Ho Chi Minh City


Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it still known to many, is Vietnam's largest and most dynamic city. In 1862, the French declared the city, then known as Saigon, as the capital of colonial Cochin china. The French laid out Saigon's broad, tree-lined boulevards and erected imposing villas and public buildings like the romantic Hotel de Ville (now the seat of the People's Committee), Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Post Office, the City Hall, and the central Ben Thanh Market.

Following the withdrawal of the French, in the 1960s and early '70s it was the Americans who influenced Saigon's for- tunes. Full of American soldiers, Saigon became synonymous with risk, rock and roll, and raucous nightlife. In April 1975, Communist troops reclaimed the city from American-backed forces and reunified the nation. Saigon's name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City in honor of Vietnam's great freedom fighter and president.

What hasn't changed in Ho Chi Minh City is commercial zeal. Not surprisingly, Ho Chi Minh City is a shopper's paradise, with trendy new boutiques and modern shopping centres just steps away from traditional open-air markets.. A stroll along Dong Khoi Street will take you past colonial-era landmarks and dozens of interesting new boutiques. Then plunge into the covered Ben Thanh Market, where vendors offer everything from fruit and fresh-cut flowers to traditional handicrafts or imported electronics and cosmetics. Heading for Cholon, the city's ancient China Town, you will find a fascinating maze of narrow lanes, bustling markets and flamboyantly colorful Chinese pagodas including Thien Hau Pagoda.

Ho Chi Minh City's never sleeps, nightlife has become very cosmopolitan and there are now restaurants serving dishes from all over the world as well as many bars and nightclubs.

Reunification Hall
Reunification Hall was originally built in 1865 as a French Governor General of Indochina. In 1963, after the air bombardment, the palace was heavily damaged. The then President of the South - Ngo Dinh Diem  built a new one which was later replaced by another called the Independence Palace. The building, once the symbol of the South Vietnamese government. This building remains almost exactly as it was on the morning of 30th April 1975 when Northern Liberation Army tanks overran the palace and the president Duong Van Minh together with his 45 member cabinet surrendered unconditionally.  In December 1975, the palace welcomed a conference for national reunification. To mark this historical significance event, the building was renamed Hoi Truong Thong Nhat (Reunification Hall)
Notre Dame
Notre Dame Cathedral: built between 1877 and 1883, set in the heart of Saigon's government quarter, Notre Dame Cathedral has a neo-Romanesque form and two 40m-high square towers, tipped with iron spires, that dominate the city's skyline. In front of the cathedral ( in the centre of the square bounded by the main post office) is a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Post Office
The Post Office recalls European railway stations, particularly in the vaulted and glazed interior. Its "modern" skylight also recalls European buildings of the later nineteenth century (like Paris' Les Halles or Milan's Galleria).
The three-story building has a central pavilion with flanking symmetrical extensions. Like European buildings influenced by Renaissance architecture, it has clearly defined bays and logical fenestration.

Ben Thanh market
Saigon has a number of incredibly huge indoor markets selling all manner of goods and Ben Thanh market which stand in the very center of the city is one of the best places to pick up a "conical hat" or "ao dai". The market and surrounding streets makes up one the city' liveliest areas. Everything commonly eaten, worn or used by the average resident of Saigon is available here: vegetable, fruits, meat, spices, biscuits, sweets, tobacco, clothing, hats, household items, hardware and so forth. The main entrance of the market, with its belfry and clock, has become a symbol of Saigo.
War Remnants Museum
Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, this is a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching, dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks and cannons captured from the American military machine.