Be a Millionaire in Ho Chi Minh City

Be a Millionaire in Ho Chi Minh City

Xin Chao (pronounced sin jow) is how you say hello in Vietnamese. A great way to be friendly in Ho Chi Minh City and the locals love it.

Ho Chi Minh City is the most populated city in Vietnam with a population of over 9.8 million out of the 96 million in Vietnam. Named after Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary,  which actually means bright spirit or clear will.

The currency for Vietnam is the Dong and you can quickly become a millionaire in Vietnam as $1,000,000 dong is the equivalent of about $42 CA or $55 US approximately. no, not really millionaires in the true sense.

Vietnam itself has a unique culture with main influences from Thai, Chinese, Indian, and French. There are other influences but these are the main ones that are prevalent in the city.

These influences can be seen throughout the country and most importantly Ho Chi Minh City. Throughout the country there are 54(I have also seen 52) ethnic groups recognized in Vietnam with their own languages, traditions, and subcultures. I could not keep that one straight if I tried. Good thing they do speak English in Vietnam.

The country of Vietnam is often represented by a cultural emblem of a bamboo pole balanced carrying two baskets of rice on either end of the pole. The middle is represented by central Vietnam and on the ends North and South Vietnam. This shows the harmony and balance of the country itself with all of its cultures.

The bamboo pole is still a means of carrying items throughout the country. Many women and men can still be seen carrying their loads around the same way in rural life today.

You may see people carrying these bamboo poles with baskets in Ho Chi Minh city but as the urban areas move to globalization there is less and less of this method of transporting goods. I for one am thankful for modernization as I have a bad back and carrying a load like that would put me in traction. Any chiropractors in the house?

Ho Chi Minh or HCMC, as you will hear it called. And yes, even cities are getting acronyms more often now. LOL.

The city is culturally diverse and rich in history and considered the main hub of country and is innovative and dynamic and fluidly brings both the modern and the old together. It represents a blended Ho Chi Minh from its past to its future.

Vietnam has Chinese influences that date back from 111 BC to 934 AD when they were under Chinese rule by several dynasties.  This was called the 1000 years of Northern Rule. The manners and customs of the Chinese were adopted by the Vietnamese during this time.  These influences still exist in Ho Chi Minh today.

For example, some Vietnamese and Chinese people of Ho Chi Minh have similar religious beliefs.  They both believe in several gods and also believe in a soul including animism. Animism is the belief that objects, sacred places, animals and natural phenomena possess a distinct spiritual essence.

Due to this co existence in Ho Chi Minh, many beliefs from the Chinese have exchanged into some of the Vietnamese beliefs as well. This can be seen in many forms including architecture, decoration, rituals, festivals, food, and more. It is a blended fusion of beliefs that allows two cultures to co-exist.

For example the Guandi temple also known as Ong Pagoda, Quan De Shrine, or Nghia An Assembly Hall), is a sacred representation of a Chinese architecture detailed with distinctive Chinese elements. Enameled roofs including dragons and Vietnamese unicorns. The temple shows many features of Chinese beliefs. This temple is believed to be built in the 19th century, well after the occupation of the Chinese.

Interestingly enough, there are two districts that the Chinese migrated to in this area and each area is distinctive to the areas that they migrated from. One area, District 3,  has the neoclassical feel of the older Chinese style architecture nicknamed Chinatown while the other area, District 5, has a distinctive English modern feel as in Hong Kong.

From the Whale festival where whales are worshipped as gods to the lantern festival, these are examples of the ongoing Chinese influence in festivals and much more.

The Chinese influence is still present throughout the city with food as well. Rice bowls and chopsticks can be found throughout the city. Still trying to master those things myself. What you will find is that Vietnamese food has a blend of both Chinese and French in their food.  Yes, I said French. I never thought of France when I though of Vietnam.

In 1858, France invaded Vietnam. They would eventually sign a peace in 1862 with the south being ceded to the French. Vietnam became a French protectorate in 1883. Ho Chi Minh city was made the capital under French colonialism and was originally named Saigon.

The French developed infrastructure for Vietnam including installing roads, bridges, trains and railway lines, and harbours. Further advancing the country to modernity.  The most famous railway being the Reunification Express between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. The infrastructure is still used today.

