They say the best adventures are spontaneous. On the occasion, of a recent long weekend, I decided to take a leap of faith and travel solo for the first time to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam. And I must say, it was one of the best trips I have ever had. I learnt that travel is more than the places we see. It’s more about the people we explore it with and the memories we make along the journey. I came to realize that it’s about being fearless to taste the ultimate adventure we seek. In the end, we travel to take a break from the ordinary and understand life and ourselves better. This backpacker’s trip was a great way to step out of my comfort zone and introspect.
Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon- is a trending destination for backpackers. The food and accommodation are so cheap. The nightlife in HCMC is also lively and buzzing. Here are the best things to do in HCMC-
Staying in a Hostel
The hostel is the perfect place, which gives a backpacker vibe and where one can easily meet new people. I stayed at Saigon Inn in HCMC district 1- I really loved the location of this Hostel. It was right in the middle of the happening district of the city. Amazing staff and people, great rooftop parties and live music nights plus one free beer every day. On the first day itself, I made new friends in my dorm and later, we explored the city together.
HCMC seemed to be filled with far more scooters than cars on the streets. It was fun to watch endless streaming of scooters on the bustling street. Renting a scooter in HCMC was a thrilling experience in the land of scooters. On the first day, five of us, rented a scooter and set off for our adventurous expedition.
War Remnants MuseumLocated in the District 3 of HCMC, War Remnants Museum is a popular site amongst the travelers. The way the museum conveyed its brutal effects on its own civilian victims in the war was powerful and strong. There were documentaries of US atrocities, photos of children who were exposed to chemicals, infantry military weapons which bring out the harsh reality of the horrific war ‘My Lai Massacre’ conducted between the US and Vietnam.
Cu Chi Tunnels
On the second day, we booked a half day tour in advance to the Cu Chi tunnel through a travel agency called The Sinh Tourist. Cu Chi tunnel is located approximately 70 Kms from Saigon. The 200 km long network of tunnels is a historical remnant of Vietnam’s liberation war. We got the hands-on experience to crawl inside these tunnels. I was quite fascinated by how Vietnamese people managed to live in these narrow secret tunnels during the war.
There is also an outdoor shooting range at Cu Chi. People who were interested could shoot guns like AK-47 and MK-16 with real ammunition. Those of you who know me, you know I wouldn’t miss such an adventurous opportunity. It was such an incredible and hair-raising experience to fire off AK-47 at the target. It was totally worth the price paid for the bullets.
On the third day, we booked a half day tour to Mekong Delta with the same travel agency. Mekong Delta is a water world located 86 km away from HCMC. We made stops at several places to gain insight into the rich Viet culture. Navigating through lush green coconut palms, floating veggie markets, Buddhist temples, rice paddy fields, mangroves, I found myself immersed in nature. We also got the chance to see traditional music performance.
Transport (Bus): VND 200,000 (USD 8.76)
Bui Vien Street
Bui Vien Street is a popular street for all the backpackers. This street has everything you need- Cute cafes, several food options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, rooftop bars, clubs, souvenir shops. This was our go-to street for chilling and dining. At night, this street is full of energy, colorful lights, lively music and good vibes. On the last night, we also did a pub crawl – where we hopped onto different bars & clubs located in Bui Vien. We met interesting people and shared with each other our experiences, and of course, had some drinks with new friends.
Wish you guys safe adventures,