The Saigon Situation: Is It Even Possible to Survive in Vietnam for Several Weeks As a Tourist If You Think About Its Chaotic Traffic

Traffic situation

The past two weeks I have been hanging out in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. As a first-time visitor, the first few days was hard. I constantly feel overwhelmed by the very chaotic traffic. I wonder whether there’s another term for “chaotic” to describe a more severe choatic situation. Especially during rush hours, it gets really bad.

It’s been two weeks and I still need to figure out this whole “crossing the road” thing. A friend suggested the “don’t look, just walk” strategy. Haven’t got the courage to execute it.

In fact, now that I reflect on it, it really is the worse for Highly Sensitive People, and I happen to be one. Highly Sensitive People, or HSPs, could get overstimulated in part because we process more information from the environment – in this case, the terribly chaotic traffic with a lot of scooters and motorbikes driving around on the road AND on the pavements. Saw a lot of scooters on pavements during rush hours – I wonder is it even legal to do that. Are you breaking the law if you’re driving on the pavements in Vietnam?

Perhaps nobody bothers to give them a ticket, that’s why folks keep doing it, essentially endangering the safety of pedestrians. In Taiwan, you’d certainly get a ticket for that. If you are a Westerner who has experienced cities in Vietnam, you’d like Taiwan. However, that being said, I’m obviously biased.

Broken pavements situation

One thing you’d notice is there are broken pavements everywhere you go. If you think about all of these broken and terribly damaged “roads,” you marveled at how these scooter riders even managed to ride on them.

Another thing I wondered was whether Vietnam has e-scooter markets? With its population of 9.3 million, I’m sure the demand is there. If you take a moment and just think about all of the e-scooters that are out there in cities in Taiwan, how it makes the traffic so much quieter and smoother, then you imagine what it could be like if you get rid of all these noisy scooters in Saigon and upgrade them to nice and quiet e-scooters, wouldn’t that make the city so much better and more livable to a lot of people?

What about tram and metro networks

Further, had some futuristic ideas about setting up some public transportations such as tram and metro networks. Guess that’s not exactly futuristic. But since I dislike taking a taxi, nor do I enjoy using riding apps in Vietnam just to get around, I have been walking a lot. (Mind you, it isn’t a very pleasant activity when you’re walking on the street with not much shade around and it’s 35 degrees Celsius, which is 95 degrees Fahrenheit, out there.) Sometimes I would walk on the big roads and wonder what it would be like if you have some trains or trams equipped with air conditioning running around on these wider roads in city center areas.

Drinking water situation

I shouldn’t go on and complain about the hot weather, the heat strokes, the constant dehydration situation, and the freshwater supply thing – The front desk receptionist warned me over phone not to consume the tap water in the room. But the water cans they provided hadn’t been good because my stomach had reacted very badly. It’s the reason why I’ve been spending so much money on purchasing bottled water. Just think about the amount of plastic water bottles I produced for each day! – try not to be overly negative. Sure, things weren’t going so well for the first week. But the second week got better. It takes some time getting used to.

A variety of cuisines

One nice thing about Saigon is it is a very international, modern city. It has become one over the past several decades. There is a variety of food options. You could be a happy vegetarian here. You could certainly be a happy pescatarian. I have been going to all of these wonderful coffee shops and cafes, and thankfully many of them are to my liking.

Enjoyed Anh Coffee Roastery’s coffee the other day – they have the perfect cappuccino in the city! Also, I’m now a fan of The Workshop Coffee in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. Their pour-over coffee was very good.

I must have visited some twenty coffee shops and restaurants over the past two weeks. My favorite restaurant goes to Morico - Contemporary Japanese Lifestyle, a local chain restaurant. They have the best matcha latte and hojicha latte in the district.

I tried several local Vietnamese restaurants to get a sense of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Also, to put my very limited Vietnamese language into use. Unfortunately I haven’t found that one must-try Vietnamese restaurant yet. I might find one in the coming days, I hope! I did enjoy some very tasty Vietnamese fresh spring rolls the other day. Some came with some fish inside, some with prawn. The great thing about it it’s not fried.

Can’t believe I’ve been ranting about things in this 1.5-hour blogging session. I guess I should think of it as a positive way of releasing some of the stress. Saigon overall, truly has been quite an experience. I actually did some sketches. A few of them are watercolor sketches. I might select a few and get them posted in the coming posts.