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Here, new buildings, there, persons in a hurry… It is the picture of a busting, dynamic but beautiful and friendly city – Ho Chi Minh City, the Chief Southern Centre of Vietnam!
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market

Introduction & Location

If you have visited a number of cities in Vietnam but forgot Ho Chi Minh City, you have not known much about Vietnam for real. It is considered the capital of the Southern area of Vietnam. It is located near the Mekong delta, about 1,760 kilometers south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with the population of 7 million in the area of 2095 square kilometers (908 square miles). Ho Chi Minh City is the second heart and soul of Vietnam, to Hanoi. It's a bustling, dynamic and industrious center, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market

History

Ho Chi Minh City (abbreviation HCMC), commonly known as Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam. The city used to be a small fishing village, inhabited by Khmer people, Cambodia before becoming a land under Nguyen dynasty rule in 1698, beingconquered by France from 1950 to 1975. Throughout its long history, HCMC appears to be not only a modern and dynamic city but a cultural and historical one as well.
Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Nevertheless, the old Saigon moniker is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market

Weather

You are going to visit Sai Gon? The best time to visit weather-wise is the dry season between December and April, when the humidity is more manageable. The clouds start getting heavy around November and stay through March. The Tet Festival in late January or early February is an exciting, if extremely hectic, time to visit. Being only 10.5° above the equator and between 5 and 10m (16-35ft) above sea level, Ho Chi Minh City is almost a template for tropical weather. Temperatures rarely vary from about 30°C (86°F).
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market

People and Culture

Exploring deeply inside Sai Gon, tourists may be surprised at the diversity of ethnic minorities in the magnificent city and its surroundings. Apart from Kinh (or Viet) people, there are a number of others, for example, Chinese, (the largest Chinese community in Vietnam), Khmer, Cham, Nung, and Rhade, etc. Each of them has their own cultural characteristics, languages, costumes, lifestyles, and religions such as: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Ancestor Worship, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Islam, Hinduism, and Bahá'í Faith. Yet, the vast majority is Kinh people, whose common characteristic is to be friendly, hospitable, open-hearted, and straightforward.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Traffic in some street of Ho Chi Minh city

These days, lots of Sai Gon’s youngsters and youths could speak English fairly well. They are more and more fond of communicating with foreigners in English for practice. More importantly, they are helpful, which fully reassure first-time foreign visitors to this city.
HCMC, as known, is now growing up to be an industrious, modern and dynamic city, with a lot of new modern constructions of Western architecture. However, here and there you can still see ancient monuments such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Thien Hau Pagoda, Phung Son Tu Pagoda, etc., making it a special picture of “an integrated rather than dissolved city”. HCMC is called "the Pearl of the Far East" or "Paris in the Orient" thanks to this special fascinating beauty, capable to have most travellers lengthen their stay.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Hotel Majestic in Sai Gon - Ho Chi Minh city

Places of Interest

Being a city embracing both traditional and modern beauty, HCMC is an ideal destination of interest for every generations with different characters.
You are young, active and playful? There are uncountable places of entertainment for you in this fast-growing dynamic city. Dam Sen Water Park is worth your try. Opened in 1999 with new water slides added each year, this water park offers some truly unique water slide experiences (including the amazing "Space Bowl")! Or you may like to watch films? Galaxy cinema with up-to-date films on big screen would be your premium choice. Though not as huge as that in some other countries, it is one amongst the top places of entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City these days.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market

If you prefer places of religion and history, here we go! Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà) is the old architectural monument, which is much enchanting. Incense Thien Hau Pagoda is dedicated to Lady Thien Hau, the sea goddess, who left two giant turtles to keep an eye on things in her absence. A festival is held in her honor on the 23rd day of the March lunar month. Don't miss the gorgeous sculptures in the walls of the courtyard outside the temple! Quan Am Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in town, and Phung Son Tu Pagoda, which is dedicated to the God of happiness and virtue. The pagoda itself is dusty and dwarfed by high-rises under construction nearby, but the small, sculpted grounds are a good place for a rest from the hectic city. Besides, you should also visit some premium museums of the city, such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, and Revolutionary Museum and the War Remnants Museum.
Further more, HCMC is a city that churns, ferments, bubbles and fumes. The streets are a jumble of street markets, shops, pavement cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendors selling wares spread out on sidewalks. It's impossible not to be infected by its exhilarating vibe.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Cu Chi tunnels

Dynamic economical outlook

As mentioned, HCMC is now one of the two most significant economic centre of Vietnam. Around 300,000 enterprises are trading in high-tech, electronics, processing and light industries, in construction, building materials and agro-products on a whole. Further foreign investment is now pouring into the city. Month by month, year by year, buildings, construction of entertainment, tourism, and companies come up. Higher education in Ho Chi Minh City is much concentrated, with about 76 universities and colleges and a total of over 380,000 students. The health care system of the city is relatively improved with a chain of about 100 public-owned hospitals or medical centers and dozens of private-owned clinics. Transportation is more and more convenient with four means of transport system: airlines, rail, road and marine. What is more, mass media is day by day fast developing. It is also the home of hundreds cinemas and theatres, parks, and luxury and standard hotels. Well, what can you see from this much-to-say view? I can only see rapid growth and great economic as well as tourism potential!
War Remnants Museum
Cu Chi Tunnels

