Push Bikes

A bicycle, also known as a bike, push bike or cycle, is a pedal-driven, human-powered vehicle with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist or a bicyclist.

Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number about one billion worldwide, twice as many as automobiles. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for such uses as children's toys, adult fitness, military and police applications, courier services, and competitive sports.

The basic shape and configuration of a typical bicycle has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. Many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for particular types of cycling.

The invention of the bicycle has had an enormous impact on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were originally invented for the bicycle – e.g., ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, spoke-tensioned wheels, etc.

History
Multiple innovators contributed to the history of the bicycle by developing precursor human-powered vehicles. The documented ancestors of today's modern bicycle were known as draisines, hobby horses, or push bikes (and modern bicycles are sometimes still called push bikes outside of North America). Being the first human means of transport to make use of the two-wheeler principle, the draisine (or Laufmaschine, 'running machine'), invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais, is regarded as the forerunner of the modern bicycle. It was introduced by Drais to the public in Mannheim in summer 1817 and in Paris in 1818. Its rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with his/her feet while steering the front wheel.

In the early 1860s, Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement took bicycle design in a new direction by adding a mechanical crank drive with pedals on an enlarged front wheel (the velocipede). Another French inventor by the name of Douglas Grasso had a failed prototype of Pierre Lallement's bicycle several years earlier. Several inventions followed using rear wheel drive , the best known being the rod-driven velocipede by Scotsman Thomas McCall in 1869. The French creation, made of iron and wood, developed into the 'penny-farthing' (historically known as an 'ordinary bicycle', a retronym, since there were then no other kind). It featured a tubular steel frame on which were mounted wire spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. These bicycles were difficult to ride due to their very high seat and poor weight distribution.
A penny-farthing or ordinary bicycle photographed in the Škoda Auto museum in the Czech Republic
Bicycle in Plymouth, England at the start of the 20th century

The dwarf ordinary addressed some of these faults by reducing the front wheel diameter and setting the seat further back. This necessitated the addition of gearing, effected in a variety of ways, to attain sufficient speed. Having to both pedal and steer via the front wheel remained a problem. J. K. Starley, J. H. Lawson, and Shergold solved this problem by introducing the chain drive (originated by the unsuccessful 'bicyclette' of Englishman Henry Lawson), connecting the frame-mounted pedals to the rear wheel. These models were known as dwarf safeties, or safety bicycles, for their lower seat height and better weight distribution. (Although without pneumatic tires the ride of the smaller wheeled bicycle would be much rougher than that of the larger wheeled variety.) Starley's 1885 Rover is usually described as the first recognizably modern bicycle. Soon, the seat tube was added, creating the double-triangle diamond frame of the modern bike.

Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s' Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1898 invention of coaster brakes. Derailleur gears and hand-operated cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders. By the turn of the century, cycling clubs flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, and touring and racing became widely popular.

Bicycles and horse buggies were the two mainstays of private transportation just prior to the automobile, and the grading of smooth roads in the late 19th century was stimulated by the widespread advertising, production, and use of these devices.

Uses
Bicycles have been and are employed for many uses:

    * Utility: bicycle commuting and utility cycling
* Work: mail delivery, paramedics, police, couriering, and general delivery.
* Recreation: bicycle touring, mountain biking, BMX and physical fitness.
* Racing: track racing, criterium, roller racing and time trial to multi-stage events like the Tour of California, Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España, the Volta a Portugal, among others.
* Military: scouting, troop movement, supply of provisions, and patrol. See bicycle infantry.
* Show: entertainment and performance, e.g. circus clowns. Used as instrument by Frank Zappa.

Technical aspects
The bicycle has undergone continual adaptation and improvement since its inception. These innovations have continued with the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design, allowing for a proliferation of specialized bicycle types.

Types
Bicycles can be categorized in different ways: e.g. by function, by number of riders, by general construction, by gearing or by means of propulsion. The more common types include utility bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles, touring bicycles, hybrid bicycles, cruiser bicycles, and BMX Bikes. Less common are tandems, lowriders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models and recumbents (one of which was used to set the IHPVA Hour record).

Unicycles, tricycles and quadracycles are not strictly bicycles, as they have respectively one, three and four wheels, but are often referred to informally as 'bikes'.

Dynamics
A bicycle stays upright while moving forward by being steered so as to keep its center of gravity over the wheels. This steering is usually provided by the rider, but under certain conditions may be provided by the bicycle itself.

