Vietnam Diaries: The heat is on in Saigon

I’m in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I arrived yesterday, 35 minutes after midnight, and I’m leaving the city tomorrow afternoon.

It’s my first time in Vietnam and so far, I’m loving it. I’m loving the food an awful lot, though I seem to be the only one not enamored with the ban mi (baguette sandwich).

Nazuna at the Notre Dame
Nazuna and the Notre Dame

I love walking around Saigon. Admittedly, I had great trepidations about going to Vietnam after reading about how crazy the motorcycle traffic is. Crossing the street is not my strong suit, and the prospect walking in a city swarming with it is just too much.

Still I ventured out of my room and out into the streets of Ho Chi Minh. I was so glad I did because HCMC is a lovely, walkable city, crazy motorcycles notwithstanding. The city (the parts I’ve walked through anyway) is surprisingly green. Trees line the streets and there’s a number of public parks where you can sit down and rest after all that walking.

Of course, the hurdles come with every intersection. While there are zebra crossings in most streets, the motorists will not stop for the pedestrians unless there’s someone directing the traffic. Traffic lights help make the crossing easier, though only for a little bit — a red light doesn’t necessarily mean that the motorcycles will stop. Most will, but you can count on a handful making a turn as soon as there’s a break in the traffic.

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The freaky thing is, it all seem normal. Yesterday, while crossing a big intersection, in the midst of a sea of motorcycles flowing in one direction, there’s a few caught in the middle, slowly inching their way through. Crossing the streets of Saigon is pretty much the same ordeal — wait for a break in the traffic and just walk. Be mindful of the oncoming traffic, but don’t be scared. These drivers are used to pedestrians. They will not stop to let you pass, but they will avoid you so just keep walking forward.

And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep moving to overcome this blog slump. I’m sure you noticed I’ve been remiss with my blogging duties. I’ve been feeling uninspired lately and just can’t bring myself to write or create anything. I had every intention of doing my usual daily recap for this trip, but I thought it’d be best if I give myself a break and try to write little by little, take more pictures and heck, draw even though I don’t know how.

I do however, update my social networks more frequently. Pictures are already uploaded in my Vietnam set on flickr, and I’ve been posting updates on my Twitter and the Just Wandering page on Facebook. If you’re looking for trip updates, just follow me in any of those pages :)

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 13 Comments
  1. I know so little about Saigon (except what was in “Miss Saigon” haha), so keep the posts coming! :D

  2. Kate says:

    Good to know you are having a blat in Vietnam. Looking forward to reading more updates. Have a safe trip :)

  3. chyng says:

    ASEAN checklist – almost done! Ü

  4. Lily Ang says:

    How do I contribute feeds to other places I’ve been?

  5. nice place and lots of motorcycles.. i miss the ben thanh market, lots of things to buy for pasalubong, i love the civet coffee. nice post!

  6. dong ho says:

    a true walkable city. crossing the road can be that challenging but as the locals would say… just dont move back. it’s either you move forward or just stop.

  7. the unstoppable Nina.. hahaha
    ingat sa mga motorbikes


  8. amhuirnin says:

    Hi nina!

    also planning a trip to saigon and will probably arrive din after midnight (130 am i think), just want to know, how hard was it to get a ride out of the airport? any tips? :) ok lang kaya na magpalipas ng time sa airport as i’d be on the 7 am bus to Siem Reap naman? thanks!

    ps here’s to you gettin over that slump! aja! ^^

  9. nina says:

    Aileen: If you love Vietnamese food, you must come here! Medyo kaloka lang talaga pagtawid sa streets!

    Kate: Thaaaaanks! I miss HCMC!

    Chyng: Dalawa nalang!

    James: Didn’t last long at the market.. the vendors are too much for me!

    Dong Ho: Mismo! I really love walking around HCMC

    Ron: Hahaha, mag stop na ko soon ;)

    amhuirnin: I booked for a car to pick me up with my hostel. But if you’re not going to stay naman in HCMC, wait for morning nalang at the airport. Didn’t see people sleeping there, but the airport looked pretty nice naman. I saw taxis lined up at the right side of the terminal (upon going out of the door). Good luck!

  10. Marco says:

    i so love vietnam, i want to go back and try the open bus tours soon.

  11. […] visit on my own because I’d be to scared to cross the streets. As every travel guide advice, just walk slowly and don’t step back. Much like […]

  12. Filipina S. Mendoza says:

    where did you stay in Saigon, any budget accmodation?ty

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