For our holiday in December, Cody and I traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, aka. Saigon, for about 10 days. Instead of traveling all around, we decided to use Saigon as home base and then travel out on little short trips from there. It was a very good decision and we had a wonderful time visiting.
We had arranged a place to stay at a guesthouse ahead of time, so once we landed at the airport, all we had to do was find it. Being the seasoned travelers we are, we opted to take the local bus from the airport into the city, which was 30c a piece, compared to about 10 bucks for a taxi. The bus ride was a good introduction into the city, where bustling streets, crowded with people and motorbikes, was all you could see, and the incessant honking of the bus horn was all you could hear. Once on, we had no idea where we were going, or when to get off, but as usual, we left it to fate and everything worked out. We ended up at the major downtown bus terminal, and from there it was about a 15 minute walk to our guesthouse.
At the airport, before getting on the bus, we met this really nice solo traveler from France and brought her along since she did not have a place to stay. It ended up, that she shared a room with us for about 3 nights and went on some excursions with us.
The first thing we noticed about Saigon was definitely the traffic. As I have mentioned to many of you already, it was unlike anything I would expect to see anywhere in the world. It was not just all of the cars, bicycles and buses. What made it more unbelievable was that it seemed like there were more motor bikes than people, the motorbikes were extremely loud and you could find no safe haven because they rode them on the sidewalks.
Here is a video of us in Saigon Traffic
In addition, crossing the street was one of the bravest things I have ever done in my life. As the days went on it got easier, but OMG! Yikes! So, here is the situation. Since the traffic does not stop, even at most lights, you have to look, take a deep breath and step out INTO traffic. Once in traffic, you have to walk slowly across. ( Extra bonus, super secret advice: If you have a big boyfriend, try to put him on the side of you that the traffic is coming toward and stick to him like glue, but be warned, this only works on one way streets.) While you are out in traffic, motor bikes will, in theory, swerve around you at velocities that might make you even more nervous. Just trust that this is the way to cross Saigon streets safely and keep going until you reach the other side. Another suggestion is to get close to some locals and go when they go. If you remain zen about the whole situation, you will find peace in the experience. By the end of our trip, we were crossing like pros and actually thought the whole situation was a little remarkable.