The combined center of mass of a bicycle and its rider must lean into a turn in order to successfully navigate it. This lean is induced by a method known as countersteering, which can be performed by the rider turning the handlebars directly with the hands or indirectly by leaning the bicycle.

Short-wheelbase or tall bicycles, when braking, can generate enough stopping force at the front wheel in order to flip longitudinally. The act of purposefully using this force to lift the rear wheel and balance on the front without tipping over is a trick known as a stoppie, endo or front wheelie.

Performance
The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient in both biological and mechanical terms. The bicycle is the most efficient self-powered means of transportation in terms of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance. From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels, although the use of gearing mechanisms may reduce this by 10–15%. In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also a most efficient means of cargo transportation.

A human traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 10–15 mph (15–25 km/h) uses only the energy required to walk. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. If the rider is sitting upright, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination. Drag can be reduced by seating the rider in a supine position or a prone position, thus creating a recumbent bicycle or human powered vehicle. Drag can also be reduced by covering the bicycle with an aerodynamic fairing.

In addition, the carbon dioxide generated in the production and transportation of the food required by the bicyclist, per mile traveled, is less than 1/10th that generated by energy efficient cars.
Construction and parts

In its early years, bicycle construction drew on pre-existing technologies. More recently, bicycle technology has in turn contributed ideas in both old and new areas.

Frame
The great majority of today's bicycles have a frame with upright seating which looks much like the first chain-driven bike. Such upright bicycles almost always feature the diamond frame, a truss consisting of two triangles: the front triangle and the rear triangle. The front triangle consists of the head tube, top tube, down tube and seat tube. The head tube contains the headset, the set of bearings that allows the fork to turn smoothly for steering and balance. The top tube connects the head tube to the seat tube at the top, and the down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket. The rear triangle consists of the seat tube and paired chain stays and seat stays. The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket to the rear dropouts. The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube (at or near the same point as the top tube) to the rear dropouts.

Historically, women's bicycle frames had a top tube that connected in the middle of the seat tube instead of the top, resulting in a lower standover height at the expense of compromised structural integrity, since this places a strong bending load in the seat tube, and bicycle frame members are typically weak in bending. This design, referred to as a step-through frame, allows the rider to mount and dismount in a dignified way while wearing a skirt or dress. While some women's bicycles continue to use this frame style, there is also a variation, the mixte, which splits the top tube laterally into two thinner top tubes that bypass the seat tube on each side and connect to the rear dropouts. The ease of stepping through is also appreciated by those with limited flexibility or other joint problems. Because of its persistent image as a 'women's' bicycle, step-through frames are not common for larger frames.

Another style is the recumbent bicycle. These are inherently more aerodynamic than upright versions, as the rider may lean back onto a support and operate pedals that are on about the same level as the seat. The world's fastest bicycle is a recumbent bicycle but this type was banned from competition in 1934 by the Union Cycliste Internationale.

Historically, materials used in bicycles have followed a similar pattern as in aircraft, the goal being high strength and low weight. Since the late 1930s alloy steels have been used for frame and fork tubes in higher quality machines. Celluloid found application in mudguards, and aluminum alloys are increasingly used in components such as handlebars, seat post, and brake levers. In the 1980s aluminum alloy frames became popular, and their affordability now makes them common. More expensive carbon fiber and titanium frames are now also available, as well as advanced steel alloys and even bamboo.

Drivetrain and gearing
The drivetrain begins with pedals which rotate the cranks, which are held in axis by the bottom bracket. Most bicycles use a chain to transmit power to the rear wheel. A relatively small number of bicycles use a shaft drive to transmit power. A very small number of bicycles (mainly single-speed bicycles intended for short-distance commuting) use a belt drive as an oil-free way of transmitting power.

Since cyclists' legs are most efficient over a narrow range of pedaling speeds (cadence), a variable gear ratio helps a cyclist to maintain an optimum pedalling speed while covering varied terrain. As a first approximation, utility bicycles often use a hub gear with a small number (3 to 7) of widely-spaced gears, road bicycles and racing bicycles use derailleur gears with a moderate number (10 to 22) of closely-spaced gears, while mountain bicycles, hybrid bicycles, and touring bicycles use dérailleur gears with a larger number (15 to 30) of moderately-spaced gears, often including an extremely low gear (granny gear) for climbing steep hills.

