Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon, Vietnam. Here’s my thoughs, spots & recs!
Places to see:
- The SkyDeck – on top of the Bitexco Tower (helicopter pad one). See this your first day or two! Gives you a grasp of how big & sprawling the city is! There’s a new 2019 skyscraper that I haven’t been to yet – def check it out.
- Bui Vien Street – the country’s largest beer, backpacker, bar, street food street. Every night its a good mix of tourists and locals sitting in those small plastic chairs drinking beer, eating street BBQ grill, and watching the street fire blower kids. There are shisha bars, and a few small clubs, like Hair Of The Dog and others.
- Benh Tanh Market – at Benh Tanh Circle, the largest market. Endless fake (or real?) sportswear and anything you can imagine. I bought some Under Armour shorts and they lasted 2 years! Swear they were real (after all, there are many Nike, Adidas, UA etc. factories in Vietnam). I also got a NorthFace backpack at a random corner shop in Saigon — SUPER durable – cheap but must be real as I’m still rocking it to this day! 3 years later! So stock up on your NorthFace jackets!
Where to Stay:
District 1 is the main downtown area. For short stays, stay here. There are plenty hotels & Airbnb’s for any budget. I stayed in District 3 (D3) (bordering D1) for a few months on an airbnb/apartment room for rent. It was like $400/mo for a basic room in a ‘townhouse’ type home (all the homes are tall and skinny like this in VN), about 10 mins motorbike ride to the heard of D1.
Many longer term expats stay in Binh Tanh District, on the east side of the city. There are some nice condo buildings there.
Note: if you’re staying on a main road, it will be loud – VN has a honking culture. The streets are loud with street vendors speakers and horns. Even the turn signals on busses make a noise. Down the back-alleys it can be quiet tho, like in a room for rent down a back alley, which many are.
- Even as a regular visiting tourist, before going, you MUST Pre-Apply Online for the 30 or 60 days “Tourist Visa on Arrival”, and pay a small fee online, like under $100. I’ve used Visa4Vietnam.com multiple times. You pay online, then a couple days later then send you a document with a red stamp on it to print out and bring to the airport. You show it at airport check-in and again on arrival at the “Tourist Visa On-Arrival” counter, where you may have to pay another fee (under $100, it always changes) and you’re in – pretty easy.
- Not extendable. If you want to stay more, do visa runs – I have done many (cheapest is probably a bus to Phnom Phenh Cambodia, but I tend to fly and make it at least a weekend trip somewhere). There is no official limit to the amount of times you can visit Vietnam.
YouTube Playlist: All my Saigon Vlogs