Sleepless in Saigon

Saigon, better known as Ho Chi Minh City is a destination not for everyone, but for most. Saigon was known as the pearl of the Far East. It was the capital of French Indochina for nearly 35 years. It is the most visited city in Vietnam (so take that Hanoi and Hue) and the largest at 8.5 million. It’s a beautiful, and fast moving place with Asia’s second fastest growing economy. It’s diverse with a large selection of lush parks, large plazas and boulevards.

Some tasty surprises

Isn’t it the best when you travel to discover some nice surprises along the way? Things you hadn’t expected. I spent five incredible days here, in Saigon. And I would be so bold to say they’ve been life changing. In seeing nearly every major quadrant of the city, thanks to friends and Google Maps, I’ve discovered some real gems, and the food and drink that goes along with that.

Rice wraps with plenty of pork and greens

Saigon is covered with a plethora of fantastic restaurants, pubs and microbreweries. The food is bright and flavourful in Saigon, and in some ways better than what I’ve experienced in Hanoi and Hue. Okay, it’s hard to compare, as it’s quite different. Saigon street food is known worldwide, and it lives up to its standard here. I’ve gobbled down many bowls of delicious pho and pork buns which seem effortless to whip up. I’ve even managed to keep down some balat or duck embryo, but I needed to wash them down with a few beers. It’s been deliciously fun. Speaking of delicious, the beer in Saigon is stellar. I’ve been very impressed. I’m no expert, but I have dabbled in some good beer culture in my time. Somehow Saigon has managed to attract brewmasters from the likes of Colorado, San Diego and New Zealand. And the result is some very tasty beers, perhaps world class.

Balat or duck embryo is not for the queasy types

The best part

But the best part, as you hope it would always be when travelling has been the people. Vietnamese people, never fail to impress with their kindness, sincerity and generosity. But expats as well have been great. A surprise, as in my experience, I’ve found them to be a bit awkward and odd. The combo of the two have made the beginning of my little adventure fantastic.

You need a few friends to celebrate evenings with in Saigon

Enjoy the ride

I’ve had some late nights in Saigon. Restaurant hopping, bar hopping, and neighbourhood hopping. It’s been fun to get a taste of the city life here in Saigon. It’s what I imagine Hong Kong and Shanghai might have been like 30 or 40 years ago. Culturally rich, relatively cheap and a paradise for the tastebuds.

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