Different gears and ranges of gears are appropriate for different people and styles of cycling. Multi-speed bicycles allow gear selection to suit the circumstances: a cyclist could use a high gear when cycling downhill, a medium gear when cycling on a flat road, and a low gear when cycling uphill. In a lower gear every turn of the pedals leads to fewer rotations of the rear wheel. This allows the energy required to move the same distance to be distributed over more pedal turns, reducing fatigue when riding uphill, with a heavy load, or against strong winds. A higher gear allows a cyclist to make fewer pedal turns to maintain a given speed, but with more effort per turn of the pedals.
A bicycle with shaft drive instead of a chain

With a chain drive transmission, a chainring attached to a crank drives the chain, which in turn rotates the rear wheel via the rear sprocket(s) (cassette or freewheel). There are four gearing options: two-speed hub gear integrated with chain ring, up to 3 chain rings, up to 11 sprockets, hub gear built in to rear wheel (3-speed to 14-speed). The most common options are either a rear hub or multiple chain rings combined with multiple sprockets (other combinations of options are possible but less common).

With a shaft drive transmission, a gear set at the bottom bracket turns the shaft, which then turns the rear wheel via a gear set connected to the wheel's hub. There is some small loss of efficiency due to the two gear sets needed. The only gearing option with a shaft drive is to use a hub gear.

Steering and seating
The handlebars turn the fork and the front wheel via the stem, which rotates within the headset. Three styles of handlebar are common. Upright handlebars, the norm in Europe and elsewhere until the 1970s, curve gently back toward the rider, offering a natural grip and comfortable upright position. Drop handlebars 'drop' as they curve forward and down, offering the cyclist best braking power from a more aerodynamic 'crouched' position, as well as more upright positions in which the hands grip the brake lever mounts, the forward curves, or the upper flat sections for increasingly upright postures. Mountain bikes generally feature a 'straight handlebar' or 'riser bar' with varying degrees of sweep backwards and centimeters rise upwards, as well as wider widths which can provide better handling due to increased leverage against the wheel.

Saddles also vary with rider preference, from the cushioned ones favored by short-distance riders to narrower saddles which allow more room for leg swings. Comfort depends on riding position. With comfort bikes and hybrids, cyclists sit high over the seat, their weight directed down onto the saddle, such that a wider and more cushioned saddle is preferable. For racing bikes where the rider is bent over, weight is more evenly distributed between the handlebars and saddle, the hips are flexed, and a narrower and harder saddle is more efficient. Differing saddle designs exist for male and female cyclists, accommodating the genders' differing anatomies, although bikes typically are sold with saddles most appropriate for men.

A recumbent bicycle has a reclined chair-like seat that some riders find more comfortable than a saddle, especially riders who suffer from certain types of seat, back, neck, shoulder, or wrist pain. Recumbent bicycles may have either under-seat or over-seat steering.
Brakes
Modern bicycle brakes may be rim brakes, in which friction pads are compressed against the wheel rims, internal hub brakes, in which the friction pads are contained within the wheel hubs, disc brakes, with a separate rotor for braking. Disc brakes are more common on off-road bicycles, tandems and recumbent bicycles than on road-specific bicycles.

With hand-operated brakes, force is applied to brake levers mounted on the handlebars and transmitted via Bowden cables or hydraulic lines to the friction pads. A rear hub brake may be either hand-operated or pedal-actuated, as in the back pedal coaster brakes which were popular in North America until the 1960s, and are common in children's bicycles.

Track bicycles do not have dedicated brakes. Brakes are not required for riding on a track because all riders ride in the same direction around a track which does not necessitate sharp deceleration. Track riders are still able to slow down because all track bicycles are fixed-gear, meaning that there is no freewheel. Without a freewheel, coasting is impossible, so when the rear wheel is moving, the crank is moving. To slow down, the rider applies resistance to the pedals – this acts as a braking system which can be as effective as a friction-based rear wheel brake, but not as effective as a front wheel brake.

Suspension
Bicycle suspension refers to the system or systems used to suspend the rider and all or part of the bicycle. This serves two purposes:

    * To keep the wheels in continuous contact with rough surfaces in order to improve control.

    * To isolate the rider and luggage from jarring due to rough surfaces.

Bicycle suspensions are used primarily on mountain bicycles, but are also common on hybrid bicycles, and can even be found on some road bicycles, as they can help deal with problematic vibration. Suspension is especially important on recumbent bicycles, since while an upright bicycle rider can stand on the pedals to achieve some of the benefits of suspension, a recumbent rider cannot.
Wheels
Main article: Bicycle wheel

The wheel axle fits into dropouts in the frame and forks. A pair of wheels may be called a wheelset, especially in the context of ready-built 'off the shelf', performance-oriented wheels.

