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Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City
Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
—   Centrally-governed city  —
Top: Ho Chi Minh City skyline; Ben Thanh Market
Bottom: City Hall; view from Reunification Palace
Nickname(s): Paris in the Orient, the Pearl of the Orient, the Pearl of the Far East
Location in Vietnam and Southern Vietnam
Coordinates: 10°46′10″N 106°40′55″E Coordinates: 10°46′10″N 106°40′55″E
Country  Vietnam
Founded 1698
Renamed 1976
 • Party Secretary Lê Thanh Hải
 • People's Committee Chairman: Lê Hoàng Quân
 • People's Council Chairwoman: Phạm Phương Thảo
 • Total 809.23 sq mi (2,095 km2)
Elevation 63 ft (19 m)
Population (Census April 1, 2009)
 • Total 7,162,864 ( 1st in Vietnam)
 • Density 8,851/sq mi (3,419/km2)
Area code(s) +84 (8)

Ho Chi Minh City ( Vietnamese: Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh pronunciation), also known as Saigon ( Vietnamese: Sài Gòn pronunciation) is the largest city in Vietnam. It was once known as Prey Nokor, an important Khmer sea port prior to annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century.

Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent state of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. In 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Định Province and was officially renamed Hồ Chí Minh City (although the name Sài Gòn—formally known as District 1—is still commonly used.)

The city centre is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, from the South China Sea and south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

The metropolitan area, which consists of the Hồ Chí Minh City metropolitan area, Thủ Dầu Một, Dĩ An, Biên Hòa and surrounding towns, is populated by more than 9 million people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam and the countries of the former French Indochina. The Greater Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most parts of Đông Nam Bộ plus Tiền Giang and Long An provinces under planning will have an area of 30,000 square kilometers with a population of 20 million inhabitants by 2020. According to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Economist Intelligence Unit and ECA International, Ho Chi Minh City is ranked 69th on the list of world's most expensive cities and the 3rd most expensive city of South-East Asia (after Singapore and Hanoi).


Traditional Vietnamese Name

After Prey Nokor was settled by Vietnamese refugees from the north, in time it came to be known unofficially as Sài Gòn. There is much debate about the origins of the Vietnamese name, Sài Gòn, the etymology of which is analyzed below.

However, before the French colonization the official Vietnamese name of Saigon was Gia Định ( Chữ Nôm: 定). In 1862, the French discarded this official name and adopted the name "Saigon", which had always been the popular name, although it was still written as 定 on sinitic maps until at least 1891.

The Vietnamese name, Sài Gòn, is sometimes written in two words, which is the traditional convention in Vietnamese spelling. However, the name is sometimes written as “SaiGon” or “Saigon” in order to save space or give it a more Westernized look.

Sino-Vietnamese etymology

A frequently heard, and reasonable, explanation is that Sài is a Chinese loanword (Chinese: 柴, pronounced chái in Mandarin) meaning “firewood, lops, twigs; palisade”, while Gòn is another Chinese loanword (Chinese: 棍, pronounced gùn in Mandarin) meaning “stick, pole, bole”, and whose meaning evolved into “cotton” in Vietnamese (bông gòn, literally “cotton stick”, i.e., “cotton plant”, then shortened to gòn).

Some people say that this name originated from the many cotton plants that the Khmer people had planted around Prey Nokor, and which can still be seen at Cây Mai temple and surrounding areas.

Another explanation is that the etymological meaning “twigs” (sài) and “boles” (gòn) refers to the dense and tall forest that once existed around the city, a forest to which the Khmer name, Prey Nokor, already referred.

In Chinese, the city is referred to as 西 貢, pronounced “sai gung” in Cantonese, "sai goong" in Teochew and xīgòng in Mandarin. This represents “Saigon” written phonetically.

Cantonese etymology

Another reasonable etymology was offered by Vương Hồng Sển, a Vietnamese scholar in the early 20th century, who asserted that Sài Gòn had its origin in the Cantonese name of Cholon (Vietnamese: quoc ngu Chợ Lớn; chu nom Cholon.png) , the Chinese district of Saigon. The Cantonese (and original) name of Cholon is "Tai-Ngon" ( 岸), which means "embankment" (French: quais). The theory posits that "Sài Gòn" derives from "Tai-Ngon".

Khmer etymology

Sài Gòn Railway Station retains the traditional name used informally since the 1620s.

