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Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

About Ho Chi Minh City

Hold on tight - Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis that is going places. It’s the flourishing fast-mover that’s somehow secured old Saigon onto the seat of its shiny, new motorbike as it roars off into the future.

It’s the mesmerising gateway to Vietnam where traditional and modern influences live side by side. High-rises loom over shabby French colonial villas; conical-hatted street vendors plod past karaoke bars and glitzy shops.

Like the bamboo, shoulder-pole baskets you’ll see on the streets, Ho Chi Minh City is a balancing act of two parts: classical incense-filled pagodas are off-set by shopping malls and skyscrapers that wouldn't look out of place in the West.

It's a forward-looking city but still locals refer to it as Saigon, a name evocative of the past. One of the city's most poignant symbols is the Reunification Palace, where the last days of the Vietnam War were played out.

Saigon's story, however, was penned long before the American army waded in. Just wander around the beautiful Jade Emperor Pagoda, built by the Chinese in 1909, or search out Saigon Central Post Office for some grandiose French architecture.

Few visitors get further than Districts 1 and 3, home to the Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market, but rambling Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon (Chinatown) is worth discovering too. For a total contrast head out to Phu My Hung, known as South Saigon, where wide streets, smart villas, condominiums and manicured parkland appear to have been transplanted from California.

Elsewhere, pavements teem with street vendors, barbers and dentists. Families perch on tiny plastic chairs tucking into bowls of pho. Roads bawl with a solid phalanx of two-wheeled traffic; bikes piled high with furniture and livestock.

Whatever you want, this incredible metropolis can deliver. Haggle hard in the markets or get measured up for custom-made clothes. Sip champagne cocktails with skyline vistas or swig cold Bia hơis (beer) from side street sup houses. Stay in grand international hotels or hide away in backpacker boltholes. Ho Chi Minh City is the face of new Vietnam and she's ready to show it off.

Key facts

Population:
8.426 million
Latitude:
10.775755
Longitude:
106.682552
A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels

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Windsor Plaza Hotel

A perfect place for those who want the comfort of a luxury hotel without the pain of paying for it. Located in Cholon, this 25-floor hotel has stunning views across the city and the rooms are large and smart with excellent facilities. The bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown surround the hotel and the hotel itself has its own shopping plaza and nightclub. On request services include airport transfers, 24-hour in-room dining, a 24-hour business centre and a 24-hour multilingual concierge.

Caravelle Hotel

The Caravelle Hotel is located in the heart of the commercial and entertainment area and offers 335 large and stylish rooms. It is one of the most famous addresses in Ho Chi Minh City as it was one of the gathering places for war correspondents during the Vietnam War and the rooftop Saigon Saigon Bar is still popular for its bird's eye views of the city.

Grand Hotel

Hulking ex-Yugoslav monolith with a cavernous interior, stay at Pristina's famous Grand Hotel for a retro trip down Eastern Bloc's memory lane. Blessed with the most central location in Pristina on Nënë Tereza.

Elios Hotel

A good-value, 3-star hotel located in the Pham Ngu Lao area, which has excellent facilities, including free wireless internet throughout. The rooms are smart and comfortable. There is a rooftop restaurant and bar with fabulous views across the city and the staff can help with tour and transport reservations.

Lavender Hotel

One of the few boutique hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, the Lavender is located behind Ben Thanh Market. As the name suggests the theme is lavender and the rooms are modern and stylish with excellent facilities. It has an excellent 8th floor restaurant and bar with outside terrace with views across the city.

Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

This hotel in Ho Chi Minh City is a new gleaming landmark with stunning views across the city and ideally placed close to the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the old Post Office. Its smart 305 rooms form part of the Kumho Asiana Plaza where guests can browse in the luxury retail outlets. The hotel features a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour gym and a business centre.