One of the earliest known records of the area now known as Ho Chi Minh City says that it was a small fishing village called Prey Nokor, inhabited by Khmer people. In the year 1623 Vietnamese refugees fled from the civil war in Vietnam and settled in Prey Nokor (which was a part of Cambodia then) with the permission of the king of Cambodia. Gradually more Vietnamese refugees migrated to this area and this place came to be known as Saigon.
With the colonization of Vietnam by France in 1858 the city officially ceded to the French in 1859.The colonization influence this city heavily, so much so, that it was called “Paris in the Orient”. Many of the old colonial buildings and villas still stand today and hark of those times.
In 1954, Communist Viet Minh defeated the French in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, and the French withdrew from Vietnam. However the Communists were not recognized as the new government. The Emperor Bao D?i became the head of state and set up Saigon as his capital. During this time Saigon and the area of Cholon were combined into one city. Vietnam was partitioned into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam. The latter, led by President Ngo Dinh Diem, made Saigon its capital.
When the Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975, the city came under the jurisdiction of the Vietnam People's Army. This event is referred to as the "Liberation of Saigon."
In 1976, unified communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam came into being, the city of Saigon, the province of Gia D?nh and other districts merged to create Ho Chi Minh City to commemorate the late communist leader Ho Chi Minh.
Today, the city centre boasts of broad elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings, war and history museums and ancient pagodas.