The wonderful song of Billy Joel “Goodnight Saigon” is one of the reasons why everyone must visit this city in Vietnam at least once. A song that knows many emotions, causes goosebumps, is about the Vietnam War, and above all else is very sad, though in a beautiful way. Saigon / Ho Chi Minh, what to do in this city?
Saigon / Ho Chi Minh, what to do in ths city?
Saigon or Ho Chi Minh?
Saigon does not officially exist anymore because in 1976, when North and South Vietnam were unified, the official name of this city was changed to Ho Chi Minh. Saigon is, however, still the most commonly used name. Saigon (a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh) is the largest city of Vietnam but it is not clear how many inhabitants it has.
The city is divided into several districts and the number of inhabitants cannot be found on the Internet; even the people in Saigon do not know it. This has to do with the large number of illegal inhabitants that live in the surrounding districts. A rough estimate is that between 5 and 12 million people live in Saigon.
Furthermore, there is also the exciting mystery of how many scooters and mopeds ride around here. This number certainly reaches into the millions, but finding a clear answer in also not possible.
This city is constantly in motion and has been in a process of westernization in recent years. In 2014, the first McDonald’s opened up and it is a very popular place for the Vietnamese. Starbucks, Burger King, KFC can all be found in this city. The Saigon skyline looks more and more like that of a random large global city.
Saigon / Ho Chi Minh, what to do?
Besides a number of intense and historic places, Saigon is also a city where you can have a good time and not be confronted with the Vietnam War at all.
• Shopping in district 1: Brands such as Nike and North Face are sold very cheaply. The Ben Thanh market is worth a visit!
• Drinking cheap beer and cocktails. They have even made their own small version of Khoa San Road in Bangkok: Bui Vien street.
• There are really nice Street Food tours, with which you can taste all local dishes in local small restaurants with the supervision of guides. Furthermore, there are good tours which will allow for you to see the whole city easily in half a day on the back of a scooter with a guide. XO Tours is recommended for these tours.
• The Bitexco Financial Tower in district 1 is the tallest building of Saigon (265 metres) and offers a wonderful view over the city from the skydeck on the 49th floor.
• The Notre Dame cathedral is also recommended. A tue oasis in this busy city.
• Next to Notre Dame is the post office, designed by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel. The building is amazing and looks like a train station but still serves as a post office. If you visit it, check if you find the 85 year old translator Duong Van Ngo working. This man has been working here every day since he was 17 years old and speaks fluent French and English; his work consists of translating letters. A discussion with this man is a true experience!
Do I like this city?
All in all, visiting it for several days is worth it. The city is, however, under development and I am afraid that it will lose its charm in the coming years and will become “just” a random big city of Asia.
In Saigon / Ho Chi Minh I believe these are the what to do things! Do you have additions?
Hotel Saigon / Ho Cho Minh
The Golden Central Hotel is a great place to stay with a lovely pool! Nice big rooms en value for money.
- Not what you are looking for? Find here more great places to stay in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh!
Ho Chi Minh / Saigon
- Saigon / Ho Chi Minh and the war in Vietnam
- The War Remnants Museum in Saigon
- Visiting and crawling through the Vietcong tunnels