a seeker in search of Easter Eggs
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is unique amongst the global capitals. It is a place where cafes have evolved to a lifestyle choice in an innovative and creative way. The streets are lined-up with cafes one after anther, showcasing theme after theme. This is also the place where you cannot wait-out the stream of motorcycles torrentially pouring down the street - otherwise you stay there forever. In leap of faith, you slice through that passing stream of motorcycles and they miraculously swerve over you - like swimming through a million sardines and you'd be lucky if you touch on one! Tours and buses are cheap, food is not only cheap but really would rival Thai food as an iconic taste. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The rest is for you to discover!


Banh Canh Cua Obsession food

Banh Canh Cua Obsession

(Apr 23-30, 2019) HCMC has many culinary offerings. Some are globally known - Pho and Banh Mi. But somehow, I am drawn to a lesser known dish that I could hardly find anywhere else in Vietnam - Banh Canh Cua, a crab-based thick noodle soup similar to the French Bouillabaise....more »»

Ho Chi Minh City on a Visa Run traveling

Ho Chi Minh City on a Visa Run

(Apr 23-30, 2019) After staying 90 days in Chiang Mai, I had to leave Thailand and do a visa-run. Where? The cheapest way out was Ho Chi Minh City. I'm just too glad that I also love being in this city. After being there Aug 7-27, 2018, I'll be seeing it again for the 4th time.....more »»

Nomad Travel Buddy traveling

Nomad Travel Buddy

(Aug 27, 2018) A lot of friends and readers tell me they like my life but don't know how to get started. Now, I open the door for them into my world and I share my secrets. On a fee-based basis, I will travel with them and teach them how I do things....more »»

20 Days in Ho Chi Minh City traveling

20 Days in Ho Chi Minh City

( Aug 7-27, 2018) After a 20-day mini-life in HCMC, it was time to pack-up again and move on. This was a very different Ho Chi Minh City this time around. I fully came to accept that I'm not a tourist. I travel to find a place to do my work, eat the local food and meet people. That simplifies many things....more »»

Exploring Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh City traveling

Exploring Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh City

(Aug 26, 2018) Binh Tay is a public wet market in the Chinatown area of HCMC where Chinese Vietnamese locals do their marketing. As such, it's not manicured for the tourists and prices are local prices. They have fresh veggies, meat, fish, dry good, livestock...and food glorious food!....more »»

Pho Beef Soup Exploration of Ho Chi Minh City food

Pho Beef Soup Exploration of Ho Chi Minh City

(Aug 7-27, 2018) What started out modestly in the north of Vietnam has now become a global noodle soup icon - Pho. Different parts of Vietnam serve Pho differently. Here in HCMC, I go on a quest in search of the best Pho....more »»

In Search of the best Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City food

In Search of the best Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City

(Aug 7-27, 2018) Vietnam is known for many things and one of them is food. Here at Ho Chi Minh City, I explore its foodscape - from street food, to home food and resto food. First I explore the more popular types, some of them have become international best-sellers....more »»

Peoplescape of Ho Chi Minh City people

Peoplescape of Ho Chi Minh City

(Aug 7-27, 2018) I'd been to HCMC a few times and it's good to be reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. The people-adventure continues to paint a vibrant kaleidoscope of interesting lives drifting into my orbit.....more »»

Rediscovering Ho Chi Minh City traveling

Rediscovering Ho Chi Minh City

(Aug 7, 2018) After Thailand, I didn't really know where to go. But the $60 budget fare with VietJet made it academic for me. Besides, I love Ho Chi Minh City and I have a few friends I'd like to see again. Upon landing, the energy felt right. I knew it was a good start.....more »»

AO Show, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City art

AO Show, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

(Apr 10, 2015) AO Show is more like a fusion of circus and a performance play on stage about the day-to-day local ongoings of a traditional fishing village in Vietnam. The play had a number of clever innovations, dramatic lighting, a powerful live musical scoring and a strong performance by the cast.....more »»

Free English verbatim
Free English
(Apr 1, 2015) After a 2-hour session teaching English to a Vietnamese professional, having established the teaching schedule to be 90 minutes everyday for the next 2 weeks, my teaching assistant and translator told me something I didn't see coming...more »»

Teaching English to Vietnamese teaching
Teaching English to Vietnamese
(Apr 1, 2015) How to teach English to Vietnamese - dos and donts of teaching Vietnamese how to speak English...more »»

20 Days in Ho Chi Minh City traveling
20 Days in Ho Chi Minh City
(Mar 22 - Apr 12, 2015) With my Singapore visa expiring and no money left, I didn't know where to go. Like mana from heaven, I received a message from my Vietnamese friend saying, 'Come back to Ho Chi Minh City! You have a place here.' It was the proverbial parting of the Red Sea for me. I will be going back to Vietnam after being away for only 2 months...more »»

Ho Chi Minh City's Fascinating Motorbike Culture traveling
Ho Chi Minh City's Fascinating Motorbike Culture
(Nov 18, 2014) Every country has its fair share of motorcycles and its riders. Ho Chi Minh City however, defies every known convention of motorcycle culture by virtue of its sheer number, density and omnipresence, creating its own unique challenges and norm. At some point, pedestrians, commuters, car drivers and the general public had to adjust to the motorbike craze that has taken over and shaped the city...more »»

Discovering Saigon's Cafe Culture food

Discovering Saigon's Cafe Culture

(Nov 9 - Dec 17, 2014) Saigon had many unique things defining its culture. One of them is their inimitable cafe culture. A coffee shop is not simply a place to sip beverage, but a venue for social interaction and pursuing a lifestyle choice. Saigon takes its caffein culture to new heights thru the myriad of one-of-a-kind cafes lining up its city blocks with very unique personalities, innovative designs and architectured ambience....more »»

How Long was the Vietnam War? verbatim

How Long was the Vietnam War?

