I loved Vietnam. It was the first country I ever visited with my backpack, and sense of reckless abandon. I started up in Hanoi, and worked my way down this awesome country – all the way to Saigon. As one of Vietnams big cities, Saigon is filled with museums, parks, and sights to see. But, it was not a place I enjoyed. So read on to find out why I’d never go back to Saigon.
I’m someone who loves a good crazy city. I adore getting turned around in the bustling, buzzing metropolises of the world. In fact, in Hanoi, I got lost on day one, and spent over an hour wandering through random streets and markets before making it back to my hostel. But, for me, Saigon was on a whole other level. I felt rushed, harassed, and in danger of being run over by errant bikes on every corner.
Throughout Vietnam, motorbikes are everywhere.
In fact, it would be weirder to see a road bereft of the two wheeled machines, than covered in them. I was still surprised though, when the bikes starting driving off the road, onto the pavement, instead of waiting in the traffic. And even having the audacity to beep their horns at me as I walked along! Crossing the roads is always a little stressful in Asia, but nowhere else have I felt so unsafe off the road.
The constant hawkers in Vietnam had never bothered me before. A simple ‘no thank you’ and they would move on. Here in HCMC though (the real name of Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City; but many locals still don’t use this title), the hawkers generally just waved at me and grunted. At least TRY and entice me! At one point, I had gotten so sick of it all, I actually stopped and shouted at one of them, in English. He clearly had no idea what I was saying, or what my issue was. And, although I’m not proud of it, I did feel much better afterwards.
I only spent a few days in Saigon, but I was never drawn into the city, like I was across the rest of the country. When I visited places like Hanoi, or Hoi An, I really felt like I was in Vietnam. But, in Saigon, I could have been in any Asian city. I know a big part of this is due to the French and American influences that have overtaken the city, and weirdly, there were lots of Japanese brands around too.
The skyscrapers, McDonalds, and general blandness of the city really put me off. Granted, there are some beautiful areas here too. I loved Notre Dame, and the post office; and the area around the Saigon Opera House was beautiful. but again, all these buildings are French colonist styled spots – not Vietnamese.
How very, very vague of me I know. I just couldn’t relax in this city. I had a TERRIBLE tour of the Mekong Delta from here, people didn’t seem as friendly, I just wasn’t excited to be there. I wasn’t feeling the vibe. Loads of people love this city, and each to their own, but I know I’d never go back to Saigon. Next time I go to Vietnam, I’m going to stick to what I love; the rural areas, the unique experiences, and authentic Vietnamese adventures.
Have you been to Saigon? What did you think of the city? Have you ever been to a city you didn’t like? Let’s Discuss!
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