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Ho Chi Minh City

High-rise buildings loom over shabby French colonial villas and saffron-robed monks collecting alms walk past karaoke bars; this is 21st century Ho Chi Minh City.

It may be officially known as Ho Chi Minh City but it is often still referred to as Saigon, the name evocative of a city with a past. One of the most poignant symbols of this is the Reunification Palace, where the last days of the Vietnam War were played out.

Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a mesmerising gateway for visitors to Vietnam where traditional and modern influences live side by side. Imagine incense-filled pagodas filled with a constant stream of worshippers; streets buzzing with the engines of countless motorbikes and pavements teeming with street vendors, barbers, dentists and cafés selling steaming bowls of noodle soup by the roadside.

Amid this vibrant Asian backdrop are gleaming shopping malls, skyscrapers, coffee shops and bars that would not look out of place in the west. Ho Chi Minh City is the face of the new Vietnam.