Recently named Ho Chi Minh City but most affectionately known as Saigon, the city is Vietnam’s engine for growth and its largest city. Known by the French as the Pearl of the Orient, the streets now surge with scooters and the glassy high-rise buildings tower over the super-charged streets. It’s modern, frenetic and completely intoxicating.
Underneath all the glitz, Saigon still retains some charm; you’ll easily find street vendors selling fragrant soups, peaceful pagodas and memorable historical buildings such as Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral. If you’re feeling brave, our preferred way of exploring the city is on the back of a Vespa with our specialist guide; this is a great way to explore the heady blend of side streets, food markets and street vendors that are often missed on classic city tours. Outside of the city is Ben Dinh, one of the major sites of the Cu Chi tunnels, a legendary network of underground tunnels dug by the Viet Cong during the war. This is a fascinating addition and means staying in Saigon really justifies at least a couple of days.