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Ho Chi Minh City ( HCMC for short), still known as Saigon to its seven million or so inhabitants, is Vietnam centre of commerce and the country’s biggest city by far, though not its administrative capital an honors that rests with Hanoi. As a result of the  sweeping economic changes wrought by Doi Moi in 1986, this effervescent city, preached on the west bank of the Saigon River, has changed its image from that of a war – torn city to one of a thriving metropolis, challenging Singapore, Bangkok and the other traditional Southeast Asian powerhouses.

All the accoutrements of economic success – fine restaurant, flash hotels, glitzy bars and clubs, and shops selling imported luxury goods – are here, adding a glossy veneer to the city’s hotch – potch landscape of French stones of empire, venerable pagodas and austere, Soviet – style housing blocks. Sadly, however, Ho Chi Minh City is still full of people for whom economic progress has not yet translated into food, housing and jots. Street children range through tourist enclaves hawking books, postcards, lottery tickets and cigarette lighters; limbless mendicants haul themselves about on crude trolleys; and watchful pickpockets prowl crowded streets on the lookout for unguarded wallets. Though the number of beggars is gradually declining, tourists must quickly come to accept them as a hassle that goes with the territory. In addition, the arrival, en masse,of wealthy Westerners has lured many woman into prostitution, for which  the go – go bars of became famous during the American War.

If Hanoi is a city of romance and mellow charms, then Ho Chi Minh City is its antithesis, a fury of sights and sounds, and the crucible in which Vietnam’s rallying fortunes are boiling. Few corners of the city afford respite from the cacophony of construction work casting up new office blocks and hotels with logic – defying speed. An increasing number of cars and minibuses jostle with an organic mass of state of the art SUVs, Hondas and cyclo, choking the tree-lined streets and boulevards. Amid this melee, the local people go about their daily life: smartly dressed school kids wander past street side baguette- sellers, women shoppers ride Hondas clad in gangster-style bandanas and shoulder- length floes to protect their skin from the sun and dust, while teenagers in designer jeans chirrup into mobile phones. Much of the fun of being in Ho Chi Minh City derives from the simple pleasure of absorbing its flurry of activity – something best done from the seat of o cyclo or a roadside café. To blink is to miss some new and singular sight, be it a motorbike stacked high with piglets bound for the market, or a boy on a bicycle rapping out a staccato tattoo on pieces of bamboo to advertise noodles for sale.

It’s one of Ho Chi Minh City’s many charms that once you’ve exhausted, or been exhausted by, all it has to offer, paddy fields, beaches and wide- open countryside are not far away. The most popular trip out of the city is to the Cu Chi tunnel, where villagers dug themselves out of the ranger of American shelling. The tunnels are often twinned with a tour around the fanciful Great Temple of the indigenous Cao Dai religion at Tay Ninh. A brief taster of the Mekong Delta at My Tho or a dip in the South China Sea at Ho Coc is also eminently possible in a long day’s excursion.

The best time to visit tropical Ho Chi Minh City is in the dry season, which runs from December through to April. During the wet season, May to November, there are frequent tropical storms, though these won’t disrupt your travels too much. Average temperatures, year-round, hover between 26 and 290­­­­­­­­­­­­­­C; March, April and May are the hottest months

What to Do ?
Hochiminh City has many attractions such as the Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Reunification Palace, the China Town, Cu Chi Tunnels, Museums, Theatres, cultural houses and shopping centers, etc... Recently, tourist areas including Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa also draw the interest of visitors. In addition, Hochiminh City is a good starting point for excursions to the Mekong Delta or beaches like Phuquoc Island, Muine Beach, Vung Tau and Long Hai.

When to go ?
Generally, the climate in Hochiminh City is hot and humid with an annual average temperature of 27ºC. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season ( May to November ) and the dry one ( December to April ). The hottest month is April and coolest is December. It is a smart ideal to visit Vietnam and Hochiminh City in winter for the best weather, avoiding the monsoon (May to October). But be prepared for humid conditions throughout the year, especially in the south. The best month is January. and if you have time let visit Hochiminh City  a week before Tet or Lunar New Year, the biggest festival for Vietnamese People. It is the best to see how Vietnamese people prepares and celebrates New Year.

Travel Tips
Vietnam has its fair share of pickpockets, especially in large cities like Hochiminh City and Hanoi. Thus, always keep an eye on your valuables or better to leave them at hotel before going out. Sometimes while traveling, a desperate beggar or street vendor suddenly grabs your arm, then follow you to ask for money or sell their stuffs.

Please do not offer money to them, instead donate to a local charity. For the traffic, when crossing the road, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly.

Hotels Restaurant Shopping Center Places to Visit
Add:68 A Nguyen Hue St
Tel : (84-8) 3829.2
1. Ancient Town Restaurant
211 Ter Dien Bien Phu St. Dist.1
Tel: (84-8) 3829-962
1. Ben Thanh Market
District 1 Hochiminh City
Vietnam Historical Museum
Hochiminh Museum
Big Church
Add: 231-233-235 Pham Ngu Lao
Tel: (84.8) 3838 5585
2. An Vien Restaurant
178A Hai Ba Trung St Dist.1
Tel: (84-8) 3824-377
2. Binh Tay Market
District 5 Hochiminh City
Sai Gon Post Office
Notre Dame Cathedral
War Remnant Museum
Add: 52B, 62-64 Pham Hong Thai
Tel: (84.8) 8282888
3. Hoi An Restaurant
11 Le Thanh Ton St. Dist.1
Tel: (84-8) 3823-7694
3. Saigon Square Shopping Center
District 1 HCM
Add:63 Nguyen Hue Blvd
Tel: (84.8) 3822 2999

4. Nam An Restaurant
22-36 Nguyen Hue St. Dist.1
Tel: (84-8) 3822-0246
4. Sai Gon Tax Trade Center
District 1 Ho Chi Minh
Add: 175-177-179 Le Thanh Ton
Tel: (84.8) 3823 9269
5. Quan An Ngon Restaurant
138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St.
Tel: (84-8) 3829-944
5. Zen Plaza
District 1 Ho Chi Minh
Add: 76 Le Lai Street,
Tel: (84.8) 38228888

6. Augustin Restaurant ( French food )
10 Nguyen Thiep St.
Tel: (84-8) 3829-294
6. Diamond Plaza
Add: 253 Nguyen Van Troi
Tel: (84.8) 38449222

7. Au Manoir de Khai ( French Food )
251 Dien Bien Phu St.
Tel: (84-8) 3930-3394
Add: N8-15 Ton Duc Thang
Tel: (84.8) 38220033
8. Hoa Mai Restaurant (Vegetarian food)
Rex Hotel 141 Nguyen Hue St
Tel: (84-8) 3829-2185


9. Zen Restaurant
185/30 Pham Ngu Lao St . Dist.1
Tel: (84-8) 3837-3713

 

 

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