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It quickly felt like home because there are many expats like me living and working in HCMC, formerly called and is still widely known as Saigon. Many are here to teach English or to do business. But I enjoy the local elements of the city as well. Ho Chi Minh City is a perfect blend of modernity and historical heritage. This charming city has never failed to surprise and delight me. 

When I first arrived, I visited some famous tourist attractions. As a centerpiece of the Vietnam/American  war, HCMC teems with many war relics including the Cu Chi Tunnel and the Reunification Palace. The European  influence on architecture is clearly  French, including the presence of the Notre dame de Saigon and many boulevards, throwbacks from the French colonial time. Visiting historical sites helps me to immerse in the life and culture of this beautiful city. HCMC is the most dynamic economic hub in Vietnam. There are a plenty of opportunities for doing business here. My company HSP Consulting finds it a great place to do business. Individuals and businesses seem much more open to new ideas and change than other parts of Vietnam. In addition, our business partners  both individual or corporate, are very efficient. They all want to get things done quickly and professionally. Regarding peopleVietnamese are typically friendly and show great hospitality to foreignersPeople in Ho Chi Minh City are no exception. My impression is that people in Saigon tend to speak clearer English as compared to other parts of the country. That makes my life just that bit easier. However, I learn to show respect and appreciation towards to the local people by trying to improve my Vietnamese. Picking up some Vietnamese phrases gives me the sense of achievement and helps me earn trust from people. When I can use the local language, people recognize my efforts and are generally more likely to cooperate with me.  

Another advantage of knowing some Vietnamese is that you may get a better deal when shopping. Despite the nicety of the people, expats will be inconvenienced by the problem that foreigners are generally charged higher prices. Possessing some knowledge of the Vietnamese language  will come in handy. Sellers are less likely to inflate the prices if they think they cannot dupe someone who can speak Vietnamese. Fortunately, this issue only happens on the streets.  

Shopping only at upscale supermarkets and department stores would become quickly very boring,  enter into the fun of bartering with locals on the street. They will love it as well as you. Socially, Saigon is fun and vibrant. There are a variety of amenities catering for differing  entertainment needs. Those who like to indulge in retail therapy may go to deluxe malls. Shopping places in Ho Chi Minh City are plethoric, among which Aeon Mall, the Saigon Center, Diamond Plaza and Takashimaya Vietnam are the most popular. If your preference is spending time outdoors, there are scores of places  buzzing with activities such as the Thao Cam Vien theme park and Dam Sen waterpark. It seems that every day new amenities as if by magic appear. If you fancy a working lunch, try the Saigon Rooftop bar in District 1 and enjoy… 

 Saigon is a fun place to live and enjoy. Please feel free to look me up if you are in HCMC on business or pleasure.  HSP Consulting are experts in the provision of financial and tax advice and investment services both to affluent Vietnamese individuals and businesses and expats living  and working in Vietnam.

By Ian Sherlock