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About Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn) or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Around 9,000,000 people live in the HCMC metropolitan area.

Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However, the old Saigon name is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city, District 1.

HCMC lies on the banks of the Saigon river. The city has a tropical climate, with an average humidity of 75% and a rainy season that lasts from May to October.
(Source: WikiTravel.org)

Sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City

Dinh Thong Nhat (Reunification Palace)

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Many people will remember the image of a North Vietnamese tank crashing through the gates of the Reunification Palace on 30 April 1975, signifying the fall of Saigon. That tank still graces the front lawn of the 1960’s Soviet-style building. Rooms open to the public remain exactly as they were in 1975, showing where important meetings were held during the war, as well as some of the private quarters of the president and his family. Most fascinating are a series of underground tunnels housing a telecommunications center.

Vien Bao Tang Lich Su (Historical Museum)

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Located just inside the entrance to the Botanical Gardens and Zoo, the Historical Museum houses a collection of artifacts covering the last 2,000 years of Vietnamese history, including items belonging to ancient cultures such as Dong Son, Oc Eo and Cham, right up until 1945. There are also collections of ceramics, weapons and Cham sculptures as well as a wing devoted to ethnic minorities. The museum was built in 1929 and the collection assembled by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient.

Nha Trung Bay Toi Ac Chien Tranh Xam Luoc (War Remnants Museum)

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  • 28 Vo Van Tan, District 3
  • (08) 3930 5587
  • Daily: 0730-1200; 1330-1700

Located just inside the entrance to the Botanical Gardens and Zoo, the Historical Museum houses a collection of artifacts covering the last 2,000 years of Vietnamese history, including items belonging to ancient cultures such as Dong Son, Oc Eo and Cham, right up until 1945. There are also collections of ceramics, weapons and Cham sculptures as well as a wing devoted to ethnic minorities. The museum was built in 1929 and the collection assembled by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient.

Notre Dame Cathedral

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  • Dong Khoi, District 1
  • (08) 3930 5587
  • Daily: 0800-1000; 1500-1600

The twin towers of the beautiful, red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral have been a familiar landmark in Ho Chi Minh City since the 1880s. In front of the cathedral in a small garden lies a delicate statue of the Virgin Mary. The interior of the cathedral is rather plain, unlike most French cathedrals, with no stained glass, but it offers a cool respite from the heat outside. It is also an oasis of calm from the traffic that circles the cathedral. There is still a significant Christian community in the south of Vietnam and church services are well attended.

Buu Dien Truong Tam (Post Office)

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  • 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1
  • (08) 3827 1149
  • Daily: 0700-2000

Across from the Notre Dame Cathedral, the vast Post Office was also built in the late 19th century in European style. The elegant, high-ceilinged interior has hardly been touched since it was built and is dominated by a huge portrait of Ho Chi Minh. The building always seems busy but most people are just visitors rather than customers. Fascinating collections of colorful stamps can be purchased here.

Ho Chi Minh City Museum

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Housed in the former building of the Government of Cochinchina, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum (formerly the Revolutionary Museum) contains artifacts, such as weapons, uniforms, medals and old photos, from the period of Communist struggle against the French and the Americans. Outside the museum is a collection of military hardware including a tank and a helicopter. The museum building itself is of interest, built in classical style in the late 1880s and was formerly the palace of the governor of Cochinchina and the Supreme Court.

Saigon Zoo

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The Botanical Gardens were established by the French in 1864 and once had the reputation of being some of the finest in Asia. Now, however, the area is just a pleasant one for a stroll in the heart of the city, among tropical plants and trees. Make sure you visit in the afternoon to watch the animals being fed.