The Chaos of Ho Chi Minh City

During my first trip to Vietnam in 2013 (Hanoi), I already had a glimpse of how chaotic life was in Vietnam; from the whirring motorbikes to the pesky market vendors. It prepared me for the chaos that ensues everyday in Ho Chi Minh City.

Exploring Ho Chi Minh City

Park in the city.
Ho Chi Minh City is a fast-developing metropolis that attracts millions of tourists and business people alike. The hustle and bustle of the city is symbolized by the multitude of motorbikes zipping through the city's streets. I took my time wandering the streets because I've heard and experienced horror stories about rickshaw drivers and taxis blatantly ripping off tourists. I ended up in several different places and got to see more of the city in my own terms.

At night, the city awakens and all sorts of restaurants and bars are open. The area I stayed in was the backpacker area, so the establishments there were customized for travelers like myself.

I was quite surprised to see a Jollibee branch in Saigon, was not able to try it though, but I assumed it was the same as the Jollibee back home. There were already several fast food chains in various parts of the city. If you are sick of eating pho and veggies, you can get a burger from Jollibee, Burger King, or McDonald's. For a former (and still) communist country there were plenty of fast food chains, restaurants, shopping areas, and anything capitalist in the city.

Ben Thanh Market was the place I was badgered and harassed by some stall vendor. When I thought the price for the shirt I asked for was too expensive, I decided to leave but the vendor wouldn't let me and even blocked my way out. When I forced my way out she started hitting me and calling me crazy. I used a different level of patience during my trip around Vietnam, it was constantly put to the test during my entire stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. It took me quite a while to find this place because the rickshaw I hired took me to the wrong places and fooled me into getting his services because he asked for a SIGNIFICANTLY lower amount compared to what he charged me after the ride. The beautiful architecture of the church managed to rejuvenate my exasperated being (yes, being!).

Just right next to the church was the post office. It looked rather snazzy with its European-inspired design. The post office was busy with people sending and receiving mail. It's good to know that the building isn't just eye candy, but it is still used by locals and tourists alike.

I wasn't able to watch any shows at the opera house, but I like looking at restored old buildings, they are like a connection from an era that has passed.

I stumbled upon the fancier area of the city. I was used to hanging out at the backpacker area so this part of the city was a pleasant surprise for me. There were plenty of stores selling designer brands and fancier hotels and restaurants were all over the place. It looks like Vietnam has embraced capitalism with arms wide open.

I had no intentions of going to the pink church and the temple while I was wandering around the city, but I was taken there by the rickshaw driver I hired, who ultimately decided to leave me in a place far away from where I was supposed to be and rip me off with an atrociously expensive price for the rickshaw ride. But the pink church was quite unique, I wouldn't have stumbled upon it if I didn't hire the crazy rickshaw driver.

The Reunification Palace

The Independence Palace or also known as the Reunification Palace, played a significant role during the Vietnam War. The Palace was office and home to the president of South Vietnam during the war. It was also the site that signified the end of the Vietnam War when a North Vietnam tank crashed through its gates on April 30, 1975. The palace is also a significant historical structure because of its role throughout Vietnam's history since the invasion of the French in the 1890s.

*There is an entrance fee of VND30,000 for the Palace.

I had quite a few bad experiences during my stay in Saigon, but I did appreciate its rich history and culture and how cheap the food and lodging was. I thought the traffic back home was crazy, but in Saigon it was the same or worse in some areas, motorbikes and people whirring past each other with little to no regard to any traffic laws.

Would I come back? Probably not if I was traveling solo again, I'd only return if I was traveling with friends or family, or because work required me to do so. Saigon was my least favorite city in Southeast Asia and during my entire trip around the region.


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