Tires vary enormously. Skinny, road-racing tires may be completely smooth, or (slick). On the opposite extreme, off-road tires are much wider and thicker, and usually have a deep tread for gripping in muddy conditions.
Accessories, repairs, and tools
Touring bicycle equipped with head lamp, pump, rear rack, fenders/mud-guards, water bottles and cages, and numerous saddle-bags.
Puncture repair kit with tire levers, sandpaper to clean off an area of the inner tube around the puncture, a tube of rubber solution (vulcanizing fluid), round and oval patches, a metal grater and piece of chalk to make chalk powder (to dust over excess rubber solution). Kits often also include a wax crayon to mark the puncture location.

Some components, which are often optional accessories on sports bicycles, are standard features on utility bicycles to enhance their usefulness and comfort. Mudguards, or fenders, protect the cyclist and moving parts from spray when riding through wet areas and chainguards protect clothes from oil on the chain while preventing clothing from being caught between the chain and crankset teeth. Kick stands keep a bicycle upright when parked, while a bike lock will help prevent it from being stolen. Front-mounted baskets for carrying goods are often used. Luggage carriers and panniers mounted above the rear tire can be used to carry equipment or cargo. Parents sometimes add rear-mounted child seats and/or an auxiliary saddle fitted to the crossbar to transport children.

Toe-clips and toestraps and clipless pedals help keep the foot locked in the proper position on the pedals, and enable the cyclist to pull as well as push the pedals—although not without their hazards, eg. may lock foot in when needed to prevent a fall. Technical accessories include cyclocomputers for measuring speed, distance, etc. Other accessories include lights, reflectors, security locks, mirror, water bottles and cages, and bell.

Bicycle helmets may help reduce injury in the event of a collision or accident, and a certified helmet is legally required for some riders in some jurisdictions. Helmets are classified as an accessory or an item of clothing by others.

Many cyclists carry tool kits. These may include a tire patch kit (which, in turn, may contain any combination of a hand pump or CO2 Pump, tire levers, spare tubes, self-adhesive patches, or tube-patching material, an adhesive, a piece of sandpaper or a metal grater (for roughing the tube surface to be patched), and sometimes even a block of French chalk.), wrenches, hex keys, screwdrivers, and a chain tool. There are also cycling specific multi-tools that combine many of these implements into a single compact device. More specialized bicycle components may require more complex tools, including proprietary tools specific for a given manufacturer.

Some bicycle parts, particularly hub-based gearing systems, are complex, and many cyclists prefer to leave maintenance and repairs to professional bicycle mechanics. In some areas it is possible to purchase road-side assistance from companies such as the Better World Club. Other cyclists maintain their own bicycles, perhaps as part of their enjoyment of the hobby of cycling or simply for economic reasons. The ability to repair and maintain your own bicycle is also celebrated within the DIY movement.
Standards

A number of formal and industry standards exist for bicycle components to help make spare parts exchangeable and to maintain a minimum product safety.

The International Organization for Standardization, ISO, has a special technical committee for cycles, TC149, that has the following scope: 'Standardization in the field of cycles, their components and accessories with particular reference to terminology, testing methods and requirements for performance and safety, and interchangeability.'

CEN, European Committee for Standardisation, also has a specific Technical Committee, TC333, that defines European standards for cycles. Their mandate states that EN cycle standards shall harmonize with ISO standards. Some CEN cycle standards were developed before ISO published their standards, leading to strong European influences in this area. European cycle standards tend to describe minimum safety requirements, while ISO standards have historically harmonized parts geometry.

The bicycle has had a considerable effect on human society, in both the cultural and industrial realms.
A commuting bike in Amsterdam

In daily life
Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast.
A bike-sharing station in Barcelona

Recently, several European cities have implemented successful schemes known as community bicycle programs or bike-sharing. These initiatives complement a city's public transport system and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution.

In cities where the bicycle is not an integral part of the planned transportation system, commuters often use bicycles as elements of a mixed-mode commute, where the bike is used to travel to and from train stations or other forms of rapid transit. Folding bicycles are useful in these scenarios, as they are less cumbersome when carried aboard. Los Angeles removed a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheel chairs.

Bicycles offer an important mode of transport in many developing countries. Until recently, bicycles have been a staple of everyday life throughout Asian countries. They are the most frequently used method of transport for commuting to work, school, shopping, and life in general.

