Discovering Ho Chi Minh City
A question many expats may have before relocating to Ho Chi Minh City is whether or not theyll be able to adapt to the local culture. While Vietnam is a vibrant, diverse and beautiful country, its Southern capital, Ho Chi Minh City, is anything but serene.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City
The city is a gorgeous immersion of historical architecture and culture and modern-day flair, but one thing that has remained is the local transportation: motorbikes.
Though there are taxis and buses available, most locals choose to get around on a motorbike, which causes a lot of noise pollution on a near-constant basis. It can be challenging to cross the street due to the astounding number of vehicles on the road, none of which abide by pedestrian rules that can be found elsewhere. This alone can make daily experiences feel overwhelming and troublesome at first.
The climate in Ho Chi Minh City
Another significant adjustment for many expats is the climate of Ho Chi Minh City. Its warm, humid, subtropical weather can be daunting at first, as it sometimes feels impossible to walk around for at least ten minutes without needing a shower. In typical Southeast Asian style, there are two seasons in Ho Chi Minh City: monsoon season and dry season. While the weather during this time is consistently hot, the rainy season consists of bouts of heavy rain, often for short periods throughout the day. It generally lasts from late May through October; the rain provides a bit of respite from the humidity as it brings a bit of a breeze. Expats planning on driving a motorbike will be able to buy special raincoats for driving pretty much anywhere in town once the rain becomes more persistent.
Culture in Ho Chi Minh City
Culturally speaking, it is not as difficult to adapt to Ho Chi Minh City as one might imagine. Unlike Vietnam’s Northern capital of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City’s locals are more responsive to Western culture and overall more neutral as a society. Living in Ho Chi Minh City can be quite easy due to all the western amenities that are available at affordable prices. Expats can choose to live lavishly or as no-frills as they’d like. The city and culture cater to everyone!
Nature in Ho Chi Minh City
One major downside to Ho Chi Minh City, however, is the lack of natural spaces. Although there are lovely, lush parks throughout town, one quirky rule is that visitors are not allowed to sit and relax on the grass. Locals try their best to keep the city as green as possible, though, and most entryways and private areas are adorned with trees and plants for all to enjoy. The city’s current best kept secret is District 7’s Crescent Park, where expats and locals can enjoy picnics on the grass. For those looking to immerse themselves entirely within nature without having to hop on a plane or drive a few hours will enjoy Binh Quoi Tourist Village, an oasis which allows visitors to experience traditional Vietnamese folk culture and food, and an ideal escape when the city becomes too much.
The best mindset for expats coming to Ho Chi Minh City to have is to let go of any expectations and preconceived ideas they may have before their arrival. The environment is intoxicating and unlike anywhere else on the planet, and will impact everyone differently. Buckle in, though, as you’re surely in for a ride.