3 things you should know about HCMC as a backpacker before you go
Saigon (so called HCMC) is a very popular destination among backpackers in Vietnam. I’ve told HCMC is too hectic and too crazy. I was a bit afraid of going to Saigon because I wasn’t sure how I would handle the madness of this city. But anyone who travels in Vietnam must go through Ho Chi Minh City so I had to be there. Here are 3 things that I found while staying in Saigon for 6 days. I hope it helps you to get a bit of idea what it’s like backpacking in HCMC.
1. Crazy traffic in HCMC(Saigon)
I bet you’ve already heard about crazy traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. It wasn’t new to me either, but it was so shocking to see so many motorbikes on one street of Ho Chi Minh City right in front of my eyes! You will be either too overwhelmed or really impressed by Vietnamese motorbike drivers going on their way without any accident like magic! But can you imagine crossing the streets in Saigon?
Crossing the street in HCMC for the first time would be like avoiding a death trap for you. It took me more than 10 minutes to cross the street at first. I was so afraid of getting hit by motorbikes! I think you would feel the same if you are in Saigon!
But don’t worry! Motorbike drivers in Vietnam are driving masters! You just have to make some eye contacts with the drivers and then walk slowly. Then they will just slow down to let you cross the street! (But don’t forget to get an insurance before you visit HCMC just in case!)
2. Free beer in HCMC?
Almost every hostel in HCMC offers at least one free beer. Free beer is always nice. Who will say no to free beer? But the problem is that you don’t drink just one beer.
After one beer, you want to drink or your friends want to drink one more beer. One beer becomes two beers. Two beer become three beers… After a few beers, everyone is excited and wants to go party! It’s very hard to resist the temptation of partying in HCMC!
It’s good to take free beers for a couple of days but if you don’t leave Saigon, you will be ended up staying in HCMC way longer than you planned since you are too hungover to leave Ho Chi Minh City.
3. HCMC Backpacker Vibes
Ho Chi Minh Backpacker street(Pham Ngu Lao Street)
Most of the hostels in HCMC is located in District 1 right next to Pham Ngu Lao street so called ‘Backpacker Street’ since District 1 is the cheapest area in Saigon. (Here is the location on Google Maps.)
I can tell you that Ho Chi Minh Backpacker street(Pham Ngu Lao street) is totally sick. There are full of cars, motorbikes, and Pedestrians are walking between vehicles and other people! There are bars on both sides of Pham Ngu Lao street. After 9 pm, you can hardly walk here on this Pham Ngu Lao street thanks to all the insane traffic and people. You will understand what I mean once you get to Ho Chi Minh Backpacker Street(Pham Ngu Lao Street)!
No wonder why Hostels give you free beers… 😉
Of course, don’t even think about having an early night unless you have earplugs and you don’t socialize with people at all. Having proper sleep while staying in hostels is not an easy goal to achieve, but here on Pham Ngu Lao street makes it even harder to get a decent sleep because of all the noise from bars and all the temptations from your friends. Also seeing all these people sitting and drinking can give you an impression that you should drink as well… I’m telling you that you can’t stay in Saigon Backpacker street without drinking. I mean it’s too hard to resist…
- Are you also going to Cambodia? Top 3 beautiful beaches in Koh Rong Samloem/Kep crab market
- Are you planning to go to Thailand? Top 3 things to do in Koh Phi Phi for 2 days/ Top 3 things to do in Krabi for 3 days for 20 something party lovers
- Are you into Indonesia? Best things to do in Ubud/ Gili Air guide
- What about Singapore & Malaysia? Top 3 free things to do in Singapore/ Top 10 things to do in Penang/ Best things to do in Ipoh / Best things to do in Malacca
How were my findings of Saigon? Ho Chi Minh City(Saigon) is the craziest city I’ve ever been to in my whole trip! Are you afraid to go to Ho Chi Minh City now? HCMC is very intense but you will survive like I did! Free beer and good people you meet at the hostel will make your HCMC stay for too long. (I’m not joking!) But don’t spend too much time in Saigon like me! There are so many other beautiful places to visit in Vietnam! Then, good luck in Saigon! Enjoy!
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