Second time… Loved it just as much… HCMC is so different form Hanoi yet still it makes me feel the same.. Loved it.. Last time I did the north and hired an old Russian minsk bike and travelled around into the wilderness.
Both time, a lack of travel companion and my need to see HCMC meant this time is was the south. Nothing as adventurous as a Motor bike trip into the back of beyond this time..
HCMC Its a beautiful city, with enough mix of old and new to please all. The reminisce of the war is clear to see in the street art, the tourist tat and traps, or tours to the near by Viet Con tunnels.. And yes you must try and see them.. Be it a feat of engineering brilliance a token of resistance an emotional journey for a forgotten hero there’s reason enough for all to see them. **. But as a city it seems to be alive and fun, lots of place to eat and drink and lots of people wanting to have fun,.. The city stays awake later than its Hanoi sister of the north and if you like to party you will SANY0019find more opportunities. Sadly the Bia Hanoi is not as frequent in the south. My favourite beer ever and the world cheapest mass produced beer.. (with Beirut Almaza a close second)
If you can survive the road crossing (they look daunting but are not so bad) get on the hydrofoil.. for 10$ us a one way ticket 90min-2hrs down the delta (a treat in itself) will bring you to Vaung Tan (i know I will have spelt that wrong). Its not exactly off the beaten track. But it is still away form the hussy of HCMC. With a manageable amount of locals and tourist its a haven for a beach lover and like me someone who loves driving around beautiful countryside on a bike or moped. Loads of local shopping, Snake Skin Boots were by tipple…. I will never wear them. Loads of pubs and cafes and quiet a few old retired Australians. It seem this was the weekend retreat back during the war also and many Yanks and Aussie would enjoy a weekend pass down in the safer south region in Vaung Tan. A few stayed and many return. Due to the proximity Aussies more than Yanks.
HCMC2 night 3 days is enough to see and do everything but if you need to re charge the batteries then longer is also lovely. Its a beautiful place with long beach on one coast and rocky coast on another. Some how (I am still not sure how even after studying the map) these two peninsular islands seem to merge into a a bit of an east west side of the island. But I swear you can drive 2hrs without turning the wheel of your bike and still come behind your original start point, very twin peaks.. But worth a visit.. Option to sail up the delta into Cambodia was very tempting, but just not enough time..
Next time… There will be a next time.. Motor bike form HCMC in south to HANOI onto SAPA in the north.. Who’s coming.. I fancy Late 2010 or early 2011.. VIETNAM I LOVE YOU,
**Watch out at airport, myself and 2 other passengers were asked to return to check in (after we were sitting in lounge ready to board the plan) because the wanted to examine our luggage. I had bought some war memorabilia stuff. Old cartilages and the like Vaung Tanmoulded into some nice arty pieces. Nothing live or dangerous and stored in my check in luggage, but still a no no.