In many ways, Saigon's relationship with Hanoi reminds me somewhat of that between Shanghai and Beijing. If Hanoi is the uptight, staid elder statesman, then Saigon is his rebellious and seductive mistress out on the prowl. Saigon exudes confidence, from the towering new skyscrapers to the mega-malls filled with teenagers to grandmas all decked out in the latest fashion. Granted, this is a city of more than 7 million people, and perhaps a vast majority of them still live within meager means, but there is the sense that Saigon is at the tip of the modernity spear in Vietnam, and despite the clampdown and torment it endured after the war, there was always an impatient population bubbling just beneath the surface.
Saigon is a thoroughly modern metropolis... chaotic, cosmopolitan, and full of charisma. This is especially true in District 1, located around the city center, where the bulk of the business, tourist, and shopping areas all converge. I would definitely recommend staying at a hotel in this vicinity so major tourist spots are within walking distance. Some of the more well-known sights in Saigon include the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Reunification Palace, and the War Remnants Museum. The Reunification Palace (formerly the seat of government for South Vietnam during the war) is definitely worth a visit, since it has been meticulously maintained and almost appears to be suspended in time.
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
Saigon Central Post Office (designed by Gustave Eiffel)
Cabinet Meeting Room
War Remnants Museum (aka American Military Equipment Museum)
Streets of Saigon
Building boom along Saigon River
Riverfront shanty towns
Everything is transported by water here...
... and I mean everything
I think the pig is smiling
One of the smaller tributaries along the delta
Delicious fish for lunch (cool presentation too)
Cai Dao Temple
One of the more interesting (and colorful) religions I've come across, combining the powers of Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Laozi, etc.
Saigon is definitely a city I'd like to visit again someday. In another decade or two, it may be well on it's way towards becoming the next Shanghai.