Tan Son Nhat International Airport

(IATA: SGN, ICAO: VVTS)

Sân bay Quốc tế Tân Sơn Nhất

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (IATA: SGN, ICAO: VVTS) (Vietnamese: Sân bay Quốc tế Tân Sơn Nhất), is Vietnam's largest international airport in terms of area (800 ha/1,977 acres compared with 650 ha/1,606 acres of Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport and Danang's Da Nang International Airport). It has a handling capacity of 15-17 million passengers per year, compared with the capacity of Hanoi - Noi Bai airport of 8 million passengers and Da Nang's 2 million passengers). It is also the largest airport of Vietnam in terms of passengers handled (with an estimated number of over 11 million passengers per year in 2007, more than a half of that of Vietnam's all airports), serves Ho Chi Minh City as well as Dong Nam Bo in southern Vietnam. Its IATA code SGN was derived from the city's former name of Saigon.

History
Tan Son Nhat International Airport has its origins in the early 1930s, when the French Colonial government constructed a small airport with unpaved runways, known as Tân Sơn Nhất Airfield near the village of Tan Son Nhat. By mid-1956, with US aid, a 7,200-foot (2,190 m) runway had been built and the airfield near Saigon became known as South Vietnam's principal international gateway. During the Vietnam War (or Second Indochina War), Tan Son Nhut Air Base (then using the alternative spelling Tân Sơn Nhứt) was an important facility for both the US Air Force and the (VNAF). Between 1968 and 1974, Tan Son Nhut Airport was one of the busiest military airbases in the world. During the last days of South Vietnam, Pan Am schedules from 1973 showed Boeing 747 service was being operated four times a week to San Francisco via Guam and Manila. Continental Airlines operated up to 30 Boeing 707 military charters per week to and from Tan Son Nhut Airport during the 1968-74 period.

On 9 December 2004, United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to fly to Vietnam since Pan Am's last flight during the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. UA 869 (operated by a Boeing 747/400) landed at Ho Chi Minh City, the terminus of the flight that ran from San Francisco via Hong Kong. On 29 October 2006, this service was switched from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a stop in Hong Kong, operating as UA 867 (also using a Boeing 747/400). In 2009 the service UA 869 has resumed once again from San Francisco via Hong Kong International. In 2006, this airport at Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City served approximately 8.5 million passengers (compared with 7 million in 2005) with 64.000 aircraft movements. HCM - Tan Son Nhat Airport has recently accounted for nearly two thirds of the arrivals and departures at Vietnam's international gateway airports.

Due to increasing demand (about 15%-20% per annum), this airport has been continuously expanded by the Southern Airports Authority. Tan Son Nhat International Airport served 13 million passengers in 2008 compared to 11 million in 2007. According to the new expansion plan announced by the Vietnamese government, the airport will be enlarged to provide facilities and space for around 70 aircraft to land by 2015, and to handle 23.5 million passengers and 600,000 tonnes of cargo per annum.

New International Terminal
A new international terminal funded by Japanese ODA and constructed by a consortium of four Japanese contractors (KTOM, abbreviation of 4 contractors's names: Kajima - Taisei - Obayashi - Maeda), opened in September 2007 with a capacity for 8-10 million passengers a year, thus giving the airport a total annual capacity of 15-17 million passengers. The old terminal is now used for domestic flights only. After 2015, when Long Thanh International Airport is completed, Tan Son Nhat will serve domestic passengers only.

The international terminal is open 24 hours a day.

Facilities
Following the opening of its new international terminal in September 2007, HCM - Tan Son Nhat has two major terminal buildings with separate sections for international and domestic flights. Four jetways were added in the late 1990s prior to which aircraft had to use remote parking and passengers were transferred to/from the terminal by shuttle buses. The capacity of the new terminal, once fully completed, will be 8 million passengers per annum. After 2015, when Long Thanh International Airport is completed, Tan Son Nhat will serve domestic passengers only.

The Prime Minister of Vietnam by Decision 1646/TTg-NN has approved the addition of 30 hectares (74 acres) of adjacent area to extend the apron and to build a cargo terminal due to the rapid increase of passenger (which will reach to 11 million in 2007 and is expected to reach 17 million in 2010, compared to 7 million and 8.5 million in 2005 and 2006 respectively) and cargo volume at this airport

Arrivals and Departures are split across two floors.

