Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (map), commonly known as Saigon or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam (population and area). Although the capital of a united Vietnam is Hanoi in the north, Ho Chi Minh City remains Vietnam’s main economic and financial centre.

Saigon was ceded to the French under the Treaty of Saigon in 1862, and became the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina, which covered most of what is today southern Vietnam. As a result, the city has a rich French colonial heritage, with many magnificent French colonial buildings in the city centre, along with a strong cafe culture.

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Cholon (map) – This is Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. While many of the ethnic Chinese fled Vietnam for Western countries such as Australia and the United States as a result of persecution following the Fall of Saigon, a large number of them continue to reside in the district.

Ben Thanh Market (map). A den of thieves, but some great shopping. Ben Thanh is recognizable from its clock tower on the large roundabout. The largest old-style market in the central district, with several hundred small stalls stuffed with goods on almost impassably narrow aisles.

Chợ Bình Tây in Chinatown (map). The underrated twin of Ben Thanh, selling everything from spices, Chinese medicines, and silk to obscure varieties of fermented fish, dried seafood, and jerky.

The main backpacker hangout is Pham Ngu Lao in District 1 (map), just a short walk (10-15 min) from Ben Thanh Market.

People’s Committee Hall (map). Built as the Hôtel de Ville, it’s a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night.

Saigon Opera House (map). An opera house built by the French during the colonial period, and without a doubt one of the finest performance venues in Southeast Asia.

Jade Emperor Pagoda (map). Considered by many to be Saigon’s finest pagoda, dedicated to the Jade Emperor, the king of the gods in Chinese mythology. Check out the room filled with unusual figurines, to the left of the main hall. There are many turtles in a concrete pond in the courtyard.

Notre Dame Cathedral (map). It is closed for renovations as of Feb 2020. A French-built Catholic cathedral in the city center.

The local food shows influences from French colonial times. Bakeries have fresh and excellent baguettes, which they will fill with cheese (typically of the “La Vache Qui Rit” or “Laughing Cow” brand), potted meat, ham, and onions, or any combination thereof, cheaply. Beef is used in various dishes – whether in any of the many variations of pho, or in a regional specialty such as “bun bo hue” or Hue beef soup.

The Chinese community has also left their mark in Ho Chi Minh City, and the neighbourhood of Cholon continues to have a large number of ethnic Chinese residents, making it a natural place to go to for some Chinese food.

Public transport

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BAOLAU.com – Compare all the transport options available for your journey and book your flights, trains, buses and ferries quickly in minutes.

+ TRANSPORTATION (visithcmc.vn) • Transport of Vietnam (vietnam.travel)

 BUS >   Bright green public buses serve 150 routes throughout the city. You can find maps of the bus system at the large Ben Thanh bus station across the street from Ben Thanh Market in District 1. A bus route can also be found using Google Maps. The number of the bus route will display along with its frequency and time to destination.

Every major city will have a centralised bus station, and most of the major companies will have ticket offices at the stations. Some reputable companies include Mai Linh Express and Sinh Tourist. (*Buses in Hanoi)

 RAIL >   Although more expensive than buses, trains are undoubtedly the most comfortable way to travel overland in Vietnam. There is one major train line in Vietnam, the 1,723 km (1,071 mi) trunk between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, on which the *Reunification Express runs. HCMC to Hanoi is more than 30 hours, and overnight hops between major destinations are usually possible, if not entirely convenient. + seat61.com

 AIRPORTS >   Flights are the fastest way to traverse this long country. The flight from Hanoi to HCMC is only about 2 hours. >> vietnamairport.vn

 WATERWAYS >   Saigon Waterbus operates a service on the Saigon River from District 1 into Tu Duc District in the north of the city. It is geared more towards local commuters than tourists, but one of its stops is located near the Hotel Majestic, making it easily accessible from the Opera House and other downtown attractions. Northern Vietnam – FERRIES, BOATS, PIERS

::: Source: Expedia

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