Since Apr 27, 2021, Vietnam has been withstanding the fourth wave of Covid-19. It’s significant huge in this time, especially in Saigon, where the pandemic causes severe damages and tragedies to the whole city and people. Furthermore, the situation keeps getting worse because of the terrible strategies and actions of the government in fighting the pandemic and aiding, curing the people. Individually, my family is one of the tragic victims of the virus and the gov. Alongside all the bad things that happened, we are required to stay at home for months or will get a penalty of VND 2m (about $88) if we go outside. Now, I just want my old life to get back to the beautiful days with all the joy and people around.
The Government Sets 3 Phases to Get the “Normal Life” of Saigon Back
It’s seemed like the Vietnamese gov in general, and Ho Chi Minh City gov in particular, have failed in the fight with Covid-19. As a result, the country loses a lot of people and even the economy. Unsurprisingly, Nikkei Asia rates Vietnam in the last in Nikkei Covid-19 Recovery Index.
In order to cope with the bad position of the economy and to support the businesses, the government sets 3 phases to slowly open and recover Saigon, which they call – the new “normal life”:
Phase 1 – From Oct 1 to 30
- Reopening activities for the people who have ‘Green card’*.
- Reopening some specific activities for the people who have ‘Yellow card’**.
- Services include karaoke, club, bar, massage; in place eatery, entertaining activities, gym, cinema, mall.
*Green card is for the people who had 2 doses of vaccine. And the people who recovered after getting the Covid-19 virus.
**Yellow card is for the people who had 1 dose of vaccine and had negative RT-PCR test.
Phase 2 – From Oct 31 to Jan 15 2022
- Reopening mall, gym, outdoor activities, and small eatery.
- Services accept only 20 customers maximum.
Phase 3 – After Jan 15 2022
- Reopening all the activities and services, which means it’s the time that you can travel in Vietnam.
- Green card requirement to all the people who want to do activities and services.
In my opinion, it’s totally great to see my city reopens again and the life is going back. However, since the government has no good idea in controlling Covid-19 and supporting the victims, I’m worried that the virus will widely spread again in society and the nightmare will happen again. Anyway, it’s hard to know, let’s see. I have suffered too many bad things. Just hope that everything will be good, so I can enjoy Saigon as my old life.
25 Things that I will Do When Saigon Returns to the ‘Normal Life’
Honestly, I really worry about the situation when the pandemic will happen again in the city. It means I will spend more time at home than outside from now till we can almost control the virus. Therefore, besides my traveling times, here’s the list of things to do in Saigon every time I come back to my home city. Yes, they could be the best things to do in Saigon that you can follow too.
1. Visiting Giac Ngo Pagoda
The pagoda now means a lot to me. It’s where my dad stays since the explosion of the pandemic in the city. Yes, I will go to the pagoda firstly and primarily to visit him, every week, from now on…
The Abbot of Giac Ngo Pagoda, Ven. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu is truly a spiritual leader of the country Buddhism. He has a lot of great activities and huge contributions to the country and the world. Alongside the beautiful pagodas across Vietnam, Giac Ngoc Pagoda could be your place to visit and learn more about Buddhism. You can also come to pray for the good things that come to your life.
2. Drinking Coffee on the Street
Or Street-coffee, it’s the popular style of drinking coffee at the parks around Saigon, particularly in the central parks around Diamond Plaza and Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. Yes, many people love this way of drink coffee since they can sit outdoor surrounded by many trees, enjoy the atmosphere, and watch other people going around. Furthermore, you can also enjoy the street food alongside your drink.
Some say that this way of drinking coffee represents the typical style of Saigonese: simple, comfortable, and enjoyable. To me, it’s the best way to breathe the atmosphere of this hustle and bustle city right after the Covid-19 lockdown.
3. Enjoying Food Paradises
I stayed at home for too long and only eat home-cooked meals. I believe you will know how much I miss the street food, specialties at eateries, and the food markets. Compared to other cities in Vietnam, Saigon evenly has more food markets with a lot of foods in styles of anywhere in the world. Of course, they are delicious and good in price! If you are interested in the foods in Saigon, or you are traveling for food, follow me to check out these food spots:
- Vinh Khanh street, ward 8, dist. 4.