Arrivals
Arriving passengers disembark through jetways, although some flights may be parked away from the terminal and require a short walk to immigration that is located on the upper level. Immigration desks are available for both ASEAN and non-ASEAN residents, who generally must be in possession of a visa prior to arrival, or make advance plans to pick one up in the arrivals area prior to clearing Customs. There are toilet facilities and duty-free shops available in the baggage hall.

A currency exchange desk is located immediately past the Customs desk. There are no facilities for non-passengers to enter the arrivals area and they are limited to meeting passengers outside the terminal. It is here that passengers can pick up taxis, motorcycles or a bus into the city.

The air-conditioned airport bus, service number 152, is the cheapest way into Ho Chi Minh City. It is especially useful for tourists since it passes most of the major hotels along De Tham Street and Dong Khoi Street.

Departures
Only passengers are allowed inside the terminal.

Passengers enter the domestic terminal on the lower level where check-in formalities are completed; in the new international terminal departures are on the upper level. Trolleys are not permitted past the security checkpoints, but smaller trolleys are normally available once the checkpoint has been cleared.

International passengers complete passport control formalities and then pass into the departures lounge. The new terminal contains several shops and restaurants, mostly charging Western prices for items, as well as the total of 5 business-class lounges, one of them is operated by Vietnam Airlines and one of them is operated by Star Alliance. Flights are normally called and passengers need to present themselves at the gate for baggage screening and boarding, normally through jetways.

Airlines and destinations
Terminal 1 (Domestic)

All domestic airlines are Based on Terminal 1.
Airlines: Destinations
Indochina Airlines: Da Nang, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang, Vinh
Jetstar Pacific Airlines: Da Nang, Hai Phong, Hue, Hanoi, Vinh
Vietnam Airlines: Buon Ma Thuot, Da Lat, Da Nang, Dong Hoi, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Pleiku, Qui Nhon, Rach Gia, Vinh
Vietnam Air Service Company (VASCO): Ca Mau, Chu Lai, Con Dao, Tuy Hoa
Terminal 2 (International)

All international flights depart and arrive from Terminal 2, which opened in August 2007, and was officially inaugurated in December 2007.
Airlines: Destinations
AirAsia: Kuala Lumpur
Air China: Beijing-Capital, Nanning
Air France: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
All Nippon Airways: Tokyo-Narita
Asiana Airlines: Seoul-Incheon
Cambodia Angkor Air: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap
Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong
Cebu Pacific: Manila
China Airlines: Taipei-Taiwan-Taoyuan
China Eastern Airlines: Shanghai-Pudong
China Southern Airlines: Guangzhou
EVA Air: Taipei-Taiwan-Taoyuan
Garuda Indonesia: Jakarta, Singapore
Indonesia AirAsia: Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Japan Airlines: Tokyo-Narita
Jetstar Airways: Darwin, Sydney
Jetstar Asia Airways: Singapore
Korean Air: Seoul-Incheon
Lion Air: Jakarta, Singapore
Lufthansa: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Frankfurt
Malaysia Airlines: Kuala Lumpur
Mandarin Airlines: Taichung
Northwest Airlines: Tokyo-Narita
Philippine Airlines: Manila
Qatar Airways: Doha
Royal Brunei Airlines: Bandar Seri Begawan
Royal Khmer Airlines: Siem Reap
Shanghai Airlines: Shanghai-Pudong
Shenzhen Airlines: Shenzhen
Singapore Airlines: Singapore
Thai Airways International: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi
Thai AirAsia: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Phuket [Begins December 2009]
Tiger Airways: Singapore
Uni Air: Kaohsiung
United Airlines: Hong Kong, San Francisco
Vietnam Airlines: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Busan, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Moscow-Domodedovo, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Phnom Penh, Seoul-Incheon, Siem Reap, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita, Vientiane
Viva Macau: Macau
Cargo airlines
Airlines: Destinations
Air France Cargo: Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Asiana Cargo: Seoul-Incheon
Cargoitalia: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Milan-Malpensa
Cargolux: Luxembourg
Cathay Pacific:
China Airlines Cargo: Taipei-Taoyuan
EVA Air Cargo: Taipei-Taoyuan
FedEx Express:
JAL Cargo:
K-Mile Transmile Air Services:
Korean Air Cargo: Seoul-Incheon
NWA Cargo:
Qantas Freight: Shanghai-Pudong, Sydney
Shanghai Airlines Cargo: Shanghai-Pudong
Trai Thien Air Cargo: Bangkok, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Singapore

