Why I enjoyed Ho Chi Minh City
Lets face it, amongst Americans, Vietnam has a pretty bad reputation. I kind of understand why. Many people still remember Vietnam in a negative light because of the Vietnam War. That is fine, but you should still be open minded about visiting Vietnam. While I know I may be fighting an up hill battle, let me try to convince you not to can your plans to visit Vietnam if you are traveling in Asia. If safety is your main reason though, you should know, that unless the Vietnamese Authorities want your head on a platter, which is highly unlikely, you will be safer wandering the streets of Ho Chi Minh City at 3 in the morning, than you would be on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills at that time. It is that safe. Now that we have our mandatory warning out of the way, lets move on to reasons why you should visit Ho Chi Minh City.
For me, Ho Chi Minh City was one of the highlights of my travels in Asia. I would certainly go back if I was offered the opportunity to do so. I had a lot of fun there, and you will too if you decide to go. One of the main attractions of Ho Chi Minh City is its history. During the time of French Colonialism, Ho Chi Minh City, then called Saigon, was the capital of Vietnam. After the colonialism ended, and Vietnam was split into North and South Vietnam, Saigon was the Capital of South Vietnam, which coincidentally was a very strong American ally in Asia. As we all know from our history textbooks, the communist North Vietnam took its marching orders from Moscow, and Beijing. All of this culminated in what is known today as the Vietnam War. It was one of the bloodiest wars that was ever fought in American history, and one that is especially bloody by Vietnamese Standards. With that being said, for those who are interested in Military history, Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City in particular is a fascinating place to go. A popular day trip in Vietnam is a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which are an amazing place, that any military history buff needs to see. For those who aren’t as interested in Military History, there are many other things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you are a food lover like me, you should consider yourself particularly lucky. There are world class restaurants all over Ho Chi Minh City. They can range from little whole in the wall places, to expensive places. While from outside appearances there is not much in common, the food you will get, may very well be the best meal you have ever eaten. It will also be one of the cheapest, as the Vietnamese Dong has a particularly good exchange rate against the dollar, which will make luxuries that you can’t get back in the states, cheap and easily affordable. On the topic of affordability, you can get all sorts of souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh City. If you are like me, a great place to go is to the market.
For many tourists in Ho Chi Minh City, the only place that they go to is the Binh Tranh Market. I’m not saying that it is a bad place to shop, it isn’t, but you must bargain really hard to get a good deal. If you want the real bargains, there are other markets in the city such as the Chinese market, which are not flooded with tourists. Prices there will also be significantly cheaper. One of my favorite parts of traveling is my time spent in the markets, looking for gifts. I got all sorts of cool things on my travels. One thing that you need to look out specifically for in Vietnam are the sizes, they are a bit different than the sizes back in the states, a fact which I found out the hard way. With that being said though, it was still worth it, and my folks were happy with my t-shirts.
To conclude, if you’re looking for a cool place to go to on a really tight budget, Ho Chi Minh City should be at the top of your list.