You can spend hours wandering through the maze of alleys, away from the noise of motorcycles, discovering hidden temples, playing badminton with the locals in one of the many parks, or try noodle soups made
You can spend hours wandering through the maze of alleys, away from the noise of motorcycles, discovering hidden temples, playing badminton with the locals in one of the many parks, or try noodle soups made by Vietnamese grandmothers in flowery pajamas at the local market! In short, Saigon, the old name for present-day Ho Chi Minh City has a lot to offer!
Get lost in Hẻms
At first glance, Saigon appears to consist only of tall buildings and busy streets, but there is more to it than that. Between the bustling main arteries, narrow alleys crisscross the city. You can use these so-called “hems” as shortcuts from one main street to another or get intentionally lost.
You can see old-fashioned cafes, lounge restaurants, children playing or wanting to practice their English together. The vietnamese generally keep all their windows and doors open, so they are stunned when they find tourists wandering around the neighborhood. As a result, they meet families spontaneously, eat kem chuoi (banana and coconut ice cream) on plastic stools in front of their houses, and are often the guests of honor at neighborhood barbecues as they wander around on their days off.
Enjoy Saigon’s Parks
Locals like to go to the park in their spare time, especially in the morning and late afternoon. You can find everything there, couples sitting hand in hand under a tree, a women practicing tai chi, a father and daughter playing badminton together, children trying roller skating for the first time, etc. At 23 thang 9 Park, near the famous tourist attraction Bùi Viện, students who want to practice their English with foreigners often gather. It is a fun way to learn about student life in the city, crazy cultural customs, and learn a few more Vietnamese words!
Công Viên Lê Văn Tám – This park is sandwiched between two busy roads, but miraculously you can hear birds chirping. You can see people walking fast, couples dancing, and families playing badminton.
Thanh Đa Cư xá Thanh Đa, phường 27 Bình Thạnh – Imagine yourself in the countryside in the middle of the city in this area of mud roads, paddy fields, and mangrove forests.
Khu Du lịch Văn Thánh Phường 22, Bình Thạnh – This is a good park for an afternoon picnic because unlike other places, you can sit on the grass. You can also take a refreshing dip in the clean and well-maintained outdoor pool for 3 euros, or relax on a wooden beach bed.
Stroll and Dine Along the Saigon Canal
About a 15-minute drive from District 1 is the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal. Trees have been planted on both sides of the banks, laid out paths, and benches have been placed. Joggers, dog owners, and yogis take advantage of the early hours to get relatively fresh air before rush hour begins. Have breakfast with cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee) and bánh mì (sandwich) at a mobile stall, then walk along the canal and watch the city wake up.
Cheap eateries and beer bars open along the canal at night, with flashing neon lights, plastic tables, and barbecues. The streets near and around the canals are popular nightspots for locals, where you will encounter many families, couples, and groups of friends. Vietnamese men are known to drink large quantities of beer.
To whet your appetite, some sell peanuts. The only thing that will make you want to go to the market is the women with baskets full of quail eggs and the grandmothers walking by with plastic bags of spicy green mangoes. Entertainment comes in the form of lone-wolf singers with blasters on the back of their mopeds (unfortunately, usually terribly fake) singing in front of roadside bars.
Have you ever been to Ho Chi Minh City? Share your experience with us in the comments below!