The airport's future
The current Tan Son Nhat airport is located inside the crowded city of Ho Chi Minh City, and a limited area for expansion and safety concerns would make it hard to upgrade in order to meet increasing demand. Following a recent decision by the Vietnam Prime Minister, a new airport - Long Thanh International Airport - will replace Tan Son Nhat airport for international-departure use. The master plan for this new airport was approved in April 2006. The new airport will be built in Long Thanh county, Dong Nai province, about 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and 70 km (43 mi) northwest of the petroleum-focused city of Vung Tau, near Highway 51A. The pre-feasibility study for this project is under way. The Long Thanh International Airport will be constructed on an area of 50 square kilometres (19 sq mi), and it will have four runways (4,000 m x 60 m or 13,100 ft x 200 ft) and be capable of receiving the Airbus A380 jumbo jet. The project will be divided in two stages. Stage one includes the construction of two parallel runways and a terminal with a capacity of 20 million passengers per year, due to be completed in 2010. The second stage is scheduled for completion in 2015, leaving the airport with three passenger terminals and a cargo terminal designed to received 5 million metric tons of cargo per year. The total invested capital of this project is an estimated US$8 billion. Upon completion of Long Thanh International Airport, Tan Son Nhat Airport will serve domestic passengers only. Long Thanh International Airport is expected to be the leading airport on the Indochina peninsula, and one of the busiest air transportation hubs in the southeast Asian region.

Web References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tan_Son_Nhat

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (Vietnamese: Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh) Thanh Pho Ho Chi pronunciation is the largest city in Vietnam. It was known as Prey Nokor (Khmer) before being annexed by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Under the name Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn Saigon.ogg pronunciation (help·info)), it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent state of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975. In 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding province of Gia Định and was officially renamed Hồ Chí Minh City (although the name Sài Gòn - formally known as District 1 - is still commonly used.)

The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, 60 kilometers (37 mi) from the South China Sea and 1,760 kilometers (1,094 mi) south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

The metropolitan area, which consists of Hồ Chí Minh City metro area, Thủ Dầu Một, Di An, Bien Hoa and surrounding towns, is populated by more than 9 million people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam and Indochina. The Greater Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most parts of Dong Nam Bo plus Tien Giang and Long An provinces under planning will have an area of 30,000 square kilometers with a population of 20 million inhabitants by 2020.

Traditional Vietnamese Name
After Prey Nokor was settled by Vietnamese refugees from the north, in time it came to be known unofficially as Sài Gòn. There is much debate about the origins of the Vietnamese name, Sài Gòn, the etymology of which is analyzed below.

It should be noted, however, that before the French colonization, the official Vietnamese name of Saigon was Gia Định (Chữ Nôm: 嘉定). In 1862, the French discarded this official name and adopted the name 'Saigon', which had always been the popular name, although it was still written as 嘉定 on sinitic maps until at least 1891.

The Vietnamese name, Sài Gòn, is written in two words, which is the traditional convention in Vietnamese spelling. Some people, however, write the name of the city as SaiGon or Saigon in order to save space or give it a more Westernized look.
Sino-Vietnamese etymology

A frequently heard, and reasonable, explanation is that Sài is a Chinese loanword (Chinese: 柴, pronounced chái in Mandarin) meaning “firewood, lops, twigs; palisade”, while Gòn is a another Chinese loanword (Chinese: 棍, pronounced gùn in Mandarin) meaning “stick, pole, bole”, and whose meaning evolved into “cotton” in Vietnamese (bông gòn, literally “cotton stick”, i.e. “cotton plant”, then shortened to gòn).

Some people say that this name originated from the many cotton plants that the Khmer people had planted around Prey Nokor, and which can still be seen at Cây Mai temple and surrounding areas.

Another explanation is that the etymological meaning “twigs” (sài) and “boles” (gòn) refers to the dense and tall forest that once existed around the city, a forest to which the Khmer name, Prey Nokor, already referred.

In Chinese, the city is referred to as 西貢, pronounced 'sai gung' in Cantonese and Xīgòng in Mandarin. This represents 'Saigon' written phonetically.