Another etymology often proposed, although held now as a least-likely etymology, is that “Saigon” comes from “Sai Côn”, which would be the transliteration of the Khmer word, Prey Nokor ( Khmer: prey means 'forest' or ' jungle'; nokor, from Sanskrit nagara, means city or kingdom), meaning “Forest Kingdom”.

This Khmer etymology theory is quite interesting, given the Khmer context that existed when the first Vietnamese settlers arrived in the region. However, it fails to completely explain how Khmer “prey” led to Vietnamese "sài", since these two syllables appear phonetically quite distinct and as the least reasonable and least likely candidate from the Khmer etymology.

Current Vietnamese name

Immediately after the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975, a provisional government renamed the city after Hồ Chí Minh, the pre-eminent but by-then deceased North Vietnamese leader. The official name is now Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, abbreviated Tp. HCM. In English, this is translated as Hồ Chí Minh City, abbreviated HCMC, and in French it is translated as Hô Chi Minh Ville (the circumflex is sometimes omitted), abbreviated HCMV. Sài Gòn is still the most common way to refer to the city in conversation inside Vietnam, and especially within Vietnamese communities outside Vietnam. Today, Sài Gòn is still used to refer to the central district, District 1. Sài Gòn Railway Station in District 3, the main railway station serving the city, also retains the name. The name is found in company names, book titles and even on airport departure boards — the IATA code for Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport is SGN.


Location of the hexagonal Gia Dinh Citadel (r) and Cholon area (tilted square, left) in 1815. Today this forms the area of Ho Chi Minh City

Early history

Hồ Chí Minh City began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese. It should be noted that in Khmer folklore southern Vietnam was given to the Vietnamese government as a dowry for the marriage of a Vietnamese princess to a Khmer prince in order to stop constant invasions and pillaging of Khmer villages.

Khmer territory

Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmer of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta.

In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618–1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh–Nguyễn civil war in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor and to set up a custom house there. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom could not impede because it was weakened by war with Thailand, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon.

Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers. The city’s name was changed by Vietnam to Sài Gòn and then Hồ Chí Minh City. The loss of the city prevented the Cambodians access to the South China Sea. Subsequently, the Khmers' access to the sea was now limited to the Gulf of Thailand.

Nguyễn Dynasty rule

A drawing with the French capture of Saigon in 1859

In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyễn rulers of Huế by sea to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. He is often credited with the expansion of Saigon into a significant settlement. A large Vauban citadel called Gia Định was built, which was later destroyed by the French following the Battle of Ky Hoa (see Citadel of Saigon).

Colonial French era

Busy Saigon Street in 1966

Conquered by France in 1859, the city was influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam, and a number of classical Western-style buildings in the city reflect this, so much so that Saigon was called "the Pearl of the Far East" (Hòn ngọc Viễn Đông) or "Paris in the Orient" (Paris Phương Đông). Saigon had, in 1929, a population of 123,890, including 12,100 French.

Capital of South Vietnam

Former Emperor Bảo Đại made Saigon the capital of the State of Vietnam in 1949 with himself as head of state. After the Việt Minh gained control of North Vietnam in 1954, it became common to refer to the Saigon government as “South Vietnam”. The government was renamed the Republic of Vietnam when Bảo Đại was deposed by his Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem in a fraudulent referendum in 1955. Saigon and Cholon, an adjacent city with many Sino-Vietnamese residents, were combined into an administrative unit called Đô Thành Sài Gòn ("Capital City Saigon").

Post-Vietnam War and today

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, on April 30, 1975, the city came under the control of the Vietnamese People's Army. Among Vietnamese diaspora communities and particularly the U.S. (which had fought the communists), this event is commonly called the “ Fall of Saigon,” while the communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam calls it the “Liberation of Saigon.”

In 1976, upon the establishment of the unified communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the city of Saigon (including Cholon), the province of Gia Ðịnh and two suburban districts of two other nearby provinces were combined to create Hồ Chí Minh City in honour of the late communist leader Hồ Chí Minh. The former name Saigon is still widely used by many Vietnamese, especially in informal contexts. Generally, the term Saigon refers only to the urban districts of Hồ Chí Minh City.


