Ho Chi Minh City has the country’s biggest LGBT population. Vietnam has never had any anti-gay laws, and is relaxed and tolerant of gay and lesbian visitors.
For a generation of Americans, Vietnam is synonymous with the brutal war that raged here just a few decades ago. The first wave of US combat troops arrived in Vietnam in 1965, and remained until the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 that brought America’s military involvement in the war to an end. The war itself continued until 30 April 1975, when the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Vietcong liberated the southern Vietnamese capital, Saigon.
Veterans who returned played a role in improving ties between the two countries. Their presence also helped Vietnam to develop as a tourist destination, and today Vietnam boasts all the accoutrements that international travelers demand. Although veterans have reliably returned for decades, this generation is aging, but fortunately for Vietnam’s ongoing tourism economy, a whole new generation has begun to appreciate the country’s diverse offerings: including charming old cities like Hanoi and Hoi An, pristine beaches, and the vibrant and colorful metropolis formerly known as Saigon.
Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City (abbreviated HCMC) in 1976 in honor of North Vietnam’s first leader, the communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh. Although the city’s top-ranking sites relate to the Vietnam War, there’s now a much broader range of cultural attractions competing for the top spots on Tripadvisor, including boat cruises, foodie tours, and spa experiences.