Another reasonable etymology was offered by Vương Hồng Sển, a Vietnamese scholar in the early 20th century, who asserted that Sài Gòn had its origin in the Cantonese name of Cholon (Vietnamese: quoc ngu Chợ Lớn; chu nom Cholon.png) , the Chinese district off Saigon. The Cantonese (and original) name of Cholon is 'Tai-Ngon' (堤岸), which means 'embankment' (French: quais). The theory posits that 'Sài Gòn' derives from 'Tai-Ngon'.
Khmer etymology

Another etymology often proposed, although held now as a least likely etymology, is that “Saigon” comes from “Sai Côn”, which would be the transliteration of the Khmer word, prey kor (PreyKor.png), meaning “god or heavenly”. Nokor is a Khmer word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'city, land').

This Khmer etymology theory is quite interesting given the Khmer context that existed when the first Vietnamese settlers arrived in the region. However, it fails to completely explain how Khmer 'prey' led to Vietnamese 'Sài', since these two syllables appear phonetically quite distinct and as the least reasonable and least likely candidate from the khmer etymology.
Current Vietnamese name

Immediately after the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975, a provisional government renamed the city after Ho Chi Minh, a former North Vietnamese leader. The official name is now Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, abbreviated Tp. HCM. In English this is translated as Ho Chi Minh City, abbreviated HCMC, and in French it is translated as Hô Chi Minh Ville (the circumflex is sometimes omitted), abbreviated HCMV. Sài Gòn is still the most common way to refer to the city in conversation inside Vietnam. Sài Gòn is used officially to refer to District 1, for example in bus destinations. The name is also found in company names, book titles and even on airport departure boards (the code for Tan Son Nhat International Airport is SGN). Also, most Vietnamese that fled the country during the communist takeover do not recognize the name 'Ho Chi Minh City', and will only refer to the city as Saigon.

History

Early history
Ho Chi Minh City began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese. It should be noted that in Khmer folklore Southern Vietnam was given to the Vietnamese government as a dowry for the marriage of a Vietnamese princess to a Khmer prince in order to stop constant invasions and pillaging of Khmer villages.

Khmer Territory
In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trinh-Nguyen civil war in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor, and to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom could not impede because it was weakened of war with Thailand, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon.

Nguyen dynasty rule
Location of the hexagonal Gia Dinh Citadel (r) and Cholon area (tilted square,left) in 1815. Today this forms the area of Ho Chi Minh City

In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyễn rulers of Huế by sea to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. He is often credited with the expansion of Saigon into a significant settlement. A large Vauban citadel called Gia Dịnh was built, which was later destroyed by the French over the battle of Chí Hoà (see Citadel of Saigon).

Colonial French era
Conquered by France in 1859, the city was influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam, and a number of classical Western-style buildings in the city reflect this, so much so that Saigon was called 'the Pearl of the Far East' (Hòn ngọc Viễn Đông) or 'Paris in the Orient' (Paris Phương Đông).

Capital of South Vietnam
Former Emperor Bảo Đại made Saigon the capital of the State of Vietnam in 1949 with himself as head of state. After the Vietminh gained control of North Vietnam in 1954, it became common to refer to the Saigon government as South Vietnam. The government was renamed the Republic of Vietnam when Bảo Đại was deposed in 1955. Saigon and Cholon, an adjacent city with many Sino-Vietnamese residents, were combined into an administrative unit called Đô Thành Sài Gòn ('Capital City Saigon').

Post-Vietnam War and today
At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, on April 30, 1975, the city came under the control of the Vietnamese People's Army. In the U.S. this event is commonly called the 'Fall of Saigon,' while the communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam call it the 'Liberation of Saigon.'

In 1976, upon the establishment of the unified communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the city of Saigon (including Cholon), the province of Gia Ðịnh and 2 suburban districts of two other nearby provinces were combined to create Hồ Chí Minh City in honour of the late communist leader Hồ Chí Minh. The former name Saigon is still widely used by many Vietnamese, especially in informal contexts. Generally, the term Saigon refers only to the urban districts of Hồ Chí Minh City. The word 'Saigon' can also be found on shop signs all over the country, even in Hanoi.

Landmarks
Today, the city's core is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. The most prominent structures in the city center are Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất), City Hall (Ủy ban nhân dân Thành phố), Municipal Theatre, Ho Chi Minh City (Nhà hát thành phố), City Post Office (Bưu điện thành phố), State Bank Office (Ngân hàng nhà nước), City People's Court (Tòa án nhân dân thành phố) and Notre-Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà). Some of the historic hotels are the Hotel Majestic, dating from the French colonial era, and the Rex Hotel, Caravelle hotel some former hangouts for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s and 1970s.

