Updated: Jun 16, 2018
Ho Chi Minh City, formely known as Siagon.
A population of 8.6 Million people and I'd guess a similar number of Scooters, its surreal. From a European view point, it looks like chaos but, its organised chaos and a lot of fun once you pluck up the courage to dive in!
Upon arrival at the airport, look out for Vinasun Taxis, the staff always wear a shirt and tie and always run the meter. Vinasun is the safest most respected taxi company in Ho Chi Minh City. Stay away from the Airport Taxis as they will give you a price first and you could easily end up paying 5 times the actual cost!
Travel by Vinasun is easy, cheap and reliable!
Once in the City you'll find there is an abundance of massage parlours throughout, however with an elegant touch. There are always men trying to clean your shoes and poor old tuk tuk drivers looking for their next fair!
Always remain alert while walking out and about as traffic lights and crossings seem to be advisory rather than compulsory, as are one way streets and the Scooter riders sometimes prefer the pavement!
You will be faced with what we call "Zebra Crossings" however, nobody will stop for you. This is where you have to dive in! If you walk into the path of oncoming vehicles (mainly scooters) they will slow down, go around you or stop. But, only when you are in their path.
You will find yourself on a crossing with traffic flowing all around you in every direction. Who needs skydiving when you can cross a road in Vietnam!
The local currency is the Dong. Some places may accept USD, but the Dong is fine. Its more respectful and less confusing to use the national currency.
Eating in the city is cheap, we made an Irish bar owned by Vietnamese people called the Shamrock our local. A meal for 2, with drinks will cost less than £10.
The whole city is teaming with culture and history. You can embark upon the Scooter tour's which can be half day or full day, either way it is guaranteed to be full on and you will see everything plus anything you request!
Hitching a ride on a Scooter is a must! Feeling the hustle and bustle of the roads is a great buzz! The locals will even take you from pub to pub in the evening for a small fee! The Vietnamese fit up to 4 people on Scooters! Its like their equivalent to European Hatchbacks, but a lot more fun!
Don't miss the night market, lots of cheap goods and a great atmosphere. Also with Scooters flying up and down the middle of it. You may come across the odd pick pocket, be vigilant always assume your are being targeted! Much the same as any other large city! Hone your haggling skills before you go, the marketeers may ask you to start, don't go to high, nor to low!
The War Remnants Museum
Even the toughest of characters will feel a chill here and muster a huge respect for the Vietnamese people!
It details everything from the 1946 French Invasion, all the way through to the US Evacuation in the 1970's. To get round it all you will need a few hours and a bottle of water. Take a floor at a time and have a break between floors. There is a lot of information, it's intriguing, emotional and educational.
The War Tunnels
After an arduous drive which involved a rubbish fire and zero visibility on the road, which we drove right through of course. We arrived at Ho Chi Minh Tunnels not far from the City!
The guide initially explained the area and took us to a cinema where an old movie was played illustrating the use of the tunnels throughout the war and taking you through the story of a female Vietnamese Soldier.
The tunnels have been expanded for tourists over time. It is possible to crawl through on your hands and knee's but if your broad shouldered you may still have trouble. You can choose a short tunnel, medium or long.
We were taken to various stops, each showing different hiding places and mock up's showing how the troops lived back then.
And, lunch is provided in the form of traditional Vietnamese potatoes which they relied upon during the wars.
The last thing you can do at the Tunnels is fire an AK47 Assault Rifle or a Machine Gun. Beware they are LOUD!
On the return journey you can choose to travel by boat at an extra cost or stick with the bus, try the boat! Its an experience trying to get under low rail bridges and its much faster!
The Mekong Delta is a huge murky river leading up past Cambodia and into China. A reasonable drive from the City will take you there. You will arrive at a Marina filled with lots of little boats. Your guide will take you and your group to one of them. You will then set sail for an island adjacent to the Marina.
It was choppy, it was slightly nerv racking and the first thing we saw on the other side was a Python wrapped around a mans neck. You can take turns at having it around your neck too, depends what you are into I suppose!
We then received demonstrations on how to make traditional Vietnamese foods and drinks. We were all given shots of snake wine, which I can only describe as rocket fuel!
Next up was embarking upon a small boat and we were given the traditional pointed hat, which was cool! For the next wee while we navigated a small busy river that looked like jungle, because it was jungle! This took us to the main event, lunch was served! Traditional Vietnamese fish with Soup, it tasted amazing but if you judge your food on how it looks you may miss out!
After Lunch, we had time to explore and chill. There were more Pythons, but the best thing was, the Crocodiles! You could pay approximately 1 US Dollar to feed the Crocodile's fish using a bambo rod #AWESOME
The worst thing about Vietnam is... Its so far away from the UK!
Its a place everybody should experience! The people are lovely, the culture is rich, its wildly diverse and a world away from Europe!
#10/10 holiday destination!