Saigon rainy season survival tips
Weather in Ho Chi Minh City comes in two flavours: dry and wet. The wet season sounds like a downer, and brings with it high humidity and daily downpours. But precisely because of the rainy season’s bad reputation, this time of the year can be a great and affordable time to visit if you don’t mind dodging a few raindrops. Here are some tips to help you survive the rain and make the most of your trip.
Carry an umbrella with you at all times, even if it looks clear, because the rain sneaks up fast. Although people usually sell them on every block, the quickest of runs across the street can still leave you soaked. A note to the thrifty: umbrellas will always cost more when it is raining. They start at around 50,000 VND.
If you aren’t a fan of carrying an umbrella you can try a poncho. These come in especially handy if you’re on a motorbike; you just throw it on and drape it over your bike. These are also everywhere, especially during downpours, and are relatively cheap — starting as low as 5,000 VND. Since they are small and light, they are easy to store — keep one in your motorbike seat and one in your backpack.
Another important fact to remember is that, during the wet season, mosquitoes are their worst. Due to the rain, there is more standing water around, meaning more breeding grounds for the annoying bugs. When you get more mosquitoes you have a higher chance of getting mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue. Pack extra insect repellent, cover up, and don’t hang out next to standing water.
Lastly, some Saigon streets are prone to flooding. When trying to navigate District One in particular, there are a few areas you should avoid. When looking at hotels in the backpacker area keep in mind that Do Quand Dau and parts of Bui Vien are prone to flooding as well as Nguyen Cu Trinh. Downtown the busy streets of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue see some flooding, as does Huynh Thuc Khang. Also, on your way out of the district be aware that Le Thanh Ton, Ton Duc Thang, and Nguyen Huu Canh can play host to flooding on the way to Highway 1, as do Dinh Tien Hoang and Dien Bien Phu. Some of these flood waters can be nearly knee deep, making motorbike travel an adventure.
Aside from cheaper prices, the rainy season does have an upside: a good rain reduces the heat and humidity, and the city becomes much more bearable — for a few hours, at least.
Story by Angela Schonberg
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