Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon is a vibrant city in Vietnam which has its own charm. It is filled with creative people and definitely a city to watch out for. Here are some reasons why you must visit Saigon.
1. The Food
One thing to really love about Saigon is that it allows you to take a break from the fastfood culture. Chains like Burger King and McDonald’s have opened their stores in Vietnam; but with the ubiquitous Pho and drip coffee, you can survive without your burger and milk shake. Eating healthy does not necessarily have to be costly; and experiencing Vietnam will prove that to you. Local food stands are not hard to find at least in the backpacker’s area. The quality of street food, even in the not-so-touristy area, is superb. Cheap options are surprisingly clean and well-presented. An order of grilled beef or anything barbecued comes wrapped in aluminum foil and in a styrofoam with a generous serving of sauce. Quality is definitely not sacrificed to maximize profit. Their black coffee tastes better than Starbucks but it can be too strong for the uninitiated. Lastly, the Vietnamese salted lemon drink (Chanh muối) is unforgettable and highly recommended as its taste is very unique and it offers an alternative from sweet refreshments. You have to ask the locals to know where to find this.
2. Open Parks
There are many open parks in the city center especially if you are staying in Pham Ngu Lao area. There are at least three big open parks there. You can sit there and just watch the locals go about their business. You will see locals exercising and playing various sports such as badminton. At night, you will see locals practicing their English with Westerners. So don’t be afraid to ask and join. You might just gain a new friend.
3. The People
Vietnamese people are extremely approachable and friendly. I have many good things to say about them. Learn how to say ‘thank you’ in their language. Befriend your hotel receptionist and he or she might just invite you to hangout in the park with his or her friends.
4. Contemporary Art
With Vietnam’s history in mind, it is not surprising that their people can produce impressive art.
5. Value for Money
Saigon is extremely affordable. A whole day package tour to Mekong delta can cost as low as 20USD. This includes hotel pick-up, bus ride, boat ride, lunch, and fruit snack which makes it very convenient. Also, there is no need to book in advance as there are plenty of these tour agents in the backpacker’s area. All you need to do is just show up in Saigon.