Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, is the biggest, most modern, and busiest city of Vietnam. Feel free to visit this historical city during any season. The weather is tropical and stays at around 30 degrees all year.
There are many reasons to visit Ho Chi Minh City and the many historical sights are one of them. For example, the reunification palace, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, and the War remnants Museum each display modern Vietnamese history and are definitely worth a visit.
Chinatown, or the Tho Lon in the 5th district, is a must see area of the city. You will find a number of indoor markets and many pagodas and temples. The markets are especially lively early in the morning.
The street kitchen of Saigon is really worth your attention as well. Enjoy fresh, authentic, and flavorful dishes followed by the famous “Bia Hoi” beer. You will be able to find this all over the city. After traveling through the more rural parts of Vietnam, many KILROY travelers find the up and coming bar/café scene in Ho Chi Minh City to be quite stimulating.
One of the most famous sights just outside of Ho Chi Minh City are the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were built in 1948 as a hideout for the Viet Minh soldiers who fought the French troops. Then, due to their good strategic position for attacking Saigon, Northern Vietnamese soldiers also used them during the Vietnam war. Even though the Cu Chi tunnels are a well visited tourist destination where you will have to navigate the many tourist traps and shops, they are definitely worth a visit.
Today, the city is named after Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) the country's father and the founder of the communist party in Vietnam. However, the former name "Saigon" is still commonly used amongst the citizens of Ho Chi Minh City. It is considered most polite, however, to use Ho Chi Minh City.
There is a lot of traffic in Vietnam, but in Saigon in particular! The backpackers rule of thumb for crossing a “motorbike river” is as follows: Decide where you want to cross and walk in a straight line across – you leave the side walk in a slow pace and continue to walk at that pace, never walk backwards. The Vietnamese motorbike riders are used to navigating around “obstacles” in the middle of the road. As long as you move in the same pace, they know where you are and will be. Always look in the way of the traffic, and make yourselves visible. You will see old people (experienced crossers) waving their hat or umbrella.
In High season for organized round trips (spring and fall), the high-end hotels in Ho Chi Minh City are full. In terms of backpacking, however, there are many alternatives in Saigon. Generally, the western part of district 1 is the backpacker area.
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