We are finally back from Vietnam… well actually we’re in the Taipei airport waiting for our connecting flight home, but I thought I would start blogging while I had SIX hours to waste. We had a blast in Vietnam and if you want to read all about our adventures you can visit my personal blog here. For now I just want to give you some advice while visiting HCMC.
First of all you will hear Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon interchangeably. The city was renamed in 1976 and there are a lot of people who still call it Saigon.
Here are my top pieces of advice while visiting HCMC
1. Walk across the street at a normal pace. Ok this may sound like a strange piece of advice, but listen, the streets there are CRAZY. The streets are filled and I mean filled with motorbikes. You may see 30 or more motorbikes waiting for a red light to turn green. Many drivers don’t even follow traffic lights. You will even see motorbikes going the wrong way on a one way. You will see people driving their motorbikes while texting. You can’t wait for the street to be clear to cross, you will be there forever. We learned you must walk just like you would on the sidewalk. If you change your pace by running or get scared and just stop you are in more danger. The motorbikes are very use to people crossing and will zoom in front or behind, but if you change your pace they can’t predict that and they might hit you. One thing we found to make it easier was if you were at maybe an extra busy road cross next to a local. They know what they’re doing.
2. A food tour is a must. We took The Back of The Bike Tours for a food tour in HCMC and it was one of the highlights of our entire trip. The reason why I think this is essential is because we were so excited to try the food everyone raves about in Vietnam. When we got there suddenly it was a bit scary. There are thousands of restaurants in HCMC and they don’t look like the typical restaurant you find in the US. The menus suddenly became extra foreign as well and we didn’t know what to order. Luckily our second day we took the tour and it was great! They picked us up from our hotel and we rode on the back of a locals motorbike and went to several locations around HCMC to try different local food. We got to go to places we never would have picked out on our own. It also helped us realize what food we loved in Vietnam. For instance after the tour I couldn’t get enough of the Passion Fruit Juice or the Papaya Salad in Vietnam.
3. Get a hotel in District 1. District 1 has all the main tourist attractions. You can pretty much walk anywhere you’d like to go and it is similar to NYC in that District 1 never seems to sleep. We felt perfectly safe at night since it was so bright with all the lights and many people were out.
4. Take a boat to visit Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi Tunnels is one of the main things to do while visiting HCMC. Most tours are by bus which take over 2 hours in so you’ll be traveling over 4 hours in one day. The boat takes about 1.5 hours and you get to see a lot of great scenery from the river. We chose Les Rives to take us and really enjoyed ourselves. On the boar they provided fruit and drinks and there was even wifi. They picked us up from our hotel and dropped us back off.
5. A self guided walking tour is a good way to see the city. We followed the walking tour in Lonely Planet’s Vietnam Travel Guidebook‘s tour. It helped us to see all the main attractions in a small amount of time. We also had a blast. We started with the market and shopped our way through and then finished by sending a post card to our friends at the gorgeous HCMC Post Office.