After writing all of my Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC”) posts that related to specific topics, I found myself with almost 300 photos that didn’t really belong anywhere. Looking through the photos, I managed to whittle the number down to and assortment of 26 photos of street scenes, people and buildings which still resonated with me for some reason or another. I hope at least one of them resonates with you.
There is so much going on all over HCMC that it’s hard to know where to focus your attention at times. When I took the photo below, the angle was much wider, as I was trying to capture a row of shops. Looking back on the photo it didn’t really look “right” however I noticed this man standing in front of one of the shops and zoomed in to discover the boy and old woman in the scene as well. I don’t recall noticing this when I took the photo, but I really like how it turned out.
For me, this photo is the perfect example of why one should never delete a photo from a camera soon after it’s been taken. You never know you might discover that isn’t obvious from glancing at your camera’s screen.
People are sitting on seats or their parked scooters all over the sidewalks of HCMC, doing a variety of activities (or not doing much in the way of activity at all as might be the case).
When I took this photo, school had just ended and the streets were full of parents who had picked up their children from school and were walking to wherever they were headed. It’s fascinating to see small children who have grown up in such a hectic city act so confidently around all that is going on – to them it’s just normal.
Because HCMC is such a densely populated city and very mixed use in regards to residential/work/dining/entertainment all being lumped together in the same areas, it’s sometimes difficult to know what is what. An example is in the photo below. A lot of the good stuff in HCMC is tucked away down alleyways and the like. This alleyway looked interesting so my wife and I walked down it to see what was going on.
We got to the end of the alleyway and it opened up to this residential area, with people chilling out, cooking, cleaning and doing all of the usual things that one does at home.
This was another example of an alleyway that led to a residential area.
I stumbled across this street in District 3, which was really wide and lined with trees and shops. It was a really nice street, and I even found a huge supermarket which was selling all kinds of interesting products.
HCMC doesn’t sleep at night – on the contrary, this is when the city really wakes up. The proverbial volume is turned up to 11 and everything steps up a notch. This street just outside of the Bến Thành market was bustling and full of locals, tourists and scooters trying to zip their way through it all. The market itself is overpriced, aimed at tourists and full of stuff that you don’t need, but it’s still fascinating to walk through.
This side street looked very interesting so I wondered down to see what it was all about. There wasn’t actually too much happening beyond the usual mixture of vendors and food stalls, but at the end was a cul-de-sac that contained some beautiful old houses/apartments that had been well maintained. If you lived at the end of this street, you could enjoy some luxury and peace and quiet while still being only a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle.
Looking up in HCMC, you’ll often see a jumble of wires, cables, and boxes. I don’t envy the person who has to work on these lines whenever they need maintenance.
Most of the government buildings in HCMC take their design cues from the 1970s socialist architecture handbook. There are some really interesting concrete structures about but unfortunately from a photography point of view, most of them are inaccessible to the public, and surrounded by lush greenery when looking at them from street level at a distance that would be far enough to get a good photo.
The Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica was constructed between 1863 and 1880 by the French, and was built using all French materials.
They aren’t exactly everywhere, but I was surprised at the number of chickens that I saw on the sidewalks of HCMC.
This street, heading towards a rather large roundabout, was perhaps one of the most intense that my wife and I walked down. At this section, just before the roundabout, the barrier between road and sidewalk almost becomes non-existent. Scooters pile up at the red light, squeezing into any gaps between cars and other scooters that are on the road. Shops and seats extend all the way to the end of the sidewalk. Some drivers decide that they don’t want to wait for the lights to turn green, and drive their scooters onto the small gaps on the sidewalk to take a shortcut. Finding a way to walk through all of this is very daunting at first, however after a few days in the city it becomes second nature.
One thing that I thought was really great in HCMC were the parks. Not only is there some great parkland, but there are lots of courts and spaces for people to engage in various activities. The exercise machines on the side are a great idea and the parks were being used well into the late hours of the night.
The rich end of town is very different to the rest of the city. Gardens are manicured, beautiful buildings with opulent fittings that wouldn’t look out of place on the Champs Elysees in Paris line the streets and gleaming skyscrapers reach for the sky.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall was built in 1902-1908 in the French Colonial style. It’s a grand building that is lit up at night.
As I hope you can appreciate, HCMC is a truly diverse city that offers a lot to visitors. If and when you do visit, take some time out to put away the guidebooks and just wander around the city, letting your senses take you on a journey.