Commonly referred to as Saigon by the locals, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s largest city and undisputed commerce capital of the country. It is a dynamic city that is currently enjoying the reward of Vietnam’s economic boom – lavish hotels, decadent restaurants and trendy nightspots are continually added to the cityscape.

 Yet the boutique charm of HCMC still lives on amongst the quaint wooden shops, old temples and colonial architectures. The city is quickly making a name for itself in Vietnamese crafts shopping, an emerging art scene and a wide range of dining pleasures (with almost every cuisine style available).

Within the city, Ho Chi Minh City has many sights that should not be missed. A city tour of the Opera House, Le Loi Street, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and War Remnants Museum is an perfect way to be introduced to this former colonial city. Ben Thanh Market, a massive old-style market in the central of district 1, Saigon square are goods places to rummage for interesting souvenirs, and please feel free to bargain for your purchases. For more ‘posh’ buys, head to galleries, souvenir shop and fashion shops along Dong Khoi street. For a night out, there are plenty bars and restaurants that are crowded till midnight.

If you have a bit of time to spare, make a half day trip outside of Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of over 200 kilometers of tunnels was used by the Vietcong during the American war and offers a fascinating look into the lives of the inhabitants during the war-time era. This can easily be combined with a stop at Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh province, the Holy Land of the intriguing Cao Dai religion.

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