Children in a rainstorm, District 11.
Binh Quoi in the Binh Thanh District

Ho Chi Minh City is located at 10°45'N, 106°40'E in the southeastern region of Vietnam, 1,760 km (1,090 mi) south of Hanoi. The average elevation is 19 metres (62 feet) above sea level. It borders Tay Ninh and Binh Duong provinces to the north, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces to the east, Long An Province to the west and the South China Sea to the south with a coast 15 km long. The city covers an area of 2,095 km2 (809 sq mi) (0.63% of the surface of Vietnam), extending up to Cu Chi (12 mi (19 km) from the Cambodian border) and down to Can Gio on the Vietnam East Sea coast. The distance from the northernmost point (Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District) to the southernmost one (Long Hoa Commune, Can Gio District) is , and from the easternmost point (Long Binh Ward, District Nine) to the westernmost one (Binh Chanh Commune, Binh Chanh District) is .


The city has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate, with an average humidity of 75%. The year is divided into two distinct seasons. The rainy season, with an average rainfall of about 1,800 millimetres (71 in) annually (about 150 rainy days per year), usually begins in May and ends in late November. The dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F), the highest temperature sometimes reaches 39 °C (102 °F) around noon in late April, while the lowest may fall below 16 °C (61 °F) in the early mornings of late December.

Climate data for Ho Chi Minh City
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.6
Average low °C (°F) 21.1
Rainfall mm (inches) 13.8
Avg. rainy days 2.4 1 1.9 5.4 17.8 19 22.9 22.4 23.1 20.9 12.1 6.7 155.6
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)

Political and administrative system

Ho Chi Minh City Hall at night

Saigon is a municipality at the same level as Vietnam's provinces. The city has been divided into twenty-four administrative divisions since December 2003. Five of these {Area: 1,601 km2} are designated as rural (huyện). The rural districts are Nhà Bè, Cần Giờ, Hóc Môn, Củ Chi, and Bình Chánh. A rural district consists of communes () and townships (Thị trấn). The remaining districts {Area: 494 km2} are designated urban or suburban (quận). This includes districts one to twelve, as well as Tân Bình, Bình Thạnh, Phú Nhuận, Thủ Đức, Bình Tân, Tân Phú and Gò Vấp. Each district is sub-divided into wards ("Phường"). Since December 2006, the city has had 259 wards, 58 communes and 5 townships (see List of HCMC administrative units below).

People's Committee

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee is a 13-member executive council for the city. The current chairman is Le Hoang Quan. There are several vice chairmen and chairwomen on the committee with responsibility for various city departments. The legislative branch of the city government is called the People's Council and consists of 95 deputies. Both the committee and the council are subordinate to the city's Communist Party, currently led by Party Secretary Lê Thanh Hải. The chairman of the People's Committee is the No. 2 position in the city government while chairman of the People's Council is No. 3.

List of HCMC Administrative Units
Name of district
(Dec. 2003)
Sub-division units
(Dec. 2003)
Area (km2)
(Dec. 2006)
Population as of Census
October 1, 2004
Population as of Census
April 1, 2009
Population 2010 Population 2011
Inner Districts:
District 1 10 wards 7.73 198,032 180,225 187,435 185,715
District 2 11 wards 49.74 125,136 147,490 140,621 136,497
District 3 14 wards 4.92 201,122 190,553 188,945 188,898
District 4 15 wards 4.18 180,548 180,980 183,261 183,043
District 5 15 wards 4.27 170,367 171,452 174,154 175,217
District 6 14 wards 7.19 241,379 249,329 253,474 251,902
District 7 10 wards 35.69 159,490 244,276 274,828 265,997
District 8 16 wards 19.18 360,722 408,772 418,961 421,547
District 9 13 wards 114 202,948 256,257 263,486 269,068
District 10 15 wards 5.72 235,231 230,345 232,450 234,188
District 11 16 wards 5.14 224,785 226,854 232,536 234,293
District 12 11 wards 52.78 290.129 405,360 427,083 451,737
Go Vap District 16 wards 19.74 452,083 522,690 548,145 561,068
Tan Binh District 15 wards 22.38 397,569 421,724 430,436 430,350
Tan Phu District 11 wards 16.06 366,399 398,102 407,924 419,227
Binh Thanh District 20 wards 20.76 423,896 457,362 470,054 479,733
Phu Nhuan District 15 wards 4.88 175,293 174,535 175,175 175,631
Thu Duc District 12 wards 47.76 336,571 442,177 455,899 474,547
Binh Tan District 10 wards 51.89 398,712 572,132 595,335 611,170
Total Inner Districts 259 wards 494.01 5,140,412 5,880,615 6,060,202 6,149,817
Suburban Districts:
Cu Chi District 20 communes, 1 township 434.5 288,279 343,155 355,822 362,454
Hoc Mon District 11 communes, 1 township 109.18 245,381 349,065 358,640 363,171
Binh Chanh District 15 communes, 1 township 252.69 304,168 420,109 447,291 465,248
Nha Be District 6 communes, 1 township 100.41 72,740 101,074 103,793 109,949
Can Gio District 6 communes, 1 township 704.22 66,272 68,846 70,697 70,499
Total Suburban Districts 58 communes, 5 townships 1,601 976,839 1,282,249 1,336,244 1,371,321
Whole City 259 wards, 58 communes, 5 townships 2,095.01 6,117,251 7,162,864 7,396,446 7,521,138


