Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Thao-Cam-Vien

As one of the oldest zoos in the world, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is famous not only with Vietnamese but also with foreign visitors. It is the house to rare orchids, ornamental plants and hundred species of mammals, reptiles and birds. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is a cultural place of Ho Chi Minh City. It was ranked eighth among the oldest zoos in the world. Up to now, it is 132 years old. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is located on 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The zoo has two gates: the main gate is on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street at the corner of Le Duan Street, and the other one is on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.

History
Since the construction of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, the zoo has undergone many changes of different periods of time. On March 23 1864, the Commander of the provincial army named De La Grandiere signed the convention that allowed building the zoo in SaiGon. Mr.Louis Germain, a veterinarian, built the zoo on an area of 12 ha from the wild land in Northeast of Thi Nghe Channel. After that, The Governor-general of Indochina realized that they needed a profession, therefore they invited Mr.Louis Pierre, who had worked in the botanical garden in Calcutta (India), to become the director on March 28 1865. At the end of 1865, the zoo was 20ha large. On December 15 1867, Mr.De La Grandiere promulgated the 183 decree to regulate, organize and manage the zoo. On February 17 1869, Vice Admiral, Mr G.Ohier, who worked as the president of South Vietnam, signed the decree number 33 to establish Permanent Committee. Mr. Philastre was the president of this committee, and he was responsible for the spending of the zoo. Based on that decree, in the National Day of France, the zoo was opened permanently for the public to visit. In 1924, the precinct had been extended to 13ha more. In 1927, a bridge across Thi Nghe Channel was built to connect two parts of the zoo: the area reserved for animals and that for plants. On November 27 1927, French government built a museum called Blanchard de la Bross, following the design of Beijing Summer Palace. In the same year, the Japanese government gave the zoo more than 900 rare plants. The Temple Du Souvenir which followed the design of palace in Hue was built in 1929. In 1956, Saigon government repaired and re-built the Blanchard de la Bross. They renamed it as The Saigon National Museum, and also renamed the zoo as “Thao cam vien”. In 1984, people built more things such as: stone jetty, improved the electric wire. Since 1989, the facilities were improved to make the environment suitable for animals. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden was recognized as a member of the Southeast Asian Zoological Association in 1990. In 1991, the garden in the zoo was re-established. After 130 years of construction, it became the biggest biological garden of the country.

Characteristics and values
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden has a diversified fauna and flora. There are 590 animals of 125 species, 1830 trees and plants of 260 valuable species, some of which are over 100 years old, 20 species of orchid, 32 species of cactus, and 34 species of bonsai. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is divided into many areas: the conservation of animal, the conservation for plants, orchid garden and the amusement area. In the botanical garden, rare and valuable plants of many species are grown. Some of them cannot be found in Vietnam. Some species of cactus, fern and plants are imported from Africa and America. In the zoo, there are many kinds of mammal, reptile, and birds such as monkey, tiger, leopard, lion, gibbon, deer, elephant, turtle, snake, and so on. Besides common species, there are also many new kinds that have appeared in Viet Nam for the first time: such as Hippopotamus amphibious, Chorepsis liberiensis, Panthera onca, Struthio camelus, Phoenicopterus ruper ruper. It also has lakes with lotus and many kinds of fish which the visitor can see. In the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, there are two interesting building: the monument for Vietnamese people who were killed in World War I, and the Saigon National Museum. The Museum keeps a lot of valuable exhibits and documents. The museum contains two areas: one area has 15 rooms displaying things from the primitive of Vietnam to 1930, the other area has 6 rooms displaying things about culture and history of South Vietnam. Outside of the museum is a big yard that has the weapons of France and Vietnam which was used in the time France occupied Vietnam. Besides, the museum has 25.000 documents of history, culture and ethnography. Come to Saigon zoo and Botanical Garden, visitors can study about fauna, floras, study about culture and history, and also spend time at amusement area.

Plans and activities
The main aim of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden are to conserve animals and plants, especially endangered species and educate the public. One way to protect these species is using breeding program. It was hoped that this program can save many endangered animals. Saigon Zoo is the only zoo in the world that successfully bred Crested Argus Pheasants in captivity. Nowadays, the zoo has received the support of foreign countries. In 1993, the Director of the Zoo proposed a long-term plan to conserve the zoo. This was to improve the quality of management, housing and care for animals. This plan lasted ten years. Besides the conservation plan, the Conservation Education department, which started in 1999, made plan to educate the public to protect the animals and plants. Each year, 3,200 students visit the zoo to have lessons. Students have one-hour lecture around the zoo with a teacher and after that they could watch a 30-minute film. After a long time of construction and development, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden has become the biggest zoo of Vietnam, and also a place for people to visit and study about fauna and flora. Come to Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, visitors not only can study animals and plants, but can also learn how to protect these species. It is really an interesting destination that both Vietnamese and foreigners should visit when they come to Saigon.

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

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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