The motorbikes fill the streets in Saigon
The motorbikes fill the sidewalks in Saigon
I don’t know where I’m supposed to be walking in Saigon.
*Not my own picture in featured image*
**Here’s a quick update on my arrival to Vietnam from Cambodia. I am working on the much more exciting post about my tour through the highlands but want to keep things fairly chronological. I’m now already up north in Hanoi and have already spent a few days in Hoi An.**
After leaving Siem Reap my first stop in Vietnam was Saigon. I took a sleeper bus to Phnom Penh and then slept on a non-sleeper bus until the Vietnam border. I had a surprisingly easy border crossing: “please give us your passports, please get off bus, please walk over there, please wait for bus, please get on bus, welcome to Vietnam here are your passports back”. The only easier I’ve experienced thus far was a trip into Lesotho when we skipped the part about getting out of the bus.
I was wearing a new shirt and hat that I gotten from a strange Cambodian man who took a liking to my elephant shirt and traded me. At some point before the border crossing he also disappeared off the bus, we can’t be sure where he went but the only English word he knew was “casino”. As we start our final stretch into Saigon, I round up all of the people who are staying in the same area as me so we can share a taxi. This is becoming a habit but is also pretty easy since most westerns will be staying in District 1 of Saigon.
As a city with over 10 million people in the metropolitan area, it’s easy to get overwhelmed here. I stayed only for a few nights to get tips on my next destination. But while I was there I did the following.
Visited the War Memorial – a museum to the ‘American War’ (because why would the Vietnamese call it the ‘Vietnam War’). This offered a great perspective on how the country felt about US military involvement from 1955 to 1975 (hint: it’s not great). I visited the museum with a local guy, Nang, that I met via Couchsurfing.
Indulged myself at a craft beer bar – Pasteur Street Brewing Co has got IPAs! Stouts! Holy moly they even have a Gose! I sipped a flight at the bar while meeting other groups travelers who came from North to South in Vietnam. I got tips of their favorite places to visit as well as a good tailor in Hoi An. Also their playlist: Anderson .Paak, Tame Impala, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Wilco, Talking Heads, Daft Punk. Vietnam tryin to seduce me.
Oh and best coffee shop, hands down, Shin Cafe on Pasteur St. Upscale, in house roasting, and large variety of brewing capability. And even though coffee wasn’t great at Truc, it was cool to visit a 24 hr cafe.
All in all, I was actually happy when I got out of Saigon. Definitely a great city to visit on your trip to Vietnam but 3 days was enough for me. After the museums and markets, I was content. I wanted somewhere with a bit fresher air and a bit less tourists. I was happy to make it next to Da Lat where I started a much better adventure…