The city has various museums, such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History and concerning modern history the Revolutionary Museum (Bảo tàng cách mạng) and the War Remnants Museum (Ho Chi Minh City). The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens dates from 1865.
Population and new urban areas

Ho Chi Minh City is home to a well-established ethnic Chinese population. Cholon, which is made up of District 5 and parts of Districts 6, 10 and 11, serves as its Chinatown.

With a population now 7,123,340 (as of Census 2009 on April 1, 2009) (registered residents plus migrant workers as well as a metropolitan population of 10 million), Ho Chi Minh City is in need of vast increase in public infrastructure. To meet this need, the city and central governments have embarked on an effort to develop new urban centers. The two most prominent projects are the Thu Thiem city center in District 2 and the Phu My Hung Urban Area, a new City Center in District 7 (as part of the Saigon South project) where various international schools such as Saigon South International School, the Japanese school, Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Taiwan and Korea schools are located. In December 2007, Phu My Hung New City Center completed the 17.8 km 10-14 lane wide Nguyen Van Linh Roadway linking the Saigon port areas, Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone to the National Highway 1 and the Mekong delta area. In November 2008, a brand new trade center, Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center, also opened its door. Other projects include Grandview, Waterfront, Sky Garden, Riverside and Phu Gia 99. Phu My Hung New City Center received the first Model New City Award from the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction.

Geography and climate
Ho Chi Minh City is located at 10°45'N, 106°40'E in the southeastern region of Vietnam, 1,760 km (1,094 miles) south of Hanoi. The average elevation is 19 meters (63 ft) above sea level. It borders Tay Ninh and Binh Duong provinces to the north, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces to the east, Long An Province to the west and the Vietnam East Sea to the south with a coast of 15 km in length. The city covers an area of 2,095 km² (809 sq mi) (0.63% of the surface of Vietnam), extending up to Cu Chi (12mi/20 km from the Cambodian border), and down to Can Gio on the Vietnam East Sea coast. The distance from the northernmost point (Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District) to the southernmost one (Long Hoa Commune, Can Gio District) is 102 kilometers (63 mi), and from the easternmost point (Long Binh Ward, District Nine) to the westernmost one (Binh Chanh Commune, Binh Chanh District) is 47 kilometers (29 mi).

The city has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate, with an average humidity of 75%. A year is divided into two distinct seasons. The rainy season, with an average rainfall of about 1,800 millimetres (71 in) annually (about 150 rainy days per year), usually begins in May and ends in late November. The dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F), the highest temperature sometimes reaches 39 °C (102 °F) around noon in late April, while the lowest may fall below 16 °C (61 °F) in the early mornings of late December.

Political and administrative system
Saigon is a municipality at the same level as Vietnam's provinces. The city has been divided into twenty-four administrative divisions since December 2003. Five of these Area: 1,601 km² are designated as rural (huyện). The rural districts are Nhà Bè, Cần Giờ, Hóc Môn, Củ Chi, and Bình Chánh. A rural district consists of communes (Xã) and townships (Thị trấn). The remaining districts {Area: 494 km²} are designated urban or suburban (quận). This includes districts one to twelve, as well as Tân Bình, Bình Thạnh, Phú Nhuận, Thủ Đức, Bình Tân, Tân Phú and Gò Vấp. Each quận is sub-divided into wards ('Phường'). Since December 2006, the city has had 259 wards, 58 communes and 5 townships (see List of HCMC administrative units below).

People's Committee
The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee is a 13-member executive council for the city. The current chairman is Le Hoang Quan. There are several vice chairmen and chairwomen on the committee with responsibility for various city departments. The legislative branch of the city government is called the People's Council and consists of 95 deputies. Both the committee and the council are subordinate to the city's Communist Party, currently led by Party Secretary Lê Thanh Hải. The chairman of the People's Committee is the No. 2 position in the city government while chairman of the People's Council is No. 3.
Demographics

The population of Ho Chi Minh City, as of the October 1, 2004 Census, was 6,117,251 (of which 19 inner districts had 5,140,412 residents and 5 suburban districts had 976,839 inhabitants). In the middle of 2007 the city's population was 6,650,942 (of which 19 inner districts had 5,564,975 residents and 5 suburban districts had 1,085,967 inhabitants). The result of Census 2009 shows that the city's population was 7,123,340 people or about 8.3% of the total population of Vietnam; making it the highest population-concentrated city in the country. As an administrative unit, its population is also the largest at the provincial level. As the largest economic and financial hub of Vietnam, HCMC has attracted more and more immigrants from other Vietnamese provinces in recent years; therefore, its population is growing rapidly. Since 1999 the city population has increased by over 200,000 people per year.