Attraction places:

•        Notre – Dame Cathedral
•        War Remnants Museum
•        Jade Emperor Pagoda
•        Binh Tay Market
•        China Town
•        Cu Chi Tunnels
Observing the dynamic life in this vibrant city which was once considered “Pearl of the Far East”, joining in a unique mix of culture from many regions along Vietnam, all ensure new interesting experiences for visitors. Aside from the popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh city, those who wish to leave the noisy and bustling city behind for a peaceful countryside experience can also take day trips from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong delta and enjoy the floating lives of locals there. With a large number of tourists visiting the city each year and growing demand for tourism service, there are quite a wide range of options for Ho Chi Minh city tours from a lot of local travel agencies which vary in length, prices and itineraries for tourists to choose from.

Shopping Guide

Regardless of any age you are at, you will soon find yourself satisfied when shopping in Sai Gon (or Hochiminh City), the most dynamic city of Vietnam

Shopping – a ubiquitous custom of Saigon. Ever since the Vietnam’s policy shifted the nation into a market economy, buying and selling has been as ubiquitous as breathing. You are young and fond of modern stylish fashion, jewelries, etc.? Well, Diamond Plaza and Saigon Square Shopping Center should be your initial stop-over.
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh market

If you are looking for toys for your kids, those shopping zones also offer a lot to choose, or you may spend your time in the wooden toy store for special wooden kinds. Or, should you seek some low-priced goods, many street-front shop houses are available everywhere welcoming you to step inside! Yet, it’s ideal that you visit several markets such as Cholon (Big Market) (or China Town) and Ben Thanh market for further choices.

If you are here, I can assure that you will much desire shopping in the city though it is not really a shopping heaven. Why? Because of the mass quantity, the good prices, and last but not least, the hospitality of numerous Vietnamese charming female sellers!
 
Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Ho Chi Minh is paradise for shoppers
No one ever shopping here can deny that the range of merchandise in Saigon is truly fantastic. Should you can't buy it here, you may not really need it!

Bargaining is considered the most common way to buy things in Saigon. Some often relish bargaining, others hate it. Yet, it is not that much complicated if you think of it as a a harmonious Yin-Yang balance. You want the item, and the seller wants your money. Yin-Yang! The maximum price you are willing to pay is the value of your desire for the item. The minimum price the vendor is willing to accept is the value of their desire for your money. Yin-Yang! Bargaining is simply a search for the Yin-Yang balance between your desire and the seller's. However, should the items have price labels, there is almost no bargaining.

Normally, you will fill your suitcase when shopping in Saigon. If you get hungry during your shopping spree, stop for some finger food or relax in one of the Saigon Restaurants along the city's shopping streets.

Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market


Where should I go?

As the most active city in Vietnam, Hochiminh city offers an excellent variety of clothing, ceramics, ethnic fabrics and lacquered bamboo. Once you are in Ho Chi Minh City, you will surely get spoilt for choice of shops. Thus, to facilitate your selection, we offer a suggested shopping zone list as follows:

Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market


Big shopping centers


Tax Department Store - Intersection of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi Streets, Dist.1, HCMC
Ben Thanh market - Dist.1, city center, HCMC
Binh Tay market - Dist.5, one of the main markets of Cholon
Diamond Plaza - 37 Le Duan, Dist.1, HCMC

Bags


Anh Thu – 48 Le Lai Str., Dist.1, HCMC
Saigon – 2 Nguyen Trai Str., Dist.1, HCMC

Clothing


Oriental Home - 2A Le Duan, Dist.1, HCMC
Trends - 23 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Bao Nghi - 127 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Cam Tu - 10-12 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Dist.3, HCMC

Silk


Emotion - 89 Dong  Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Silk Road - 98 Mac Thi Buoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Toan Thinh Silk - 12-14 Pham Phu Thu, Tan Binh Dist., HCMC
Khai Silk - 107 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC

Crafts & Souvenirs


Cocochine Saigon - 95 Nguyen Hue, Dist.1, HCMC
Handicraft - Shop 115, Me Linh Point Shopping Center, HCMC
Indochine House - 27 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Ju Ju shops - 58 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Unique Viet Art Objects - 11 Lam Son Square, Dist.1, HCMC

Pottery & Ceramics


Celadon Green - 29 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Q Home - 65 Le Loi, Dist.1, HCMC
Van Hien Pottery Shop - 91A Pasteur, Dist.1, HCMC

Supermarket


Citimart - 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Dist.1, HCMC
Co-op Mart - 189C Cong Quynh, Dist.1; or 168 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Dist.3, HCMC

Ho Chi Minh City – Museums – Cu Chi tunnels - Notre – Dame Cathedral - Binh Tay Market – Ben Thanh Market
Binh Tay market


There are a few big markets around district 5 in Ho Chi Minh city that attract the attention from visitors these days, including such markets as Cho Lon market, An Dong market and Phu Dinh lantern market. Would you like a chance to visit these tourist attractions and practice some of our shopping tips above at the same time? This Ho Chi Minh city day tour might be an interesting choice as it include all of the markets mentioned above, giving you a fun and exciting insight into the trading spirit of locals at these stops.


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