future.

Ho Chi Minh City's colonial attractions are sprinkled around District 1, with the Reunification Palace looking down tree-lined Le Duan Boulevard where you'll find the Notre Dame Cathedral and the city's Central Post Office. Walk down Dong Khoi street, and you'll pass the Saigon Opera House and the Continental Hotel. On a more local level, the Ben Thanh Market and the Jade Emperor Pagoda are both worth a stop. Around District 1, a host of old apartments and former office buildings have been repurposed as shopping centers, leading to some surprising retail discoveries. Decades-old buildings such as 22 Ly Tu Trong and 42 Nguyen Hue are good examples of these impromptu shopping malls. The streets and alleys branching off of Dong Khoi are packed with all kinds of fascinating stores.

 

The War Remnants Museum recounts a tumultuous time in 20th-century Vietnamese history, documenting both the atrocities of the war and the aftermath of the conflict. If you're interested in learning about the war from another point of view, this museum offers a wealth of information as well as some compelling photo exhibits.

The Chinese neighbourhood known as Cho Lon houses Binh Tay Market, a colossal wholesale trading center, as well as Thien Hau Pagoda, an atmospheric temple that pays homage to the goddess of the sea amid clouds of incense and burning votive paper. Next door, the colorful Chaozhou Assembly Hall and pale blue Cho Lon Mosque highlight the neighbourhood's intersection of cultures.

 

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