The French cuisine is prevalent in the city with omelets, bagettes, croissants, and anything fried in butter. The Vietnamese sub, banh mi, or bagette sandwich, is a direct result of the French influences. The most important thing brought to Vietnam by France is Coffee!!! The staple that starts me going in the morning. Vietnamese coffee is a staple on every menu and drank in many homes. 

Prior to this, the people adopted drinking tea like the Chinese. Vietnam is now the 2nd largest producer of coffee outside of Brazil. It is a pivotal way of life now. Be sure to try the Vietnamese coffee when you go to Vietnam.

They have also adopted the café culture of the French to which can be seen throughout the city from beautiful terraces to folding tables on a sidewalk. The vibrant culture is there to enjoy.

The architecture of the French European style can still be seen in Ho Chi Minh. Saigon Post Office or Buu Dien Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh and the Saigon Opera House are some of the colonial heritage buildings in Ho Chi Minh. There are balconies, high arches, and many other features of French architecture to be seen in the city. The downtown area is a great place to visit to see these stunning works of art.

The Vietnamese language also has some of the phonetics of the French language is some of their words which can be heard still today. The French helped to bring a romanticized version of the Vietnamese language to the country.

They also introduced Catholicism and approx. 7-10% of Vietnamese are still Christian and can be seen wearing crosses around their necks. Some of the most famous buildings in Vietnam are churches like the Ho Chi Minh Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and the Pink Church.

Education was also introduced by the French to the everyone up to grade 3 at that time. Until then it was only reserved for the elite.

Due to these influences and more by the French, Vietnam has earned the nickname, “Paris of the Orient”.

The Thai influences are more from a gastronomy level with mango sticky rice and hotpots which can be enjoyed in restaurants in the city. Ho Chi Minh.  The blend of sweet and sticky into the food is considered to be part of a Thai influence. I love Mango sticky rice and so do my hips but nothing is going to stop me from eating it. Yes I have no will power.

There also seems to be some beliefs in spells, curses, and witchcraft from Thai culture that are found in Vietnam and therefore Ho Chi Minh city that were also influenced from Thailand.

Of course just due to the location of the two countries trade was common between the two countries and this is why the Thai spices also were introduced in Vietnam as a result.

The Indian influences come from the migration to Vietnam. To the southern area of Vietnam and especially in Ho Chi Minh, they traded textiles, clothing, jewelry and tailoring services. They engaged in banking, brokerage, and the rental of commercial buildings, vehicles, boats and more. They eventually migrated back to India when there was political instability that forced them to leave at that time.

During this time they also built beautiful mosques built in the 1930s that can be found throughout the city with the most prominent and oldest one being the Saigon Central Mosque. The architecture also includes Hindu temples with one being the Sri Mariamman Temple.

After the fall of Saigon, the Indian presence was depleted due to the new rule that discouraged foreigners and their consequent confiscation of privately owned property.

Although, the pre-1975 Indian citizens are small in representation, the Indian culture has been preserved through the architecture.

The city itself has a vibrant and colorful history and culture that have been directly affected by the influences of other countries while they were a part of the city.  You can still find the bustling side streets with cafes and street vendors and the colorful architecture of the history of Ho Chi Minh.

The diversity still remains with many different cultures, religions, and beliefs that make it the melting pot of Ho Chi Minh City.

But like most cities Ho Chi Minh has entered the age of modern Asia. Skyscrapers now dot the landscape with iconic buildings like the nicknamed Shark Fin and the Landmark 81.

Ho Chi Minh City the bustling metropolis of today is the largest city, business and financial hub of Vietnam with a blend of the history and the modern life of today.

Lots of traffic and especially motorbikes but worth the visit to see the city and all its sites. You will learn quickly how to navigate the traffic by watching how others cross the road.

A great cultural experience and we loved immersing ourselvses in the city Ho Chi Minh City. Tracked over 10,000 steps and did not worry about calories for the foods we ate and loved.

We met many vibrant individuals and purchased many little handicrafts at great prices. Taking a little of Vietnam back with us.

Stay Curious

The Nomads


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