Cycling in Ho Chi Minh City

We’ve been riding our bicycle on and off since last year and mainly cruising around downtown to explore. We live in a very congested street with hardly any sidewalks. The traffic is horrendous. On the bicycle, we generally try to go with the flow of the traffic and stay on the rightmost section of the road going slow. Speed is relative and with the traffic, it makes no difference being on a bicycle or not. It’s always slow and busy.

We don’t own a motorbike.  We believe in supporting local public transport, walking and riding our bikes as our little way of helping pollution, congestion and it’s cheaper.  We been really happy traveling this way when living anywhere.  There’s a lot of learning but once we understand how things work then it’s pretty easy to get around.  It’s also a great way to intimately learn the surroundings and local life as we found out.  Also, a great way to get around and get exercise! There’s so much delicious street foods to enjoy while cruising around in Vietnam so we always try new street foods.

Yesterday, we explored the outer perimeter of District 1 and found a busy Saturday wet market right across from the Zoo divided by the river. It was nice there and we saw lots of families enjoying a nice Saturday morning. It was breezy most of the day so it was nice to ride around.

The famous Sky Deck in District 1 and the bridge I call "Bridge of Selfies"
The famous Sky Deck in District 1 and the bridge I call “Bridge of Selfies”

I got rear ended by a motorbike right as I stopped at a traffic light. I felt a nudge and looked back to two young girls giggling then they went around me. This is typical and hopefully, not so often in the future. We sat at the traffic light and as soon as the count down goes down to 5 secs, everyone was ready to cross. Some vehicles still crossing but everyone just went around them.

The ride out from our apartment is stressful until we get to the first river over the first bridge. Another section after that craziness but shorter then into District 1. Some roads in District 1 are wide and there are some small roads with less traffic. It’s recommended to get lost to find these small alleys. It’s quite fun.

If you ride around Ho Chi Minh City, there is no way one can get lost. There are many landmarks to know where you are like the river connections, tall significant well marked high rises, bus routes, markets etc. We actually missed crossing a bridge yesterday which led us to another small road with construction by the river to the main bridge that gets us back to the apartment. There will always be a bridge to cross over and there is no direct way to get on the bridge. We have to observe traffic since everyone goes every way, but to go onto a bridge we have to remember to stay on the right side of the road to get on to properly or else, we’d have to ride long for a u-turn to get on the right side.

Evertually, riding around Ho Chi Minh City will drop you to a market. Buzzing with motorbikes. Yes, people in Vietnam shop with their motorbikes. So, the small streets will be congested with motorbikes stopping to buy produce or fish then be on their way. Some are on bicycles like us but I often get off my bike and walk slow to check out the market. There are parking for markets that are impossible to get in with a motorbike. Be aware that some indoor markets allow motorbikes roaming to shop and I was once tagged by one as I walked around shopping. They won’t stop, they would just hit you and leave.

It was really a nice ride yesterday and glad to be outside. We stopped over for my favorite soup, Bun Rieu or tomato crab soup at a corner, just a couple of blocks from our apartment. It’s my favorite stop. We found this place last year and loved the way the wife made her soup. Last year, we sat in tiny kindergarten stools and small tables but this year, the couple have upgraded to a normal height seating arrangement! Looks like business is doing well!

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Post ride snack, Bun Rieu or tomato crab noodle soup.
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