For the past few years, Vietnam has put itself as one of the world’s fastest growing economies. After it embraced China-style capitalism-socialism hybrid economy, it has entered the world of globalization and become one of Asia’s new stars. Although Hanoi is the nation’s capital, Saigon (officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, after North Vietnam’s prominent communist figure) is the country’s biggest city and economic hub, which makes it at the forefront of years of rapid economic growth.
Once a French colony, Ho Chi Minh City keeps the best of its old colonial buildings in well-preserved condition. So, imagine a city where authentic Vietnamese culture meets French lifestyle which both blend with the most up-to-date global buzz. That is the face of Ho Chi Minh City, the face of one of Asia’s new tigers: Vietnam.
Most of French colonial buildings are located in District 1, which is reachable on foot from the city’s backpackers’ ghetto in Pham Ngu Lao and surrounding areas. Traveling in Ho Chi Minh City is pretty similar with in other Southeast Asian big cities, except its traffic. I have never in my life witnessed any other city where motorcycles take control of almost all street lanes, literally. This makes crossing every street a little tricky to do, especially for foreigners. Years ago before I even made any plan of traveling to Vietnam, I watched at one of TV’s travel programs which said that never ever feel hesitant when crossing Ho Chi Minh City’s streets. Motorcycles are indeed everywhere and sometimes it feels hard to go through, but just walk carefully and normally people would automatically avoid you, and voilà! You’re at the other side of the street.
Speaking about Vietnamese foods, I must say that all of them taste great! However, for me it would be much better if they don’t put Thai basil in every food (I don’t really like the bitter taste of it).
Ho Chi Minh City is indeed a bizarre yet fascinating city to explore.