A Fine Time in Saigon Before a Night on the Bay

Here’s a personal story submitted by one of our readers.

I decided to go with a friend on a little vacation in Vietnam. We left the Los Angeles airport on an early Friday morning to fly west over the Pacific to Vietnam. Eventually, we reached Hanoi and arrived at our respective hotel rooms, exhausted but it was still day time since we basically traveled back in hours. Our goal: Ho Chi Minh City.

First the City

With a large and friendly population of 8 million, Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is a surreal sight to see. Perhaps the best aspect of staying there is the cheap expense. We managed to find a good five-star hotel that ran us each only $75 per night.

We had about a week to stay here, but we were planning on perhaps going elsewhere. The idea was to catch some of the city scenes and then go off to the seaside and maybe spend a night on one of the classic boats at the bay.

The Hotel and the Sights

There is a high conversion rate for the U.S. Dollar in Saigon, so Americans have a pretty easy time of things. Everything is cheap for us. Most of the ATMs only dispense a maximum amount of $80, so even the great Eastin Hotel was cheap. With a wonderful breakfast included, every night of staying there was met with a wonderful morning.

We decided to start with a trip to Independence Palace after we walked through the old city. There were a number of great spots for coffee shops, bun cha and bahn mi food stops along the way and we did stop for the bahn mi.

Then we arrived at the famous Independence Palace to get some insight into the other side of the story for the Vietnam War.

Finding the Night Life

After spending time at the Palace, we then visited the War Remnants Museum, finding that it is not that easy to handle if you are faint of heart. Regardless, we learned much and, with the help of an easily hired street translator, we talked with some locals about the night life.

Bui Vien Street came highly recommended and it was no wonder. It looked a bit like a fluorescent version of Bourbon Street. It is perfect for people who like to party. There are many, many bars and plenty of great street food.

Visit the Lunch Lady

It was actually fun to go around the city again the next day and to return for a bigger night to Bui Vien Street. The next day, we were worn out and decided to head for the Saigon Lunch Lady, who we had heard about as a good post-party pick-up. She is on Hoang Sa Street and serves only one meal from mid-morning up ‘til noon and until it is gone.

Overall, we had fun in Saigon. Our next stop was going to the coast of Vietnam to spend the night on a pirate ship. That is another story.