Basic Information Of HCMC

E-mail Print PDF
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Under the name Prey Nokor (Khmer: ) it was named Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn; pronunciation, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975. In 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding province of Gia Dinh and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City (although the name Sài Gòn – formally known as District 1 – is still commonly used.)

The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, 60 kilometers (37 mi) from the South China Sea and 1,760 kilometers (1,094 mi) south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

The metropolitan area, which consists of Ho Chi Minh City metro area, Thu Dau Mot, Di An, Bien Hoa and surrounding towns, is populated by more than 9 millions people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam and Indochina. The Greater Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most part of Dong Nam Bo plus Tien 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.

Boasting an electric, near palpable energy, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s largest metropolis and its undisputed capital of commerce. For the casual visitor, Saigon – as its still called by all but the city officials who live here – can seem a chaotic of traffic-clogged roads and urban bustle, with nary a green space in sight. Yet thousands of expats and Vietnamese immigrants couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. They’ve long since fallen prey to the hidden charms of one of Southeast Asia’s liveliest cities.

 

If every town had a symbol, Saigon’s would surely be the motorbike. More than three million of them fly along streets once swarming with bicycles. Cruising along boulevards and back alleys astride a xe om (motorbike taxi) is the quickest way to sensory overload – daily fare in this tropical town. Teeming markets, sidewalk cafés, massage and acupuncture clinics, centuries-old pagodas, sleek skyscrapers and ramshackle wooden shops selling silk, spices, baskets and handmade furniture all jockey for attention amid the surreal urban collage.

Saigon is a forward-looking city driving Vietnam’s economic boom. Investment has led to new crop of lavish hotels and restaurants, with trendy nightclubs and high-end boutiques dotting tree-lined neighbourhoods. Yet the city hasn’t forgotten its past. The ghosts live on in the churches, temples, former GI hotels and government buildings that one generation ago witnessed a city in turmoil. The Saigon experience is about so many things – magical conversations, memorable meals and inevitable frustration – yet it’s unlikely to evoke apathy. Stick around this complicated city long enough and you may find yourself smitten by it.

The Nguyen dynasty’s Saigon was captured by the French in 1859, becoming the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina a few years later. The city served as the capital of the Republic of Vietnam from 1956 until 1975, it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the Vietnam government.

Nowadays, the official government census counts only those who have official residence permits, and probably a third of the population lives here illegally.

Explosive growth, part of the effect of doi moi (economic reform) in 1986, is evident in new high-rise buildings, joint-venture hotels and colourful shops. Downsides include the sharp increase in traffic, pollution and other urban ills, but a more open-minded new generation may infuse HCMC’s chaotic growth with a more globally conscious attitude.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 June 2011 11:16 )