Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Wed March 30 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | March 30, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Ho Chi Minh City: Energetic Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City: Energetic Vietnam

    PHOTO: The highlight of my time in Saigon was my private boat on the Mekong Delta with Water Buffalo Tours. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    There are times when doing your research comes in handy.

    Although I am more the type to just go with the flow (because planning typically means restriction and missed opportunities) I ended up in Vietnam during Tet —Vietnamese New Year.

    It sounds great, but only if you’ve got money to burn. If you’re on a budget like most of us … it’s not so peachy. I learned the hard way what Tet means: most shops are closed; train and bus ticket prices are astronomical, as are room rates at hostels and guesthouses.

    Truth be told, I had initially planned to skip Saigon (AKA Ho Chi Minh City) completely, as I’m not one for big cities. But I’m convinced that everything happens for a reason and because I stayed for nearly a week, I had the opportunity to explore this massive and energetic city.

    VIDEO: A trishaw ride through Ho Chi Minh City

    I experienced the best foods and mastered the art of real-life Frogger as I screamed and ran, dodging vehicles on every road I encountered (preparing me for when I got to Hanoi).

    Getting Around:

    Motorbikes: You can take your chances attempting to drive one in this chaotic city or you can take the safer route and hire a motorbike taxi for cheap.

    Taxis: Use only Vinasun (white) and Mai Linh (green) taxis. Their meters automatically start when you get in, which avoids being scammed by drivers.

    Uber: Used a lot in Saigon and still beats the price of taxis!

    Cheapest Hostel: Rou Hostel ($4.50 a night)


    • Large comfortable bunk beds with light and plugs

    • Large lockers

    • Clean dormitory with five bunk beds

    • Full-length mirror! (A rarity in hostels)

    • Shared bathroom

    • Hot showers

    • Decent Wi-Fi

    • Small cozy rooftop garden

    • Discount on Rou Vegetarian Restaurant

    PHOTO: A typical night in District 4 for the most local and authentic meal in Saigon.

    Top Vietnamese Food to try:

    • Pho: A delicious noodle soup typically made of beef or chicken broth.

    • Banh Mi: A baguette filled with various meats, vegetables or eggs.

    • Com Tam: Broken rice dishes typically including meat.

    • Cha Gio: Pork/seafood fried spring rolls.

    • Goi Cuon: Fresh spring rolls.

    Top Vietnamese Drinks to try:

    • Ca Phe: (Also known as … coffee!) Vietnam is known for its flavorful java. Be sure to try the famous “Egg Coffee.”

    • 333: The cheap beer of Vietnam.

    • Tiger: The most well-known beer in Vietnam.

    PHOTO: Be sure to wander through the massive flower market night or day.

    READ MORE: Wyndham Chooses Halong Bay for its First Hotel in Vietnam

    Things to Do:

    • Be a kid again and head to the Suoi Tien Amusement Park in District 9.

    • Wander through Ben Thanh Market in District 1.

    • Get a Vietnamese massage.

    • Book a reputable tour to see the famous floating markets or Mekong Delta!

    • Visit the War Museum and Independence Palace.

    • Saigon is famous for its street food so eat your heart out, be adventurous and try them out!

    • Head to District 4 for the best seafood. (Where you’ll find no one but locals!)


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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