Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of over 8 million people. It is also the country’s most visited city and, with so much to see and do, it’s easy to see why.
Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 24 districts, with the layout of the city dating back to Colonial times. Read on to explore the most appealing districts for visitors.
District 1: The Bustling Business District
District 1 is the pulsating heart of the city. The wealthiest of the districts, it is a fascinating blend of old and new where towering skyscrapers look down on historic palaces and religious sites. This is where you’ll find the city’s best-known buildings, including:
- Reunification Palace – This iconic building was the site where the Vietnam War came to a dramatic end.
- Central Post Office – It would be hard to find a more opulent post office than this classic example of French Colonial architecture.
- Notre Dame Cathedral – This impressive basilica was given cathedral status in the 60s. The Virgin Mary statue in the square outside was said to have cried in 2005.
- Ho Chi Minh City Hall – Although visitors are not permitted to enter the town hall, it undoubtedly has one of the most striking exteriors of any of the city’s buildings.
District 2: The Residential Bubble Across the River
District 2 is just across the Saigon River from District 1 and has become something of a bubble for the people who live there. It is undergoing massive redevelopment, with plenty of high profile construction projects.
It is intended that the Thu Thiem area will be as modern as Singapore or Hong Kong, with an exclusive enclave of gated communities and international schools. A thriving restaurant scene has developed in the district, offering both local and international cuisine. Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien and Ngo Quang Huy are some of the best streets to sample the local gastronomy.
Overall, D2 is an interesting place to check out to see what the future holds for the city and to enjoy the quality dining scene.
District 3: Colonial Splendour
This district’s appeal lies in the colonial houses that date back to the French rubber plantations of the 18th century. The leafy suburb is right next to the city center but offers a noticeably slower pace of life. As well as being a great place to eat, D3 also has some impressive buildings worth visiting:
- Ky Dong Church – This beautiful white brick church is a fine example of Vietnamese Catholic architecture.
- Archbishop’s Palace – Said to be the oldest building in Saigon, the palace is also one of its most beautiful.
- Jade Pagoda – This Taoist temple dates back to 1902. Visitors can see monks in traditional robes and a turtle pond.
Phu Nhuan: A Taste of Real City Life
This district of Phu Nhuan is very popular with some tourists looking to avoid the traditional tourist spots. Most of the most noteworthy buildings in Phu Nhueen are religious buildings such as Taoist pagodas and Buddhist temples. There is also the green mosque of Jamiul Muslimi.
Other attractions include the delightful Gia Dinh Park, one of the largest and lushest in the city, and the Van Hanh Zen Buddhist Temple with its golden Buddha statue.
District 5: Chinatown
District 5 is home to the city’s Chinese community, and the Chinatown alone places it amongst the best districts in Ho Chi Minh City. The noisy and colorful markets of Binh Tay and An Dong are great for bargain-hunters. The area is also great for Dim Sum. If you love shops and dumplings, then you’ll love D5.
No matter which of Ho Chi Minh City’s districts you choose to visit, you’re sure to have a great time in this fascinating and beautiful city.
Vietnam is a firm favorite for foreign tourists to Asia, receiving over 15 million visitors per year. Since 2017, nationals from over 80 countries have been able to process the online Visa for Vietnam, making it even easier to visit the country. The application form for the Vietnam eVisa is fast and simple and takes very little time to process.