Used to be dearly called Diamond of the Far East which was much more bustling than Hongkong or Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City (the formerly Saigon) became the economic center of Vietnam. It is a dynamic and industrious centre, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter. It is a study in contrasts between traditional and modern, young and old, rich and poor.
Ho Chi Minh City’s architecture and lifestyle is the reconciliation between American and Chinese influences with many dots of modernity yet without losing Vietnamese traits and as much historical as it is modern.
The central downtown area is in District 1. In recent years a lot of new hotels have been going up, creating a temporary glut, particularly in the high end of the market. The result is some pretty good deals on some really nice hotel rooms.
The streets, where much of the city's life takes place, is a myriad of street markets, shops, pavement cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendors selling wares spread out on sidewalks. The city churns ferments, bubbles and fumes. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. The Central Ho Chi Minh City is the place to be at night on weekends and holidays. The streets are jam-packed with young locals crossing the town on bicycles and motorbikes, out to see and be seen.
Ho Chi Minh City is a real shopper’s paradise with modern shopping centers and trendy boutiques rubbing shoulders with traditional street markets. The city’s best-known market is Ben Thanh Market where anything can be bought from fresh fruit and flowers to the latest imported electronics and cosmetics.
Most offices, stores and museums open early, usually around 7.30AM. Most close their doors for lunch for up to 2 hours. The city literally shuts down between noon and 13.00PM. Doors reopen by 13.30PM and stay open until around 16.30PM or 17.00PM. Most restaurants stop serving at 22.00PM.
The city is situated by the Saigon River in the center of Cuu Long Delta, it has a tropical climate specifically a tropical wet and dry climate with an average humidity of 75%. The climate is divided into two seasons. The rainy season begins in May and ends in late November. The dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C.