Ay yaj yai, what a city this is! It's the thousands of motorbikes, the pressing heat, the smells of the street food, the vendors that want to sell you anything of everything, the taxi drivers that ignore the red sign. Constant concentration is needed while walking the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
Watch the traffic!
Ho Chi Minh City is a high energetic city with a population over a 13 million. The first thing you'll notice is the traffic. It seems like all 13 million vietnamese own their own motorbike and drive through the city all at the same time. Crossing the road is a challenge and for sure something that scared us like crazy the first days.
It has lots of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy. It has a mix of street food vendors, chique designers malls and 21st-century skyscrapers. A few notable sights we spotted on the way are the city post-office, Notre Dame church and Ben Thanh market.
A mix of French colonial architecture and Vietnamse historical heritage.
The architecture of Ho Chi Minh City is a splendid mix of Vietnam’s historical heritage, from French colonial villas to modern steel and glass monuments. The City Hall with her cream and yellow colors was one of our favorites.
The Nine-Storey Cafe Apartment.
One of the coolest places we bumped into was the Cafe Apartment. This old apartment block is located at N°42 Nguyen Hue. It's build in the middle of the 20th century and the apartment has a history of housing government and military personnel. Today, however, this characterful, crumbling, nine-storey apartment block is a veritable box of hip, independent cafes, fashion boutiques and co-working spaces, which seem to grow in number each week. We wandered from floor to floor, up the twisting stone staircase and along the tiled corridors, ducked into any coffee shop that seems to be fancy. Local, trendy, and abuzz with Vietnamese youth, this old Saigon building was inspiring and so creative!
District 1, the financial and commercial hub of town.
The city is divided into 7 districts. We spend most of our time in District 1. It's the financial and commercial hub of town. Almost all touristic attractions and shops are located in this part. It's the base of many 5star hotels and high-end warehouses. We walked around and enjoyed a lot of window shopping. We saw shops as Louis Vuitton, Versace, Kenzo and Yves Saint Laurent. Specially because we visited 1 week before christmas, the windows and surroundings looked beautiful. We eat tasty vegetarian noodle soups and fried spring rolls. We drinked coffee in great looking coffeeshops with great views.
The city at nightfall
When the night falls, which is already around 6 p.m, the smell of street food becomes more and more presents. The locals enter the streets on large numbers, sit down in one of the tiny mini chairs and enjoy their street food and time off. We didn't dare to join one of this street restaurants yet, as we are still a bit afraid of the hygiene and the lack there of. Maybe if we're on the road for a longer time, and our bellies are better prepared for this kind of adventure.
Walk the boulevard.
After dinner, the place to visit is the boulevard in district 1. Many locals and tourist gather around, have a walk and enjoy the cool breeze of the evening. We saw many people dressed up in customs, in which try to urn a bit of extra money. Lots of people seem to enjoy taking a picture with a dinosaurus, a walking christmas tree or any other cartoon hero out there.
Goodbye Ho Chi Minh City.
So the end of our 10 days in Hoi Chi Minh City came to an end. On forehand we were thinking of staying for a longer period of time. To us it seemed, a big city like this would have a lot to offer. But we made up our minds and booked a flight to the next destination. We didn't fell in love with this city. For us it was a nice visit, but too crowdy, dirty, too much motorbikes, too much of everything to stay longer. We are happy to be location independent, so we just packed our bags and leave for a next destination.
Traveling up north, to Hoi An.