Ho Chi Minh City is quickly modernizing and now is the time to visit as buildings that are here today will be gone tomorrow!
Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi (see city guide here) couldn’t be more different. Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, retains much of its old world charm whereas HCMC (formerly Saigon) is fast-paced and racier.
Just when I thought crossing the street was difficult in Hanoi, HCMC was a whole other level of chaos! Intersections were crammed full of motorbikes, cars, buses with the odd pedestrian thrown into the mix. As many a tour guide will warn you, “traffic lights mean nothing to the Vietnamese. Green means go, yellow means go faster and red still means go.” Paired with the hottest temperatures I’ve experienced in a looooong time (maybe ever?!) I found HCMC to be a wee bit stressful. That said, it is a thrilling experience and I’m glad I visited when I did as I’m not sure I could handle HCMC later in life.
We stayed at the ever-miniscule (only 22 rooms), Ben Thanh Boutique Hotel. The oriental-style hotel is somewhat hard to find (it’s in an alleyway off a side street), but a a lovely place to lay your head after a busy day of sightseeing. Its convenient location means you can peruse the night markets and the myriad of cafés in the area.
Our favourite place for pho was Pho 2000, which is located near Ben Thanh Market. The roomy restaurant has enticing options for both vegetarians and meat eaters. I also loved the vermicelli noodles (pictured below!)
Discovering new brunch spots is a full-time hobby of mine, and L’Usine appeals to both the design and food-focused. Grab a seat on the balcony, which overlooks the hustle and bustle of the city below and order eggs florentine or the big breakfast. After your meal, check out the shop below which carries hard-to-find brands.
My sister and I enjoyed The KAfe Saigon for its nutritious breakfast options. Natalie enjoyed her smoothie here and I was a fan of the fruit bowl with yogurt.
Vietnam is a great place to find affordable ceramics and china. I suggest visiting L’Authentique Home for gorgeous vases, bowls and tea sets. Home to three workshops, Authentique is committed to celebrating the fine crafts traditions of Vietnam. Known for refined design, carefully selected materials and beautiful craftsmanship, you might find yourself checking a second suitcase.
Another spot for interior design lovers is The Vintage Emporium, which is also a café. I marvelled at the carefully chosen decor and the stunning tile floors!
We had quite a bit of time in HCMC, so Natalie and I decided to book a few day trips through our hotel. First, we headed to the Mekong Delta for some boating and rowing adventures. We visited local villages, indulged in delicious fruit and coconut, and even visited a temple and Happy Buddha, which just so happens to be my favourite Buddha!