Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon as locals will always call it – bristles with energy from its scooter-crushed streets to its confident 21st century skyscraper skyline. Packed between is an organised chaos of French colonial buildings, hidden alleys, temples, mosques, pagodas, markets, ramshackle shops and street vendors peddling everything from clothes to electronics.
Historic architectural highlights include Notre Dame Cathedral, the ancient Old Saigon Post Office, Opera House and Reunification Palace, while the ghosts of war can still be found haunting Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi tunnels.
But no trip is complete without shopping in Ho Chi Minh City – searching for souvenirs in the hustle and bustle of Binh Tay Market or plunging into the narrow streets of Chinatown packed with thriving medical stores, busy calligraphy kiosks and irresistible local restaurants.
And this is all very well and good, but you can never forget that this is a city that is fiercely forward thinking. Springing up with those skyscrapers are the smooth walkways of designer malls, the open-kitchens of chic restaurants, the roasted coffee of French cafés, the confidence of urban bars and the pulsating beat of cutting-edge clubs.
After the intensity of the city has carried you as far as you want to go, don’t forget to take time out for a little contemplation, perhaps pause for reflection at the city’s famous Thien Hau Pagoda or watch the waves of the Saigon River slip by on a gentle cruise.
Experience all the city has to offer from the Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, located in the Phu Nhuan district, just 15 minutes from the bustling city centre.