Saigon as the city is still frequently referred to is Vietnam’s largest city. It is a fast-paced city full of contrasts as street vendors selling fruit and vegetables can be seen next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques. Saigon’s history is only 300 years old. In 1859 the city was captured by the French and became the capital of Cochin china. From 1956 until its dramatic demise in April 1975 it was the capital of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. Today Ho Chi Minh City is very much the heart of Vietnamese business and entrepreneurs. And yet the city still retains its connections to the past, particularly in Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown. Here dozens of elegant temples and pagodas can be seen. The French also left their mark with some fine colonial-era buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.