Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is easily Vietnam's largest and most vibrant city. First-time visitors will no doubt find its mixture of excessive traffic, bustling markets, unceasing pagodas and smiling locals pleasantly intoxicating.
Reminders of the war are still evident, with the Reunification Palace being the most obvious and imposing with its armoury outside. However, Ho Chi Minh City has moved on with the times and thriving markets, glitzy skyscrapers and luxury hotels can now be seen alongside crumbling French colonial structures.
Ho Chi Minh City's markets are the main focus for shoppers, especially lovers of silk and souvenirs. The food is also colourful, with varieties of Chinese-influenced dishes in natty eateries and hawker stall noodle soups too numerous to mention. Ho Chi Minh City’s lively nightlife, collection of cultural festivals and ever happy locals also add to the favour.
In addition to the many popular cultural sights in the city are opportunities to enjoy some leisure, with water parks, Saigon Zoo, and several busy city parks. Farther afield, Vung Tau Beach is just an hour away by hydrofoil, while the world famous Chu Chi Tunnels and the beautiful Mekong Delta are also within reach.
Ho Chi Minh City has a vast amount of accommodation with everything from budget lodgings to luxury hotels. The Central and Phu Nhuan districts are the most popular parts to be based in and are within reach of most major attractions on foot.
Vietnam's main airport, Tan Son Nhat International Airport, is situated in Ho Chi Minh City and receives flights from all over the world via Southeast Asian hubs including Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Facilities are good in the International Terminal and transfers to the city centre and hotels are provided by public shuttle buses, taxis and courtesy hotel shuttles.