Ho Chi Minh City, as Saigon is officially known these days, is easily the most head-spinning city in Vietnam, so expect to feel somewhat shell-shocked upon arrival. Don’t worry – you will soon get over the sensory overload and discover a charming mosaic of cultures and attractions underneath the superficial hustle and bustle.
The French conquest of Saigon in 1859 is still evident through the broad boulevards and colonial architecture, but the city is now the throbbing heart of a rapidly developing country, with all the usual trappings of modern-day consumerism very much on display. Designer malls and fine restaurants vie for space with age-old temples and street food stalls, forming an uneasy but fascinating blend of old and new.
With motorbikes zigzagging endlessly across your path, soon enough you will find yourself looking to escape the maddening traffic. There’s no better way of doing this than to venture into Saigon’s “hem” – a tangled network of narrow alleys where the local lifestyle can be witnessed in its full glory. Don’t leave Saigon without getting lost in one of these!