The colonial French laid out the old city of Saigon, beyond the grid of downtown streets, with wide boulevards radiating at angles from monumental roundabouts.
As a result, most areas of TP. Hồ Chí Minh have very large blocks with long distances between cross-streets.
Therefore Ho Chi Minh City, with 6.12 million people in 2004, is one of the densest cities in the world, at 10,608 people per square kilometer in its 19 inner-city districts, with 45,001 people per square kilometer in its densest district, Chợ Lơn in District 5. By comparison, Hong Kong has a population density of 6,206 people per sq. km with 55,000 people/sq. km. in its densest district. Manila has 41,014/sq. km., Cairo 36,618/sq. km., Mumbai 29,434/sq. km., New York City 10,292/sq. km. (25,849/sq. km. in Manhattan), 24,775/sq. km. in Paris, and 16,391/sq. km. in Seoul [all statistics from Wikipedia]. Given the density of some of these cities, HCMC cannot be considered overpopulated. And there are many undeveloped areas within the city that can grow to increase the density of the city safely.
Since automobiles cannot enter the narrow lanes of the block, these residents will not be tempted to buy automobiles and contribute to the air pollution and traffic congestion in the city. And since many of the residents are secure in the blocks and have everything that they need, they rarely venture outside the block and require transportation to other parts of the city. Those that have jobs outside the blocks commute via bus or motorbike.
Nevertheless, there are indications that the HCMC government will begin to address its infrastructure issues soon. How the government regulates future development, however, will greatly impact the existing urban fabric of the city. More about that later.