We arrived into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) on a hot and sweaty afternoon, with only a few hours to explore the city. After a quick check-in at the hotel, we headed for lunch, to try one of the two most-famous Veitnamese dishes – Pho! Pho is a soup, traditionally including flat rice noodles, beef or chicken, and topped with fresh herbs and bean sprouts. The broth is not particularly spicy, just extremely flavourful. As a side note, the other famous dish – Banh Mi sandwhiches, are a result of the mish-mash between Vietnamese and French cultures in the country. Originally from the streets of Saigon, crusty French baguettes are smeared with sour pickled vegetables, cilantro, chilies, cucumber, and meat, anything from pate to ground pork to roast chicken. They are delicious, and every street corner is complete with a little Banh Mi stand.
We went to Pho 2000, made famous when former American President Clinton and his daughter ate lunch here. The restaurant is not a site for sore eyes. . . a bit dingy and rundown, but packed full of people and with the necessary steaming bowls of soup with salty beef and fresh herbs delivered within minutes of ordering.
After lunch, I made a beeline for the Notre Dame cathedral (a replica of the one in Paris), the famous Saigon post office, and the Historical museum. We were accurately warned by our guide to WATCH OUT for the 1 million motorcycles and mopeds in the city. He was completely correct in saying the crossing a street is an expedition on its own. Your head will be spinning like Linda Blair, making sure you aren´t about to be slammed sideways.
That evening was our last as a group, and we went to an upstairs indoor restaurant, a lovely calm and cool reprieve from the crazy city. I had a margarita (and a very good one at that) and a beef and bok choi stirfry, served with a pot of steamed rice. We reminisced over the last amazing 10 days, and afterwards went for a tea at the adorable Mieu Coffee next door to our hotel.
My trip with this group of people, and GAdventures, was really amazing, thanks in huge part to our wonderful guide (“Ronnie”). For a full view of all the options which GAdventures has for tours, check out their website.