- Market 200, Xom Chieu, dist. 4.
- The area at An Duong Vuong – Nguyen Van Cu streets, dist. 5.
- Chinese dumpling street at Ha Ton Quyen street, dist. 11.
- Phan Xich Long street, Phu Nhuan district.
- The alley at 51 Cao Thang street, dist. 3.
- Nguyen Thuong Hien street, ward 5, dist. 3.
- The alley at 177 Ly Tu Trong street, dist. 1.
- Co Giang street, dist. 1.
4. Bui Vien Walking Street
If you haven’t been to Bui Vien Walking Street, your trip to Saigon isn’t perfect. Truly, this area exactly reflects the nightlife of the city, vibrant, colorful, and full of joy.
In fact, Bui Vien Walking Street is the popular name of the area including Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, and Bui Vien streets. It has many affordable services such as restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, and especially bars, clubs. Initially, the place mainly serves foreign visitors. After a while of expanding with many services, a lot of the locals now choose there to enjoy the nighttime. Yes, it’s really the place to feel the beat of Saigon.
5. Bitexco Financial Tower
The second highest tower in Vietnam, owned by a Vietnamese. The tower locates in the center of district 1 where there are many good eateries around. There is a Haidilao hotspot on the second floor, where my family spent dinners together when we were full of members. Yes, it’s also the place to enjoy the atmosphere of Saigon.
The tower’s design is inspired by the lotus bud. Nevertheless, some people say it’s corn-shaped. And I think it’s similar to the Avengers Tower. How do you think?
6. Nguyen Hue Walking Street
Since its first official open in Lunar New Year 2004, Nguyen Hue Walking Street is one of the top vibrant destinations in Saigon. The street is now surrounded by many restaurants, eateries, café, and small bars. Especially, on occasions, the street is decorated in different themes for people to enjoy the biggest free studio in the city. Indeed, coming to Nguyen Hue in every Tet, you can even see the gorgeous ‘flower street’ in the theme of that year’s Chinese zodiac. That celebration was actually done for a long time ago in the past, and now the city keeps the tradition. Yes, it’s also the place for me to recall my beautiful past memories of the ‘old normal’ life.
7. Bach Dang Wharf
One of the romantic places in Saigon where couples can spend time together walking along Bach Dang river and enjoy the wind over the river. There is also a boat restaurant serving customers on a ship. In the past, my family spent nights enjoying dinners there.
The place is at the end of Nguyen Hue street so you can visit Bitexco Financial Tower, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, and Bach Dang Wharf on the same day.
8. Ben Thanh Market
The very icon of Saigon. At the market, you can find many handicraft products, ao dai, silk, souvenirs, and good local foods. To me, seeing Ben Thanh Market operates as normal means the city is recovering after the Covid-19 lockdown. It’s truly the sign of the city’s economy.
9. Saigon River Tunnel and Thu Thiem Ward
At the beginning of the Thu Thiem area’s development, it has a very nice spot where you can enjoy so many Saigon street foods while watching Saigon River and the colorful center of district 1. Sometimes, you can see young boys racing on their motorcycles.
Saigon River Tunnel is the most modern one in South East Asia that improves the city’s infrastructure and image a lot. From my house in district 3, I have to cross Saigon River Tunnel to reach the area of Thu Thiem Ward. I used to work for a company in the area so I had to take this route every day. It’s hard to forget those days.
10. East West Highway
One of the biggest and most beautiful highways in Saigon. This road connects to Saigon River Tunnel that leads to Thu Thiem ward. Therefore, you can enjoy riding the motorcycle at night on this road to enjoy the atmosphere of the city.
11. The Turtle Lake
Another top place right in the center of Saigon is for you to have street food and enjoy the wind. Sometimes, you can even see couples yelling at each other and pushing the other to the lake, lol.