The majority of the population are ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) at about 90%. Other ethnic minorities include Chinese (Hoa) with 8%, (the largest Chinese community in Vietnam) and other minorities (Khmer, Cham, Nung, Rhade) 2%. The inhabitants of Ho Chi Minh City are usually known as 'Saigonese' in English, 'Saigonnais' in French and 'dân Sài Gòn' in Vietnamese.

The Kinh speak Vietnamese with their respective regional accents: southern (about 50%), northern (30%) and central Vietnam (20%); while the Hoa- in addition- speak Cantonese, Teochew (Chaozhou), Hokkien, Hainanese and Hakka dialects of Chinese (only a few speak Mandarin Chinese). A varying degree of English is spoken especially in the tourism and commerce sectors where dealing with foreign nationals is a necessity, so English has become a de facto second language for some Saigonese.

According to some researchers the religious breakup in HCMC is as follows: Buddhism (all sects and/or including Taoism, Confucianism) 80%, Roman Catholic 11%, Protestant 2%, others (Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Islam, Hinduism, Bahá'í Faith) 2%, and no religion or unknown 5%.
Economy

Ho Chi Minh City is the most important economic center in Vietnam as it accounts for a high proportion of Vietnam's economy. Ho Chi Minh City plays an important driving impetus of Economy of Vietnam. This city just accounts for 0.6% land area, 7.5% population of Vietnam nevertheless accounts for 20.2% GDP, 27.9% industrial output and 34.9% FDI projects in this country in 2005. In 2005, this city had 4,344,000 laborors, of which 130,000 are over the labor age norm (in Vietnam it’s 60 for male and 55 for female workers). In 2007, GDP per capita reached 2,100 USD, compared to this country’s average level of $US 730 in 2006.

The economy of Ho Chi Minh City covers different fields, from mining, seafood processing, agriculture, construction to tourism, finance, industry, trading. The state-owned sector makes up 33.3%, private sector of 4.6%, the other remaining percentage lays in foreign businesses. As far as economic structure is concerned, service sector accounts for 51.1%, industry and construction accounts for 47.7%, forestry, agriculture and others make up just 1.2%.

As of June of 2006, this city is home to 3 Export Processing Zones, 12 Industrial Parks. Ho Chi Minh City is the leading FDI abosorber of Vietnam, with 2,530 FDI projects, 16.6 $ billion at the end of 2007. In 2007, it got over 400 FDI projects with $US 3 billion. In 2008, it attracted $US 8.5 billion from FDI.

The consumption demand of Ho Chi Minh City is much higher than other provinces and municipalities of Vietnam, 1.5 times higher than that of Hanoi.

Some 300,000 businesses, including many large enterprises, are involved in high-tech, electronic, processing and light industries, also in construction, building materials and agro-products. Also crude oil is a popular economic base in Ho Chi Minh City. Investors are still pouring money into the city. Total local private investment was 160,000 billion dong ($10 billion) with 18,500 newly founded companies. Investment is trended to hi-tech and services, real estate projects. Currently, the city has 15 industrial parks and export-processing zones, in addition to the Quang Trung Software Park and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park. Intel invested about 1 billion dollars in a factory in the city. There are 171 medium and large scale markets, several supermarket chains, shopping malls, fashion, and beauty centers. Additional malls and shopping plazas are being developed within the city. Over 50 banks with hundreds of branches and about 20 insurance companies are also located inside the city. The first stock exchange in Vietnam was opened in the city in 2001.

Quang Trung Software Park is a software park situated in District 12. The park is approximately 15 km from down town Saigon and hosts software enterprises, dot.com companies. The park also includes a software training school. Dot.com investors here are supplied with other facilities and services such as residences, high speed access to internet as well as favorable taxation. Together with the Hi-tech Park in District 9 and the 32 ha. software park inside Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7 of the city, Ho Chi Minh City is ambitious to become an important hi-tech city of the country and the South-East Asian region. This park helps the city in particular and Vietnam in general to be an outsourcing place for other enterprises in developed countries as India has performed.

