Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous city in Vietnam.A major air travel gateway to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is its most visited city. Many of the city's historical landmarks which are well known to international visitors include the Bến Thành Market, Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, Independence Palace and the Municipal Theatre.
Today, the city's core is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. The majority of these tourist spots are located in District 1 and are a short leisurely distance from each other. The most prominent structures in the city centre are the Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất), City Hall (Ủy ban nhân dân Thành phố), Municipal Theatre (Nhà hát thành phố, also known as the Opera House), City Post Office (Bưu điện thành phố), State Bank Office (Ngân hàng nhà nước), City People's Court (Tòa án nhân dân thành phố) and Notre-Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà) the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. Some of the historic hotels are the Hotel Majestic, dating from the French colonial era, and the Rex and Caravelle hotels are former hangouts for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s & '70s.
The city has various museums including the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of south-eastern Armed Forces, the War Remnants Museum, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Nha Rong Memorial House, and the Ben Duoc Relic of Underground Tunnels. The Củ Chi tunnels are north-west of the city in Củ Chi District. The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, in District 1, dates from 1865. The Đầm Sen Tourist and Cultural Park, Suối Tiên Amusement and Culture Park, and Cần Giờ's Eco beach resort are three recreational sites inside the city which are popular with tourists. Aside from the Municipal Theatre, there are other places of entertainment such as the Bến Thành theatre, Hòa Bình theatre, and the Lan Anh Music Stage.
Like many of Vietnam's cities, the city boasts a multitude of restaurants serving typical Vietnamese dishes such as phở or rice vermicelli. Backpacking travellers most often frequent the "Western Quarter" on Phạm Ngũ Lão Street and Bùi Viện Street, District.