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 »
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 »
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 »
When someone embraces a person they love, it manifests on the brain a mappable sensation of electricity that can actually be seen on an MRI scan. Love affects the brain in the same way that stimulants such as alcohol or drugs affect our physiology and physchology. Love, like whiskey, is addictive. And cities, like love, can cause us to be irrational and abandon our plans and direction to return back again and again.
There are many cities I love, but there are only two cities in the world that I just can’t quit.
They are both sweltering delta cities with a French colonial history. One is at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other at the mouth of the Mekong. This week, I returned to my favorite place in Asia. How do I love thee? I count (and photograph) the ways.
25. … Read More »