Vietnam was my favorite stop on my first Southeast Asia schlep so it was only fitting that I came back at the end of this trip. I spent five days in Saigon solo before my family arrived, and while I knew I loved Saigon, I forgot how vibrant and fascinating this city truly is. Some highlights:
-Eating. Eating eating eating. I’m sure you’ve noticed this pattern with me, but the food here in Vietnam is just stupendous. I enjoyed old favorites like pho and bahn mi, and tried new dishes like bun bo hue (which I think might be even better than pho!). I drank glass after glass of traditional iced coffee with condensed milk and sought out the internationally famous “Lunch Lady,” a street food vendor that makes a different noodle soup every day. The food here is just as delicious as I remembered it to be, and cheap to boot!
-Bui Vien nightlife. Bui Vien is the backpacker district of Saigon and there’s so much fun to be had here after dark. Whether it involves sitting outside on plastic chairs enjoying 50 cent beers or dancing on bars at packed nightclubs (guilty as charged) this part of the city certainly never sleeps. The clubs here aren’t completely full of western tourists actually attract a fair number of locals, which I significantly prefer to the tourist-packed bars and clubs of Bali, which make me feel like I’m in Europe or Australia rather than Asia.
-A day on the Mekong. I didn’t get the opportunity to visit the Mekong Delta on my last trip here, so I decided to take a day trip to see the famous river and the people that live on and around it. While the tour itself wasn’t that great and the landscape was similar albeit less picturesque than Inle Lake in Myanmar, I really enjoyed floating down the Mekong in a boat and exploring its smaller tributaries by canoe. I felt like I was in Apocalypse Now as I floated past small boats and stilt houses hidden in the jungle. Given its historical meaning, especially with regards to the role it played in the Vietnam War, my visit to the Mekong was more than just a fun day on the water but shined a light on a tragic and important era in both American and Vietnamese history.
I’m so glad I was able to spend some time in Saigon. It remains one of my all-time cities. Maybe I’ll even get to live here someday!