Tuệ Thành meeting house in China town in District 5

The population of Ho Chi Minh City, as of the October 1, 2004 Census, was 6,117,251 (of which 19 inner districts had 5,140,412 residents and 5 suburban districts had 976,839 inhabitants). In the middle of 2007 the city's population was 6,650,942 — with the 19 inner districts home to 5,564,975 residents and the 5 suburban districts containing 1,085,967 inhabitants. The result of the 2009 Census shows that the city's population was 7,162,864 people, about 8.34% of the total population of Vietnam, making it the highest population-concentrated city in the country. As an administrative unit, its population is also the largest at the provincial level. As the largest economic and financial hub of Vietnam, HCMC has attracted more and more immigrants from other Vietnamese provinces in recent years; consequently its population has been and still is growing rapidly. Since 1999 the city's population has increased by over 212,000 people per year.

The majority of the population are ethnic Vietnamese ( Kinh) at about 93.52%. Ho Chi Minh City's largest minority ethnic group are the Chinese ( Hoa) with 5.78%. Cholon — in District 5 and parts of Districts 6, 10 and 11 — is home to the largest Chinese community in Vietnam. Other ethnic minorities, including Khmer 0.34%, Cham 0.1%.

The inhabitants of Ho Chi Minh City are usually known as "Saigonese" in English, "Saigonnais" in French and "dân Sài Gòn" in Vietnamese.

The Kinh speak Vietnamese with their respective regional accents: southern (about 50%), northern (30%) and central Vietnam (20%). The Hoa, in addition, speak Cantonese, Teochew (Chaozhou), Hokkien, Hainanese and Hakka dialects of Chinese, with only a few speaking Mandarin Chinese. A varying degree of English is spoken especially in the tourism and commerce sectors where dealing with foreign nationals is a necessity, so English has become a de facto second language for some Saigonese.

According to some researchers the religious makeup of HCMC is as follows: Buddhism (all sects and/or including Taoism, Confucianism) 80%, Roman Catholic 11%, Protestant 2%, others ( Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Islam, Hinduism, Bahá'í Faith) 2%, and no religion or unknown 5%.


Diamond Plaza

Ho Chi Minh City is the most important economic centre in Vietnam as it accounts for a high proportion of Vietnam's economy. Ho Chi Minh City plays an important driving role in the economy of Vietnam. Although the city accounts for just 0.6% of the country's land area, nevertheless it contained 7.5% of the population of Vietnam, 20.2% it of GDP, 27.9% of industrial output and 34.9% of the FDI projects in the country in 2005. In 2005, the city had 4,344,000 laborers, of whom 130,000 are over the labor age norm (in Vietnam, 60 for male and 55 for female workers). In 2009, GDP per capita reached 2,800 USD, compared to the country’s average level of $1042 USD in 2009.

The economy of Ho Chi Minh City covers several different fields from mining, seafood processing, agriculture and construction to tourism, finance, industry and trading. The state-owned sector makes up 33.3% of the economy, the private sector 4.6% and the other remaining percentage lays in foreign investment. As far as its economic structure is concerned, the service sector accounts for 51.1%, industry and construction account for 47.7% and forestry, agriculture and others make up just 1.2%.

As of June 2006, the city is home to three export processing zones and twelve industrial parks. Ho Chi Minh City is the leading receiver of foreign direct investment in Vietnam, with 2,530 FDI projects worth 16.6 $ billion at the end of 2007. In 2007, the city received over 400 FDI projects worth $US 3 billion. In 2008, it attracted $US 8.5 billion in FDI.

The consumption demand of Ho Chi Minh City is much higher than other provinces and municipalities of Vietnam and 1.5 times higher than that of Hanoi.

