Vanishing Saigon

Sights, stories and secrets from Vietnam’s most dynamic city

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Covering an area of 2,090 square kilometers and home to an estimated population of about 8 million, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s largest city. A true blend of old and new, the central business district is developing exponentially every year, while retaining the charisma of its wide tree-lined boulevards left over from the French colonial era. Eclectic, busy and charming, there is no place in the world quite like Ho Chi Minh City.

Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City was founded in the 18th century. The city flourished in the 1800’s due to its convenient and protected port. The old Saigon was a major passing point for goods going from China and India to Europe. As the city grew, it became known worldwide as the “Pearl of the Orient” and the “Paris of Asia.” However, the 1970’s were a period of change for Vietnam, and Saigon was no exception. After national reunification in 1975, the commerce and trade that had made Saigon a great city disappeared and the city struggled.

A turnaround occurred in the 1990’s with the Doi Moi (“renovation”) economic reforms, which opened Vietnam to the global economy. Foreign investment is bolstering the city’s economy, and seems unlikely to stop any time soon. Ho Chi Minh City is also a major tourist destination, full of museums, boutique souvenir shops, five-star hotels, world-class cuisine and palpable energy.