Motorbiking Vietnam Part VI: Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh City
Duration: 1 riding day, 5 hours
Distance: 230 km
Today was a bittersweet day. I left Mui Ne at 7 am for my finally (motorbike) destination: Ho Chi Minh City. Leaving early meant avoiding the police stop and giving myself plenty of time for pictures along the way. It’s my final day of riding in Vietnam, and today was about soaking it all in, reflecting on how great (and sometimes challenging) buying and riding a motorbike has been, and enjoying the last bits of open road before I return to the bus life.
Sina left yesterday, so today, I’m finishing as I started, alone. With my bike continuing to make interesting noises, I decided to take the most direct route, leaving the coast and traveling directly west. The ride was pretty easy, with a few stops for pictures and coffee.
I got a bit anxious entering Ho Chi Minh, as I’ve heard nightmare stories about the saturation of traffic. Driving in cities is already stressful, so Vietnam’s traffic congestion made it a bit worse. But as I entered the city, I wondered where this infamous traffic was. Each turn I approached, I thought for sure, I would be entering chaos. But no. The streets were fairly empty. Perhaps I entered the city from the right side or that everyone really has left for Tet (Chinese New Year). Although I was a tad disappointed, I was relieved as I pulled up to my hostel and dismounted Eagle for the last time.
Ho Chi Minh City
So, Ho Chi Minh is a large city, bustling with traffic and people (usually). I was there for the Chinese New Year, Tet, and found the city to be relatively quiet, as most people leave the city and travel home to be with their families.
War Remnants Museum
Definitely see the War Remnants Museum. It’s an informative insight into the Vietnam/American War from the Vietnamese side. Be prepared for disturbing facts, shocking stories, and gruesome photographs. It’s a heavy day, but an important one. The Museum is just 15,000 VND (less than $1) to enter.
Cu Chi Tunnels
These fascinating tunnels were created during the Vietnam War, serving as hiding spots for soldiers, hospitals, living quarters, and communication and supply lines. There are also war traps on display, old tanks, and a shooting range. Expect busloads of tourists and hot, claustrophobic tunnels. I found the Vinh Moc Tunnels, just north of Hue, more extensive and less crowded (like, no one else… I was the only person there).
Notre-Dame Cathedral and Post Office
Two neighboring sites in Ho Chi Minh, built in the 19th century, these buildings boast beautiful French architecture.
Where to Stay
The backpacker district is pretty condensed to one or two streets: Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. Hostels, bars, restaurants, and travel agencies line these streets. In the morning and evening, the streets are lined with departing travelers and buses.
HideOut Hostel and Vietnam Inn Saigon are great hostels for the party-seeking backpacker, but come with a price. I opted for Rou Hostel, which was a ten minute walk from the main area, and above Rou Vegetarian Restaurant. For $5, the hostel was a fantastic value. Rooms were very clean, beds were full sized, and the staff was very kind. But in a city where everyone is hanging out on the streets, most hostels will do.