Saigon’s traffic, honking and air pollution is crazy!! REALLY! This is one thing that would keep me from going there again.
The air pollution is visually noticeable. You smell it, your head becomes heavier. People wear masks. A lot. Everywhere. But they don’t wear it correctly. I, who have done the mask test at a mine site in order to find the best mask that would protect you from polluted air, know that a mask has to be completely sealed in order to protect you, otherwise it’s all a waste of time. Their masks are all over their faces:)
Vietnamese have “honking cuz feeling like it” culture, which drives me and, I am sure other pedestrians, crazy! Big tracks honk on narrow streets and when they do, I almost have a heart attract! Apparently they have a system for honking (according to Eric van der Vorst, https://saigoneer.com/saigon-culture/2172-a-guide-to-honking-in-vietnam):
1 long BEEP: “I’m not stopping!” BEEEEP in reply: “Me neither!”
2 short BEEPs: “Look out!”
3 short BEEPs: “Look out!” (urgent)
4 short BEEPS: “I’m late for work!”
1 short and 1 long BEEP from behind: “Come on man, the light is green. Move!”
1 short and 1 long BEEP from motorbike to car: “I’m not afraid of you!”
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP (standing still): “I’m at your house, open the door.”
16 short and 24 Long BEEP: “Sorry, my kid loves to play with the horn.”
2 long BEEPs: a. “There are police around the corner.” b. “Your turn signal is still on.” c. “Your kickstand is down.” d. “Just felt like honking”(D is the most common).
1 short HONK (car): “I’m behind you mother****er!”
1 long HONK: “I’m coming.”2 long HONKs: “I’m about to hit you!”
1 short BEEEEUUWW (bus): “You’re in my lane!”1 short and 1 long BEEEEUUWW: “I’m late, if you want to stay alive, get out of my lane!”
I know, I know, too many pics with the Vietnamese hat)) But I can’t help it!
I also promised to share my downside experience and tips that I have have gained during the trip. So here it is:
1) In my case the visa on arrival needed an approval letter that can be done online (fastest and more expensive 4hr). Bad thing we realized it at an airport)) .
2) When you arrive, it can take you up to 2hrs to actually get the visa. There are no signs or directions what to do, so just follow the crowd )) You will have to pay with cash! Overall took us about 3 hrs to get out of the airport.
3) People don’t really speak English. In bigger cities more people speak English.
4) Vung Tau beach city did not resonate with me that much, it was just a little boring. It is not really a touristy destination, therefore one can find it hard to get around.
5) Don’t be surprised if people want to take pictures with and ask you for money. I have also been tricked to pay more money for small things like taxis and coconuts. Not a big deal but not pleasant.
6) Be aware of food poisoning! This happened to me!
7) Hard to eat out if you a vegan (well, not so much in Saigon, but smaller towns)
8) Traffic and pollution is the craziest among other SEA countries I’ve visited, and pollution is the worst.
9) Vietnamese music can be very annoying (well to me) haha))
I hope you have had some fun reading this lighthearted article about my experience visiting Vietnam.
Talk to you soon!