Some 300,000 businesses, including many large enterprises, are involved in high-tech, electronic, processing and light industries, and also in construction, building materials and agro-products. As well, crude oil is a popular economic base in Ho Chi Minh City. Investors are still pouring money into the city. Total local private investment was 160,000 billion dong ($10 billion) with 18,500 newly founded companies. Investment trends to high technology, services and real estate projects. Currently, the city has 15 industrial parks and export-processing zones, in addition to the Quang Trung Software Park and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park. Intel has invested about 1 billion dollars in a factory in the city. Over 50 banks with hundreds of branches and about 20 insurance companies are also located inside the city. The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, the first stock exchange in Vietnam, was opened in 2001. There are 171 medium and large-scale markets as well as several supermarket chains, shopping malls, and fashion and beauty centers. Additional malls and shopping plazas are being developed within the city, which thus far include:

  • Saigon Paragon – opened 2009
  • Big C – opened 2002
  • Diamond Plaza – opened 1999
  • Kumho Asiana Plaza – opened 2010
  • Saigon Centre – opened 1997
  • Tax Plaza – opened 1998
  • Vincom Centre – opened 2010
  • Parkson's – opened 2005
Saigon Port with many cargo ships

Quang Trung Software Park is a software park situated in District 12. The park is approximately 15 km from downtown Ho Chi Minh City and hosts software enterprises as well as companies. The park also includes a software training school. investors here are supplied with other facilities and services such as residences and high-speed access to the internet as well as favorable taxation. Together with the Ho Chi Minh City Hi-tech Park in District 9 and the 32 ha. software park inside Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7 of the city, Ho Chi Minh City has ambitions to become an important hi-tech city in the country and the South-East Asian region. This park helps the city in particular and Vietnam in general to become an outsourcing location for other enterprises in developed countries, as India has done

In 2007, the city's GDP was estimated at $14.3 billion, or about $2,180 per capita, up 12.6 percent from 2006 and accounting for 20& of the country\s GDP. The GDP adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) reached $71.5 billion, or about $10,870 per capita (approximately three times higher than the country's average). The city's Industrial Product Value was $6.4 billion, equivalent to 30 percent of the whole nation. Export – Import Turnover through HCMC ports accounted for $36 billion, or 40 percent of the national total, of which export revenue reached $18.3 billion (40 percent of Vietnam’s total export revenues). In 2007, Ho Chi Minh City's contribution to the annual revenues in the national budget increased by 30 percent, accounting for about 20.5 percent of total revenues.

In 2007, three million foreign tourists, about 70 percent of the total number of tourists to Vietnam, visited the city. Total cargo transport to Ho Chi Minh City’s ports reached 50.5 million metric tonnes, nearly one-third of the total for Vietnam.

New urban areas

With a population now of 7,162,864 (as of Census 2009 on April 1, 2009) (registered residents plus migrant workers as well as a metropolitan population of 10 million), Ho Chi Minh City is in need of vast increases in public infrastructure. To meet this need, the city and central governments have embarked on an effort to develop new urban centers. The two most prominent projects are the Thu Thiem city centre in District 2 and the Phu My Hung Urban Area, a new city centre in District 7 (as part of the Saigon South project) where various international schools such as Saigon South International School, a Japanese school, Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Taiwanese and Korean schools are located. In December 2007, Phu My Hung New City Centre completed the 17.8 km 10–14 lane wide Nguyen Van Linh Roadway linking the Saigon port areas, Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone to the National Highway 1 and the Mekong delta area. In November 2008, a brand new trade center, Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center, also opened its door. Other projects include Grandview, Waterfront, Sky Garden, Riverside and Phu Gia 99. Phu My Hung New City Centre received the first Model New City Award from the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction.


A cyclo in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City is served by Tan Son Nhat International Airport, located in Tan Binh District. Tan Son Nhat Airport is currently the largest airport in Vietnam in terms of passengers handled (with an estimated number of over 12.5 million passengers per year in 2008, accounting for more than half of Vietnam's air passenger traffic); it will soon be superseded by Long Thanh International Airport, scheduled to begin operation in 2025. Based in Long Thanh, Dong Nai Province, about 40 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Long Thanh Airport will serve international flights, with a maximum traffic capacity of 100 million passengers per year when fully completed; Tan Son Nhat Airport will serve domestic flights.