(Nov 10, 2014) It was my first time in Vietnam and I was traveling with a Vietnamese friend. Casually, I asked how long the war was. Her answer blew me away.....more »»

Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (Ho Chi Minh City) traveling
Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (Ho Chi Minh City)
(Nov 9, 2014) Vietnam has always remained a curiosity for me. The only lingering thoughts I have about the place was about the war - that happened a long time ago. Now I hear that Vietnam is a looming Asian dragon whose economy is on the fast rise. With a standing invite by my Vipassana meditation friend, Tuyen, to savor the culinary indulgences of Ho Chi Minh City, I was already on my way for a Vietnam immersion...more »»

Google Map

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

important places in Ho Chi Minh City IMPORTANT PLACES
Ho Chi Minh City Bus Station Ben Xe Mien Dong
Ho Chi Minh City Bus Station Mien Tay Bus Station
Ho Chi Minh City Train Station Saigon Railway Station
Ho Chi Minh City airport Tan Son Nhat International Airport

hotels in Ho Chi Minh City HOTEL
Queen Ann Hotel, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Queen Ann Hotel - luxurious and modern, District 1 location, 10-minute walk to Ben Thanh Market
Sakura Hostel Cholon, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City Sakura Hostel Cholon - 9.0 Stars (out of 10) from 24 reviews on based on cleanliness, comfort, facilities, staff, value for money, free wifi and location!


How to Get to District 1 (HCMC) from the Airport (Tan Son Nhat International Airport)
  1. take the #109 Airport Bus (5:30am to 1:00am, departs every 15-20 minutes, 45 mins, 20k Dong or $1.00) Route: International Terminal - Domestic Terminal (Tan Son Nhat International Airport) - Truong Son - Tran Quoc Hoan - Hoang Van Thu - Nguyen Van Troi - Nam Ky Khoi Nghia - Ham Nghi - Le Lai - Ben Thanh Bus Station - Pham Ngu Lao - 23/9 Park
  2. get off at 23/9 Park to get to the cluster of backpacker hostels
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Tips
  1. best money changer rates in District 1 is Ha Tam Jewelry near Ben Thanh (refer to map for location)
  2. unlike most destinations in Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is too big for the major bus companies to provide a drop-off service with their shuttle minivans. If you are coming by bus, you get off either at the Western Bus Station or Eastern Bus Station depending on where you are coming from. From there, you can take the cheap local bus, the Xe Buyt to get you closer to your destination.
  3. you can get around the city by moto-taxi or rent a motorbike - but be warned that motorbike riding in Ho Chi Minh City is unlike riding anywhere else in Asia!
Ho Chi Minh City Cost Index

Budget price in budget places (US$1 = Vietnam Dong VND 23,255 = Php 53.20 as of Aug 1, 2016)

  • VND 10-15,000 baguette sandwich (banh mi)
  • VND 25-30,000 noodle soup (pho)
  • VND 10-15,000 black filtered coffee
  • VND 5,000 sugar cane juice (nuoc mia)
  • VND 8-10,000 fresh coconut
  • VND 10,000 one beer bottle
  • VND 10,000 1.5 liter drinking water
  • VND 80,000 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • VND 80,000 cheap lodging
  • VND 10,000/kg laundry
  • VND 8-10,000/km but flag-down starts at 20,000 motorcycle ride
  • VND 20-35,000 rice meals (com tam)
  • VND 100-140,000/day motorbike rental
Vietnam FYI / Tips / Dos and Don'ts
  1. Hanoi Grapevine HCMC Update - for the latest events in Vietnam
  2. Vietnam establishments will not accept US dollars, unlike Cambodia. You have to use Vietnam Dong (US$1 = Vietnam Dong VND 23,255 = Php 53.20 as of Aug 1, 2016)
  3. Vietnamese smokers will smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. They also smoke inside hospitals with no smoking signs.
  4. Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
  5. internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
  6. Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
  7. best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
  8. remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
  9. ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
  10. best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
  11. leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
  12. when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
  13. carry only enough cash for your needs that day
  14. don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
  15. don't take pictures of military installations - you can go to jail
  16. refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Lesser-Known Vietnam Destinations
  1. Phu Yen Province - by the beach
  2. Hoa Binh Lake - locals' alternative to Halong Bay
  3. Ninh Binh - Trang An Grottoes, Tam Coc, Mua Caves, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Van Long Nature Reserve
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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