Exploring Ho Chi Minh / Saigon

Streets of the city

Ho Chi Minh’s streets were busy. And, as the day went on they just became busier. The fastest way to learn how to get around an unfamlliar city is to follow a map, involuntarily get lost, and then find your way back. Therefore we spent most of our first day with a glossy sheet map in our hands, navigating (and occasionally losing) our way around the main parts of the city.

Many of the stores along the streets seemed to specialise in just 1 product. For example, the above picture shows a store selling balls. And quite simply that’s all they sold. Styrofoam and coloured balls.

The steets were lined with motorbikes for tourists to hire as they were the cheapest form of motor tranport and the fastest amongst the traffic.

The quietest street we found was a ‘book street’, whereby the whole street predominantly sold books.

These are the only books I could find in English. All were recycled and from any genre the store owner could find.

In Vietnam, where there’s streets, there is invariably going to be street food. We found a Bahn Mi cart with its contents looking as though they had been cooking under the sun for a day or two. After witnessing someone before us order and eat their Bahn Mi without complaint, we continued to do the same. I must say, nothing about it seemed fresh, and it didn’t taste like any Bahn Mi I’ve had before, but who am I to judge authentic Vietnamese street food.

20K VND = $1.30 AUD

Historical buildings

There’s a rang of historical buildings scattered throughout Ho Chi Minh within walking distance from each other. We took a walk through the Reunification Palace. It was a multi-story complex with many conference rooms and even underground floors for emergencies such as bombings.

The palace is open to tour and view virtually every room.

We also went to Saigon Central Post Office. It’s mostly a site for tourists to admire the orginal interior and exterior which looks as though it has been completely and accurately retained. You can even send a postcard home at this point in your trip as it is still a working post office. The post office is right next to another famous Vietnamese structure – The Notre Dame Cathedral.

Most signage is all in Vietnamese so it takes a while to wrap your head around street names, hstorical sites and other venues.

Mekong River Delta

Another day out was spent on a tour to the Mekong Delta. My family and I took a private tour as there were 5 of us so it wan’t hard to fill a vehicle or for the tour company to get their money’s worth. We learnt a little more about the history and way of life in Vietnam, especially how the Mekong Delta produced a livelihood for the locals. There was a range of things we experienced on ths particular tour, including brickworks, coconut candy making and local karaoke (they LOVE karaoke).

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