The largest Vietnamese city by population is located in the south-eastern region of Vietnam, 1,760km (1,090miles) south of Hanoi. The city has undergone several name changes, which reflects the settlement of various ethnic groups, and the various political and cultural groups. Ho Chi Minh City is the official name of the city, however the former name of Saigon is still commonly used. When Saigon was the official name of the city, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina before becoming the independent republic of south Vietnam. In 1976, Saigon merged with the Gia Dinh province, which surrounded the city and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City, named after the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.
Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of history. The area that reflects the city was once a part of the Kingdom of Cambodia. In the 18th century, relations with France began. Even when the Japanese occupied Saigon, the French still continued to administer Vietnam until 1945. Although the city of Saigon was relatively unaffected by world war two (compared to other areas of Vietnam), it played a huge role in the Vietnam war, the fall of Saigon is described as marking the end of the Vietnam war and as illustrating the beginning of the transition period of the unification of Vietnam.
This city has undergone so much change, and nowadays resembles city life, full of pulsing energy. The city is bold and dynamic.
We left the beaches of Nha Trang on an overnight train to the largest city of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City. Our train ride was about nine hours long. We arrived early and checked into our guest house and set out to explore the city. The city is separated into twenty four districts, we were staying in district one. District one is the commercial and financial center and is a very popular district for travelers. District one and district three is home to the majority of sights and filled with bars and restaurants.
With its rich history, fascinating culture and ever growing into a modern city, Ho Chi Minh City is very interesting place to explore. The city has a mix of old new, from buildings with the classic French architecture to sleek new skyscrapers, from the typical vietnamese street food to fancy rooftop bars and restaurants, plus the charm of the ancient ornate temples and pagodas. This city was different from the seemly reserved capital, Hanoi, and contained different vibes from the other places that we visited on our journey through Vietnam. It was so interesting to see the diversity throughout Vietnam.
Highlights and must sees
Ho Chi Minh square
Surrounded by stunning French colonial buildings, this historic square is a symbol of history of south Vietnam during the 19th and 20th century.
Also called “Reunification Palace” and was a significant government center during the war.
Saigon Notre- Dame Palace
Represents the French architecture and charm of the city. A cathedral built by the French.
Saigon opera house
Elegant French architecture, I was in awe of its beauty.
Central post office
A remnant of French colonial times, withs its stunning architecture.
War remnants museum
A museum which greatly documents and showcases the brutal impacts that war has on the civilian victims.
Ben Thanh market
A huge market, a great place to buy local art and souvenirs. I enjoyed walking around amongst the chaos of this busy market.
The end of this backpacking adventure
We spent seven nights based in Ho Chi Minh City, after exploring areas of the north and central region of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City was a great place to finish the trip, we were able to explore the culture and beauty of the city and enjoy the nightlife, with both the local people and other travelers.
Mid way through our stay in Ho Chi Minh City we took a one night, two day tour to the amazing Mekong Delta . Another great tour and very easy to access from the city.
Traveling through Vietnam was a really enriching and enjoyable backpacking journey. My knowledge of the history of Vietnam greatly increased. I loved experiencing the diverse climate and different landscapes throughout the country. This was a really rewarding and memorable trip, arriving in the north at Hanoi and traveling throughout the country to reach the south. From looking into the effects of war, to the breathtaking world heritage sites, Vietnam has a lot of beauty to offer. From the history, culture, people, diverse environment and the delicious local food, Vietnam is a great country to explore.