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.
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.
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.
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.
Suggested Read: Port in Focus: Ho Chi Minh City