Hanoi may be the capital of Vietnam, but Ho Chi Minh City is where it all goes down. It is the largest city in the country, as well as its economic and industrial center, and reflects modern Vietnam like the charming capital city can't quite do. This means it's a fast, busy, loud place, but exciting and invigorating just the same.
Ho Chi Minh City has undergone several name changes, and was formerly known as Saigon, which is still used somewhat today. The city shows few signs of its beginnings as a humble fishing village, although its days under the French are evident in the wide, elegant boulevards and colonial architecture in the city's core. There are plenty of pagodas, museums—most notably the War Remnants Museum—and other tourist attractions here to keep one busy for days, although the true Ho Chi Minh City experience can be found in the streets, where vendors, markets and handmade Vietnamese goods abound.