I’m in Vietnam. First time I flied on my own to boot. It didn’t sink in to me immediately as my only focus was to get through security, customs, and get a ride to my hotel.
My First Impressions of Ho Chi Minh City
I got to Ho Chi Minh City around 1am VN time. Something felt awfully familiar but I knew I was in a whole new place. I booked an Uber car to get from the airport to my hotel which took roughly 30min from the airport. The very first thing you would realize is the amount of motorcycles on the road.
Motorcycles are basically the main transportation of people in Ho Chi Minh City and I think Vietnam as a whole. Everyone uses it. Both men and women use it and even women while wearing nice dresses. I have no idea how they keep their hair nice and straight even after an hour’s ride going to the office.
My hotel was located right along Nguyen Hue or what is called the Walking Street. It’s a four lane road with a huge walkable park in the middle. There you’d notice friends having milk tea or coffee right there on the floor having nice conversations.
Not a lot were still open by the time I got to my hotel so my first meal in Vietnam was actually a McDonalds burger which was fine. It’s what you would expect from any McDonald’s.
My office was just a few minutes from the hotel which was great because Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t have trains. They do have buses but for the life of me I wasn’t able to understand how and which ones to take. The easiest way to get around is to book a Grab or Uber motorcycle which wasn’t really on top of my list to do.
I walk to the office and I notice people just sitting on very small stools either drinking their coffee (coffee is really big in Vietnam) or having their breakfast. Really cool way to start the day. But I had no time to try it so I move along.
I find a money changer and I instantly become a millionaire! My PHP4,000 was equivalent to roughly 1,700,000 Vietnamese Dong at that time. Prices of food and other stuff are very reasonable to cheap. You can get a good meal for PHP100-200.
Food in Ho Chi Minh City
Now for the main event. One of the main reasons why I’ve always wanted to go to Ho Chi Minh City is to get to try their food. Of course one of my first meals was with Pho, rice noodle soup which I had with my officemates in this nice little restaurant by the side of our building. A lot of people were eating but we got a table.
This was a typical level of Pho in the city. Cheap but really fills you up. What’s great about it is how refreshing the broth was. It had hints of different flavors and fresh vegetables.
In almost everywhere and any place I was able to eat at, they would serve you a plate of fresh green vegetables. There are different types and sorry but I am really terrible at identifying plants based on leaves so I can’t really say what they were. They did add varying flavors to the dish. Some are minty, others give you an added kick, and some were a bit bitter to give an interesting twist to whatever you were eating which was perfect for soup broth.
Another memorable meal I had was bun cha. Fatty pork served on a bed of rice noodles. This was sooo good. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take a picture of it so here’s one from angsarap.net.
It was really amazing to get to try different local dishes. Special thanks to my officemates in Ho Chi Minh City for taking care of me and showing me around and helping me eat. I would have never been able to try some of the local dishes without your help.
During the weekend of my first stay, I had a very pleasant surprise which I loved so much. Next, on my Ho Chi Minh City adventure!