Vibrating with energy, innovation, and traffic – lots of traffic – Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam and the main hub of the southern region. A freewheeling, cosmopolitan metropolis, HCMC’s dynamic cityscape draws together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of spaces, representing the city’s past as well as its future.
Walk down Đồng Khởi street to acquaint yourself with the Notre Dame Cathedral, the city's Central Post Office, and the Saigon Opera House. On a more local level, Bến Thành Market and the Jade Emperor Pagoda are worth a visit.
Around District 1, a host of old apartments and former office buildings have been repurposed as shopping centers. Decades-old buildings such as 22 Lý Tự Trọng and 42 Nguyễn Huệ are brimming with all kinds of fascinating stores.
The Chinese neighborhood known as Chợ Lớn is great for exploring on foot. Head for Bình Tây Market, a colossal wholesale trading center, and Thiên Hậu Pagoda, an atmospheric temple that pays homage to the goddess of the sea.
Do as the locals do and hop on the back of a motorbike to see the city on street level and feel its energetic pulse. Motorbike tours set off in the evening, when the city is at its most romantic and the sidewalk vendors are out in force.
Ho Chi Minh City locals love to gather around dented metal tables across the city for incredible roadside feasts. Don't miss highlights such as bánh mì, southern-style savory pancakes (bánh xèo), and broken rice (cơm tấm).