The name Turtle Lake comes from the true big turtle stones at the place in the past. I don’t know the reason why they disappeared. People told that the reason came from an explosion. Now, it’s just the name with some fishes in the lake. No turtle anymore…
12. Cholon or Chợ Lớn
You will never find the same area as Cholon in any place in Vietnam. Actually, it’s the China Town in Saigon that locates along Te canal across district 5 and district 6. This place has made the name Saigon brightened for a long time, and bringing to the city a particular vibrance.
I remember the times coming to Binh Tay Market, Cholon with my mom and aunt to buy products. You can find a lot of items at good prices there too.
13. Coffee Shops
I miss the time spending hours at beautiful coffee shops to write blogs or meet my friends. In addition, for many of my creative works, a beautiful coffee shop helps a lot in generating creation to do things. Till now, I have stayed at home for about 5 months. Running to a coffee shop and enjoy a ‘bạc xỉu’ will be the first thing I do when the city reopens.
I like going to the malls. I always go there with my wife. The reason is simple, it’s always cool inside with the AC operate all the time. Furthermore, it’s a good place to walk around as an exercise without air pollution. But the main point is, my wife loves shopping and we can find many good foods at the food court.
Honestly, I’m a little bit worried to go to the malls when the city reopens. It’s because the building opens AC all the time that creates a good condition for Covid-19 to spread out. So bad, I really want to take my daughter there so she can see the world out from home. She stayed at home for too long since the lockdown in Apr.
15. Saigon Opera House
Located on Dong Khoi street, District 1, Saigon Opera House is an icon building of the city. This place hosts so many great art performances that attract a lot of audiences. Nevertheless, not many locals come to this place for the shows. They come for the milk-tea and fruit-tea shop beside the house. Then, they sit on the stairs to watch people going around, feel the atmosphere of the city’s center, and enjoy one of the best drinks they just bought. Yes, I’m one of them.
16. Saigon Central Post Office
A well-known architecture with a mix of European style and Asian decoration. Even though sending mail isn’t popular nowadays, many people come to this place for taking photos and saving the memories of the good old days. It’s hard to forget the days when a lot of people are able to stand in front of Saigon Central Post Office smiling at each other to take pics without masks on their faces.
17. Nhieu Loc Canal
At this moment, Nhieu Loc Canal is now an ideal place for people to do fishing, kiting, exercising, or running along the canal. To me, it’s an ideal place to take my wife riding a motorbike around the canal to enjoy the cool wind.
Unforgettably, Nhieu Loc Canal used to be a ‘nightmare’ of the locals when moving around this canal because of its stinky smell. After a big transformation, the canal currently is a lot cleaner, which evenly fishes can live and services can work on it. Actually, the canal’s transformation marked a huge improvement of the city’s image. Alongside the canal are parks where people can do exercise and run along. If you love to ride a motorbike around, you may see nice paintings under the bridges where they cross the canal.
My aunt has a house in this area, where she opens a small convenience store selling many imported confectioneries and cosmetics. Also, it’s where my dad love to go before every Lunar New Year to buy his favorite cake, chocolate, and soda. From now on, it’s impossible for me to see that again.
18. Independence Palace
Independence Palace, as its name, is a remarkable building in Saigon. However, I only visit it once. That’s even more than a lot of locals who never get inside the house. Yet, I went to the restaurant next to the building more.
Located inside the area of the palace is the 30/4 restaurant where they serve coffee, different drinks, and foods. Additionally, it’s where my family spent time together with friends to relax and enjoy the beautiful days. I know that I won’t have those moments anymore, but surely I will come back to the restaurant to meet friends and remind myself of those days.
19. Museums and Exhibitions
Saigon could be the one city in Vietnam where you can find a lot of museums on different topics. To illustrate, there are Fine Arts Museum, Artinus 3D Art Museum, Ao Dai Exhibition, Nha Rong Port – Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ton Duc Thang Museum, Southern Vietnam Women Museum, etc. Surprisingly, these museums and exhibitions turn out to be great studios for photography. There are even more people who come to those places to take pics for social media than to learn about the history or the info.
