Ho Chi Minh is a City of Organized Chaos

Ho Chi Minh
It really looks like you will be electrocuted just walking down the street

One of the first things you notice in this bustling city is that the streets are covered with electricity and phone cables making everything look cluttered. I was quite amazed that people don’t shock them selves and that there aren’t constant electrical fires breaking out all over the city. 

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City

It looks like every inch of the city has been built on. The only place you can find greenery is in the few parks dotted around the city and on people’s roofs, which they turned made into rooftop gardens.

Ho Chi Minh
Looking out over Ho Chi Minh City

Most buildings are at least 3 levels high but only one room wide. The only windows in the house are usually on the front or at the back if you are lucky and it is not too tightly squeezed against your neighbours. But the ceilings are quite high and thanks to this the rooms feel quite spacious and not too hot in the summer.

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
The side walks turn into parking
The side walks turn into parking

When you walk around town it’s like being on a survival course. First you have to dodge vendors trying to sell everything from copied books to old war Zippos. Then there’s all the motorbikes that cover the sidewalks using it like a parking area and if you step into the street to walk around them you can and probably will get hit by a motorbike or bicycle carrying up to 5 people at once!!

Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
The norm is up to 3 people on one motorbike!
Ho Chi Minh
5 on a bike!!`

Top 5 Restaurants and dishes to try out in Ho Chi Minh City

The food in Vietnam is delicious!!

If you ever get the chance to go to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam you definitely have to try the following dishes or places.

Ho Chi Minh City
The BEST spring rolls ever!!
Ho Chi Minh City
Dinner at Wrap and Roll!

1. “Wrap and roll”, on 62 Hai Ba Trung Street, in District 1, this is my favourite spring roll place in the whole city. Their fresh spring rolls are served with a peanut dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham) or a sweet chilli sauce if you prefer something spicy. These spring rolls are a refreshing change from the usual fried variety, and they are great as an appetizer or even a meal.

 The food and also the service is good. I usually had the shrimp on sugar cane skewers that you then make your own spring rolls with. The fish salad is served with a big plate of assorted shrubbery like basil, mint, and lettuce, and a small pile of vermicelli noodles. You then roll it all up in rice paper wrapper and dip it in the bowl of fish or sweet chilli sauce and it’s perfect.

2. Another great and traditional Vietnamese place with great spring rolls and desserts is “Ngong”, just across from the reunification palace. It has fabulous Vietnamese deserts and great lemon grass clams.  You make your own spring rolls here as well but the best part for me here was the desert!

Fresh fruits are the most popular desserts in Vietnam, but Chè is the most traditional Vietnamese dessert. It’s a sweet pudding usually made from mung beans, bananas, coconut milk, pearl tapioca, sweet yam or yucca root vermicelli and sugar. At Ngong they drown the desert in fresh coconut juice which makes it irresistible. This is undoubtedly my favourite desert in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City
Barbecuing some crocodile!
Ho Chi Minh City
Fried scorpion!!

3. If you are up for some strange food there is always “Bo Tung Xeo Restaurant”  at 31 Ly Tu Trong. Here you can treat yourself to uncommon dishes such as crocodile, frog, grasshoppers, shrimps, ostrich, scorpion, snake and rat.

You get your own little Vietnamese barbecue at your table, with the raw meat served to you, which you then prepare on the grill on your table. Their speciality is marinated beef, but the crocodile is a winner and we went back a couple of times just for shrimp and crocodile.

Ho Chi Minh City
Grasshoppers!!!

Personally I would not recommend the deep fried scorpion as its very crunchy and mostly just shell. I tried this on my birthday and never again. The grasshoppers are quite good although they are a bit crunchy and the crocodile is excellent. If you want to try the snake, have minced snake, as the whole snake in soup is just too bony and disgusting to actually enjoy and I ended up leaving half of mine untouched.

Ho Chi Minh City
Dinner at Temple Club!

If you want this same experience but with a bit more luxury or more up market, go to the “Temple club” on Ton That Thiep street. They basically serve the same food as in Bo Tung Xeo but there are more westerners around and they even have music playing.

Ho Chi Minh City
Fresh prawns!!

4. You will find a couple of great French restaurants throughout the city. For lunch “Au Parc” was my favourite. It is close to the reunification palace so a great place to stop for lunch while exploring the city. They have great chocolate deserts, filling salads, excellent sandwiches and fresh fruit shakes.

For dinner you should try “Le Jardin” on Thai Van Lung street, it is a charming little French bistro with the best brown onion soup I have ever tasted. It has a lovely atmosphere and is always packed so be sure to make a reservation before going.

Ho Chi Minh City
Loving the food in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
My house mate Yvonne!

5. If you were in the mood for Japanese cuisine the best place would be “Sushi Bar” on Le Thanh Ton street in District 1. Sushi Bar boasts of very friendly and attentive service and absolutely scrumptious food.

Sushi Bar does not have only Sushi specialties but Sashimi and other Japanese specialties can be sampled here too. One important feature of the cuisine is that it uses only the freshest of ingredients either bought from local markets or imported from Japan. Since over 45 varieties of Sushi and Sashimi are served up, you can pick and choose and come back countless times without being able to taste them all.

They don’t just serve “normal” sushi they have the best-fried sushi that I have ever tasted. Make sure to sample some of their Tempura, rice or one of their noodle specialties. 

Flowers and Lanterns fill the streets of Vietnam during Vietnamese New Year!

 

Ho Chi Minh City
Walking through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
I am in Ho Chi Minh City during their new years!!
Ho Chi Minh City
Happy New Year!!

I arrived in Vietnam during TET, the Vietnamese new year in late January, and it was a wonderful experience. The city is always busy and full of motorbikes but in the week leading up to TET it just gets hectic crazy out on the streets. Every one is buying food for their family, flowers for their houses and small roof top gardens and getting ready for the family holiday. TET is a time when every one inside of Ho Chi Minh City returns to their hometowns to go and visit their family for a week. It’s the only time that you will find Ho Chi Minh City deserted and quiet and most of the little quaint coffee shops closed.

Ho Chi Minh City
It feels like Im walking through a field of flowers
Ho Chi Minh City
Happy New Year Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Yellow for Good Luck!!

Every single street vendor was selling happy New Year (chuc mung nam  moi) signs or posters in red and gold. You could even buy gold and red festive painted watermelons. The streets were filled with yellow flowers everywhere and they packed the parks full of all kinds of flowers. It was amazing walking around between the flowers and seeing all the exotic fruit and blooms in Vietnam. Each flower stall was manned permanently so you could see the stall owners catching a nap in the hot afternoon sun every day. It is beautiful seeing the city covered in flowers and this was a fabulous welcome to my new home. 

Ho Chi Minh City
What a beautiful sight!
Ho Chi Minh City
Painting New Years 

Watermelons

Ho Chi Minh City
Wish the city parks always looked so cheerful

On New Year night every one gathers out on the main road to look at all the flowers and lanterns and take pictures. There are hundreds of people walking around with balloons waiting for the fireworks. There is no way that you can actually drive around on new years, it’s much faster to just walk to where you want to go.

Ho Chi Minh City
Happy New Year!!

On New Years day you will be excused if you think something happened and you are somewhere else. Most of the coffee shops and markets and small shops are closed and the streets are deserted as everyone has left the city for the country side. For the rest of my year living in Ho Chi Minh I never saw the city this quiet again..

Ho Chi Minh City
Celebrating Chinese New Years!