Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, Pearl of the Orient, is the largest city in Vietnam. It is also the nation’s foremost commercial and industrial centre. It is frenetic, exciting, riddle with traffic and enlivened by great shops, bars and restaurants. Founded as a Khmer trading and fishing port on the West Bank of Đồng Nai River, it fell into Vietnamese hands in the late 17th century.

Early in the 18th century the Nguyễn emperors established Gia Định Citadel, which was destroyed by French naval forces in 1859. Rebuilt as a French colonial city was named Saigon and became capital of French Cochin China.

During the 1960s and early 1970s Saigon boomed and flourished under the American occupation, it was the seat of the South Vietnam government until the fall or liberation – depending upon your point of view. Official Ho Chi Minh since 1975, it remains to most the bi-syllabic, familiar, old Saigon.

The most dynamic city in one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world, Ho Chi Minh today is a place of remorseless and relentless activity. Despite government restrictions thousands of young men and women make their way here every week in search of a better life. The city is growing at a prodigious rate: 25 years ago Tan Son Nhat, the air port, was right out at the edge of the city, it has beed an inner suburb for years, long ago