Ho Chi Minh City



Ho Chi Minh City

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The largest city in Vietnam is also its commercial capital and is fast becoming the nation’s window to the world. Buzzing with frenetic activity, cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City looks outward, listens to pop music, and drinks French wine. Existing alongside the high-rise hotels, shopping malls, and chic restaurants are ancient pagodas and colonial buildings, recalling a checkered but vibrant past.

Originally established as a Khmer trading post, centuries ago, Ho Chi Minh City was destined for greater things. By the 18th century, the city, then named Saigon, had become the provincial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. However, in the second half of the 19th century, control over the city passed to the French, and Saigon became the capital of French Cochinchina. This was a period of much infrastructural and architectural development, during which Saigon earned the epithet “Paris of the Orient.” Many buildings of this era are in good condition even today. In 1954, the city was pro claimed the capital of South Vietnam. The ensuing war between the US and the Communist North lasted until 1975, when North Vietnam took over Saigon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.

Today, under growing economic and cultural liberalization, the city has entered a period of modernization and is constantly evolving and reinventing itself. Populated by almost eight million people, the city has long been the hub of manufacturing, entertainment, and cuisine in Vietnam. Upscale restaurants and cafés offering a range of international delicacies are opening every day, while bars, clubs, and discos are at the center of a thriving nightlife. The best place to catch the action is Dong Khoi and the rest of District 1. Attracting many tourists, the area is home to historical buildings and museums, sophisticated shops, and roadside cafés, as well as people of all  ages zipping around noisily on motor- bikes and causing gridlock.

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