An increasingly popular holiday destination, Ho Chi Minh City offers plenty for visitors to discover. Travellers interested in architectural wonders will be glad to know that the city is dotted with charming historical buildings. For a change of pace, a bounty of nature attractions awaits a short drive away. Local cuisine is practically brimming on the street sides, with food carts and restaurants squeezed in between the city’s charming alleys. Here are a few pointers for your stay in the city. MOTORHEAD First-timers to Ho Chi Minh City will be surprised by the amount of motorbikes on the street. Motorbikes are the preferred mode of transport for the locals, perfect for whizzing through the labyrinth-like side streets in the city. Expect to see thousands of bikers revving round the city blocks in the chaotic mess of the traffic on a daily basis. Crossing the road in the city is tricky, our advice is to follow a local and trust in their judgment. GRAB & GO Ho Chi Minh City is one of those cities where one should be wary of taxis. The cabby drivers are notorious for swindling fares and more from tourists. Our advice is to download the Grab application and stick to verified drivers to get around the city. Aside from the language barrier (most locals only speak Vietnamese), carrying too much cash around is not wise in the city. Cashless is the way to go. STREET SPIRIT For lovers of street food, Ho Chi Minh City is an urban maze filled with delightful local culinary temptations. From the heart of pop-up street bazaars, down dinghy alleys and hidden in the nook and crannies of side streets, one can find all sort of hawkers selling anything from banana fritters, banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) to hand-made rice noodles. Our favourite rule of the thumb is to dine in places where the crowds are. There’s surety in numbers. SLURP IT UP The main staple diet of the Vietnamese people is rice noodles. From oodles of thin vermicelli to the ubiquitous strands of flat rice noodles, one will find hawkers everywhere selling all types of soup noodles. It would hardly be a surprise for riots to break out over a shortage of rice noodles in the city, with everything from pho, bun rieu to bun cha employing strands of the silky, starchy goodness. A WALK TO REMEMBER Be prepared to walk in Ho Chi Minh City, where the main attractions are down smaller alleys, past hidden plazas and through shortcuts bordering the city’s neighbourhoods. The city’s pavements are relatively functional, if a little aged and cracked in the older districts. The footpaths are shared spaces, with house plants, hawkers and pedestrians interacting in the buzzing throng of the city.
Author: Umami Media
Umami Memo is a collection of mostly food-related travelogues. We track down the trendsetters, rockstar baristas and artisan distillers to bring their stories to our readers.