When I think of Vietnam I think of Saigon – I have always wanted to come here and it did not disappoint me! Saigon is a typical Asian city, having more motorbikes than cars, feeling like facing with death every time trying to cross the roads, a lot of street food, and cheap beer at every corner.
We arrived in Saigon a day before Christmas and have never expected it to be such a big occasion here. During the day, Saigon was very hot. Streets were busy with daily life. I found Vietnamese version of Santa Clause here very funny. Slim men in Santa Clause clothes carry big bag of presents and ride motorbike to deliver “present service”. When the night came, the atmosphere of the city turned 180 degrees and stream of people flocked to the streets to welcome Christmas Eve. Not many people in Vietnam are Christians but they are always ready to have some fun. It was actually a massive street celebration. You would see more kids being carried by their parents or running around in Santa costumes than anywhere else. It is a bit weird but they all seemed to be quite happy and certainly went along with the holiday spirit. Christmas music was blaring from speakers everywhere. People celebrated by taking pictures and enjoying the colourful Christmas decorations and sparkling lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafes and restaurants open until midnight. The atmosphere was great, lots of cheering, a real party atmosphere!
The next day we wanted to do a tour around the city so we contacted the tour company that had provided visa on arrival service for us, named Eviva, and they took us to all the cities monuments and buildings. We toured Reunification Palace, which was the Vietnamese Capital building prior to the end of the war and the “War Remnants Museum”, which essentially is a museum showing all of the atrocities of the Vietnam War (which they call the “American War”).
We then flew to Hoi An, which was the highlight of our trip. This is the cutest, quietest, funniest and prettiest little town I have seen. We planned to stay only for 2 days, but ended up staying for 4. For the 4 days all I did was walking around the town, getting sunburn on the beach, eating fresh seafood and having clothes made. Hoi An is famous for its cheap tailors- and making tailor-made clothes is an addictive activity. I could not stop myself to keep coming back to the tailor and ordering the new items. I was also impressed by the China beach. It was clear and warm with white soft sand. Just perfect! Unfortunately I did not have time to visit north of Vietnam, where I heard that it is very different from the south. So a combo Laos-North Vietnam trip is now on my list.