About Ho Chi Minh City
Though not its capital, the former Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city and lies close to the port of My Tho on the Mekong River. Its coastal location means it’s a popular place to end your Mekong river cruise, typically with a hotel stay which will give you plenty of time to explore the city. The capital of former South Vietnam was renamed in 1976 after the country’s Communist revolutionary leader, who was leader of the North Vietnamese and who took control of the city in 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War. The legacy of this notorious conflict can be explored during your visit, but there’s also a wealth of French colonial architecture as well as some more traditional attractions to discover.
Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
When it comes to historic landmarks, Ho Chi Minh Square is a natural starting point, bordered by a wealth of eye-catching architecture, such as the City Hall and the famous Rex Hotel. It’s a great way to soak up the atmosphere in one go and the perfect place to grab a bargain too, providing you’re not afraid to haggle, that is. Some of the city’s other key architectural attractions include the famous opera house and also the Central Post Office, which is one of the city’s finest examples of French Colonial architecture and an impressive place to visit, whether you’re sending postcards home or not.
If immersing yourself in the city’s most notorious historical chapter is important, then don’t miss the Reunification Palace. This former government building has been preserved in time and has been left exactly as it was in 1966. This means it’s somewhat austere and functional in the Communist way of old but nevertheless the absolute best way to get a feel for this infamous period in the city’s history. Somewhat contradictorily, the basement is the highpoint, offering a tantalising look at the final days of the Vietnam War. The War Remnants Museum offers more when it comes to artefacts to see, exhibiting thousands of documents, photographs and films which as are informative as they are moving.
Ho Chi Minh City is a place of cultural contrasts and one of the best ways to experience this for yourself is by taking in some of its religious architecture. As you’ve probably guessed, Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on Paris Square, is the most notable French colonial building, built to serve the country’s colonial Catholics and featuring an impressive Gothic facade. In contrast, Cao Dai and Chua Ba Thien Hau are temples which offer a rewarding look at the region’s more historic faith observations and both boast some pleasing architecture and a serene environment.
For the ultimate view of it all and for a taste of the city’s contemporary architectural side and commercial growth, don’t miss the Saigon Skydeck. This lofty observation platform can be found on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower, the city’s tallest building.
Ho Chi Minh City tips
A visit to Ho Chu Minh City offers you the chance to sample both French and Vietnamese cuisine, with French cheese baguettes and Hue beef soup both being popular dishes.