July 4, 2010

VIETNAM DIARIES: Getting Around Ho Chi Minh

I’ve been told that the traffic situation in Ho Chi Minh was terrible, I didn’t take their word for it because I firmly believe that nothing beats traffic in Manila. Well, that was before I got to HCMC.
But they were wrong though, traffic in Ho Chi Minh wasn’t terrible at all. It was terribly INSANE!

Getting through the bustling jeepneys of Manila is a piece of cake, but getting through thousands of motorbikes coming from different directions was something else!

It seemed that all of Ho Chi Minh’s 90 million hopped on their motorbikes to give us a warm welcome that morning.

Here, under any circumstances, should you not use your ballroom dancing skills while crossing. Those fancy single-single, double-double steps can certainly get you run over. With arms out-stretched signaling stop to the oncoming traffic, proceed slowly but deliberately, one foot in front of the other like you’ve just learned how to catwalk, giving the driver time to anticipate your move, and they will actually weave around you and part like the red sea.

Don’t worry it actually gets easier.

And after you’ve mastered the art of street-crossing, it will be a lot easier to get acquainted with the city. Walking around to soak the hustle and bustle becomes much more enjoyable after you’ve gotten over the fright of getting hit by a two-wheel vehicle.

To get around the city, you can either take the taxi or the cyclo. You can also take the bus if you’re on a tight budget, and if you really wanna experience Vietnam, take the xich lo (a semi-open carriage with the passenger seated at the front and the driver at the back).

I might sound spoiled here but personally, I suggest you take the cab. It will save you a lot of time and energy since they are cheap, metered and won’t pester you for more cash like cylo drivers usually do. Vinasun ang Mailink taxis are the more reputable ones and they usually know how to take you to your desired destination just as long as you have it written down in a paper. It would also help if you have a map with you. I found it rather useless talking to the drivers since their English is close to non-existent at all, so I let the map do all the talking.

TIP: Ask your hotel to give you a map, and have them marked the street where your area of
destination is located.

written by KIM & MJ

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