Our article naming conventions say to use the most common English-language name for a place as the destination guide article name.
Saigon was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City, but it's still widely known as Saigon, and many guides, as well as internal tourism offices, use the name.
I don't think Ho Chi Minh City is the right name to use. --Evan 12:17, 31 Dec 2003 (PST)
Most locals will refer to the city as Sai Gon. Ho Chi Minh City (Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh) is to cumbersome and is easily confused with the person. The airport abbreviation for Ho Chi Minh city when I at the Taipei airport was SGN (Sai Gon). Also bring mosquito repellent and itch creme. You'll need them. -- Minh
Standard names: to combine or not to combine syllables?
Sai Gon or Saigon? Da Lat or Dalat? I think we need to come up with a standard for how to spell these places. My preference would be to use the combined named for English ("Hanoi") and then separate the syllables for the Vietnamese ("Hà Nội"). Jpatokal 23:50, 15 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I think there are only 3 places in Vietnam that are commonly in "westernized" spelling: Hanoi, Saigon, Dalat. Even if it comes to famous Nha Trang or Da Nang, the seperated version is common usage. The language that yielded those place names does never combine the syllables if it is not a foreign word. The "western" spelling is derived from a certain form of ignorance to the indigenous culture and dates back to colonial times. Moreover, there is no apparent advantage to reading or understanding if the name is spelled combined. Should we take an error as the basis for a new rule? Let's not have Wikitravel continue this tradition, but promote a more respectful approach to the country's language: Separate the syllables in every English name, add the tone marks in the Vietnamese one. --Ront 06:02, 18 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I'm fine with the suggested policy, although I'd suggest that Danang also should be written together (see eg. Danang's official site). The 'colonial oppression' interpretation is a bit much though — Vietnamese was previously written in Chinese characters, and once free from their own oppressors, the Chinese decided to have romanized Chinese written together ("Beijing"), not apart ("Bei Jing"). Writing Vietnamese in Roman characters, on the other hand, was imposed by the French!
It's not about 'colonial oppression', but our ignorance. That's also the reason why I do not criticise the indeed ingenious work of Alexandre de Rhodes and the like. But they decided not to contract the syllables. Pinyin for Chinese is Pinyin for Chinese and a different topic. And the Vietnamese romanization is already there and decided the other way round. It's not our task to invent a new romanization, but to simplify the existing one. I think leaving out the diacritical marks in Wikitravel-English is simplifying enough. There is nothing bad about the existing system, so otherwise we should use it correctly and not degrade to western slang "corrections". So I still think: Do not combine syllables, not in Hanoi, Saigon, Dalat, Danang or Hochiminh, Rachgia, Ninhbinh. Instead it should be Ha Noi, Sai Gon, Da Lat,.... --Ront 07:18, 18 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I am Vietnamese and since I started surfing the Internet, I've found difficulties with foreign invested name like Saigon, Hanoi, Dalat, Danang... I agree that they are not written in correct Vietnamese format, but historically very familiar with foreigners. Hence, this is an issue of history, and thus because we are talking of travel, we should try to use the most common and recent formats, that's Sai Gon, Ha Noi, Da Lat...
I'm not entirely convinced the current regions make sense. Should "South" and "Mekong Delta" be rolled into one, and should "Central Highlands" be moved into just "Highlands", as eg. Sapa isn't "central" by any definition? Jpatokal 09:28, 31 Jan 2006 (EST)
Hi Jpatokal, I agree with you, though one suggestion I do have: Why not leave "Central Highlands" and add "Northern Highlands" to do justice to Sa Pa and the surroundings? Both regions are unique and very different, their only common aspect being the geological quality of "Highlands". --Ront 10:09, 31 Jan 2006 (EST)
Certainly merging the Delta into South makes sense, but are the "Northern Highlands" much of a region as a travel destination? Other than Sapa and DBP what is there? If we can gather enough info, than we can make it a "Wikitravel ad-hoc region", but in most guidebooks the entire north is rolled into one. And the Central Highlands are definitely a region of their own, culturally and geographically. -- Paul Richter
You can easily spend a month travelling the Northern Highlands, provided you are not only going on an Open-Tour-bus to Sa Pa and DBP. First, there is the area around Bac Ha with its flower H'mong villages. Next, consider Lai Chau, which is not only the former provincial capital but the origin of amazing travel to surrounding areas, e.g. Sin Ho with its unique mountainous scenery (In my opinion this was even more impressing than Sa Pa). Third, Son La is a nice place for a short stopover. Fourth, Mai Chau might be the only opportunity for the hasty to encounter ethnic minorities. So we got a lot here, and: it is definitely as or even more different from the red delta Viet culture as the Central Highlands are from the coastal regions. You cannot do justice to it by having it in the same context as Ha Noi or Ninh Binh. Moreover, a lot of travellers do not go there if they are on a tight itinerary, but almost nobody would miss out on Ha Noi. I consider Wikitravel as being a project of its own and not a clone of Lonely Planet and the like. Even if they do give some inspiration, they shouldn't be something like a standard for us. By the way, the reliable Rough Guide is separating the "Far North" from the lowland-North. -- Ront 05:08, 1 Feb 2006 (EST)
Cities . . . I have found in my travels in South Vietnam, that some cities have been moved or renamed. My first experience with this was when I hired a driver to take me to Song Be. I was stationed there during the war and wanted to see the sites (it's there, but not in the same place). I believe some cities that were to friendly to the Americans, and south Vietnam's army, were literly wiped off the map . . . it would be very helpful to list the changes. In the near future many vets will want to travel back to their old familar cities . . . This would be a great resource and I'm sure many vets will be greatful. Also I think it will help not cause some veterans bad feelings and thoughts about the friends they may have left behind in these cities (both vietnamese and American.)I know I will, and have been, taking tour groups back to Vietnam; I intend on resuming my tour groups soon; And this kind of help would be great.
Please let me know if there are current maps that show the changes.
Thank you very much in advance; From a disabled Vietnam veteran, who wants to help; Both the x-soldier, and the Vietnamese people.
Well, in fact, after Vietnam was reunified in 1975, many Southern regional names, such as provinces and cities were restored to their original names (prior to the birth of South VN government). But there have been many changes also, due to regional divisions. Your issue is a great.. I will write a list of changes of regional names in Vietnam.