Ho Chi Minh City, the cosmopolitan city Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), previously called and sometimes referred to as Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam. Saigon was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and more recently the independent Republic of South Vietnam from 1955–75. After the Vietnam / American War, Saigon merged […]
Ho Chi Minh City, the cosmopolitan city
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), previously called and sometimes referred to as Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam. Saigon was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and more recently the independent Republic of South Vietnam from 1955–75. After the Vietnam / American War, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on 2 July 1976 in recognition of the revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh.
HCMC’s metropolitan area has a population of more than 10 million people, making it the most densely populated city in Vietnam. HCMC is well known for its French colonial buildings, they include the Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of French imported stone, the Hotel Continental, Saigon’s first hotel built in 1880, and the iconic, 1891 built Central Post Office. There is also City Hall or the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Head Office, as it is now known, it was built in 1902 and is the dominant centre piece of the city. Food stalls and vendors line the city’s streets, especially around bustling Bến Thành Market, all this combines to make HCMC a vibrant and interesting city.
HCMC alone contributes 20% of Vietnam’s GDP and approximately two-thirds of the city’s economic output comes from the services sector. It has much higher labour productivity and has a higher share of the working population (78% compared to 69% in rest of the country). The annual disposable income per capita is double the Vietnam average ($3000)
HCMC has a particularly young population with the median age in Vietnam being just over 30 years old, compared with South Korea and Taiwan 41 and 40, respectively. HCMC’s young people are hardworking and tech-savvy and are increasingly embracing a more western lifestyle. This equates to a strong labour base for professional offshore staffing companies. There is a number of staffing service providers in HCMC and this draws talented youngsters from around the country to fill the vacancies at these offshore services.
The people of HCMC are especially interested in foreign brands and companies that come from countries and regions such as the EU, US, Australia, Japan or Korea, These companies are generally perceived as of high quality as regards products and services and as potential employers.
The community, especially the young, are very open and welcoming to foreigners. The English language skills of the local people are improving with a very strong emphasis on using English as the language of business. Not only is English compulsory in schools there are small private language schools on every street for extra tuition and specialist instruction.
The lessening of bureaucracy to encourage foreign companies doing business in HCMC has made it easier foreign companies to set up operations. Those who have, find it a positive experience to work with local distributors and sourcing business partners or management teams.
Being a developing country, the infrastructure in HCMC is still in a developmental stage but the fundamental basics for living and doing business in the city is there.
HCMC has wide streets and boulevards, which allows hundreds of thousands of motorbikes, and tens of thousands cars to move throughout the city, without going through too many extreme jams, unlike some other Asian cities. In order to cope with the increasing traffic situation, local government has accelerated road infrastructure projects and started working on the construction of a Metro system for the city. The first line is expected to start running in 2020. In addition, the new Long Thanh International Airport is scheduled to start construction in 2019.
Finally, HCMC has become a home to tens of thousands of expats, especially from Australia, Korea, Japan and Europe and they have found that working and living in HCMC invigorating and exciting place to live and do business.