Every city I visit is a dream come true, and the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam is definitely one for the books. The thousands of motorbikes, the mouthfeel of Cà phê sữa đá, the mixture of the old and the new, the amazing architectures, and the complex flavours of pho. I mean, what’s really not to love about this city? JUST TAKE ME BACK!
Being away from home didn’t feel like it for the first time. There’s just so many interesting similarities between Manila and Ho Chi Minh, except the fact that they have better and cheaper coffee. LOL. The traffic is also something we both have in common, though it’s interesting to see that the streets are rather swamped with motorbikes instead of cars. Grab is a means to get around the city if you don’t find getting a regular taxi an option, but getting from point A to point B is actually easy once you are in the city. The answer? Good old city walk and maps!
It all started with a nice breakfast at My Banh Mi, just a few steps away from the Saigon Central Post Office. It was our first meal since arriving last night and we had their Roasted Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich w/ Smoky Black Pepper Sauce, Spring Rolls, Rice Noodles w/ Beef, and Noodles w/ Annatto Infused Tofu. Need I say that they set the bar high? We just had our first meal but I’m already looking forward to lunch! And you might be thinking, “Where’s the coffee though?”
We didn’t order coffee at My Banh Mi just because there’s this cafe right beside the restaurant and it’s called Katinat Saigon Kafe. Just by being at the facade, it already looked and smelled like they were brewing something strong and flavourful. Katinat’s White Vietnamese Coffee didn’t disappoint as it has the right amount of kick which is exactly what I needed to get through the morning. Now, on to the next!
Just across the street is the well-known Saigon Central Post Office. It’s almost impossible not to notice this even from afar as it calls everyone’s attention by its quaint beaut. Inside you can find a lot of memorabilia, post cards, keychains, and ref magnets which happen to be the first thing I look for in places like this! LOL. It’s nice to see that this place is maintained very well despite the influx of tourists. 🙂
“Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam.” The cathedral is one of the most prominent attractions in HCMC and it was under renovation during this time and even so, it still looked amazing. It’s located in the heart of the city, neighbour to the Saigon Central Post Office and few other local attractions, where you can also see a statue of Virgin Mary.
Walking around the city, you’ll witness a lot of hustle and bustle from the street vendors, businessmen, locals, tourists and travellers alike, and pretty much everyone you come across with. Vietnam exudes the same energy I’ve been seeing all over the countries I had already visited in Asia. There’s just so much beauty you can find around, and I wish I had more time to see its natural landscapes and the countryside.
Cafes on your left and right, street by street, so as open-air restaurants serving Vietnam’s staple — Phở. I still don’t understand, but there’s a lot of nuance flavours in every sip of Phở’s flavourful broth that I can’t get over with. A bowl only costs VND 40,000 and that is barely a hundred peso, not to mention each serving comes with another bowl of mixed vegetables. Now that’s one hell of a meal! I love that I can live my life this cheap sometimes! This ones from Bún Bò Huế, and there are so many options to try! We could’ve had Phở in a fancy restaurant, but we opted to try it here instead because it can’t go more local than this!
And of course, me being with my friends who literally checks out every single museum there is in Manila didn’t let the War Remnants Museum in HCMC go unnoticed. It’s immediately part of the itinerary, and many other museums as we continue our travel to other neighbouring countries. Come to think of it, you may run out of touristy places to see but there will always be these museums that feed your interests about a country’s history — and that is admirable. It pays off just to see people go here, read the artefacts, and actually pay attention to details. It just shows that history still plays a significant role in understanding life and also an indication how far we have reached.
One last place left to see before we could call it a day, but it was still early and the best way to kill time is to just chill somewhere cozy and nice. “Villa Royale is a place to forget the millions of motorbikes, the hustle and bustle and the constant “go” of Saigon.” The statement is so on point. There’s no better way to describe this place which houses a lot of antiques and items that are collected from all corners of the world. Another reason for us to get a taste of their coffee — AGAIN. LOL 😀
And last but not least is the Saigon Skydeck and Heineken combo experience from the Bitexco Financial Tower. Here you can discover Heineken’s brief brewing history and process via a 4D interactive tour, and also get a bird’s eye view of Ho Chi Minh City while sipping on a cold bottle of Heineken as you enjoy the view. Tip: We were all waiting for the sun to set and there’s no better place to do it than here! 🙂
Now that I’ve got a glimpse of Vietnam, I’m more convinced to book a flight and see Hanoi next. The accommodation is cheap, so as transportation and food. I mean, this is the ultimate destination in Asia for budget travellers like me. I don’t like spending much on airfare and lodging, but for food I’m willing to spend fortune. LOL. I’d say Ho Chi Minh City deserves the popularity it has right now, and I’m happy to see its beauty and life firsthand. 🙂