Learn to Cook
Given the amount of fabulous food on offer, it is little wonder that cookery lessons are in popular demand. Many tour operators, guest houses and travel agents offer classes, as well as independent schools. Most of them take in a market tour in the morning with the opportunity to shop for the produce that you will cook up later.
Take a trip to the Mekong Delta
The 'Nine Dragon' river delta is only a couple of hours bus ride out of Ho Chi Minh City and easily accessible for a day trip. Most tours can be booked through hotels or hostels or through the myriad of travel agents in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Tours generally follow the same format - trips to rice paper and sweet factories, a lighting boat ride along the river (where you will be rowed by an overzealous female oarsman replete with traditional Vietnamese 'non la' conical hat) and the chance to hear traditional music. It is certainly interesting if not action packed although at times can feel like a conveyor belt of souvenir-buying opportunities. Longer trips on the Mekong (including overnight stays on boats and trips to the floating markets) are also on offer and perhaps a little less frenetic.
Drink Beer in Pham Ngu Lao
Spending the evening at one of these local bars is an absolute must do on any Saigon itinerary. All patrons huddle together on kindergarten-sized plastic seats and space is so limited that you are bound to become acquainted with your neighbour within minutes of sitting down. At Cafe 100 - a favourite drinking haunt with backpackers and locals alike - proceedings are overseen by a formidable Vietnamese lady in her 80s who ensures that new customers have a beer in their hand within seconds and are at no point empty handed. With beer cheaper than water (at 12,000 Dong or approx 30p per glass), what better way to refresh?
Drink iced coffee
Made with condensed milk, this sickly sweet stuff is perhaps one of the world's best hangover cures. It is best enjoyed local style - sitting at a tiny folding metal table on an even tinier plastic chair on one of the many cafes dotted throughout Ho Chi Minh. These make great vantage points from which to sit and watch the the city - at upwards of 8 million people the biggest in Vietnam - bustle by.
Avoid being run over by motorbikes
Ho Chi Minh City is filled with millions of motorbikes and it’ll take a bit of practice and courage to get you to step off that kerb for the first time. Never fear, you will get used to it – just step out, keep eye contact and don’t stop moving. Good luck.
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