Saigon - Paris Of The East - By: Gregory Smyth
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, as it was known in olden times is unmistakably one of those preferred holiday destinations in Asia. This city has a special place among the tourist destinations as it has a unique property of evoking feeling of that of exotic lands and also the charms of old world. Here the blend of an old structure with the newer ones can be very effectively viewed. The streets of this unique city are lined up by large corporate offices along with those older French colonial architectural beauties. Thus it is unmistakably Saigon where one could well see this blend. Here one could find a group of dynamic people who are very much busy with their business activities, along with those saffron-robed monks who collect alms for their living. Thus, although the city is busy with international business schedules, the charm and beauty of ancient Asia is very well retained.
The Vietnamese took over the city from the hamlet of Cambodian rulers and was later made the capital of French colony of Cochin-China. The current name is after its great communist leader Ho Chi Minh and is thus a tribute to the great man. It has got a population of about 9 million and is therefore the largest in Vietnam. It was during the colonial period that the city was renovated with streets that are broad along with colonial architecture that have passed the test of time to last even to now. The city has got a tropical humid climate with average humidity of about 75%. There are two distinct seasons- the rainy season from May to November and the dry months from December to April. The dry season is the best time to visit the city as the humidity level will be much lower.
There are lots of tourist attractions in the city. Among them is the History Museum. A huge collection of artifacts are arranged or housed in this museum. There is also a water puppet theatre inside the museum and along with this a gift shop too. Yet another great museum is the War Remnants Museum. It is famous for the exhibit of American War Crimes. Yet another place to mention is the Reunification Palace. There is a huge party room, a gambling room, a movie theatre and lavish reception halls. Many pagodas can be found around the city and among these the Nghia An Hoi Quan is the best. The City Hall is yet another architectural marvel that is a must see one. It is a best example for the colonial architecture of the French. Notre Dame Cathedral is also another of those structures. The Saigon River adds to the beauty of the city.
A lot of water parks are there in order to cool you from the heat. There are Dame Sen water Park and Saigon Water Park to get added up in the list. A lot others are also there in the list. Shopping is yet another feature of this place. Lots of handicraft items and tourist souvenirs are available for shopping. The bargaining skills of people can be very much handful here. Dong Khai and Le Thanh Ton are among the best shopping areas here. The services to the city are made through Tan Son Nhat airport, which is the largest in Vietnam. Here the immigration rules are much stricter and hence lot of time is needed for the purpose. Cach Mang Thang Tam station is the nearest railway station to the city center. Again taxi is the best option to go through the city. Motorbike taxis are also there which will be much cheaper than others. Renting a bike is also a good way to explore the beauty of the city.
Unmistakably Saigon is known as the Paris of the East. In the area there are 50 small restaurants that are excellent to go for. There are also many number of internet centers along with glossary and general store. There are traditional cultural shows at the opera house and night clubs situated which adds to the beauty of the city. Vung Tau is a peninsular on the cost and is the nearest seaside to that of Saigon. There is an extra ordinary post office, exotic murals, old colonial hotels, and red-brick cathedral etc which are all worth watching. Thus Saigon or Shanghai or Ho Chi Minh is a strong contender among tourist destinations in Asia.
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Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 54 hotels under Shangri-La and Traders brands with a rooms inventory of over 27,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.