A new face in the East, Ho Chi Minh!

This one was a surprise, never expected to visit this city nor this country but business always prevail. After so many trips to Vietnam ,north and south, it has been a pleasant experience full of friendly people and good times.

I have written before on Ho Chi Minh alone and these are my previous blog posts on it.

A different trip to Asia

Vietnam repeat visit

Back to wonderful Vietnam

Then, let me give you this time something on the history of this old and new city of the East.

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly called Saigon, which was the official name until 1975, or formerly Prey Nokor when it belonged to the Khmer Empire. Ho Chi Minh City, whose status corresponds to that of a Vietnamese province, is divided in 19 boroughs and 5 districts,and  it is located on the banks of the Saigon River. Located near the Mekong Delta, this city is the southern metropolis of the country. It was originally a Khmer fishing village and in the 17C became a Vietnamese (and Chinese) Settlement City under the impetus of the imperial Court of Nguyên in Hue. During the French colonization, it was first the capital of the colony of Cochinchina, then that of French Indochina from 1887 to 1901. After the partition of the country at the end of the Indochina War, Saigon became the capital of the Republic of Việt Nam (from 1954). Its capture by the Communists on April 30, 1975 (Fall of Saigon) after the Americans left them, marked the end of the conflict, and the winners rename the city in favor of their historical leader, Hồ Chí Minh, who died more than five years earlier.

The name Saigon refers to the district of Cholon (Big Market), while the mandarins use various appellations, Dong Nai, Phan Yen, Gia Dinh and, by local traders, Ben Nghe and Ben Thanh. The French, for their part, perpetuate the name Sài Gòn,  it is the French pronunciation, until the 1920’s. From 1931 to 1956, this name will be officially associated with that of Cholon, the city bordering on a strong Chinese community, with which it will be merged, Saigon-Cholon, before resuming the name of Saigon alone.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport, located inside the city, and the one I have used in and out and several others in trips to other cities in Vietnam.  There is a new airport which should be completed at least in 2020 as Long Thành International Airport, which will then receive international flights, Tan Son Nhat retaining the service of the national lines. Ho Chi Minh City has two major bus stations: Ben XE Mien Tay which connects it to the south of Vietnam, and Ben Xe Mien Dong which connects it to the north there are many taxi companies in this city, more or less reliable in terms of prices; very cheap but stick to a price. I have been given rides by locals there so other than a couple times on taxis all has been by locals in addition to flying out with them.

 

More on the history trail I like. During the Lê Kings dynasty the period from 1428 to 1789 in Vietnam, the spice Route attracted the first European missionaries and traders around the 16C. The country was divided and competed by two seigneurial forces, the Trinh in the north of the country and the Nguyen in the south. The Westerners called the lower Cochinchina the part governed by the Nguyen, of which Saigon became the capital the first Vietnamese presence in the city of Ho Chi Minh date in the early 17C when Lord Nguyen established a tax station in 1623 and an officer of the Lords Nguyen establishes a military post at Tan My, in the current region of Saigon in 1679.

Before becoming Vietnamese, Saigon was the most important port in Cambodia, under the name of Prey Kor. Occupied by Vietnamese from the 17C, the site was then called Saigon, then surrounded by walls in the 18C, before being conquered by the French in 1859. Saigon will then be known for years as the Paris of the Far East , however, Ho Chi Minh City has lost most of its colonial heritage outside of the monuments and completely lost its character.

Ho Chi Ming

Someof the things to see there in my opinion of course are the Notre-Dame Cathedral, in red brick imported from Toulouse, on the model of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris but of inferior dimensions. It was built by the French from 1877 to 1880. It is located in the Paris square , formerly Place Pigneau de Behaine.  On the side the large central train station whose metal frame was designed by Gustave Eiffel are two colonial maps preserved at the entrance. The Hotel Continental, built in 1880, the writer André Malraux (later prime minister of culture of France)  and his wife lived there between 1924 and 1925.The Hotel Majestic, built in 1925 in the colonial French style.  The opera or  Municipal Theater  built on the model of the Petit Palais of Paris, in 1900. Ä very nice City/ town hall of Ho Chi Minh City built between 1902-1908.  The Palace of Reunification (former presidential palace built at the site of the Palace of Norodom). The Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Pagoda of Giac Làm, the Vinh Nghîem Pagoda. The Hindu temple of Mariamman at Trương Định street (ex-Lareynière Street). The Indian mosque at Đông Du street (ex- Admiral-Dupré street).

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

The Church of Cha Tàm in the Chinatown of Cholon whose interior is a mixture of Gothic and Chinese.  The Temple dedicated to the goddess Thien Hau, protector of navigators, also located in Cholon ( Nguyen Trai street ) and built in the Chinese style. The Ben Thanh Market (very popular)  ,and Binh Tay Market in the Chinatown of Cholon .. Museum of the revolution where many  planes, helicopters and other vehicles are exposed in the gardens mostly from the American time. Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, located in the former premises of the Maritime company , a brick building and the oldest French vestige in town. In fact, Saigon was the Asian head of the maritime passenger and freight transport, between Marseille and the Far East during the colonial period.

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Ho Chi Minh on tourism and history in English : http://www.eng.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/abouthcmcity/Lists/Posts/AllPosts.aspx?CategoryId=9

Tourist information on Ho Chi Ming city : https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh

Tourist office of Vietnam : http://www.vietnamtourism.com/en/index.php/tourism/items/72

Hope it helps enjoy the city  , very crowded interesting and great nightlife.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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3 Comments to “A new face in the East, Ho Chi Minh!”

  1. Very interesting. It is impossible to hear the word Saigon without thinking of the film Apocalypse Now and those famous first words uttered by Martin Sheen! Not sure I will ever go there, though. Not on my list.


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