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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Visit Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Introduction

Although Ho Chi Minh City was renamed after its fall at the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnam's largest city is still known to most as Saigon.

This apparent discord is mirrored across a city that is one part modern metropolis, full of lively bars, lavish restaurants and high-end boutiques, one part colonial grandee and one part ancient Asia, where catfish wriggle on the lids of steel drums in lunchtime markets and incense wafts from centuries-old pagodas.

Dong Khoi Street

Dong Khoi Street, formally Rue Catinat, runs from the river to the Notre Dame Cathedral and is lined with some of the city's most impressive colonial architecture.

Bounded by high-end boutique shops, galleries and smart hotels, Dong Khoi Street takes you on a nostalgic trail of Saigon as it was before 1975.

Cholon

Cholon is a sprawling Chinese section of the city, home to some fantastically colourful markets as well as a number of the city's landmarks, including the Thien Hau Temple, an ornate 19th century temple dedicated to the Lady of the Sea.

Ben Thanh Market

Centrally located Ben Thanh Market, Cho Ben Thanh, is perhaps the best place to experience a real Vietnamese market place.

Almost anything that's eaten, worn or used by the Saigonese is available here: vegetables, meats, spices, sweets, tobacco, clothing, hardware and so forth. And that's not to mention the range of souvenirs, from conical hats to bullet-case key rings and Vietnam War-themed Zippo lighters.

It's one of the city's largest and oldest markets and is a cultural hot spot and social meeting place for many of Saigon's residents.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Perhaps the symbol of Saigon's French legacy, Notre Dame Cathedral holds centre stage at the head of Dong Khoi Street and is the city's main Catholic cathedral.

The twin-spire, red-brick cathedral was built in the late 1800s, supposedly using materials only sourced from France, and as recently as 2005 it became the centre of attention as reports spread across the Catholic world that the statue of the Virgin Mary, which stands in the square outside, had shed a tear.

Reunification Hall

Perhaps one of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War was that of a North Vietnamese tank smashing through the gates of the Reunification Hall, formerly the Presidential Palace. It is now a museum, preserved as it was found in 1975.

War Remnants Museum

Formerly, and rather controversially known as the America War Crimes Museum, the renamed War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular museums in Ho Chi Minh City.

The museum shows some fairly graphic images, displaying the effects of various chemical warheads used by the US during the war. Some may argue that the museum is one grand - and largely successful - propaganda exercise, entirely biased against the American and South Vietnamese forces.

Nonetheless, the images on show are hugely affecting and will leave visitors with a strong sense of the horrible nature of war - perhaps a solid memorial to the people, from both sides, who suffered during the course of the conflict.

Cu Chi Tunnels

A short distance from the city are the notorious Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive and impressive network of fighting tunnels developed by the Viet Cong to attack US forces during the Vietnam War.

The end to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the tunnels were used as supply routes, hospitals and sleeping quarters and took the Viet Cong deep into South Vietnam.; they are undoubtedly one of the key reasons for the eventual defeat and withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam and make for fascinating viewing.

Special offers in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights

15-day river cruise holiday from £3,695 pp

Special
offer

Free Business Class Flights – Save up to £2340 pp
Book by: 30 September 2017

From the modern city of Ho Chi Minh City to the ancient temples of Angkor, this luxury 15-day tour with APT, including a weeklong river cruise aboard the luxurious RV AmaLotus, takes in the very best of Cambodia and south Vietnam.

See all offers

Top itineraries in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong & Phu Quoc

10-day tailor-made journey from £1,715 pp incl. flights

Between cruises on the Mekong Delta, private tours of Ho Chi Minh City's history and a luxury beachfront stay on an island paradise, this is your chance to showcase the highlights of southern Vietnam. And you’ll travel in style, with exclusive touring, luxury stays and private transfers throughout.

Essential Vietnam & Cambodia: Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap

14-day River Cruise from £3,195 pp incl. flights

Discover the wonders of the Mekong on this two week tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, travelling from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap.

Highlights of Vietnam

13-day tailor-made journey from £2,785 pp incl. flights

Discover the best of Vietnam, taking in the country's vibrant northern capital Hanoi, the emerald waters of Halong Bay and the historically rich central coastal towns of Hue and Hoi An. Then, fly south Ho Chi Minh City and the magic of the Mekong Delta and the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels.

Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights

15-day river cruise holiday from £3,695 pp

Special
offer

Free Business Class Flights – Save up to £2340 pp
Book by: 30 September 2017

From the modern city of Ho Chi Minh City to the ancient temples of Angkor, this luxury 15-day tour with APT, including a weeklong river cruise aboard the luxurious RV AmaLotus, takes in the very best of Cambodia and south Vietnam.

See all itinerary ideas

Top places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

An Lam Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City

Small & intimate hotel

An Lam Saigon River is a luxury riverside resort that offers a relaxing retreat, and access to Ho Chi Minh City via speedboat

Villa Song, Ho Chi Minh City

Small & intimate hotel

Villa Song is a colonial-style house offering an intimate and relaxed riverside retreat within easy access of the city

Intercontinental Asiana, Ho Chi Minh City

Traditional hotel

This award-winning hotel enjoys a prime position in the heart of Ho Chi Minh, is excellent value, and is located just a short stroll from its famous landmarks including Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Opera House.

Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint, Ho Chi Minh City

Contemporary hotel

The Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint is stylish, modern and excellently priced. It's also located in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City just minutes from Le Loi Boulevard and other main attractions.

See all places

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) articles

Visiting Vietnam in May

Find out how to dodge the monsoon and why Vietnam's May is one of the best times to visit its bustling cities, verdant mountains and golden sands.

What is Vietnamese New Year?

Learn when the Vietnamese New Year is, how it's celebrated and how best to enjoy it yourself with our helpful guide.

See all articles

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