Driving at the back of the scooter through Ho Chi Minh
You haven’t been to Ho Chi Minh without being on the back of the scooter. Although it’s quite an experience to watch the busy traffic in this city, it’s even more fun to be in the middle of this chaos. For four full hours, we drove through the city with Saigon Motorbike Adventures.
Saigon by Night
Saigon Motorbike Adventures is a local company in Ho Chi Minh City. They offer different types of tours, from a day tour of Ho Chi Minh or the Mekong Delta to the Saigon Street Foud Tour and, the tour we did, Saigon by Night. You will be picked up by scooter at your accommodation and a local guide will take you through the highlights and lesser-known places of the city.
‘I love it’
At half-past six in the evening, our guides with their scooters were ready for departure. No explanation was needed, helmet on and try not to scream. I clung to the scooter, a bit afraid that I would fall off. Meanwhile, our guide, Ri Tran (you can call him Ricky), told me enthusiastically about the chaotic, yet well-functioning traffic. When I asked him if he liked his job, he said no… “I love it! I can imagine why. Every day on the scooter you can learn people more about your country. I also think it’s a funny moment when those tourists (like me) are sitting behind you screaming and don’t know what’s happening to them.
At our first stop, I immediately became happy: food. The scooter was parked in the restaurant because there is no room on the sidewalk. There it is already full of motorbikes, so as a pedestrian you walk more on the street than safe on the pavement. Or safe… when the traffic light is red, a scooter might want to take the sidewalk as an extra lane. Back to dinner, because in the meantime we were served a large bowl of Hue noodles. A delicious soup with thin noodles on which you pour some extra garlic. I was eating with my chopsticks until Ri Tran told me I was doing it wrong. After a quick course ‘How to eat with chopsticks’ we jumped on the scooter again.
Thich Quang Duc
We stopped at several places, such as the impressive Thich Quang Duc statue where an important historical event is described. On June 11, 1963, the Vietnamese Mahayana monk Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire on a busy street in Saigon to protest against the discrimination against Buddhist monks.
We also stopped at a flower market, a Cambodian food court, the oldest apartment complex of Ho Chi Minh and drank coconut water on a boat. Then we drove out of the city where the traffic was less crowded, and I could enjoy the view more. During the tour, I got less scared and actually thought it was fun crossing through those streets.
Escape the hustle and bustle
The guides saved the best place for last. We stopped at the other side of the river and sat at the waterfront overlooking the skyline of Ho Chi Minh. In this well-hidden place for tourists, the fireworks are lit every year. Small plastic chairs are at the water’s edge and here you can buy a drink and some small snacks and enjoy the view. It is obvious that the locals come here to escape the hustle and bustle of the center. The perfect end of a successful tour. I would jump on the back of the scooter again in no time, but if I will ever look as peaceful as the locals, I wonder!