The unattractive industrial port of Phu Mŷ is located in the south of the socialist Republic of Vietnam. Large cruise ships whose passengers want to visit Ho Chi Minh City dock at the container terminals. Smaller cruise ships, on the other hand, travel up the winding Saigon River and dock in the city center at Nha Rong Wharf.
Phu Mŷ is devoid of any charm. A visit to Ho Chi Minh City, on the other hand, is attractive and a special experience. The metropolis on the Saigon River is not the capital of Vietnam; this is Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Until April 1976 it was called Saigon. After the defeat of South Vietnam and the end of the Vietnam War, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the rulers.
In the port of Phu My
Vietnam's largest city
Modern expressways connect the port of Phu Mŷ and the metropolis. The distance between the two cities is around 80 kilometers. The population of the metropolis is apparently not exactly determined. The information varies between seven and almost ten million, depending on the source. It is noticeable: With the exception of the center, Ho Chi Minh City has no contiguous urban area.
Out and about in the Saigon River Delta
The transfer to Ho Chi Minh City is very varied. First, wide river landscapes with agricultural areas are passed. When approaching the city, districts with modern skyscrapers and highly dense building methods catch the eye. In between there are again unspectacular zones with flat buildings. The core city was built on the right bank of the Saigon River. This is where urban life takes place.
Satellite city in front of Ho Chi Minh City
History in a nutshell
The colonial power France occupied Saigon in 1859. The city was subsequently developed according to a master plan. The surrounding swamps were drained and used as agricultural land. The export of rubber and rice made the colonists wealthy. After the end of the Vietnam War and the reunification of North and South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City developed into the metropolis of Vietnam.
Vietnam's universal center
The city is an outstanding commercial, economic and financial center, with branches of international corporations. It is also a transport hub and an important cultural center. Ho Chi Minh City has universities, colleges, museums and theaters.
Vincom Center in the city center
Today's cityscape of the former Saigon was shaped by the former colonial power France. Many buildings from that time still blend in well with the cityscape. The city has been booming since the economic opening of Vietnam in the 1980s. About 40 percent of Vietnam's exports come from the Ho Chi Minh City region. The symbol of the metropolis is the 265 meter high Bitexco Financial Tower. It is located in District 1, near the Saigon River.
Hotel Majestic on the Saigon River
A lively and young city
Above all, Ho Chi Minh City is a lively, young and international city. The friendly and helpful residents are very open to foreigners. However, we Europeans perceive the metropolis as unimaginable and constant traffic chaos. More than a million motorcycles and scooters fill the streets. Families of four or two people and two large dogs on a scooter are not uncommon. The status symbols include motor scooters from western production. Chinese scooters are less well regarded. No matter where the vehicles come from: For us pedestrians it is often an adventure and a great challenge to cross one of the six-lane main streets in the city center without traffic lights.
Scooters wherever you look
Ho Chi Minh City is one of those cities that you should definitely get to know. The city is very safe and the main sights can be explored in just a few hours, even with short stays. See our article for details: Ho Chi Minh City attractions.
Update March 2021