Ho Chi Minh City is also a terminal for many Vietnam Railways train routes in the country. The Reunification Express (tàu Thống Nhất) runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi from Saigon Railway Station in District 3, with stops at cities and provinces along the line.

The city's location on the Saigon River makes it a bustling commercial and passenger port; besides a constant stream of cargo ships, passenger boats operate regularly between Ho Chi Minh City and various destinations in Southern Vietnam and Cambodia, including Vung Tau, Can Tho and the Mekong Delta, and Phnom Penh. Traffic between Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam's southern provinces has steadily increased over the years; the Doi and Te Canals, the main routes to the Mekong Delta, receive 100,000 waterway vehicles every year, representing around 13 million tons of cargo. A project to dredge these routes has been approved to facilitate transport, to be implemented in 2011–2014.

The main means of transport within the city are motorbikes, buses, taxis, and bicycles. Motorbikes remain the most common way to move around the city. Taxis are plentiful and usually have trip meters, although it is also common to agree on the trip price before taking a long trip, for example, from the airport to the city centre. Public buses run on many routes and fare can be purchased on the bus. For short trips, "xe ôm" (literally, "hug vehicle") motorcycle taxis are available where the passenger sits at the rear of a motorbike. A popular activity for tourists is a tour of the city on cyclos, which allow for longer trips at a more relaxed pace.

The Ho Chi Minh City Metro, a light rail rapid transit network, is currently in the preparation stages, with the first line currently under construction, to be completed by 2014. This first line will connect Ben Thanh Market to Suoi Tien Park in District 9, with a depot in Long Binh. Planners expect the route to serve more than 160,000 passengers daily. A line between Ben Thanh and Tham Luong in District 12 has been approved by the government, and several more lines are currently the subject of feasibility studies.


Public Health

Franco-Vietnam Hospital in District 7
Tam Duc-Hospital in District 7

The health care system of the city is relatively developed with a chain of about 100 government owned hospitals or medical centers and dozens of privately owned clinics. The 1,400 bed Chợ Rẫy Hospital, upgraded by Japanese aid and the French-sponsored Institute of Cardiology, are among the top medical facilities in Indochina. The Hoa Hao Medical Diagnosis Centre (Medic) and FV Hospital have recently attracted many clients, including foreigners, because of their good quality of service and modern equipment. Patients come from cities in nearby provinces and Cambodia as well. The Franco-Vietnam Hospital (FVH) is certified to French health standards.


The city's media are the most developed in the country. At present, there are seven daily newspapers: Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) and its Chinese, investment and finance, sports, evening and weekly editions; Tuoi Tre (Youth), the highest circulation newspaper in Vietnam; Thanh Nien (Young Men), the second largest circulation in the south of Vietnam; Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer); The Thao (Sports); Phap Luat (Law) and the Saigon Times Daily, the business newspaper in English, and over 30 other newspapers and magazines. The city has hundreds of printing and publishing houses, many bookstores and a widespread network of public and school libraries; the city's General Library houses over 1.5 mìllion books.

Locally-based Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) is the second largest television network in the nation, just behind the national Vietnam Television (VTV), broadcasting 24/7 on 7 different channels (using analog and digital technology). Many major international TV channels are provided through two cable networks (SCTV and HTVC), with over one million subscribers. The Voice of Ho Chi Minh City is the largest radio station in Southern Vietnam.

Internet coverage, especially through ADSL connections, is rapidly expanding, with over 2,200,000 subscribers and around 5.5 million frequent users. Internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Ho Chi Minh City include the Vietnam Data Communication Company (VDC), Corporation for Finance and Promoting Technology (FPT), Netnam Company, Saigon Post and Telecommunications Services Corporation (Saigon Postel Corporation, SPT) and Viettel Company. As in all of Vietnam, Internet access is regulated; websites containing sensitive political or religious content are routinely blocked, and certain websites such as Facebook have been blocked, though government officials deny that this is intentional.

The city has over 2 million fixed telephones and about 15 million cellular phones (the latter growing annually by 20%). Mobile phone service is provided by a number of companies, including Viettel Mobile, MobiFone, VinaPhone, and S-Fone.


There are many famous high schools in Ho Chi Minh City such as High School for the Gifted (Pho Thong Nang Khieu), Le Hong Phong High School, Tran Dai Nghia High School, Nguyen Thuong Hien High School, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School,etc.

