Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is called the “pearl of Indochina” where there is a noticeable influence of French culture, there are many buildings of French architecture in the city.
Ho Chi Minh is the perpetual motion machine of the nation, the largest city and commercial capital of Vietnam. It is permeated through with electric, almost tangible energy. Cosmopolitan and full of life, Ho Chi Minh City absorbs everything new quickly, loves jazz and French wine. Multi-storey hotels, luxurious restaurants and shopping malls coexist here with ancient pagodas, reminiscent of a rich history.
At first glance, Saigon – as most people still call it, for some reason not accepting the official name “Ho Chi Minh City” – may seem chaotic and disorderly, with the bustle, traffic jams and little greenery typical of any metropolis. Nevertheless, it attracts like a magnet with its hidden charm not only the inhabitants of Vietnam, but also thousands of foreigners from all over the world.
After a difficult three hundred years of formation and development, the city has preserved many ancient architectural monuments, famous historical sites and picturesque corners of nature. A mixture of national traditions, elements of Chinese and Western European cultures, a bizarre combination of urban elements and the atmosphere of an oriental city create a unique flavor that imbues the streets of the city.
Exotic images of everyday life are everywhere – bustling markets, sidewalk cafes and bars, massage and acupuncture clinics, ancient pagodas, modern skyscrapers and dilapidated wooden shops where you can buy silk, spices, wicker baskets or homemade furniture – it all adds up. into a vibrant urban collage. At night, Saigon can make you even more euphoric, blinding with storefront lights, neon lights and deafening nightclub music. If every city were assigned a symbol, then for Saigon it would undoubtedly be a motorcycle. More than three million motorcyclists confidently rush through the streets of the city, interrupting the path of cyclists. To feel the full flavor, you must definitely ride along the boulevards and back streets of Saigon on one of these motorcycles that serve here as a taxi.
Traffic roars, the jackhammers of progress crush the obsolete into dust, paving the way for the new – now Saigon is changing as rapidly as the dynamic rhythm of its life. The former capital of the French colony from a semi-European city with the tallest building of five floors is transformed into a modern metropolis with towering skyscrapers to match Bangkok and Singapore. But even with Ho Chi Minh City’s neoclassical, internationally built buildings, its sidewalk stalls selling French buns and pies still lend the streets an inviting, elusive French vibe.
Saigon preserves the memory and spirit of history, centuries-old traditions and the beauty of ancient culture. There are many pagodas where monks pray and smoke incense; in the workshops, artists create their masterpieces on canvas or carve them from wood, while in the parks, puppeteers entertain children; in back alleys, acupuncturists stick needles into patients, and students learn to play the violins. Once in this city, you can not ignore the area of Dong Hoi Street – this is the busiest part of the city, a kind of “nerve node” of Ho Chi Minh City. Fashionable shops, luxurious restaurants, museums and architectural monuments are concentrated here: the City Theater, the Notre Dame de Saigon Cathedral, the General Post Office, etc. In the north, there are residential areas and the Jade Emperor Pagoda, known for its exquisite architecture and lush decor. To the west lies Tholon, the ancient Chinatown. Outside the city – another world, where boats ply the canals of the Mekong Delta, which has preserved centuries-old traditions of life.
Vietnam without Ho Chi Minh City is unimaginable. While Hanoi symbolizes Vietnam’s ancient origins, Ho Chi Minh City shows the dynamics of the nation’s future. But the only sure way to understand and feel at least a little bit of the city is to try to dissolve in its chaos.
Ho Chi Minh city is a new land. It wasn’t until 300 years ago that the name Saigon began to appear in history books. In early 1698, the ruler of Nguyen Gyu Canh founded the Zha Dinh district and Saigon district. After three hundred years of formation and development, the city of Ho Chi Minh has preserved many ancient architectural monuments, famous historical sites and picturesque corners of nature. A mixture of national traditions, elements of Chinese and French cultures creates that unique flavor that imbues the streets of the city. A whimsical combination of urban elements and the atmosphere of an oriental city make visiting Ho Chi Minh one of the most memorable travel experiences.
Ho Chi Minh Attractions:
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was built between 1964 and 1971. designed by architect Nguyen Ba Lang. This pagoda is a seven-tiered tower in classical style, also influenced by Japanese architectural style.
Pagoda Jacques Vienne. Originally a simple thatched hut dedicated to the worship of the goddess Bodhisattva, it was converted into the Jacques Vien Pagoda by Kwan-Yin in 1850. This active pagoda is a unique museum – more than 150 statues and engravings are kept within its walls, most of which date back to the late 19th – early 20th centuries.
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Saigon. A colonial-style building, Notre Dame Cathedral is located on Paris Square in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. The construction of this iconic building was carried out extremely quickly: the French priest laid the first brick in October 1877 and the last one in April 1880.
Ho Chi Minh City Historical Museumwas built in 1929 and was originally called the Musée Blanchard de la Bose until 1956. During this period, the museum hosted several different exhibitions of ancient Asian art. In 1956, the museum was officially renamed the Saigon National Museum and, finally, in 1975, after reconstruction and expansion, it becomes the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum. The exhibits of the museum are divided into themes, each of which corresponds to a certain time period in the development of the state – from primitive times to the end of the reign of the last royal Nguyen dynasty, which dates back to the middle of the 20th century. The second half of the museum showcases the characteristics of the southern region of Vietnam, including the culture of Ok Yeo, the ancient culture of the Mekong Delta, the art of Cham, the art of Ben Nghe Saigon,
Tunnels Kuti. Another reminder of the war is the Ku Chi Tunnels located about 70 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh city in the Cu Chii administrative region. The area is widely known throughout the country as the base where the Vietnamese prepared their operations for the 1968 Tet offensive. The tunnels consist of underground passages over 200 km long. The main axis has a system of branches connecting to underground shelters and entrances to other tunnels. The width of the passages from 0.5 to 1 m is sufficient to push through a person of small build. Part of the tunnels has been modified and expanded to accommodate guests. The top layer of the earth is 3 – 4 m and can withstand a 50-ton tank and explosions from light guns and bombs. The underground network of tunnels included rooms for rest and sleep, for meetings, hospitals and other residential areas. A visit to Cu Thi Tunnels provides an opportunity to better understand the nature of the spirit of such a long resistance of the Vietnamese people, as well as the perseverance and wisdom of the Vietnamese nation.
The Zoo and Botanical Garden of Ho Chi Minh City opened in 1865 on an area of 20 hectares, thanks to the contribution of the famous French botanist J. B. Louise Pierre. The zoo contains over 520 animals representing 120 species. The Botanical Garden has up to 1830 trees and plants, some of which are 100 years old. Twenty species of orchids, 32 species of cacti and 34 species of dwarf ornamental trees grow here to the delight of millions of tourists. The Zoo and Botanical Garden of Ho Chi Minh City are members of the Zoological Association of Southeast Asia.
Dam Shen Park (Lotus Lake Park). The largest cultural and entertainment center of the city is able to offer recreation for every taste: the infrastructure of the park, divided into 30 sections, includes dozens of types of entertainment facilities, restaurants and show programs. Places worth visiting include a miniature replica of the Jacques Vien Pagoda, the Thgyi Ta float restaurant, a West Lake-like lake in Hanoi, a puppet show, a bird garden, a water park, a sports center and Nam Tu Royal Garden.