Ho Chi Minh City full of exciting, breakneck bustle

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 favoured.

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 their families.

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 relaxation.

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 captivating.

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 recommend.

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 chopsticks.

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