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Tony Milton MRICS

BSc (Hons) Est Man

Market Report - HCMC - General
Monday, 16 March 2009








Ho Chi Minh City has long been regarded as the economic hub of Vietnam thanks to its superior infrastructure, strong business links with the outside world and convenient geographical position. The city's economic development orientation is focused on commerce, finance, banking, tourism, transport, communications, culture, health-care and high-tech professional worker training.









The southern business capital is a major transport centre, well connected by road, rail, water and air to the rest of the country, and internationally. The city has a network of rivers and canals spanning 2,900 hectares, which are convenient for both navigation and irrigation. The city's power, water and telecommunications are reliable. There are 14 industrial parks (IPs) and export processing zones (EPZs) in HCM City: Tân Thuận, Linh Trung 1&2, Tân Tạo, Hiệp Phước, Lê Minh Xuân, Tây Bắc Củ Chi, Cát Lái, Phong Phú, Bình Chiểu, Tân Bình, Vĩnh Lộc and Tân Thới Hiệp.






What most people (and maps) refer to as Ho Chi Minh City, infact only accounts for some 26% of the total area. The remaining 74% is basically split between the south-eastern mangroves & swamps of Nhà Bè, Bình Chánh & Cần Giờ Districts; and the northern-western low lands of Củ Chi & Hóc Môn.





HCM City covers 2,095 and in 1819 was home to about 60,000 people. In 1859 French troops invaded and by 1900 Saigon was home to 56,000, and its adjacent quarter Cho Lon (now part of HCM City) accommodated 135,000. In 1931, Saigon and Cho Lon were combined into one city which had 5 districts. Its population was then 350,000. This figure soared to 850,000 in 1945. In July 1954, when Vietnam was divided into North and South Viet­nam in line with the Geneva Accord, Saigon had 1,723,000 inhabitants. The then escalating war forced many people in other parts of South Vietnam to leave their homeland to seek shelter in Saigon, which boosted its population to almost 3.5 million in 1975. In the years shortly following Viet­nam's reunification in April 1975, a portion of the Saigonese population left the city for various reasons-some returning to their birthplaces and some going abroad. In 1979, HCM City was home to 3.3 million registered in­habitants. Since 1981, the Saigon's population has been constantly rising. It was 3.7 million in 1985, 4.1 million in 1990, 4.6 million in 1995, 5.2 million in 2000, 6 million in 2004, and 6.2 million in 2005. The city's population in 2006 was 6.4 million but bear in mind that this figure takes into account only Saigonese with an official family registration book. In fact, Saigon also accommodates a huge number of other types of residents that are estimated at around 1-2 million at any given time. HCM City is now divided into 24 dis­tricts with 5 being suburban. About 84% of the population lives in urban districts. Of the city's total area of almost 2,100 square kilometers, Can Gio District southeast of the downtown has the biggest surface with 704 square ki­lometers. It is followed by Cu Chi (434 square kilometers) and Binh Chanh (253 square kilometers). All the three are suburban. The most populous district is Go Vap with almost 500,000 registered residents. Coming next are Binh Thanh (450,000) and Tan Phu (377,000). However, none of them tops the city's list of districts with the highest popu­lation density. With a population of al­most 190,000 living in an area of only 4.18 square kilometers, District 4 is the most "crowded" district in town: 45,442 people share one square kilometer. To give you a comparison, Manhattan has the highest density in New York City, which is the most populated city in the United States. Manhattan has 25,846 people per one square kilometer, almost half that of District 4! District 5 (44,791/square kilometer) and District 11 (44,206/square kilometer) are in second and the third places. While the gender ratio of all of Vietnam is about 96 males versus 100 females, that of HCM City is only 93 males per every 100 females.




The city is bordered by Binh Duong Province in the North, Dong Nai Province in the East, Tay Ninh Province in the West and Long An Province in the South that combined form the SKER. Administratively, the city is divided into 20 districts.



Districts 1


District 1 is the city centre where most government offices and foreign businesses are located. The Central Business District (CBD) is generally accepted as areas in District 1 along major thoroughfares such as Le Loi, Nguyen Huệ, Lê Duẩn, Đồng Khởi streets and / or within the 1-2 km radius around the City Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral.



District 2


District 2, District 9 and Thủ Đức District make up the north-eastern quarter of the city where Thủ Thiêm, An Phú and the An Khánh areas have thus far proven to be good areas for suburban development. The area on the far side of the Saigon bridge is, by Saigon standards, a ‘green & pleasant’ land. Though still true, more and more of the ‘green’ land plots (and they have all, frequently, been sold many times over by speculators) are now being developed into houses, with a few of the larger plots turned into apartments or more residential compounds. The relocation of many of the city centre ports to the area around Cat Lai on the Saigon River and the future development of the large Nhơn Trạch bridge linking HCMC with Dong Nai will see the district gain increasing importance over time.



