Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a frenetic Asian city of markets, streets clogged with scooters, street side food stalls, as well as foreign restaurants office blocks and shopping malls. It is Vietnam’s economic powerhouse and the rate of progress over the last few years has been remarkable. Saigon is an exciting and exotic city where the pace of life never dims and which is now looking forward with great optimism after its tumultuous 20th century.
Explore Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Click on your destination of interest
Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Markets & villages of the Mekong Delta
The Mekong delta is Vietnam's rice bowl: a fertile region of flat farmland interlaced with the thousands of waterways and tributaries of the Mekong. Known locally as Cuu Long, or the ‘River of Nine Dragons’, the delta's waters are interspersed with rice fields, colourful floating markets and isolated villages accessible only by boat. The region remains home to descendants of the former Khmer empire and is scattered with a collection of working temples and resident Buddhists that continue to use Khmer as their mother tongue. Visit the waterfront pier in Cai Be and board a motorised sampan (traditional flat-bottomed wooden boat) for a journey across the upper reaches of the Mekong delta. See how local people make their living by trading agricultural products from their boats at various markets throughout the delta, and cruise through narrow channels to small villages, where travellers can visit local workshops, orchards and farms.
Off the beaten track in Ho Chi Minh City
As a huge city of more than 8 million people, there is much to explore in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) beyond the regular tourist sites. For a more in depth view of daily life in city, join a local guide for a stroll through the narrow back alleys away from the main thoroughfares, which bring you closer to local residential areas and end at the authentic Vuon Chuoi market. Vibrant with haggling locals, street sellers, exotic food, smells and sights, the stalls spill out from the main market area into the surrounding passageways. A complicated maze to the uninitiated, your local guide will lead your though the market and explain the background and history of the area. You guide will also lead you to a typical Vietnamese townhouse, nondescript from the outside, but actually the secret location of a former Viet Cong weapons store. This house was where Viet Cong commandos of 'Team 5' gathered to collect weapons for the Tet offensive on 30 January 1968, and was recognised as a national historical site in 1988.
Vietnam war history in Ho Chi Minh City
The presidential palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, was the location where in April 1975 a tank belonging to the Northern Army breached the gates, signifying the fall of Saigon and southern Vietnam. In 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh Province and was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary leader and former president. The building has remained largely untouched, with 1960s-style furnishings and a collection of military vehicles on display, including a helicopter. In the basement is the command centre for the south, complete with military charts from the time of the war. The nearby War Remnants Museum displays a number of exhibits relating to the war with the US and battles with occupying French forces.
The latest from Compass - our online travel magazine