Ho Chi Minh City, or as it was known before 1975: Saigon is the jam. I really fucking love this place. It’s one of the only true 24 hour cities in the world. Seriously, New York definitely sleeps compared to HCMC. The day we arrived we were exhausted, but agreed to meet a friend for dinner and a quick drink. I planned on being sound asleep by 10 pm. Flash forward hours, and many beers, later, and I’m sitting in a cafe in the center of the city staring at my watch in disbelief. It’s 6am? How the fuck did that happen? The traffic never let up, the street vendors never went home, the bars never closed, and all of the restaurants were still open. Consider my mind blown.
Most backpackers stay in District 1. It’s full of hostels, cheap eats, and fun bars. District 1 is also right in the middle of the city, and close to all of the places you’re going to visit. Actually, despite being a huge city, HCMC is pretty easy to walk. We stayed at Nga Huang Hotel. Prices are $7 for a dorm bed and $19 for a private room with bath, tv, fridge, and good AC. I thought this place was ok, a pretty good value. One problem: the lady that runs this place is a little crazy. Scratch that, she’s straight-up crazy. We didn’t have a problem with her, actually she was really nice to us, but we saw a couple of bad arguments. We also stayed in one of the Saigon Sports Hotels, which was fine but the staff was super unhelpful. There are a ton of cheap places to stay around here, so it pays to ask around and just check some places out.
For eating and drinking it’s just a matter of walking around until you find someplace you like. The big landmark bar is the Wild Buffalo, you’ll know it when you see it (unless you’re actually blind). I think the Buff is way overpriced, and pretty annoying. Good news though: right across the street is Cafe 125. This place is awesome: $1 beers and $2 buckets. Also, the guy who runs it is super nice. We went here almost every night. If you’re feeling a little homesick and want more of an english pub feel the place to go is Phaties. I went there one night, but unfortunately enjoyed it too much and could never remember how to get back.
Other attractions in the city include the Palace, the War Remnants Museum, and the many amazing markets. Watch out for pickpockets in the markets, they’re everywhere, but it’s still worth the trip. From here we bought a motorcycle (which I blogged about earlier) and headed north. More on that to come…..