Where I’m At: Four months in Ho Chi Minh City

I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City last November with a three month visa, half wondering if my nomadic ways would keep me in a city for that long. Turns out I ended up extending my stay to four months, which is the longest I have been in one place for years (perhaps I am becoming a slomad?)

Rush hour in Ho Chi Minh City
[Slowing down in hectic Ho Chi Minh City]

The digital nomad community
Much of the reason I have stayed here so long has been for the entrepreneur community that is based here. I have been living in a area of District 1 that has a cluster of short term rentals, and not a day goes by when I don’t bump into someone I know in this neighbourhood.

The cafes
One of the big attractions of living in Saigon is the number of cafes that are here. I usually work half of the day at home and the other half in a cafe, most of which have good wifi. If I like I can always find someone to work with which breaks up the solitary days that comes with being self-employed. There is a co-working space here, but I find I prefer working in cafes and then going back home when I need to be most productive.

The food
I have been eating Vietnamese food nearly every day here and I haven’t tired of it. You could have a different type of soup every night for a month, such is the variety. At lunch there are the cơm tấm (broken rice) restaurants, which – as the name suggests – serves broken rice with a selection of dishes, usually grilled pork, fish, and a number of other side dishes. Each restaurant has their own side dish specialties so it has been fun to try out the different lunch places.

Bánh canh cua - Ho Chi Minh City
[Bánh canh cua]

I have been fortunate to have a friend here who is a street food expert. Jodi seemingly has a sixth sense for finding street food vendors and she was even recommending places for me to eat at before she had arrived. I would not have known about half of the places here if it wasn’t for her enthusiasm for trying everything there is to eat.

Dan, James, Jodi - Soup o clock
[Soup o clock with Dan and Jodi (photo by legalnomads).]

I have so many more posts to publish on Ho Chi Minh City, which I shall publish throughout the year on this nonlinear travel blog.

The Year Ahead
Tomorrow I fly to Bangkok for what will be the beginning of another busy year of travel, punctuated with some breaks in new destinations. From Bangkok I will be flying to Jakarta and exploring some lesser visited places in Java. From Java I make my way back to Malaysia, then to Bangkok, and onward to London. I will have a few weeks in Europe before making my way to Toronto for the TBEX travel blog conference. After a couple of weeks back in the US I will be making my first trip to Central America, starting in Belize. This takes me up to mid june and from there I have kept my plans open.

I’m sad to be leaving Saigon but I suspect I will be back here later in the year. I have new countries to visit and old friends to meet, and after all that perhaps I will once again be unpacking my bags in Ho Chi Minh City for an extended stay.





Comments

  1. Stop by Chiang Mai if you have time

  2. Almost impossible to think of a more fun spot to spend a month strolling around and eating stuff. See ya soon!

    • A great city for strolling around and eating stuff, with frequent coffee breaks on the way. It was great to hang out with you this last month and I will be seeing you there again soon!

  3. Between you and Jodi, I think I’m sold on needing to visit HMC. Perhaps I will see you there later in 2013. First though, see you in Toronto :) And I love the top photo with the motion blur. Just lovely, James.

  4. Maybe we’ll cross paths in Indonesia or Malaysia! Keep me posted.

  5. Come back soon James. Maybe in a few months I’ll have actually worked my way through all the cafes in your post.

  6. Love the motion in that first moto photo.
    Sounds like a full schedule of fun places too. See you at TBEX!

  7. Bummed to be missing you by a few weeks in Hoch, but, opefully we’ll catch up in the fall!

  8. You guys have convinced me!! And glad to see that you found a place that resonated enough to slow down and stay for a while :) Hopefully maybe our paths can cross this summer sir! xo

  9. We’ve already got our 3-month Vietnam visa for mid-May. We’re starting at Hanoi, then working our way down the coast to Ho Chi Minh City. Will probably spend 4-6 weeks there. Any chance of posting some info of short-stay places in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?

    • Sounds like a great trip! I had my own apartment in HCMC but when first arrived I stayed at a guesthouse in Pham NGu Lau (the backpacker area). There are so many guesthouses there that it is easy enough to find a place when you arrive.

  10. So glad we crossed paths here for as long as we did, and it was my pleasure to be your food angel (though I think I prefer your term of ‘food zombie ;) ) Safe onward travels and see you in Toronto!
    J.

    • Thanks Jodi! My travels wont be the same without having my resident food angel around. Your food zombie is currently in Bangkok wondering what to have for breakfast.

      See you in Toronto!

  11. Slomad – Love it! That food looks amazing. I absolutely love Mexican food, but I get the odd craving for good Asian cuisine :)

  12. I’m still yet to spend time in Vietnam and if I could get a 1 year visa I would probably go right now. I like to stay places for a while. Still, when I am settled at my next destination I may go for a few weeks or so to check it out.

    How did you manage to stay for 4-months?

  13. Hey guys,

    If you travel in Vietnam and want to spend one to few months in HCMC, we welcome you at our fresh new coworking space, named “Saigon Coworking”. Always looking for people from all over the globe !
    We are located in a peaceful neighborhood, between District 1 and Phu Nhuan, near the river, a temple and a sport center.

    Here’s the link http://www.saigoncoworking.com/

    Let’s have a look and hope to see you there !

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