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  • Alex Gillam

Where in the World: Ho Chi Minh City

A sprawling city of contrasts where incense-infused temples stand side by side with towering skyscrapers, few cities can match the old-meets-new urban collage that makes up Ho Chi Minh City. Starting out as a thriving riverside port city in the 18th Century, today Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and one of the three biggest municipalities in the country (the others being Hanoi and Haiphong).

Originally named Saigon, the city served as the capital of South Vietnam until the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, at which point the victorious North Vietnamese unified the country and renamed the city in honor of the first leader of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. Despite the name change, many of the city’s citizens, even officials, still refer to the downtown area as Saigon.

Now one of the world’s most buzzing metropolises, nearly 9 million people call Ho Chi Minh City home today (with a further 21 million people living within the city’s metropolitan area); it comes as no surprise, then, that on any given day, more than 1.5 million motorbikes can be found zipping through the city’s frenetic, labyrinthine streets.

Interested in learning more about Ho Chi Minh City? Our Vietnam Destination Page features some of our favorite activities and properties, as well as a selection of sample itineraries to help get you started.

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