HoChi Minh City also known as Saigon is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Vietnam. Its metropolitan area is populated by close to 9 million people and is expected to grow to close to 14 million by 2025. One of the most remarkable cities in the world, simply because a generation ago it was involved in so much turmoil, HoChi Minh City is Vietnam at its most electrifying.
Where to Stay
HoChi Minh City is divided into 24 districts. The majority of the activities and things to do exist in Districts 1 and 3. These districts house most of the city’s sights, museums, galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hotels. The best neighborhoods to stay for budget travelers is Pham Ngu Lao where there are inexpensive but reliable guest homes. The more famous and popular hotels in the city include Hotel Nikko Saigon, Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel, Villa Song Saigon, and Rex Hotel.
What to Do
Jade Emperor Pagoda – Built in 1909 in honor of the supreme Taoist God, this is one of the most atmospheric designed temples in Asia filled with grotesque heroes and the smoke of incense fills the air. Outside of the temple, you will see a small pond with turtles that have shells inscribed with inscriptions.
War Remnants Museum – Formerly the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, few museums in the world illustrate the brutality of war on its civilians. Many of the atrocities are one sided (against the U.S.) but it provides Westerners with a perspective they are rarely exposed to. U.S. armored vehicles and weapons are on display outside.
History Museum – Built in 1929, this Sino-French museum houses a great collection of artifacts illustrating the evolution of Vietnamese culture dating from the Bronze Age Dong Son civilization. The museum is surrounded by the city’s botanical gardens and zoo.
Ben Thanh Market – Located in central Saigon, Ben Thanh is one of the city’s liveliest areas. The best food stalls are open until mid-afternoon and you’ll find decent priced food items.
Cao Dai Holy See – The Cao Dai Holy See was founded in 1926 and houses the Cao Dai Great Temple. In addition, the town houses administrative offices, residences for officials, and a traditional Vietnamese hospital that attracts people from all over Asia.
Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda – Built between 1939 and 1942, this temple is regarded as the only pure Taoist temple in Vietnam unique for its colorful statues of Taoist disciples.
How to Get Around
Depending on where visitors choose to stay, HoChi Minh City can be a very easy city to get around in. Those that stay in District 1 and 3 will find that HoChi Minh City is a very walkable city. If you are staying outside of these districts, taxi drivers are very cheap in Saigon as well as motorbike taxis. The public bus system is also incredibly developed as there are over 100 bus lines and routes and is also incredibly cheap.
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