Higher education in Ho Chi Minh City is quite developed, concentrating over 80 universities and colleges with a total of over 400,000 students in such places as: Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City with 50,000 students, the most important university in the Southern Region, consisting of 6 main member schools: The University of Sciences (formerly Saigon College of Sciences); The University of Social Sciences and Humanities (formerly Saigon College of Letters); The University of Technology (formerly Phu Tho National Institute of Technology); The International University, Faculty of Economics and Law and the newly-established University of Information Technology. Some other important higher education establishments include: HCMC University of Pedagogy, University of Economics, University of Architecture, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Nong Lam University (formerly University of Agriculture and Forestry), University of Law, University of Technical Education, University of Banking, University of Industry, Open University, University of Sports and Physical Education, University of Fine Art, University of Culture the Conservatory of Music, the Saigon Institute of Technology, Van Lang University, Open University, and Hoa Sen University

The RMIT University with about 2,000 students, the unique foreign-invested higher-education unit in Vietnam at the present, was founded in 2002 by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) of Australia.

Several reputable English language schools following international curricula are located in Ho Chi Minh City as well.


Cu Chi Tunnels
Reunification Palace in District 1.

Today, the city's core is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. The most prominent structures in the city centre are Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất), City Hall (Ủy ban nhân dân Thành phố), the Municipal Theatre (Nhà hát thành phố, also known as the Opera House), City Post Office (Bưu điện thành phố), State Bank Office (Ngân hàng nhà nước), City People's Court (Tòa án nhân dân thành phố) and Notre-Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà). Some of the historic hotels are the Hotel Majestic, dating from the French colonial era, and the Rex Hotel, Caravelle hotel some former hangouts for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s and 1970s.

The city has various museums, such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of Southeastern Armed Forces, the War Remnants Museum, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Fine Art, the Nha Rong Memorial House, and the Ben Duoc Relic of Underground Tunnels. The Củ Chi tunnels are northwest of the city in Củ Chi district. The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, in District 1, dates from 1865.

Besides the Municipal Theatre, there are other places of entertainment such as: the Bến Thành and Hòa Bình Theaters and the Lan Anh Music Stage. The Đầm Sen Tourist and Cultural Park, Suoi Tien Amusement and Culture Park, and the Can Gio Eco beach resort are three recreational sites inside the city which are popular with tourists. Ho Chi Minh City is home to hundreds of cinemas and theatres, with cinema and dramatic ticketing revenue accounting for 60–70% of Vietnam’s total revenue in this industry. Unlike other dramatic teams in Vietnam’s provinces and municipalities, those in Ho Chi Minh City live on their own income and keep their theaters active everyday, and are not subsidized by the Vietnamese government. The city is home to most of the private movie companies in Vietnam. Like many of Vietnam's smaller cities, the city boasts a multitude of restaurants serving typical Vietnamese dishes such as phở or rice vermicelli. Backpacking travelers most often frequent the "Western Quarter" on Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1.

Exercise and sports

Thong Nhat Stadium

According to statistics in 1994, all of Ho Chi Minh City has 492.7 hectares for sports activities, on average 1.02 m² per person, including the inner city is 0.26 m² per person. With the increasing population, the actual number is now lower. In 2005, the city has 91 football fields, 86 swimming pools, 256 gyms. The largest stadium in the city today is the Thống Nhất stadium, with 25 thousand seats. The second largest one is Quân khu 7, located in the Tan Binh district. Not just for sport, it is also the site of the many music programs scale. An important sporting venues of the city, Phu Tho Racing School. Emerged from the colonial period. Where now is the only racecourse in Vietnam. Department of Physical Education – Sports City also manages a number of clubs as Phan Dinh Phung, Thanh Da, Yet Kieu.

Ho Chi Minh City also has the richest sports club achievements. Ho Chi Minh City F.C., is home to the Thống Nhất stadium, once every 4 to V League championships. City police team also had a championship in 1995. The other sports may be mentioned the Bưu điện Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh Club in Ho Chi Minh City volleyball, basketball clubs, chess, athletics, table tennis ... of the city.

Ho Chi Minh City hosts a number of international sports events throughout the year, such as the AFF Futsal Championship and the Vietnam Vertical Run

Sister cities

There are 21 sister cities of Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Laos Vientiane, Laos
  • China Shenyang, China
  • Canada Toronto, Canada
  • United States San Francisco, United States
  • China Shanghai, China
  • Japan Yokohama, Japan
  • United States New York City, United States
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