Let yourself be drawn into the bustle of the former Saigon
The very name of Saigon, as it was known until 1975, is enough to bring back the charms of the colonial past of this forward-looking cosmopolitan city.
Ho Chi Minh City wasted no time in launching itself into the 21st century. One of the most dynamic cities of the Far East has the wind in its sails. In recent years, the ultramodern skyscrapers on the banks of the Saigon River devoted to 5-star hotels, offices, and luxury apartments, always seem to want to climb higher into the sky. The price per square metre even exceeds that of Ginza, one of Tokyo's most famous neighbourhoods. But the chic new boutiques and trendy bars have not erased the elegance of the colonial architecture and the romantic charm of this unique city, which people still continue to call ‘Saigon', its former name, as a matter of principle.
Among the hordes of scooters and mopeds, the last pedicabs are trying to make their way at any cost. The old colonial city can still be discovered in the district of Cholon—the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City, to the west of District 1— or meandering between the Municipal Theatre, a replica of the Petit Palais in Paris, whose flamboyant style was inspired by the Opera Garnier, and the Central Post Office, with its metal frame designed by Gustave Eiffel, the famous French engineer.
Its tumultuous history, also marked by the Americans and the Soviets, has forged the character of this euphoric and inventive city, which is more than ever looking to the future. Without however ignoring its legacy, as the many paradoxes between ancient culture and fashion updates give Ho Chi Minh City its special charm.