Vietnam: Death by scooter, love by caffeine

Imagine Taft Avenue but instead of buses and jeepneys whizzing by, there are scooters.  Hundreds and hundreds of scooters.  That's Ho Chi Minh City for you.

We spent only one day in HCMC but 24 hours was enough for us to savor the energy of the city.  (That, and do a LOT of shopping! Haha.)  Here are some of tidbits about the city that got my attention.

Scooters everywhere! Like I said, hundreds and hundreds of scooters, that being their basic mode of transportation.   There were a handful of cars driving by, most of them luxury cars.  I don't think I saw any of them simple sedan-type cars.  Either you're maneuvering a scooter or cruising by in a BMW or Lexus.

Cheap shopping FTW!  Php 4,500.00 or 2 million Vietnamese Dong will get you far.  In Saigon Square, you will find all the cheap but original Crumpler and North Face items.  And when I say cheap, think 1/4 of their selling price in the Philippines.  Ben Thanh Market, meanwhile, houses all the nice trinkets, coffee, and teas.
Saigon Square.  
77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Opening hours:  8:00am-10:00pm
Ben Thanh Market.
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Opening hours:  6:00am-6:00pm.

Weather in HCMC is sunny but not at all humid.  The cool breeze makes for a nice walk around the city.

Vietnamese coffee is love.  Strong taste without the bitterness. Rich aroma too.  When you buy in Ben Thanh market, they make you smell a big jar full of coffee beans.  You'll feel like you just died and went to coffee heaven.

A stall in Ben Thanh market that sells a wide variety of coffee and tea.

Iced coffee.  The key, like Ger said, was the condensed milk.  Lots and lots of condensed milk!

The backpackers' area bears a huge resemblance to Malate, Manila.  The lights, the energy, and all the foreigners everywhere!

People watching.  Almost all the restaurants have tables chairs outside, facing the street where foreigners kill their time people watching.

Almost all pubs lining the Bui Vien street are three to four stories high and are built side-by-side.

I would love to go back to HCMC.  And maybe next time, aside from burning Vietnamese Dong and drooling over all the Crumpler bags and pretty trinkets, I'll visit the nearby provinces for more adventure :)


A little story of misadventure:  In most hotels in HCMC, they ask you to leave your footwear in a nook in the lobby before proceeding to the rooms.  Little did I know that that would my first misadventure.  It was already our second day in Siem Reap when I noticed that I was wearing a mismatched pair of slippers! Apparently, I had taken the pair all the way from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Mismatched pair.  The left one had matte thongs while the right one (the one that was really mine) had metallic thongs.

Luckily, when we came back to HCMC, the other mismatched pair was still there.  Talk about finding my SOLE-mate!  Hahaha.  And that's just the tip of my and my friend Cecille's misadventures.  

More stories soon! I just have to stop laughing first :p

Reunited.  My pair of  metallic slim Havaianas, reunited.  I just hope the owner of the other pair finds his or her SOLE-mate too hihihi.


  1. Nice. I'm planning to do this with Mother Ria. This can be our Eat, Pray, Love :-)

  2. 'Yan din ang sabi ni Ces! Di lang namin ma-figure out kung nasa "eat" or "pray" part kami hehehe.

  3. Oh my gosh Mother! Winner yung mismatched slippers! Haha! Pero parang style, promise :)

    Can't wait for your blog entry on Cambodia!

  4. I think that was one ultimate booboo haha! Hope to be able to write it soon. You should go there withTimmy. You'd both love SR:-)

  5. Maganda ba talaga ang Vietnam o maganda lang kasi ang pictures mo? Hehehe. :p

  6. Hehe well, I appreciated the shopping more than I appreciated the sights :) It's like one big Malate, just with a different language.

    I wasn't able to go to the nearby province but I was told there more adventures lie there :)

  7. That's such an amusing anecdote about the slippers, lol. About HCMC, I have an aunt who got so freaked out by the scooters that she swore she'd never go back to that place. :-P Still want to go there though. Haha.

  8. You should! It's an experience. And you'd enjoy the food :) Lots of restos you can write about!

  9. I think Ho Chi MInh is terrifically cool! :-) so artsy and eclectic.. nice pics!

  10. I liked it there too! The right vibe to just sit back and relax and drink a few rounds of beer :)

  11. Okay, now i'm super intrigued to go there. And you're going to Cambodia, too? err... Can I please grow wings so I can bring Heaven and just fly there? It does sound such a fun adventure.

    More pics!

  12. Yep, went to Cambodia too! I like both--Ho Chi Minh City for the shopping, Siem Reap for the sights :)

    I'm dying to post them too but I'm still not done sorting through all of them!

  13. Manila Girl, i think the best strategy to deal with HCM's motorcycles is just to stand still, and they magically part like the Red (Dead?) Sea and avoid hitting you by a coupla inches :D

    Koryn, san ba meron caphe sua dac (coffee + condensed milk) sa Manila?

  14. Now why didn't I think of that strategy? Haha.

    I haven't come a cross a cafe that serves a concoction like that. I think we'd have to resort to DIY ;)

  15. I like all of the pictures, but especially the picture of the ices coffee - stunning! Made me want to have some too :)


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