Districts 3


District 3 borders District 1 and is considered a desirable area for living in HCMC and is also where the main train station is currently located.



Districts 4


District 4, District 7, Nhà Bè District and parts of Bình Chánh District contain port facilities, the Tân Thuận Export Processing Zone and particularly the Phú Mỹ Hưng / Saigon South major new urban centre which is beginning to prove its viability with recent residential developments showing remarkable initial sales and the formation of a healthy secondary market.



Districts 5


District 5, also known as China Town or Chợ Lớn, hosts the largest Chinese community in Vietnam and maintains family / business links with Chinese communities both in mainland China, Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.



Districts 6


District 6 lies to the west of Districts 5 & 11 on the main Mekong Delta road and close to the ring road. As the city’s population increases it will become increasingly developed by rural immigrants and those seeking cheaper, but still easily accessible accommodation for the CBD.



District 7 (around Saigon South)


The formation of the Saigon South urban area on 2,600 hectares is meant to create conditions for urban and rural districts in the surrounding areas of District 7, District 8, Nhà Bè and Bình Chánh to develop. With the (at long last), construction of a couple bridges, Saigon South is no longer only accessible via the inadequate Kinh Tẻ bridge by the Saigon Port. It is now possible to travel from the Phú Mỹ Hưng (PMH) New Residential Area (often referred to as Saigon South) to the CBD in 15 minutes. After years of relative inactivity, the 600 hectare @$250m PMH Joint Venture is establishing itself as a genuine “new city centre” with the first of many planned apartment buildings and houses, international schools; the Franco Vietnam (Pháp Việt) hospital; RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) University; and other such ancillary service suppliers & facilities now operational. The government have now also approved the construction of the 1,950m long $114m Phu My bridge, that will connect the city ring road (that runs through PMH) with the CBD via the 770 hectare $632m Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area of District 2 by the end of 2009.



District 8


District 8 and District 11 are in the south eastern part of the city and are mainly residential areas along both sides of the main highway going towards Cần Thơ City and the Mekong Delta.



District 9


District 9 lies to the east of District 2 and the Hanoi Highway No.1 extending to the Saigon river / the border with Đồng Nai. The continuing development of the adjacent District 2 and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park (which received a $1 billion plus investment from INTEL in 2006), will see the district gain increasing importance over time.



District 10


District 10 lies to the north of District 5, the south of Tan Binh (and the airport), and to the west of District 3 and so is close to the CBD. It is either side of the main Mekong Delta highway and very densely populated.



District 11


District 11 lies between Districts 10 and 6 and so is also on the main Mekong Delta highway and densely populated.



District 12 & Hoc Mon District


District 12 and Hoc Mon lie to the north of Tân Sơn Nhất international airport in Tân Bình District. It borders Bình Dương province (the other side of the Saigon River) and is bisected by the ring road. However, it remains relatively inaccessible due to the state of roads connecting it directly to the CBD, though this will change over time. Hoc Mon is between Cu Chi (to the west) and District 12 (to the east).



Bình Chánh & Binh Tan Districts


Bình Chánh and Bình Tân District to the west of the city are newly industrialised and rapidly expanding areas with the Tân Tạo, Vĩnh Lộc and Lê Minh Xuân industrial parks located within their confines. These districts are also the gateway to the Mekong Delta provinces.



Bình Thạnh District


Bình Thạnh lies immediately to the east of District 1 and is bordered by the Saigon River to the east. It includes the Thanh Đa peninsula but otherwise is densely populated and well connected with the Hanoi Highway No.1, Bình Dương and most parts of the city.



Tân Bình, Tân Phú, & Phú Nhuận Districts


Tân Phú, Tân Bình and Phú Nhuận Districts are mainly residential areas with Tân Bình also home to HCMC's Tân Sơn Nhất International airport. Going further north is the out-lying Gò Vấp and Hóc Môn Districts and District 12.



Cần Giờ & Củ Chi Districts


Cần Giờ to the east and Củ Chi District to the west each comprise about 30% of the total land area of the city / province but are remote and relatively inaccessible. Cần Giờ is mostly UNESCO listed mangrove swamps with a large coastline whereas Củ Chi is planned for major industrial and residential development in future years.


Last Updated ( Friday, 08 May 2009 )
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