Ho Chi Minh City is amazing. Even though we stayed in the backpacker area it was pretty quiet in the little alleys away from main streets. If you’ve ever been to Siem Reap or Pattaya – some streets are like that! Smell of pot, dodgy vendors, one-hour hotels, and young girls chatting up old white men – same same, but different.

There are many places in the city centre, and the good thing is that you can easily walk from A to B. For example, from our hotel near Hem Pham Ngu Lao street it took us about 20 minutes to walk to the Uncle Ho statue. District 1 is full of contrasts – you can stay in an amazingly posh place with city views and rooftop bars, and then go down and have a one-dollar coffee or a meal at a street restaurant.

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Coffee:

Best part was that there are coffee shops on every possible corner of the city. Worst part: they all serve Vietnamese coffee! Many people love it because it’s nice and sweet with added coconut syrup or condensed milk. We’re the opposite type of drinkers and like our pure espressos, black coffees or lattes. We did have a nice iced coffee a few times when we needed to sit down to take pictures. I think one was almond cappuccino, and the other one was coconut something. Most of the cafes are modern and full of people! It’s a thing in Ho Chi Minh.

Food: read our post about vegetarian food in Vietnam.

Beer:

That’s another thing. Beers taste just as average as in Thailand, but the price is unbelievable. At a local restaurant with English speaking staff a Saigon lager cost 10,000 dong, or 15 baht (30 pence), whereas at a local circleK shop it cost 12,000-15,000 dong! You just can’t NOT have a beer whenever you sit down for a meal, it’s cheaper than water! Oh, and Desperados was only 21,000 dong, about 30 baht… Wowza.

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Photography:

This city is heaven for photographers. The best thing is to just bring your camera and tripod and walk. There are just as many random objects and details to capture as in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The sunrises look amazing due to the dust rising above the streets. It is quite polluted. Evenings also look awesome because there are like five gazillion motorcycles and street vendors and restaurants everywhere.

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Safety:

Wikitravel and a few other sites recommended being extra cautious of phone-snatching on passing motorbikes, taxi scams, random strangers showing attention, and so on – so we were, always carried all our electronics stuff with us, not just passports, and we didn’t have any problems. Well, when we came back to our hotel after being out for only an hour we found the lights on and the table drawer open. So yeah, don’t leave your valuables in your room, even when you’re going for breakfast. For us that means always dragging around our camera bag and a small backpack with laptops and stuff – but we don’t want to risk them getting stolen!

When crossing the road make sure you keep the SAME PACE and don’t run so the bikes can manouvre around you, and remember – cars or any other vehicles bigger than a motorbike DON’T STOP. They will hit you, so time your crossing wisely.

Places:

It’s easy to walk to most tourist spots like the Cathedral, Uncle Ho statue, and so on, unless you have time to venture out further – it’s a huge city. We didn’t want to pay for a Vespa tour even though it was very decently priced. We figured we’ll wait a day and take our own shiny baby out for a spin when we get back to Bangkok!

Because we were so tired after the train accident (read story here) and it was rather rainy, we just walked about or neighbourhood, had nice foods, and just slept a lot after changing hotels. There were some nice hotels, where we chilled out watching cartoons… There’s first time for everything!

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