Ho Chi Minh: The Perfect Fusion of Old and New
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s main economic center, is not only known as a business hub but also as a main tourist destination. The place attracts thousands of businessmen and backpackers alike who are all drawn to the beautiful blend of old and new captured perfectly by this bustling metropolis.
The fusion of the new—steel and glass skyscrapers and shopping malls—with the old—ramshackle shops, food markets, and pagodas—all play a role in pulling investors and travelers the world over to this destination. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a historical landmark that beats with a modern pulse punctuated by the lights and sounds of a bustling nightlife. But the sights and sounds differ altogether in the city’s more historical areas dotted by old temples and churches. The metropolis boasts of fine dining destinations as well as humble street food vendors (made even more popular by National Geographic and other television programs) that adventurers should not miss. The seamless blend of history and modernity make Ho Chi Minh an experience nobody would ever forget.
Ho Chi Minh City, being strategically located near the southern part of Vietnam, has been and still is a busy economic and trading center. With a semi-dense population of 7 million in its 2,000 plus square kilometer area, the metropolis offers a wealth of industries and workers in various fields of expertise. The city accounts for roughly 20% of the country’s gross domestic product and its industrial product value accounts for approximately 30% of the country’s total IPV. Roughly 33% of Ho Chi Minh City’s different industries is owned by Vietnam’s government. Local private businessmen own around 4.5–5% and foreign investors account for approximately 60% of these various industries.
Like most Southeast Asian nations, Ho Chi Minh’s main industries include seafood processing, mining, agriculture, finance, tourism, construction, and trade. The city has a number of export processing zones and industrial parks. The most popular of which is Quang Trung Software Park. This information technology hub is host to numerous dot.com companies and other software enterprises. It also has its own school for software training. It supplies high-speed Internet, residences and grants favorable tax requirements to dot.com investors. Ho Chi Minh aims to be a big player in the information technology game in the Southeast Asian region. It also aims to answer to be a viable answer to outsourcing from other nations, similar to what India has done. Technology giant Intel has invested roughly 1 billion dollars in a factory located in one of the city’s export processing zones.
Ho Chi Minh is home to more than 50 banks, a Stock Exchange, a number of malls, markets, beauty centers, and some 300,000 businesses made up mostly of electronics, construction, light, and other hi-tech industries. Real estate has been booming in the city’s urbanized areas due to economic upturns in the recent years. And last but most definitely not the least, the city is being showered with investments for its crude oil industry. Investors have been keen on this development over the recent years with billions of dollars worth of monetary influx.
Lifestyle and Living
There are many ways to enjoy the different sights and sounds in Ho Chi Minh City. The different sectors and tourist areas are easily accessible by various modes of transport. Be it by bicycle, bus, motorbike, taxi or on foot, this metropolis provides a number of interesting things to try and places to go to from the old to the modern. Starting from the historical sites, the Reunification or Independence Palace is a must-see. This place allows the visitor to travel back in time to the 1960s, before Saigon fell to the North. Tours are given without fees, and one can visit the café after exploring the 60s.
War Remnants Museum: This museum is for the strong-stomached only. It displays wartime relics, including tanks, helicopters, howitzers, and jets. It showcases man’s brutality during the infamous Vietnam wars. Its displays include photographs, a simulated tiger cage prison, and it features stories of journalists from all over the world who died or disappeared during the fighting.
No tour is complete without a tour of the Museum of Vietnamese History. This showcases many artifacts and antiquities from this rich Southeast Asian culture. Another set of sites to see is Ho Chi Minh’s collection of beautiful pagodas like the Thien Hau, Quan Am, and the Phung Son Tu.
But for those interested in what Ho Chi Minh’s modern world has to offer, there is the Bitexco Financial Tower, which offers a 360 degree view of the city. There are also numerous water parks, shopping malls and modern sites to visit.
Note though that Vietnam is known for its exquisite cuisine, and Ho Chi Minh City provides various fine dining restaurants and other food sources (markets and street vendors) to choose from.
This city, the perfect fusion of the old and the new, is a destination nobody would indeed ever forget.