“Guys, just follow my lead and slowly cross the road with me: the cars and motorbikes will just weave their way around you…”
…so said our friend Quan who showed us how to navigate the crazy traffic of the streets of Saigon. Honestly, you’ve not been to Saigon until you’ve tried to cross over one of the main roads or taken a scooter ride through the busy jungle of moving vehicles; it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry!
Saigon is a lot of fun. It’s busy, frenetic, has super feisty locals, manic traffic and delicious street food. The gay scene is also pretty good, with a large LGBTQ community of both expats and locals.
This is one place we quickly fell in love with and know you will too! It’s definitely a must for LGBTQ travellers visiting South East Asia and we’ve got you covered in our comprehensive gay travel guide right here.
What’s the difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City?
So we hear you asking, what’s the actual difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City? Is it the same place?
Short answer – yes! The city has actually gone by many different names in its long and complicated history, reflecting different groups that have controlled it through the years. It was named “Gia Din” until the French conquest of the 1860s, when it was named Sài Gòn – and westernized to be “Saigon”. After the ‘Fall of Saigon‘ at the end of the Vietnam war, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honour of the late North Vietnamese president, Mr Ho Chi Minh.
Nowadays the name Saigon is still used to refer to the city centre around District 1, while Ho Chi Minh City generally means the entire modern city with all its districts. But don’t be surprised to still find places (especially hotels) named after Saigon as people often use the names interchangeably.