In Trondheim in Norway, the Trampe bicycle lift has been developed to encourage cyclists by giving assistance on a steep hill.

Female emancipation
The safety bicycle gave women unprecedented mobility, contributing to their emancipation in Western nations. As bicycles became safer and cheaper, more women had access to the personal freedom they embodied, and so the bicycle came to symbolize the New Woman of the late 19th century, especially in Britain and the United States.

The bicycle was recognized by 19th-century feminists and suffragists as a 'freedom machine' for women. American Susan B. Anthony said in a New York World interview on February 2, 1896: 'Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.' In 1895 Frances Willard, the tightly-laced president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, wrote a book called How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle, in which she praised the bicycle she learned to ride late in life, and which she named 'Gladys', for its 'gladdening effect' on her health and political optimism. Willard used a cycling metaphor to urge other suffragists to action, proclaiming, 'I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.'

Male anger at the freedom symbolized by the New (bicycling) Woman was demonstrated when the male undergraduates of Cambridge University showed their opposition to the admission of women as full members of the university by hanging a woman bicyclist in effigy in the main town square. This was as late as 1897. The bicycle craze in the 1890s also led to a movement for so-called rational dress, which helped liberate women from corsets and ankle-length skirts and other restrictive garments, substituting the then-shocking bloomers.

Economic implications
Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft.

They also served to teach the industrial models later adopted, including mechanization and mass production (later copied and adopted by Ford and General Motors), vertical integration (also later copied and adopted by Ford), aggressive advertising (as much as 10% of all advertising in U.S. periodicals in 1898 was by bicycle makers), lobbying for better roads (which had the side benefit of acting as advertising, and of improving sales by providing more places to ride), all first practised by Pope. In addition, bicycle makers adopted the annual model change (later derided as planned obsolescence, and usually credited to General Motors), which proved very successful.

Furthermore, early bicycles were an example of conspicuous consumption, being adopted by the fashionable elites. In addition, by serving as a platform for accessories, which could ultimately cost more than the bicycle itself, it paved the way for the likes of the Barbie doll.

Moreover, they helped create, or enhance, new kinds of businesses, such as bicycle messengers, travelling seamstresses, riding academies, and racing rinks (Their board tracks were later adapted to early motorcycle and automobile racing.) Also, there were a variety of new inventions, such as spoke tighteners, and specialized lights, socks and shoes, and even cameras (such as the Eastman Company's Poco). Probably the best known and most widely used of these inventions, adopted well beyond cycling, is Charles Bennett's Bike Web, which came to be called the 'jock strap'.

They also presaged a move away from public transit that would explode with the introduction of the automobile.

J. K. Starley's company became the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. in the late 1890s, and then simply the Rover Company when it started making cars. The Morris Motor Company (in Oxford) and Škoda also began in the bicycle business, as did the Wright brothers. Alistair Craig, whose company eventually emerged to become the engine manufacturers Ailsa Craig, also started from manufacturing bicycles, in Glasgow in March 1885.

In general, U.S. and European cycle manufacturers used to assemble cycles from their own frames and components made by other companies, although very large companies (such as Raleigh) used to make almost every part of a bicycle (including bottom brackets, axles, etc.) In recent years, those bicycle makers have greatly changed their methods of production. Now, almost none of them produce their own frames.

Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world's bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles. One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China.

One of the profound economic implications of bicycle use is that it liberates the user from oil consumption (Ballantine, 1972). The bicycle is a inexpensive, fast, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport (Illich, 1974)

Legal requirements
Early in its development, as with automobiles, there were restrictions on the operation of bicycles. Along with advertising, and to gain free publicity, Albert A. Pope litigated on behalf of cyclists.

The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of the United Nations considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, and a person controlling a bicycle (whether actually riding or not) is considered an operator. The traffic codes of many countries reflect these definitions and demand that a bicycle satisfy certain legal requirements, sometimes even including licensing, before it can be used on public roads. In many jurisdictions, it is an offense to use a bicycle that is not in a roadworthy condition.

In most jurisdictions, bicycles must have functioning front and rear lights when ridden after dark. As some generator or dynamo-driven lamps only operate while moving, rear reflectors are frequently also mandatory. Since a moving bicycle makes little noise, some countries insist that bicycles have a warning bell for use when approaching pedestrians, equestrians, and other cyclists.

Some countries require child and/or adult cyclists to wear Helmets, as this may protect riders from head trauma. Countries which require adult cyclists to wear helmets include Spain, Canada and Australia.

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

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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