Saigon Snapshot

January 11, 2011

I’ve never seen anywhere quite like Saigon. Even Bangkok doesn’t compare. The sheer volume of people is overwhelming, as is the controlled chaos on the roads. Westerners label it as β€˜crazy’ driving, but I was honestly impressed. No road rage, no accidents – in fact, it was the most respectful display of driving I’ve seen in my life. The city had a cool vibe, and all the people we encountered were really friendly and interested in our backgrounds.

There were the important tourist sights, including the Reunification Palace and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, however the highlight of our visit was the food. I will do more in depth posts on the food of this trip once I am home. I don’t quite have the time to detail the brilliance of it all just yet πŸ™‚

Here is a brief outline of how we spent our whirlwind visit…

Cocktails at the Sheraton Rooftop bar, a great way to view the city.

Fresh coconuts on the street, to stay hydrated as we explored the city. I think I had 3 coconuts in the first day – overload? Perhaps.

Pho. We did it, we ate pho in the land of pho. If I had a bucket list, this would be on it. Tick!

Massages. A tidy US$13 for 80 minutes, yes please.

And food, delicious food! Banh Xeo, Cha Ca, Pho – the list goes on. As I mentioned above, there is too much to say, and too little time. We tried some amazing food, and the best, of course, was off the street.

Saigon, you impressed us greatly. Many people do not rate this city, and I guess I can understand why. It is big, crowded, hot and not particularly attractive. But Ben and I always seem to warm to those cities that many dislike. Athens, for example, will remain a favourite city of ours, while many disregard it. We will look back at our time in Saigon fondly, and rememeber the great food, friendly people and controlled chaos. To quote the great Dennis Denuto, from The Castle, β€œit’s the vibe…”

On Sunday evening, we caught the overnight train to Da Nang. 15 hours spent in a Russian-style bunker. It was surprisingly cozy. We slept well and got a lot of reading done. Ben is reading 1984 for the first time, and I am starting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, after many recommendations by friends.

Ben ate sesame bun snack things.

And I ate lots of dried coconut. It was delightful.

Delightful seems to be the theme of our Vietnam trip so far… next stop, Hoi An!

Heidi xo

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  • Laura Preston January 12, 2011 at 6:59 am

    many memories from that train – you did well not to travel in summer…
    enjoy hoi an, it's an amazing place, so much gentler than Saigon

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) January 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Oh wow! Love this post as we would love to visit Vietnam one day πŸ™‚ I have heard so many wonderful things !

  • Mez January 12, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Awesome photos!!! I'm SO jealous that you have had real Pho. Wah! It looks SO amazing. Wah!!!!!!! I can't wait to see more photos, so glad you could do a post whilst on holidays!

  • Hannah January 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

    So excited for you! The only thing better than travel is travel involving massages and coconuts! πŸ™‚ Serious pho craving here now, too…

  • Julia @ Boredom Abounds January 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Sounds amazing – have fun!

  • Leah January 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Sounds like a wonderful holiday so far Heidi!

  • Lesdad January 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Guys,

    I think I might have to open my mind to those busy metropolises given your insight. Glad you are enjoying the vibe.

  • Ashley January 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Oh my goodness, all those fresh coconuts! There's nothing I like better than drinking those when I'm in SE Asia…they're so filling! πŸ™‚

  • shu shu January 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I love Saigon as well! Pho from the street vendors is the best unless you get your Vietnamese confused and end up with dog like I did once. Enjoy Hoi An, I know everyone does it but the Red Bridge cooking class is a nice day out.

  • Michelle Chin January 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    A fellow food blogger from KL went to saigon as well. He also went to Sheraton Rooftop for cocktails and the likes too! The said venue must be really popular!

  • The InTolerant Chef January 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    What a great time so far. Lucky you and your pho. Yumm…

  • Celeste @ Berrytravels January 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Sounds like you had a lovely time! I've never been to Saigon but it's on my to-visit list.

  • Anna Johnston January 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Wow πŸ™‚ So glad you got some time to post your travel highlights, it all sounds super fun. Vietnam is seriously on my list of places to visit, so many buddies have raved about their time there. Can't wait to read more. Have fun πŸ™‚

  • Heidi January 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, peeps! We're having a fantastic time in Hoi An! I'll post again in the am, right now off to have dinner – priorities πŸ™‚
    Heidi xo

  • msihua January 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Oh wow! That looks like such a wonderful trip for the both of you!!! GORGEOUS!!!

  • Indie.Tea January 14, 2011 at 12:19 am

    It sounds like a really delightful place. And now I'd like a fresh young coconut, please πŸ™‚

  • Kelsey January 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

    coconut was definitely the theme of the day- fresh, hydrating, sweet, and super refreshingly yummy! i love these photos!!! <3

  • Anonymous January 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    So soooo jealous! I was born in Vietnam and haven't been back since.

    Loove the shots though, do you mind me asking if your photos are photoshopped? If not what kind of camera do you use? Looks like a polaroid or a lomo..

  • Heidi January 26, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Hi! I am using a application for my iphone called instagram – it is wonderful! You can make the photos look like old polaroids πŸ™‚
    I hope you get to travel to Vietnam one day! It really is very lovely, on so many levels.
    Heidi xo

  • siggysparkle June 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Heya! I'm reading all your old posts on Vietnam lol – I go at the end July from Hong Kong. Quick question for you – when u travelled by train to Danang what bunker etc did you go by and how was the experience? We plan to do the same but not sure which one we should choose and how to go about it etc – any advice?

  • Heidi June 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Hi! How exciting!! From HCMC to Danang (~14 hours) we went VIP class, which was ~35 USD each. & VIP was not VIP hehehe. 4 beds in our carriage, bunk styles. We bought our own sheets so we felt cleaner too. The toilets aren't great, of course. So as long as your comfy in your bed (i.e. wrapped up in clean sheets) and have a good book and snacks, you're set!
    Heidi xo