as other VTers answered, dist. 1 and backpacker area are the same place. as for the latter question, I would say Bangkok and HCMC, are pretty much alike in cultures. I mean there is a reason why they are both in ASEAN group along with other countries in South East Asia. The agricultural countries share some part of their cultures because of the agricultural land. But, no cities are alike. Bangkok, as I recall from my trip 3 years ago, was close to HCMC, except that they seemed more open minded when it comes to 'taboos' issues like prostitution, sex industry and such. there were parts of cities that my young friends did not want to wander because of the above reasons. For party lovers, of course Bangkok is paradise especially all bars and clubs in thailand is non smoking area. bangkok is not having that bad traffic, less trouble in crossing streets and a little cleaner and less populated. Bangkok has nice architecture especially in temples and pagodas while Vietnam has a 'unique' house design that you can find nowhere in the world. as far as people, I don't say this because I am a Vietnamese, but I did feel Thai people were not as friendly as Vietnamese, or maybe this is because they are less 'curious' and 'nosy' than Vietnamese folks. cut long story short, bangkok gave me some what impression of modern city in orders while HCMC is always about a modern, yet wild atmosphere. sometimes you hate the way the city was set up and growing, but you will want to come back, always.
Fondest memory: Cappuccino from a few coffee shops in this city is almost the best of the world. that was what an Italian friend told me over coffee one day.
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