The decentralization of public governance is arguably one of the most prioritized reforms for many of the world’s policy-makers, especially those from developing countries. In theory, decentralization is a comprehensive solution, leading to innovative and capable leadership, higher popular participation, accountability, and even a decrease in corruption. Rodden believes that ‘decentralization and the spread of federalism are perhaps the most important trends in governance around the world over the last 50 years.’ However, how, why and when decentralization works are not straightforward questions. And the empirical evidences concerning the effectiveness of decentralization is significantly fragmented and diverse. Studies focusing on decentralization at an international level are not particularly robust in Vietnamese and ASEAN legal literatures, and this essay therefore aims to provide a compact, informative work about international experiences of decentralization, in relation to the overall contemporary condition of Ho Chi Minh City, as the city has now been granted certain administrative and financial freedoms. The essay will offer, it is hoped, a useful starting point for Vietnamese authors and also ASEAN scholars who would like to explore decentralization on a comparative basis.