Background Story of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is still known to many, is Vietnam's largest city with a growing population of around four million.
In 1859, the French conquered Saigon and encorporated it as the capital into the newly-formed French colony of Cochinchina, which later became French Indochina and subsequently South Vietnam. There, the French labeled Prey Nokor Saigon. The French architectural style is visible in many of the remaining nineteenth century buildings, for example the Museum of Fine Arts and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum.
During the Vietnam-American War, Saigon was the capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) until its unification with the North Vietnamese in 1975 which united the two halves. It was subsequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the pseudonym of the Vietnamese guerilla leader-Ho Chi Minh (real name Nguyen Tat Thanh).
Today, modern high-rise buildings have begun to dominate the skyline in recent years but there are still many fine examples of French colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Saigon Post Office and the former Hotel de Ville. A stroll down Dong Khoi Street, the Rue Catinat of Graham Greene s The Quiet American , will reveal more colonial classics like the Continental, Grand and Majestic hotels as well as dozens of tempting boutiques and galleries. Ho Chi Minh City is a real shopper’s paradise with modern shopping centres and trendy boutiques rubbing shoulders with traditional street markets. One of the most interesting places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City is the former Presidential Palace, now renamed the Reunification Hall. This building remains almost exactly as it was on the morning of 30th April 1975 when the Saigon regime surrendered to the victorious liberation forces and the country was reunified for the first time since 1945. For more war-related history the War Remnants Museum with its thought provoking display of weapons and photographs is also worth visiting. Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown, is the frenetic commercial centre, where every building has a shop or workshop on the ground floor. Ho Chi Minh City's nightlife has become very cosmopolitan in recent years and there are literally hundreds of bars, pubs, nightclubs and discotheques to pick from for a night on the town.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, with more than four million people, and hosts the largest number of businesses in Vietnam - over 300,000. It is climbing, slowly but surely, into the new millennium