I loved my travel to Vietnam and in particular Ho Chi Minh City where I spent most of my time, I really did, the people, the food, the old heritage buildings and to a lesser extent, the craziness on the streets.
There was so much to love about travelling to Vietnam, yet in another way, it was some kind of love hate relationship and I don’t mean that in a negative way by any stretch. Yet, as I leave your special land for now, let’s stay friends, because I will be back again and I’ll be eager to eat your pho and drink your Saigon Special beer once again.
Visiting Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City was interesting to say the least, crazy road conditions, where traffic lights were rare and even when they were around, it seemed to be a choice by the locals if the rules were followed. It then made attempting to cross a road, near on impossible and with kids around even harder, but we did manage.
The locals were great, sure some of them were pushy, even rude, and at first it seemed a little disturbing when in the hustle and bustle of the streets.
Yet at the end of the day, most of the locals were polite and eventually you got used to the hectic streets, because it is a chaotic city and people do what they have got to do to get around.
Life in downtown Saigon is a rat race and if you are too nice you get left behind. If you’re not aggressive, you get left stranded. Quite simply, if you don’t like a mad rush, then don’t visit Ho Chi Minh City. Personally I wasn’t overawed by the occasion but I certainly respected it.
What about the Vietnamese Food? Well there is lots and lots of that famous Vietnamese pho, you know, that rice noodle soup that is sold in just about every second house in the city.
While there is a lot of variety of Vietnamese food available, the popular choices were the soup or the bread rolls filled with meat and salads that was easily accessible on the streets, just like the soup. At least that is the way it is in the South of Vietnam.
Travel to Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City – My Opinion of the Chaotic City
The good and the bad of Ho Chi Minh City? What did I like? Or not like? Let’s jump into it and who knows it may help you prepare for your visit to Vietnam in the future and you may share a similar love hate relationship in your Vietnam Travel experience.
The Not So Good Bits About Visiting Vietnam
- Chaotic Saigon: Bike, bikes everywhere. Down a small alley way, there will be bikes. On the footpath, you guessed it, more bikes. You can’t escape it, so embrace it because you simply cannot do anything about so you better to just get used to it.
- Crossing the road: The crazy streets leads to how to cross a road in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s quite dangerous to say the least. Unfortunately, the best answer I can give at this time is to proceed with caution and cross the road, the bikes will go around you. Hopefully. But whatever you do, don’t stop and continue to move forward at a slow walking pace.
- The air out there: The pollution in the big city is appalling and a lot of the locals do wear a mask. If you find the air is becoming a hassle, I suggest you buy a mask for yourself, even if it feels a little weird. You won’t look out of place, that I can assure you.
- Not an easy city to walk: Walking the streets of the city is not easy, and I am talking about when you are actually on the footpath. Not only are you avoiding motorbikes that are all over the place, but also food stalls that seem to set up wherever there is space. If you desire a power walk or a jog, there are plenty of riverside paths available or just head to district 7 where the atmosphere is a lot more upmarket and casual.
- The sad state of some of the Rivers: The rivers need a lot of work, rubbish is everywhere and it simply looks awful. I can only hope that in the future that can all get sorted, because at the moment, it is in a sad state.
The good bits of when you Visit Vietnam
- It’s an affordable country to travel: Vietnam is cheap, a good buffet can cost you about $15AUD. A bottle of beer can cost as low as 70c. Uber/Grab is the best way to get around the city and you can’t get ripped off as the price is already determined before you get in the car. Quite simply, Vietnam is an affordable country to travel to and you can visit attractions, buy cheap stuff in markets and go on Vietnam tours at a very reasonable price that is not afforded in a lot of other countries.
- District 7: Ho Chi Minh City is a city that is fast developing and District 7 is the best proof of that scenario. Everything is modern, from its fantastic shopping malls to modern apartments and fine dining restaurants over the water. If you feel like you need a break from the mad rush, then head to District 7. It’s only a good half hour away from District 1 by Grab, depending on traffic of course.
- The temples: Temples will pop up all over the place and often when you least expect to run into one. If you do catch up to one on a whim, go inside and have a look at the unique buildings. Make sure you show respect when you enter inside the temples.
- How the city changes: To have a good walk or a drive in the car. It’s amazing how much a city changes from block to block during your travels in the city. You can go from an area of the city looking like a dump that has seen better days, to finding something new, modern and upmarket. Saigon is a city is full of surprises.
- The Locals: They won’t change, so just get used to them and if you give it time and after a while you will learn to like them. Remember this country and the older generation have gone through some savage and rough times with the Vietnam War. So never mind their forceful ways, they don’t intend to be rude, it’s just the way it is. The Vietnamese people really are quite an admirable bunch of good, hard working, family orientated and honest folk. Oh, and one for the male readers out there, the local women are simply beautiful.
The Verdict of Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam was one unique destination that I have ever visited, and there was a lot I did like about the country and a few things I didn’t like, even if it was minimal. If someone were to ask me, would I go back to Vietnam? Well, my answer would be honest as usual. Yes, without hesitation. There is so much more of the country of gotta see, particularly the Northern part of the country.
Thanks Vietnam, you were great and I will be back again real soon.