Where is Saigon? And are there any cultural or political implications of referring to Vietnam’s largest city as “Saigon” instead of its new official name, Ho Chi Minh City? The short answer: No, you can safely still refer to Ho Chi Minh City as Saigon while traveling there.
Is it Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon?
Saigon was merged with the surrounding province in 1976 and renamed Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate the reunification at the end of the Vietnam War – but the newest generation of Vietnamese youth growing up under the current government tends to use “Ho Chi Minh City” slightly more often. Age and background often seems to influence the way go about naming the city. Younger people growing up in other parts of Vietnam may prefer to say “Ho Chi Minh City” while residents of the city still use “Saigon” in all but formal or governmental settings. The Vietnamese diaspora living abroad more often say.
Considerations for Saying Saigon: The airport code for Ho Chi Minh City is still SGN. Saigon is still used as a label for District 1, the center of Ho Chi Minh City. New hotel developments often opt for “Saigon” in their names for brevity rather than “Ho Chi Minh City.” Some bus stations still label signs and tickets with “Saigon.” The river flowing through the city is still named the Saigon River. Vietnamese people living overseas who fled at the end of the war often prefer to say “Saigon” for political reasons. Considerations for Saying Ho Chi Minh City: In Hanoi and the north, you’ll more often hear “Ho Chi Minh City” used. All government publications and productions use “Ho Chi Minh City.” All official documents and writings should use “Ho Chi Minh City.”
If you opt to say “Ho Chi Minh City,” don’t exclude “city” from the end as is sometimes done for other cities (e.g., saying “New York” instead of “New York City.”) Only saying “Ho Chi Minh” may cause people to think you are referring to the historical figure. Regardless of whether you prefer to say Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll have an interesting time in Vietnam’s busiest urban center. Nightlife rages a little harder in Saigon than in Hanoi, and Western influences have taken hold. Saigon’s first McDonald’s restaurant opened in 2014, but the delicious pho still flows freely. Southern Vietnamese people claim to be a little more open than their cohorts in the north; meanwhile, people in the north think the southerners are out of their minds.
Then again, lots of countries with a north-south cultural divide argue the same!