Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating metropolis with a rich and interesting history. Formerly known as Saigon, this Vietnamese destination is a rising destination in Southeast Asia that has plenty to explore. Home to 7.3 million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh City’s is a culturally significant destination with plenty of stories to tell through its history. As a tourist-friendly destination today, things to do in Ho Chi Minh city include enjoying good food and cheap shopping. Here are 3 reasons why you should visit Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
The History of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has a deeply rooted and somewhat complicated history. Until the 17th century, Saigon was part of Cambodia, and it wasn’t until the 18th century that French missionaries began spreading their influence in the region.
From Saigon to Ho Chi Minh
Saigon was captured by the French in 1892, and remained under French control until 1940, when it was occupied by the Japanese. Vietnam declared its independence in 1940, but rioting in Saigon promoted more fighting between Vietnamese and French troops.
The Vietnam War ripped through the country in the 1960s and ’70s, and American forces made their headquarters in Saigon throughout the conflict. Many parts of Saigon fell throughout the fighting, and in 1975, the city was captured by North Vietnam. It was at this point that Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City.
Museums in Ho Chi Minh
Today, Ho Chi Minh City still shows the remnants of its many battles, former glory and historic significance. History buffs will want to study Ho Chi Minh City’s past at museums such as the War Remnants Museum, the Museum of Vietnamese History and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum (formerly known as the Gia Long Palace).
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City is home to a number of markets that are sure to impress. If you’re seeking authentic, artisan-crafted goods, you’ve come to the right place – this city is full of them. You just have to know where to look.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is your first stop, and is a great place to find a wide selection of pieces. If you’re looking for produce, you’ll be delighted to discover fresh, Vietnam-grown fruits and vegetables – some of the most quintessential produce types grown near Ho Chi Minh City are taro, yucca, jicama, yam, tamarind, dragonfruit and pomelo.
But food isn’t all you’ll find at Ben Thanh Market. You can also browse the stands for spices, spirits, tobacco products, clothing, jewellery and more.
For an more niche shopping experience, you may want to check out Mekong Quilts. This non-profit organisation sells high-quality, hand-made quilts crafted by Vietnamese women in rural villages. The organisation pays their quilt-makers a living wage, which means you’ll be supporting local communities – and getting a beautiful, authentic, long-lasting souvenir – when you purchase a quilt.
Even if you’re not in the market to buy, you won’t want to miss the craftsmanship that’s apparent in these products.
If you like to shop, look for no better place in Ho Chi Minh City than the fabulous Diamond Plaza. Explore the first floor where you can purchase traditional handmade souvenirs from small boutique outlets and find unique local bargains. Head upstairs to the second floor and treat yourself to a stylish new outfit from one of the many designer stores. This floor also sells a great range of perfumes and jewelry.
Make your way up another flight to discover a vast array of the newest electronic gadgets.
Delicious Food in Ho Chi Minh
A trip to Ho Chi Minh City wouldn’t be complete without some great food. There are numerous gastronomic delights to be found here, whether you’re looking for upscale dining or laid-back food stands.
Bobby Chinn Saigon always tops foodies’ lists. Chef Bobby Chin is known world-wide for his dishes, which combine French, American, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian flavours and concepts. The restaurant has won numerous accolades, including the 5 Star Diamond Award and the Wine Spectator Award for excellence.
To discover the restaurant celebrity chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain called ‘one place visitors shouldn’t miss’, head to Com Nieu Sai Gon. This authentic eatery offers rice made in clay pots, which expands and shatters its casing to the delight of everyone watching. It’s not just novelty though. The food in this Ho Chi Minh restaurant is also absolutely delicious. Specialties include pan-fried noodles, seafood and com dap.