Vietnam’s cultural and commercial center in the South is formally known as Ho Chi Minh City.
The name Saigon still is used by southern Vietnamese to indicate the municipality, while northerners refer to Saigon only as the area of HCM City encompassing District 1.
WoWasis’ Saigon Top 10
Here are WoWasis’ best bets for ‘not-to-miss’ Saigon!
1) The War Remnants Museum certainly has to rank among the world’s finest war museums, and is a must for any traveler wishing to understand the recent history of Vietnam.
2) The Chinese Pagodas located in or near the Cholon district are exceptional, and can be seen in slightly over a half-day, in a lovely walk.
3) The Reunification Palace,, where rulers of South Vietnam lived and worked, is a must-see, especially the bunker area below ground.
4) In the Museum of Vietnamese History, housed in a beautiful building, the well-designed exhibit space describes the history, art, and culture of Vietnam.
5) Within walking distance of the Museum of Vietnamese History is the Jade Emperor Pagoda, with its superb statuary and finely carved wood panels depicting the tortuous perils of living an unsatisfactory life.
6) The Mariamman Hindu Temple, with its beautiful Hindu deities, makes for a terrific respite from the day’s heat.
8) Fashion shopping is exceptional in Saigon, as some of Southeast Asia’s best designers have shops here. There are also some wonderful tribal crafts shops which sell clothing designs from around the country.
10) The Cu Chi Tunnels, just north of Saigon, are a must for anyone interested in the war, Vietnamese culture, and civil engineering. Not to be missed!
Special navigating tips for the Traveler
Like Hanoi, Saigon is chock-a-block with motorbikes, but does have more cars, and taxis are easy to find.
Most major museums, crafts shops, and fashion boutiques are within relatively easy walking distance of each other, so you may find you'll never end up on a motorbike or taxi.
We like the ease of travel on motorbikes: thousands of motos are ready to take you anywhere, and you generally pay 10,000 VND (less than $1 USD) to travel anywhere within Districts 1 and 3 (do remember to bargain, but stick to 10,000).
Although red lights do exist, pedestrians always look in all four directions, even when the green light is in your favor.
When crossing a street against an onslaught of motorbikes, always keep your legs moving, and never backtrack.
Look directly at the moto drivers, press forward, and you'll gain the curb.
Moto drivers are unfailingly polite, but they will not stop for you, so learn to play by their rules, and you'll have a great time.