Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest and most chaotic city.
Though the chaos is exciting, you really need to be careful
when crossing the road, unless you want to be the cause of a
scooter pile-up in the middle of the road.
Motorbikes, rickshaws, scooters and cars go wherever they
want, whenever they want - I'm not too sure road rules are
Strolling - or if you're up for adventure and possibly death,
riding - through the bustling streets and alleys, you'll find
it hard to believe that this lively area was among so much
uproar a generation earlier.
There is so much energy in Ho Chi Minh City.
It is a huge metropolis full of 6.6 million people who are
trying their best to build a better future for themselves and
Ho Chi Minh City (formally known as Saigon) is not the place
to go if you want to slow it down: in the sense of peaceful
Ho Chi Minh is a city in all the ways that are both
uncomfortable and motivating about urban centres.
The traffic, noise, smog and heat that are ubiquitous in much
of Southeast Asia have been perfected here.
There is something about the Vietnamese city life that is so
In the most tourist-prone District 1, you can get by easily
without knowing a single word of the language.
Vietnamese people are very proud of their identity and
language, but that doesn't keep them from wanting to interact
at every chance with the tourists, hoping to learn some new
English phrases and hopefully sell you something while
they're at it.
In the Pham Ngu Lao area you'll find decent accommodation,
cheap food, cheap beer, souvenirs and someone wanting to sell
you sunglasses every 10m.
Although full of tourists, the vibe isn't altered whatsoever.
It's constantly buzzing.
The best thing to do is to spend the night snacking at a
restaurant and people-watching,It's the people that make the
culture what it is.
One thing that seems to be on every tourist's itinerary is
the War Remnants Museum.
Going in with little-to-no knowledge of the war, it was a
difficult experience but one that I would definitely
The way the stories were told and displayed showed just how
atrocious the war really was.
It's confrontational, but to be able to admire the
photographs and delve into the at times horrific details, is
an amazing few hours spent.
In my opinion, more interesting than the tourist-prone
buildings of the Reunification Palace, Saigon Notre-Dame
Cathedral Basilica and the Saigon Central Post Office is the
Cho Ben Thanh Market (at the intersection of Le Loi, Ham
Nghi, and Tran Hung Dao Aves and Le Lai St).
You could spend all day here and probably get lost in it, but
even if you're not looking to buy anything, it's such a fun
and exciting place to explore.
The building is full of vendors selling just about anything
you can imagine, but don't get so caught up in the atmosphere
that you forget to barter.
Prices in here are steep, in some cases a 300%-400% mark-up
from what you could expect to pay elsewhere in the city, so
avoid the charming smiles and the shouts directed at you and
move on when you think you could do better.
Be prepared for the clingy and desperate stallholders, but
also be prepared for the food.
Not only can you barter for the goods, but also you can
barter down the food prices.
You'll find yourself sitting once again at the miniature
plastic seats, but this time next to a long miniature table.
Cover your table in different dishes and attack it with your
You'll be amazed at how good some of the food tastes.
Actor Brendan Fraser once said, ''Saigon is hot, full of
atmosphere, activity and commerce.''
He's just right on point with that.
After the tough times, the conservative communist country
opened up to the rest of the world and Ho Chi Minh City is
certainly a great representation of that.
• By Tessa Henderson, Year 13, Mount Aspiring College