Saigon, officially named Ho Chi Minh City is a thriving metropolis with an unavoidable western influence offering quite a different experience to Hanoi. Whilst Hanoi seems a city to be savoured with more traditions and obvious traces of the red-tape, Saigon catches up better and faster with the best and worst sides of "doi moi" movements (renovation of the country) following the market economy rules. This is commercial hub of Vietnam , the industrial muscle of the nation. This is the rendezvous of business people and hustlers, whilst not many of them carry visa-versus from Saigon to other big cities in Vietnam.
Towering developments start to break the skyline as multinationals fight for a seat on a plane into the country. Doi Moi and the lifting of the crippling embargo have opened the floodgates to an unstoppable torrent of foreign capital. Now everyone wants to be friends, after all, there is a lot of money to be made. After twenty years of forced sedation, Vietnam is now stirring but Saigon is wide awake.
For many of the inhabitants of Ho chi Minh City, nothing has changed. The streets still swarm with life. People buy and sell things, bargain, cook, wash, sleep, eat, drink, and live on the streets of Saigon. Despite the large amount of money being thrown around, the filter effect is yet to manifest itself and thousands of people have to survive on virtually nothing. Cyclo drivers, often unable to do other work due to government policy, earn next to nothing and are still being punished for being on the losing side. As they bed down for the night n their cyclo, across the road at the La Lai Hotel, the wealthy Vietnamese are arriving in their Mercedes Benz for a night of indulgence.
In one word, Saigon is facing all good and bad things caused by the new movements of Vietnam. It obviously promises lots of interesting things to discover, whilst remains an exciting centre for shopping and hanging around and somehow remind you of its one-time name "the Pearl of the Far Orient.