Saigon: We Were Meant For Each Other

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I LOVE Saigon.

Are you surprised?  Everyone keeps saying to me, “Jeez, Kate, is there any place you don’t like?”

(Well, yes.  Luang Prabang.)

I do love Bangkok.  I love Hanoi.  I love Phnom Penh.  But Saigon is more than just another Southeast Asian city I love — it’s the city that would make the best place for me to live.

Yes, the metropolis officially known as Ho Chi Minh City is tailor-made for Adventurous Kate.  Here’s why:

Saigon has style. Women and men are far more fashion-conscious in Vietnam than any of the other countries I’ve visited in Southeast Asia, and they go all out in Saigon!

Fashion makes for entertaining people-watching.  The last thing you want is a boring city!

Saigon has greenery.

When I was living in the centro of Florence, Italy, I realized how important it was to be surrounded by parks, grass and trees.  Florence’s centro is devoid of any greenery, and it drove me crazy.

But Saigon is filled with parks. You must visit them at sunset, when crowds of women erupt into aerobics classes!

Check it out (LOVE how Dave gets into it):

Saigon rocks at night. Come on, do you really think I would settle for a city with a less-than-rocking nightlife scene?

The city has a lot of great bars, and the beer is cheap.  And they have a lot of karaoke places!

Saigon is delicious. Banh mi stands on every corner?  Literally, just about every corner?  That’s all I need.  Maybe a bit of pho on occasion to switch things up.

In all honesty, if I were to live somewhere long-term, I would need access to Western food once in a while.  Just once in a while.  And Saigon has that.

Saigon is modern — and beautiful. Even though some of my favorite cities, like Budapest, are defined by their classic architecture, I was seduced by Saigon’s modern edge.

It’s funny, but Saigon actually reminded me a lot of Buenos Aires — much more so than Hanoi.  And the weather is HOT year-round, just how I like it!

And, just as a bonus — Saigon has cheap beauty treatments.  I couldn’t believe the pricing — even cheaper than Thailand!  I also got the best manicure I’ve ever had.  (No wonder all the manicurists in Boston are Vietnamese!)

Also, Saigon has access to lots of Western beauty products — especially skincare products.  And they’re not all formulated to bleach your skin.  That’s appreciated.

Of course, Saigon has its detriments as well. The prostitution is a little in-your-face.  The motorbike traffic could easily kill you.  And I do wish they had a subway.

But as far as a place to live, Saigon could very well become my Southeast Asian home! As someone who has absolutely no idea what her future holds, I’m going to file Saigon away for the future…

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27 thoughts on “Saigon: We Were Meant For Each Other”

  1. Oh you’re making me so bummed we didn’t get to go there after our honeymoon in Borneo! (Visa issues.) We went to Taiwan instead, which was just “meh” in my eyes. Funny, so many people claim to loooove Hanoi and Hoi An but be a bit ambivalent about Saigon.

    Also, I want your nail polish colors!

  2. I lived in Saigon for 3 years and came back last summer. I just found your post and it made me miss my old home. It truly is an INCREDIBLE place to live and the expat scene is immense.

  3. on my 2nd night i Saigon i landed in a rooftop bar full of expats drinking massive beverages from vases and curly straws…in a matter of 22 minutes they had me and my wife reasonable convinced we should shed our travel plan and take up residence in Saigon.

    We love the city. The energy, the dense press of humanity, the lights, the food, the opportunity. We were intoxicated with it. We immediately went to work getting a place to stay, getting teaching jobs and making friends.

    Saigon has indelibly shaped my outlook on life and my concept of what it means to travel.
    Glad you are loving it Kate.

  4. I’m panting in anticipation here Kate ((204 days and counting til I move lock, stock ‘n barrel to Vietnam.) So glad to hear you love Saigon ‘cuz I can’t decide just where I’ll likely settle. Been thinking of Dalat – both ‘cuz it said to be cooler and I’m not overly keen on soggy heat/humidity, as well as ‘cuz most reports of HMC are a bit dour (mainly the traffic and noise). But I’m a city-girl at heart (presently Seattle), so your post is most reassuring. Clearly I’ll soon see for myself, but thanks for the lovely synapsis!

  5. Kate, I came across your blog a couple days ago and am thrilled by your simple yet frustratingly uncommon achievement: traveling solo as a woman. I have traveled plenty solo but even now when I announce my next “port of call” I meet opposition to my determination to make the most of my life even if it means doing it alone – and even more so when I truthfully proclaim that I love traveling alone and the opportunities it brings! Im a trusting person by nature and even though I tend to be a little accident prone, I think trusting the world (without being a dumb ass) will prove to bring more wonderful experiences my way (and everyone’s) than living in fear of what could happen. Thanks for your boldness! I hope to travel along side you sometime!

  6. Oh my, the lack of green space in Florence is a major downer! Coming from Seattle which is full of lush, green parks easy walking, jogging or driving distance away–Florence is killing me with it’s one dog poop filled park!

    Glad you are enjoying each city, but I definitely get where you are coming from in choosing Saigon as a good long term place to settle.

  7. I love the city for its awesome nightlife and endless bargains! Honestly, if you know how to do it you bargain down any item without a price tag to two thirds of its initially quoted price.

    Love your adventure Kate!

  8. The more I read about Vietnam, the more I can’t wait to visit. Friends and family have raved, as do most travel writers, about the people and the place. I think I’ll stay away from the pink nail polish though, it’s soooo not my colour 😉

  9. I’m with you – absolutely LOVED Saigon. I was stoked that I got to go back for a couple of days in December for work and explore a little bit more.

  10. So interesting! If you decided to stay long term, what type of work do you think you’d end up doing? Is the language barrier an issue at all?

  11. I really liked Saigon too, although I was a little more partial to Hanoi. Mike and I liked Vietnam so much we’ve talked about going back to spend a month or more teaching in HCMC.

  12. I use 1 sentence in lyrics song about Saigon to show my feeling of SG “SG chưa xa đã nhớ”. I hope you will understand this ^^.

  13. Just got to Vietnam a week ago (spent 2 days in Sapa and are currently in Hanoi) and love it so far! We had read and heard so many terrible things about Vietnam from fellow travel bloggers but so far have been having a really good time. Hanoi has a HUGE couchsurfing community and we even got a free motorbike tour of the city with a young university student studying to be a tour guide! Him and a few others showed us around and we went to their weekly couchsurfing meetup which was great. Hanoi also has free tours (led by university students) and we had a great time with our guide as well. Hoping Vietnam continues to pleasantly surprise us as we head south! Great to hear that you loved Saigon even more so than Hanoi!

  14. Kate, thanks for the post. I’ve been all over Asia, and did REALLY love Saigon. The small alleys, the great people, etc.

    However, I only visit for a 2 week holiday and didn’t work much.

    So, I make my living online. File uploads/downloads are important, and Skype calls..VERY important. Without my SkypeOut and SkypeIn calls, I’d be dead in the water.

    Any experience with Skype speed, or Voip speed in general? What do you think? Is Skype blocked, which I had some issues with in China (yes, I know I can use a VPN, but VOIP over VPN plain sucks!).

    Any info would be of great help!

      1. Thanks, yes. I use GoTrusted. I have since I spent 6 months in CHINA! :~)

        But, that doesn’t help the speed. Thanks for responding, I’ll check it out when I go and see. If I can’t find solid answers, I’ll have to visit again for a few days before committing because that’s a deal breaker for me.

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