Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Country Fact: South Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City is the heart and soul of Vietnam. It is a bustling, dynamic and industrious center, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter. 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. Sights include the Giac Lam Pagoda, Reunification Palace, the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, the beautiful Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh market and the harrowing War Remnants Museum.
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon was captured by the French in 1859, becoming the capital of the French colony of Cochin China a few years later. The city served as the capital of the Republic of Vietnam from 1956 until 1975, when it fell to advancing North Vietnamese forces. Until today, the city is still unofficially called 'Saigon'. But officially Saigon refers only to a small district. Southerners certainly prefer the name Saigon, but for official occasions, it is best to use HCMC
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