The Delights of Traveling: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The first time around that I decided to go to Siem Reap, we made a last minute decision to leave on the night bus on the same day that we went to Angkor Wat instead of staying an extra night because we thought it was a very smart idea being very hungover and probably had heat stroke from being out in the sun all day. We bought the bus tickets when we got back from the tour, it was about $24 for the night bus and had to wait around until about 6pm because our bus was at 8pm.
I was really excited to get on this bus because it was a proper sleeper bus with beds. What we did not realize was that we would have to share the bed, but thank goodness we were traveling together so we were able to share the bed with each other instead of a random stranger. However, it was a twin bed and the friend I was traveling with was 6ft 4 so the bed was way too small for him and I am 5 ft so I had my corner and he took up most of the bed. The good thing was that I was able to sleep all the way through pretty much, but once we got to Vietnam the roads were so bumpy that it was really hard to continue sleeping until we got to Ho Chi Minh City.
When we arrived in the city, we got dropped off in a random location and we had no idea where we were and we were exhausted so we needed to google how to get to our hostel. Turned out that we were quite far away from where we needed to be, so we decided to go to a coffee shop and try and book a Grab to where we needed to go. The last time that I was in Vietnam, they accepted US dollar, which we thought was good for us because we had just come from Cambodia where they accept the US dollar. But, turns out the Vietnamese Dong has gotten stronger over the past few years, so they only accept the Dong. We had to go exchange our money and then we got a Grab to our hostel.
I have to say, the traffic in Ho Chi Minh was some of the craziest I have ever seen. I had such anxiety even when we were in the car. There were so many motorbikes and cars that seemed to come so close to us that I thought we would hit them, but apparently it was all organized chaos because everyone seemed to know what they were doing. We arrived at our hostel and we had to wait until 2pm to check in so we decided to go get some food. I normally just go with the flow and figure out where to eat, but the friend I was traveling with decided to google where to go and we found a place that served pho and when we got there, it seemed pretty popular and honestly it was really good and we went quite a few times after that. After lunch, we went back to the hostel to wait for check-in and we met quite a few people already.
We had been recommended Hideout Hostel from a friend that we met in Bangkok and the hostel definitely did not disappoint. After we chilled for a few hours, we decided to go upstairs to the rooftop bar to have a few drinks because the hostel gives their guests one free beer every night that they stayed at the hostel. We also met the reps that worked there and I have to say they were some of the best people that I have met on this leg of my travels. We ended up staying there for about a week because my friend had his flight back to London from Ho Chi Minh City. We could have gone somewhere else, but he was worried that he would miss his flight. 2 days into being in Saigon, he came to me saying that we could have gone somewhere else but the next day he got really sick so we ended up having to stay in the city until he left.
We didn't really do much while we were there because he was sick, but I had been here before so the main things to do there are the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels. From what I heard from other people, the Upper Mekong Delta is definitely better than the lower because there were more things to see and do. Another thing to see in Saigon is the Cu Chi Tunnels. It has a lot of history especially during the war because it was considered the "hiding spot" for the Vietnamese soldiers. You can even try and go through them but if you are claustrophobic, don't do it because you are going to in a dark tunnel that is very narrow and tight. If you just want to walk around the city, you can go and take a look at Notre-dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace, which became offices after the war was over. There are also quite a few museums to better understand the history of Vietnam.
I had such a great time this time around in Saigon because I met some pretty awesome people, but it wasn't short of drama. After my friend left, I left to go further north to Nha Trang.
My second time around in Saigon was a few weeks later with two of my friends that I had met at a hostel further up near Nha Trang. We ended up staying at Vietnam Backpacker Hostel Saigon, which is a chain hostel that exists all over Vietnam. We pretty much did the exact same thing the second time around. We went to same restaurants that I had been to before, which was that pho place that is incredible. Another restaurant that is my absolute favorite is called Hungry Pig, it is a restaurant that basically has bacon in every dish. My favorite thing there was the Pepper Pig, which is basically a panini with jalapenos, pepper bacon, and cheese. By far the best sandwich I have ever had on my travels.