Guidebook The sights, sounds and smells of the city


The sights, sounds and smells of the city

Saigon is a city that lives with “the constant hum of motorcycles,” says Dave McClane at Man vs Globe. “All day and night a cacophony of horns and revving engines reverberate through the streets as the city’s 7.4 million scooters clog the roads and pavements.” Motorbikes, along with the city’s love of street food, are “Saigon’s two passions” that “assault your senses simultaneously and at every available moment; sooty exhaust fumes and low-grade petrol merge with the steam of boiling broth and fragrant lemongrass,” he writes. “Soy and ginger mixed with clouds of tobacco smoke drifting from a roadside food stand … chicken shit blending with warm offal and burnt oil … each odour individually distinguishable yet when combined they take on a new identity -- the unique smell of Saigon.”

Ho Chi Minh City is split into 19 districts, with the Saigon River curling its way across the middle, explains Helen Coffey at The Independent. “Much of the action takes place in District 1, which boasts most of the trendy restaurants and bars, plus the major market, Ben Thanh (1). North of 1, District 3 also has a buzz about it, while District 5, south of 1, is home to Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown. Don’t be surprised (or disappointed) if you spend most of your time in District 1 -- it’s undeniably where the party’s at.”

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