Travel in Vietnam – Ho Chi Min City (Saigon)

One of my sons, Matt, lives and works in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam and I have come here to see him and his fantastic partner, Hien, for a few weeks, so I’ve managed to avoid the snow in London and the Christmas rigmarole. I realise lots of you enjoy Christmas but I would rather pass it by.

Hien owns and runs her own coffee shop/cafe and she is a remarkable cook, having learnt her skills from her Mother in the Mekong Delta and she produces a variety of wonderful Vietnamese dishes in what seems like no time at all, so everyday she creates an array of amazing meals.

Inside Hien’s cafe/coffee bar

Continuing on the subject of food, Saigon is a

foodies paradise. There are places to eat throughout the city, including on the streets and if there isn’t room left they just bring out another table and chairs and eventually use the pavement.

If you want to experience more culinary delights, there is a young man who will take you on a food tour. He will take one person on the back of his scooter and others can follow on another scooter or a Taxi.

You can stipulate what sort of food you like, vegetarian, vegan etc and he will design the tour for you based on your preferences and will take you to 3 different areas and venues. He is also a font of knowledge about the city and its history, including the war. He is on the right in the picture, with the green T shirt.


His name is Tom and he works for Saigon Back Alley Tours

Their number is: +84 33 353 2245


Scooters and Motorbikes.

There are approximately 8 million scooters and motorbikes in Ho Chi Min City and it seems like they are all on the road at the same time. There don’t seem to be any rules and chaos reigns but the extraordinary thing is it works. According to a Japanese survey nearly all households (83%) own at least one motorbike or scooter and today, riding a motorbike or scooter remains the most convenient way of traveling the narrow roads and alleyways that cut through this particularly dense city.

There is a “breed” of scooter riders called “Lead Ninjas”, Lead being a Honda. These are mostly women, and you can see them speeding along completely covered up, their dresses, which are really coveralls, flowing in the wind and the only part of them that is visible are their eyes, although they do wear goggles. The reason for this is that they don’t like their skin to be brown, preferring to protect their whiteness and stay clean.

Something I have noticed, difficult not to, is the use of horns, both cars and scooters. It is a constant sound, but there is a big difference to say cars in London. Here in Ho Chi Min City the horns are used as signals to let others know you are there and are a gentle toot rather than the aggressive use of horns, as in London, where I have had cars stop in front of me because I hit my horn and much road rage is caused by drivers aggressive use of their car horns.

There are scooter Taxis called Grab that are cheap enough to use for most journeys. A lot of the riders have their mobile phones fixed to the handle bars so they can read the directions and they have a little umbrella fixed over the top of the mobile to keep the sun off and make it readable.

The people are very friendly and courteous and bow when they meet you or when you are leaving. All in all Ho Chi Min City is a fantastic place to visit and/or live and I certainly will be returning.