In my opinion, the museums and exhibitions in Saigon are ideal for you to come both learning and keeping photos of something about Saigon. And if one day you leave the city, those will be the most memorable parts that you will never forget.
20. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
A very iconic building in French-styled architecture, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is one of the top tourist destinations of the city. Also located in the center of Saigon, many people usually make a city to visit this place alongside the Central Post Office, Independence Palace, Saigon Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, and museums. Yes, checking in those places is to partly fulfill the trip to Saigon. And if you want a quick rest after the trip, you can go to the parks nearby for street coffee or get to the mall for food and drinks.
To me, if I haven’t been to Saigon or get outside for a long time, visiting those places makes me know that I’m currently in my home city.
21. Phu My Bridge
Used to be on Discovery, Phu My Bridge is the largest cable-stayed bridge in Saigon that connects districts 2 and 7. Riding a motorbike, walking, or jogging on this bridge is an interesting experience to do. Furthermore, if you come to the bridge at night, you will be surprised by the fanciful lighting system of Phu My Bridge.
When I have anything to think about, slowly ride a motorbike on the bridge seemed to help my thought. Yet, be careful when going to this bridge on a rainy or windy day. As the bridge is quite high, the wind is stronger there.
22. Starlight Bridge
This is a footbridge in district 7. You can get to this bridge from Crescent Mall. There are many LEDs on the surface of the bridge which make it similar to starlight. Moreover, on the 2 sides of the bridge, there are water fountain systems with rainbow light that make the place even more romantic.
Yes, it’s an ideal place for couples, but also a good place to slowly enjoy the night of Saigon. There is a convenience store nearby to buy some drinks and snacks to enjoy the walk.
23. Phu My Hung Area
A high-end urban area in dist. 7 of South Saigon, Phu My Hung is well-known for its developed infrastructure as well as the rich people living in the area. Everything here’s expensive. Houses are up to millions of dollars Thus, it’s not hard to find top-notch services in this area such as restaurants, café, entertainments, etc.
There is Crescent Mall in Phu My Hung, where I and my wife love spending time go shopping, drinking coffee, and eating at the food court. From Crescent Mall, there is a nice path that leads to the Starlight Bridge. It’s a great combination of destinations to spend a beautiful night.
24. White Rabbit Amusement Park
Located at 875 Cach Mang Thang Tam street, ward 15 dist. 10, the amusement park was firstly opened for teenagers and kids. However, because of the sparkling design of the Korean-styled park, it now has more adult visitors than young ones. Don’t be surprised if you see many couples here, it’s truly the place for them to relax and spend fun time together after hard days working.
Honestly, I haven’t been there before. But after knowing about the place, I think it’s the right destination for me to relax and find some fun.
25. Second-hand and Fake Markets
You know, second-hand and fake products are a part of Saigon’s culture. Surprisingly, there are a lot of people who love buying and using these products despite their origins. If you travel to Saigon and see people wearing luxury items, don’t totally believe it’s real. Or they will say it’s high authentic products. Anyways, you can try buying one and see its quality, it’s not bad at all.
I buy some of those products sometimes for different uses. Because their quality isn’t bad, or even good in some items, it’s ideal to use in specific cases and save money. Yes, you can still have a good product in quality and design at a more affordable price, and you have some money left to save in this hard time, will you buy those second-hand or fake products? If your answer is yes, here are addresses for you: Saigon Square, Nghia Hoa market, Hoang Hoa Tham market, Tran Huu Trang market, etc.
I believe some of you are in the same situation as me. The deadly Covid-19 virus suddenly comes and takes from us too many things. Always, I just wish that I’m able to come back the time to prevent the tragedy that happened to my family. It’s too hard to accept the sorrowful present but there is nothing I can do. Time flies, and hopefully, it can take my sadness away, so life goes on. And I will finish the first 25 things to do in Saigon on this list to mark my new “normal life”. A life without my hero…
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