Ben Thanh Market
In 2007, the city's Gross Domestic Product was estimated at $14.3 billion, or about $2,180 per capita, (up 12.6 percent on 2006) and accounting for 20 percent GDP of the country. The GDP adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) reached $71.5 billion, or about $10,870 per capita (approximately 3 times higher than the country's average). The city's Industrial Product Value was $6.4 billion, equivalent to 30 percent of the whole nation. Export - Import Turnover through HCMC ports accounted for $36 billion, or 40 percent of the national total, of which, export revenue reached $18.3 billion (40 percent of Vietnam’s total export revenues). In 2007, Ho Chi Minh City contribution to the annual revenues in the national budget increased by 30 percent, accounting for about 20.5 percent of the total revenues.

In 2007, 3 million foreign tourists, about 70 percent of total number of tourists to Vietnam, visited the city. Total cargo transport to Ho Chi Minh City’s ports reached 50.5 million metric tonnes, nearly one-third of the total for Vietnam.

Education
Higher education in Ho Chi Minh City is quite developed, concentrating about 76 universities and colleges with a total of over 380,000 students in such places as: Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City with 41,000 students, the most important university in the Southern Region, consisting of 6 main member schools: The University of Sciences (formerly Saigon College of Sciences); The University of Social Sciences and Humanities (formerly Saigon College of Letters); The University of Technology (formerly Phu Tho National Institute of Technology); The International University, Faculty of Economics and Law and the newly-established University of Information Technology.

Some other important higher education establishments include: HCMC University of Pedagogy, University of Economics, University of Architecture, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Nong Lam University (formerly University of Agriculture and Forestry), University of Law, University of Technical Education, University of Banking, University of Industry, Open University, University of Sports and Physical Education, University of Fine Art, University of Culture the Conservatory of Music, the Saigon Institute of Technology,Open University, and Hoa Sen University

The RMIT University with about 2,000 students, the unique foreign-invested higher-education unit in Vietnam at the present, was founded in 2002 by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) of Australia.

Several reputable English language schools following international curricula are located in Ho Chi Minh City as well.

Public Health
The health care system of the city is relatively developed with a chain of about 100 government owned hospitals or medical centers and dozens of privately owned clinics. The 1,400 bed Chợ Rẫy Hospital, upgraded by Japanese aid and the French-sponsored Institute of Cardiology, are among the top medical facilities in Indochina. The Hoa Hao Medical Diagnosis Center (Medic) and FV Hospital have recently attracted many clients, including foreigners, because of their good quality of service and modern equipment. Patients come from cities in nearby provinces and Cambodia as well. The Franco-Vietnam Hospital (FVH) is certified to French health standards.

Transportation
Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Tan Son Nhat International Airport, a joint civilian and military airport, is located 4 mi (6 km) north of the city center (District 1). The Tan Son Nhat International Airport located in Tan Binh District. The government expanded the Tan Son Nhat Airport in 2007, with improvements to the international airport. Taxi and bus services are available for travel to and from the airport and within the city. Because of the rapid growing number of air-passengers and Tan Son Nhat Airport's proximity to the center of the city, the Vietnamese Government has prepared to build a new international airport near Long Thanh Township, Dong Nai Province about 25 mi (40 km) to the northeast.

Ho Chi Minh city's road system is in improvable condition. Many of its streets are riddled with potholes. This is especially true of the city's numerous back streets and alleys, which are sometimes little more than dirt paths. City buses are the only public transport available, although the city is seeking financing sources for building metro (subway) and elevated train projects, including the Ho Chi Minh City Metro planned for completion in 2020. Recently, the number of motorcycles has increased to about 4 million. There are also over 500,000 automobiles, packing the city's arterial roads and making traffic congestion and air pollution common problems. While Beijing used to be called 'the City of Bicycles', Ho Chi Minh City is 'the Capital of Motorbikes'. Motorcycle-taxi (xe ôm) is a popular means of transport; foreigners are often greeted with the cry, 'Motorbike!' Visitors should consider the city's streets as dangerous due to the motorists' lack of behavior and the city's lack of traffic law enforcement. Drivers can be seen driving the wrong way up one-way streets, ignoring red lights, not stopping for pedestrians on marked crossings and driving on the footpaths. From 2008, this has improved somewhat, with more traffic lights, greater adherence to traffic light signals, and motorcycle helmets being worn.

