One of the many amazing things about living in Singapore, is your proximity to the nicest airport in the world. A short 20 minute Uber is all it takes to get to Changi International Airport and your next stop? Anywhere in the world. After coming home from my weekend escape to Thailand, it wasn't long before I started to think about when and where my next adventure would be. My first step: see where the cheapest flights on Skycanner would take me. Every time I look for cheap flights from Singapore, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam is at the top of the list. For as little as $80 (USD) I could book a round trip ticket. A few clicks later, I had purchased my flight.
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), was unlike anything I had experienced in my Asia travel thus far. HCM is by far the largest and busiest city that I have visited and that became very evident, very quickly. While my taxi drove me to my hostel, I quickly realized that road rules do not apply there; especially for the 8+ million mopeds that are zipping all around you. Red lights are merely a suggestion and stopping for pedestrians is unheard of. Once I was settled, it was time to explore.
Crossing the street for the first time was terrifying [see previous sentence], but I survived!! The city has a grunginess to it, but instead of that being deterring it actually added to the charm and character of the city. It was such a stark difference from Singapore's sterile, quiet streets and I thoroughly appreciated the change of pace.
How I Filled My Time
My first full day in the city was actually spent away from HCM. I booked a day trip that took me venturing through the Mekong Delta where we tried locally caught fish, delectable fruits, and took a quiet boat ride through one of the iconic canals. My last day was an enlightening and heavy day. I spent the better part of the morning exploring the Cu Chi tunnels, which were used by the Vietcong during the Vietnam war. This was an amazing experience where I had the chance to actually walk in the tunnels [which were very small and the only time I have ever felt claustrophobic], shoot a gun that had been used during the war, and see various traps that were used to injure the enemy. After the tour I spent time making my way through the War Memorial Museum. It was a moving museum that told the story of the war through photos; it definitely opened my eyes to some of the atrocities of war.
What I Ate
After seeing the main sights, it was time to eat. Over the past few months I have learned that I really like Vietnamese food and I was excited to try some cheap, authentic grub. First, a Bahn Mi sandwich. After doing some research I decided to try one from a food carts that everyone seemed to be recommending. For a mere $1.50, I had a delicious Bahn Mi-cheapest dinner I have ever had. Next, I had booked a food tour that would take us to over 5 different local eateries in and around HCM. To get from place to place we used mopeds [a local was driving-thank goodness], which was a blast and a great way to experience the city. We had all types of food, from noodles to goat to frog to scallops. I tried everything and liked the majority of it; the best part is that I tried food that I never would have ordered on my own.
Overall, Ho Chi Minh was a great destination for a weekend trip! Enough to fill 2 full days, but not too much that you feel like you are missing a bunch of things. Below are some photos from around the city, local markets, and the Mekong Delta. Enjoy!
Life in the Fast Lane
Exploring the Markets
Colors of the Mekong