Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a place of surprises, much of them elusive to first-time visitors with just a few days on the ground. Though a bit challenging at first, Ho Chi Minh City eventually became our favorite city in the world and a base for many of our adventures in the Southeast Asian region. It’s also a pretty great place to go out and grab a drink, whether it’s a Monday or Saturday, Saigon’s music venues, breathtaking rooftop bars, and tiny neighborhood spots are buzzing.
Unlike the more world famous, easy-to-find spots of Bangkok and Shanghai, Saigon is a city of tight neighborhoods which unveil themselves only to those intrepid enough to explore the tiniest, faintest lines on the map. Saigon doesn’t have a Times Square or Pudong. It’s a megacity comprised of small, distinct districts and alleys. Perch … Read More »
The big cities in Vietnam have a cafe culture that is virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Don’t expect a Chemex of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with hints of blueberry and strawberry or an Aeropressed Kenyan. You might be able to locate one eventually, but not before tripping over scores of cafes serving up tumblers of coffee so dark it looks like used motor oil and smells like the most intense mocha you’ve ever had. It’s no secret that we love Vietnamese coffee and as a follow up to our very popular Saigon cafes list, we offer a list of some of our favorites in the northern capital city. Also be sure to check out our handy guide to ordering coffee in Vietnam.
So, in the event that you can’t find this guy rolling around town, keep scrolling and we’ve got … Read More »
Vietnam is a country that runs on coffee. There is a cafe on just about every block in Saigon and Hanoi and they’re packed most of the day with a mix of locals leisurely sipping away enjoying the day and others grabbing a quick fix on their way to wherever they’re headed. The cafe culture in Saigon is why it’s one of our favorite cities in the world. To see the list of our favorite Saigon cafes, check out our post on it.
Coffee is brewed differently in Vietnam. It’s sort of a mix between the French press and pourover methods and despite producing great coffee, it’s surprisingly “low tech”. You won’t see any chem-lab looking siphons or giant blown-glass drip towers. Coffee is brewed in a little metal filter called a “phin”. Grounds go in, water goes in, and coffee … Read More »
There is an old saying that:
“the Chinese eat everything that flies, except airplanes; everything with four legs, except tables; and everything that swims, except submarines”
Food is central to Asian culture, not just the Chinese, but throughout all of Asia. Asian food is generally delicious, and often very strange, to an American traveler. Asians tend to use the whole animal. Sometimes the results are great, sometimes not so.
Here are 15 of the strangest foods I’ve had:
15. CHICKEN NECK
It’s the neck of a chicken, skewered on a stick and served with cheap drafts of local Tsingtao Beer. It’s mostly skin and bone. I actually like spicy duck neck, as there is some meat to enjoy on there, but the chicken neck is just not much of anything.
IS IT GOOD? 2/10
14. GOAT BRAIN
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Goat brain came served in a hot … Read More »
Thailand enjoys a 50% return rate for foreign tourists. In contrast, Vietnam only pulls back 5% of visitors.
Personally, I feel that Vietnam walks all over Thailand in almost every travel category except beaches. So, why do so many people have such bad experiences and never return to Vietnam?
I hope the list I have made below helps out first-time visitors. It may seem cynical and anti-Vietnamese. It’s not. I love this country; I want you to love it, too. I’d just like to alert travelers to beware of the common first-time mistakes that may sour their experience of the local people and the country overall.
Do your homework, know what to expect, and this is the most rewarding country in Southeast Asia to explore.
TAKE YOUR VISA SERIOUSLY, VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED
Yes, it seems like common sense, but I have seen tourists turned … Read More »
I love cities. As a traveler, I never feel alone in a city I enjoy, as cities themselves are a bit like people- slowly revealing their personalities, all imperfect and forever changing. Some are beautiful, some are ugly, but none can get by simply on their fine appearance or lack thereof. A great city needs a great personality; something that makes it truly unique and irreplaceable.
Beach destinations often disappoint, with promises of crystal clear waters, blue skies and smiling faces. The truth is often overcast skies, brown murky water, first-time tourists on pre-paid packages, and little adventure. A city, however, cannot lie. It is what it is and it will always be there, ready for you to engage and explore 24 hours a day, in whatever weather or budget.
These are my favorites:
I like how Beijing remains unglamorous amidst China’s … Read More »
Depends on what you’re here for.
Different countries = different prices for different things.
Do you want to explore cities, see the big attractions, or experience the food and drink? For example, if you’re here to party, the Philippines generally has the cheapest drinks at restaurants and bars. In contrast, Chinese bars and clubs are expensive- comparable to North American prices, but the daily Chinese necessities (subway, street food, bottled water) are damn cheap, so if you’re here to take photos and explore the city life, China will be cheaper than the Philippines. Accommodation also varies in quality, type and price. Your sleeping standards could make or break your budget. In Vietnam, $10 may get you a comfy room with A/C, wifi and free breakfast. In the Philippines, a $10 room is nearly impossible to find.
Asia is a place that people … Read More »
This is an exciting time to walk through Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). The feeling on the street is upbeat, fast and fun. The city’s economic transition is apparent both physically and in essence. However, much of Saigon’s once-engaging urban character is being overshadowed by cold, out-of-scale development which fails to build on the established urbanity of the city. Such transformation calls for a cautious reconsideration of how new projects are designed and approved.
Hurried growth amidst economic transition has left an unpleasant footprint on many Asian cities. An example of fast, irresponsible development can be seen in Shanghai. There, the development of the Pudong District began during the economic boom of the 1990s and continues today, with the design having little regard for Shanghai’s physical urban history. When viewed from across the Huangpu River, the Pudong district rises like a … Read More »
Ol’ hollowed-out Detroit is in the news again, as it has recently become the largest-ever US city to file for bankruptcy. I’ve spent a lot of time in Motown and I still think about Detroit a lot. Surprisingly, I think about its odd connection to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.
Tropical, pastel Saigon and gray, post-industrial Detroit may appear polar opposites on the surface. However, they are connected in two interesting ways.
1. Fifty years ago, Detroit led the world in personal vehicle ownership. Saigon is most likely #1 today , with 92% of trips taken on a personal vehicle, overwhelmingly the motorbike.
1950: Detroit created the automobile industry, and automobiles became a necessary part of life in Detroit; as they still are today. In the 1950s, Detroit was the USA’s wealthiest city. During that time, it’s prosperity had made it the … Read More »
Vietnam is the 2nd largest producer of coffee in the world. Surprisingly, domestic consumption eats up only 8% of the beans produced here. Unlike in North America, the Vietnamese rarely grab coffee to go. When they do caffeinate, they tend take a break from the heat and relax in one of the country’s ubiquitous cafes dotted throughout the city.
Busy, modern Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is a city I love to visit. Saigon has maintained its strong cafe culture even amidst its growing responsibilities as Vietnam‘s economic center.
There are thousands of great cafes spread out over the city. My favorites are all located in Districts 1 and 3, which offer the best collection of historic buildings from which a great cafe can be built within. You can find me any day of the week in one of these. If you visit, … Read More »