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Vietnam forum

Saigon - What is the real deal?

Posted by beanspot on 12/2/2010 at 04:15

We will be traveling to Southern Vietnam soon and my husband has shown no interest in HCMC unlike myself. This our first time to Vietnam and he says HCMC will be dirty, gross and filled with nothing but thieves and beggars so wants to spend time onyl coming and going fromt he airport. Of course he has read nothing of this site he just assumes because it is a big city it will be comparable to a third world country but I am bound and determined to convince him otherwise. Any help and or advice would be appreciated.

#1 beanspot has been a member since 5/2/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by violets on 12/2/2010 at 08:24

I didn't much like Saigon the first couple of times I went but increasingly find it an interesting and vibrant city. I would stay in the Dong Khoi area rather than the rather sleazy backpacker area. The Spring hotel is in a lovely area and might make him feel more comfortable.

Go to the botanic gardens and see the history museum, tour the markets and pagodas of Cholon, have coffee in the courtyard of the Continental hotel and a drink on the roof of the Rex hotel when a band is playing- get up and dance. Shop in the cool shops of Ton Thap Thiep and go to no 29 for Fanny’s ice cream. I love this shop as much as the great ice cream.
Make sure you have at least one meal in Quan an Ngon now apparently at 160 Pasteur St.

You could get the car ferry across the Saigon river to district 2 and ask a cyclo driver to take you around for an hour (I paid 20,000 when I did this a few years ago). Then you'll see how close to the city rural life can be- although I think it's become a little more developed in the last few years. If you can stop for coffee at one of the little cafes on that side of the river.

You could even go to Diamond Plaza to see a shopping centre that is as glitzy as anything back home- but really why bother? That's not why you decided to go there.

Try to get him to keep an open mind or at least shut up for your sake; it's unpleasant travelling anywhere with someone constantly carping about every problem. The best advice anyone ever gave me was to just keep an open mind without expectations of what you will or won't experience. Recognise you are in a different place and that things will not be the same as home- which is why you are there. Instead of wishing something else were happening, experience whatever is happening now to the full, whether waiting in a queue, being lost or having your plans go awry - that is your travel experience.

#2 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 153

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Posted by daawgon on 13/2/2010 at 03:44

There is no doubt that Saigon is the most dangerous/crime ridden city in Vietnam. All big cities have this in common. Saigon is my least favorite place in the country, but it still should be explored for a day or 2. My favorite is Hanoi. Use common sense and you will be fine.

I'm not too crazy about Bangkok either, but I still go there for short periods because it has great food and shopping (the pollution has got to be the worst in SE Asia - too many cars.)

#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,151
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Posted by KazAussie on 13/2/2010 at 09:30

I must admit I was not looking forward to flying into HCMC on our recent visit to Vietnam and held similar views to your husband. However, I absolutely loved it. I was really pleasantly surprised by the wide streets and many parks, but the best part was the friendly good natured people. Saigon is chaotic but somehow the chaos works!

Tell him not to worry to much and just take the place as he finds it.

#4 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221

Posted by NYTim on 14/2/2010 at 02:01

I was newbie last year to Saigon -- not to Asia. I traveled alone for my 60th birthday present to myself. I expected chaos like I experienced in India but it was rather orderly. There is lots of traffic but it has to go slowly because of the density on the streets. Vietnam in general is ten times cleaner than India, and air pollution is much less. The food is just fantastic. There are museums galore. As for beggars and thieves I hardly experienced that and I was travelling alone but I was never hassled. Only one beggar accosted me and that was while I was waiting to board a tour bus. The Vietnamese I encountered were very friendly and honest. Tell him to take a chill pill

#5 NYTim has been a member since 11/9/2009. Posts: 106

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