Ho Chi Minh City, better known as Saigon and still referred to that way by locals, makes quite the first impression. As soon as flights to Ho Chi Minh City touch down, the energy of the place engulfs you – the heat, the roar of motorbikes, the mind-boggling traffic and crowds. The memories that remain after a visit, however, are of friendly locals, delicious food and a thrilling buzz.
The street food in Vietnam is some of the best in the world, thanks in part to the use of fresh noodles, vegetables and meat. Plan to try everything you see, from freshly squeezed passion fruit juice to steaming bowls of pho that are the nation’s breakfast. Add in a Vietnamese iced coffee (a strong, sweet drink made with condensed milk) to energise you for sightseeing, and make sure to grab a bag of chopped pineapple from a passing vendor.
One of the best things to do in Saigon is indulge in luxuries that may be more expensive than back home. The city’s best hotels have chic rooftop pools that can be used for a small fee, and these are a delightful way to spend a sweltering afternoon after a morning of exploring temples or shopping for tailor-made clothes.
In Saigon, the locals are warm and welcoming. Sitting among them on a plastic chair on a crowded sidewalk, eating a bowl of noodle soup and watching the stream of motorbikes piled high with everything from stacks of furniture to entire families, is the quintessential Saigon experience. Embrace it.