Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a prominent history going back hundreds of years. The Khmers originally settled the region, with the Vietnamese taking over in the 17th century. The French conquered Saigon, as it was then known, in 1859, and made it the capital of Cochin China in 1862, which resulted in numerous elegant architecture and broad boulevards that are still present to this day. At the peak of the Vietnam War in 1969, the city had 4.5 million inhabitants who were all evacuated when Saigon and the rest of the South fell to North Vietnam in 1975.
The city has recovered in the 30 years since then, with the current population at over 7 million. It was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the spiritual leader of Vietnamese Communism, but residents were so reluctant to adopt the new name that authorities kept the official name but the city centre is still called Saigon.
Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a popular tourist destination due to its fascinating culture, classic French architecture, and sleek skyscrapers as well as ornate temples and pagodas. The city is also filled with rooftop bars that overlook Saigon and beyond, while fantastic restaurants offer a combination of French, Chinese, and, of course, local Vietnamese cuisine.
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