The city is the terminal hub of the North South Railroad of Vietnam. Passengers can travel to Hanoi and the Chinese border, about 1,212 mi/1,950 km to the north. There are many harbours along the Saigon and Dong Nai Rivers, such as: Saigon Port, Newport, Ben nghe Port and VICT Port. They account for the annual 40 percent export-import cargo output of Vietnam.

From Ho Chi Minh City, one can travel to many places in Southern Vietnam and to Cambodia by road or waterway. The city is linked to the Central Highlands by National Highways 14 and 20, to the Central Coast and the north by National Highway 1 and to the Mekong River Delta by National Highways 1 and 50. Two expressways are being built to connect the city to Can Tho, the capital of the Mekong River Delta, and to Dau Giay Township, Dong Nai Province, 70 km to the northeast.

Municipal Theatre
The city's media is the most developed in the country. At present, HCMC has 7 daily newspapers: Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) and its Chinese, investment and finance, sports, evening and weekly editions; Tuoi Tre (Youth), the highest circulation newspaper in Vietnam; Thanh Nien (Young Men), the second largest circulation in the south of Vietnam; Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer); The Thao (Sports); Phap Luat (Law) and the Saigon Times Daily, the business newspaper in English, and over 30 other newspapers and magazines. HCMC Television (HTV) is the second largest television network in the nation, just behind the national Vietnam Television (VTV), broadcasting 24/7 on 7 different channels (using analog and digital technology). The Voice of HCMC People is also the largest radio station in the Southern region. The major international TV channels are provided through two cable networks (SCTV and HTVC), with over 500,000 satellite TV subscribers.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to hundreds of cinemas and theatres, with cinema and dramatic ticketing revenue accounts for 60-70% of Vietnam’s total revenue in this industry. Unlike other dramatic teams in Vietnam’s provinces and municipalities, those in Ho Chi Minh City live on their own income and keep their theaters active everyday, and are not subsidized by the Vietnamese government. The city is home to most of the private movie companies in Vietnam.

The city has over 1.7 million fixed telephones and about 6.6 million cellular phones (the latter growing annually by 20%). The Internet, especially through ADSL connections, is also rapidly expanding with over 1,200,000 subscribers and around 4.5 million frequent users.

The city has hundreds of printing and publishing houses, many bookstores and a widespread network of public and school libraries. The HCMC General Library with over 1.5 mìllion books, is a beautiful architectural building. One can visit the Museum of History, the Museum of Revolution, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Southeastern's Armed Forces, the Museum of Fine Art, the Gallery for War Remnants, the Nha Rong Memorial House, the Ben Duoc Relic of Underground Tunnels and many private art galleries. Besides the Municipal Theatre, there are other great places of entertainment such as: the Bến Thành and Hòa Bình Theaters and the Lan Anh Music Stage. The Đầm Sen Tourist and Cultural Park, Suoi Tien Amusement and Culture Park, and the Can Gio Eco beach resort are three recreational sites inside the city which are popular with visitors. Furthermore, Saigon is as modern as other city in the world with many plazas, for example Diamond Plaza, Parkson...and the newest plaza opening soon is Kumho Asiana Plaza, which located in District 1 ( in front of US Embassy and French Embassy)

There are many Pho chains in the city to enjoy which are very inexpensive. The city has hundreds of ranked hotels with over 18,000 rooms, including ten luxury 5 star hotels. However, backpacking travelers frequent the 'Western Quarter' on Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1.

If you are interested in learning Vietnamese, there are quite a few options such as Vietnamese Language Studies Saigon (VLS), LASSHO Vietnamese Language School for Foreigners, Vietnamese Classes, etc.

Sister cities
There are sister cities of Ho Chi Minh City:

* Republic of China Taipei, Republic of China
* South Korea Busan, South Korea
* Japan Osaka, Japan
* Russia Moscow, Russia
* Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia
* Canada Toronto, Canada
* United States San Francisco, USA
* People's Republic of China Shanghai, People's Republic of China
* Iran Tabriz, Iran
* Turkey Istanbul, Turkey
* Philippines Manila, Philippines

Web References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh_City


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