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Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City is the frenetic business capital of Vietnam. The pavements are bustling with hawkers and street food stands, and the roads buzz with the sound of a thousand zig-zagging motorbikes. Nowhere in Vietnam can quite match the ecstatic energy of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City has had an eventful past. Formerly the capital of French Indochina, Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon, named after the muddy river that wiggles through the city like an unspooled reel of cassette tape. Following the partition of French Indochina, Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam, and received significant US aid and influence during the Vietnam War. When the US withdrew from Vietnam, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the first leader of North Vietnam. However many locals still use the name Saigon.

As a result of its history, the city still bears a lot of features from the war. A one-hour drive from the city is the Cu Chi Tunnels, a small section of the vast underground network built by the Viet Cong during the war. There is also the Vietnam War Remnants Museum, which contains collections of graphic war photography. This poignant exhibition can be quite overwhelming, so discretion is advised.