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General Information

Ho Chi Minh

Like many cities in Vietnam, Saigon did not escape the wrath of war. Since the beginning, Saigon has had quite a traumatic history. There are many citations to the birth of Saigon and the origin of its name. In the 15th century, this area were swamps, marshes and thick forests. By the early 17th century, a small township was formed. According to one theory, Saigon or Sai Con has its root in a Khmer word Prei Kor (Kapok Tree Forest). The name Saigon was used officially in 1698, when Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu sent Mr. Nguyen Huu Canh to this region to create various districts and to form a government for this southern outpost. Because of its strategic location for trade and commerce as well as military importance, Saigon continued to grow and became a bonafide city.

Points of interest

  • Street Scenes - Common mode of transportation just a few years ago, the ubiquitous "cyclos" are becoming rare since they have been banned from many streets. Replacing them are fleets of taxis and "Honda ôm" - Japanese motocycles that you just wave down and jump on the back to be transported anywhere in the town.
  • Ben Thanh Market - Has as long been one of Saigon's most famous landmark. The market has been in existence since the French occupation. The original market was located on the shores of Ben Nghe river by old fort Gia Dinh. Its proximity to the fort and the river where merchants and soldiers would land was reason for its name (Ben meaning pier or port and Thanh meaning fort). In 1859, when the French invaded Saigon and overtook fort Gia Dinh, Ben Thanh Market was destroyed. It was rebuilt shortly thereafter and remained standing until it was moved to its present location in 1899.
  • Nha Tho Duc Ba - Cathedral of our Lady- Proposed to be one of France's most ambitious project in Indochina at the time, Rev. Colombert laid the cornerstone for the cathedral on October 7, 1877. Three years later, in 1880, the cathedral was opened to the public. These two dates are inscribed on a marble placard in the cathedral.The bricks used to build the structure were shipped from Marseilles. Artisans from Lorin Company (Chartres, France) were commissioned to create the stained glass windows. The cost of construction was a whopping 2.5 million francs. In 1962, the Vatican gave the cathedral the title Basilique.
  • Vinh Nghiem Temple - Located on Cong Ly boulevard (or Nam Ky Khoi Nghia), Vinh nghiem is south Vietnam's most majestic temple. Construction of the temple was completed in 1971 after the design was drawn by Mr. Nguyen Ba Lang and associates. The ground floor consists of the library, the auditorium, and offices. The temple is located in a large parcel of land. On the left of the upper court yard stands a tower or the seven-level Avalokitesvara Stupa. Next to the tower hangs a large bell given to the temple by the Japanese Buddhists Sangha.
  • Hoi Giao - Islam - A small number of Muslims exist in Vietnam, and are mainly found in South central Vietnam, the Mekong Delta, and by the Cambodian border. Islam was introduced to Vietnam in the 7th century via Arab traders and later blended with local customs and religion. Islam is now mostly practiced by the Cham population of Vietnam, although there is a strong Hindu influence in their practice. Today, there are several mosques in metropolitan Saigon.
  • Bao Tang Lich Su - Historical Museum- Located in Saigon's Botanical garden and Zoo, the museum opened its doors to the public in January 1, 1929. Originally, the museum was named Blanchard de la Brosse. In 1956, the museum was renamed Bao Tang Quoc Gia - National Museum. And finally, in 1979, the government renamed it Bao Tang Lich Su - Historical Museum.
  • Den Ngoc Hoang - Emperor of Jade Temple- Located in Dakao, first district, the temple was built by Cantonese Buddhists who settled in Saigon in the 19th century. The architectural style is heavily influenced by the Chinese of southern China.
  • Dinh Doc Lap - Independence Palace - Dinh Doc Lap or Independence Palace was completed in 1966 after three years of construction. The plans were drawn by Mr. Ngo Viet Thu, winner of the architectural excellence prize in Rome. The palace was built on the original site of the French governor's headquarters in the 19th century.

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