No other city in Southeast Asia provides an adrenaline shot quite like Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), as the epicenter of Vietnam’s economic boom and tourism revival. The city once known as Saigon is a study in contrasts, with its modernization, bustling cafés, five-star hotels and shopping malls intertwined with centuries-old pagodas, dimly lit alleyways, French colonial architecture, and ramshackle markets. Bustling streets throb to the tune of three million motorbikes blanketing this concrete metropolis each day.
For the vast majority of HCMC residents, daily life is played out on the streets and it is thoroughly recommended that travellers explore as much as they can. With a city tour, one can cover most of the highlights, and on your own you can discover gems such as the Botanic Gardens and Cong Vien Van Hoa Park . Districts 1 and 3 are the nightlife hubs that offer opportunities to sample a steaming bowl of pho or delicious Ban Xeo pancakes. Sit streetside in plastic chairs with the locals, sharing a beer, then late in the evening stroll down to the Municipal Theatre in the swanky Lam Son Square.
The city is awash with museums and architectural remnants. Walk through the corridors of war history at The Reunification Palace (Dinh Tong Naht), a place made infamous as the culmination of the Vietnamese-American War.
HCMC and its surrounding areas offer things to do and see, and is the starting point for the adventures beyond in Dalat, Nha Trang, Hue and Hoi An.