A city where the motorbikes seem to outnumber the people, the trick to crossing the street is to have no fear and just walk. Saigon – now known as Ho Chi Minh CIty – cannot be considered a relaxing place to visit. But its usually a stop on most trips through Vietnam, even if just for an overnight or two.
Plenty of good dining options abound, especially for sushi, but I stuck mostly to street food, like this thit nuong (BBQ pork) at Chi Nuong, because it’s amazingly good and cheap (and won’t make you sick as long as you go to a place that’s crowded).
And the bahn mi alone is reason enough to spend a little time in Saigon.
Bars are a different matter. Hard to find until nightfall, and mostly aimed at tourists and ex-pats looking for some company for the evening, you’re better off sticking to beer on the street. When you find a decent cocktail, likely at a hotel, it will come with some amusing garnish.
But how you fill your days there when not eating can be a challenge. The Ben Thanh market is good for shopping, day or night – just be sure to bargain well. Most of the museums are full of propaganda. But you can at least walk by the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and Notre Dame.
While you’ll experience some forced shopping, it’s still better than spending a hot day in HCM fighting your way across the street. And you get to experience you another part of this amazingly beautiful country. (Note: The tourist office near City Hall in District 1 has lots of day trip options at reasonable prices.)