Hanoi vs Saigon/HCMC

It’s well known that Saigon is the economic capital with all the bright lights, glitz and glamour that that implies.  It’s also well known that Hanoi is the political and cultural capital with all the continuing emphasis on traditional values and history.  It’s basically the City that Never Sleeps vs the City that Never Sleeps In:


But really, I hear you clamour, enough with the blah blah – tell us which city is the best?  Well, my dears, as I’ve now been in HCMC for a few days, I feel fully qualified to finally do the definitive point by point comparison between the two cities and come up THE answer.


– IT’S WARM DOWN HERE!  I’ve missed that wondrous feeling…    Ten points to Saigon.

– Saigon has roads which are wider than 1.5 lanes!  And some which get up to [gasp] FOUR lanes.  Imagine the space.  5 points to Saigon.  Except for…

– The preponderance of huge f**king SUVs on those roads.  For God’s sake, this city has good roads – why the hell do you need SUVs?!  Pretentious sods.  Minus a few million points from Saigon.

– These are these strange raised areas on the sides of the road which are not merely areas for motorcycle parking.  I can actually walk on them and no longer need to walk on the road.  Five points to Saigon.

– Traffic lights exist on intersections.  Point to Saigon.

– People obey traffic lights – even when there are no/very few vehicles ahead of them.  Minus five points from Saigon.

– Pedestrians cross roads at pedestrian crossings.  Minus ten points from Saigon.

– People apparently have (and need) driving licenses in Saigon.  Minus a few hundred points from Saigon.

– My motorbike is not here.  I miss my motorbike…  Minus a few million points from Saigon.

– People down here speak strangely with a kind of drawl, and lots of “y/j” sounds instead of the more aesthetically pleasing “z” sounds.  Minus a hundred points from Saigon.

– Pho and Bun Cha taste weird here…  Minus a few thousand points from Saigon.

– STARBUCKS!!  Does getting a chai tea latte here make me a bad person?  If loving chai is bad, than I don’t wanna be good…  Plus a few hundred points to Saigon.  It would have been more if Starbucks here stocked pain au chocolats.

– I don’t feel quite as fat in Saigon as I do in Hanoi.  A few hundred points to Saigon.

– No lakes in Saigon.  I’m reduced to jogging round the Reunification Palace which is not quite as scenic as sunrise/sunset over the West Lake.  Minus ten points from Saigon.

– No turtles with magical swords in lakes.  Minus a few billion from Saigon.

– Iced tea as opposed to hot tea.  No comment.  Minus the combined US/UK debt from Saigon.



So, after that careful, practically scientific analysis, Hanoi wins hands down.

PS.  If you want another perspective, this is a fun read, and a really interesting blog as well http://flyicarusfly.com/saigon-or-hanoi/.  It’s also where I stole the images…