How to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City

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Crossing the road is supposed to be easy, isn’t it? When you were a child your mother would have first taught you to look right ,look left then look right again before crossing but basically you can throw that out the window when it comes to crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh City.

Why is it so difficult? One thing, motorbikes. I have read that the city has over three million bikes zooming around the streets of the city. That is a lot of bikes considering the population, it means nearly everyone over the age of 15 or 16 has one.

The chaos starts from the airport after you fight with the locals for a taxi. There are no lines, first one to open the door get your luggage in and be seated looks to be the person who has the right to be a passenger. Once you exit the airport, you will see motorbikes everywhere and the traffic builds up as you head closer to the downtown area of the city. A subway station is currently being built which may have added to the traffic.

Watching the motorbikes and pedestrians trying to cross the street is an attraction in itself and I could easily spend an hour or two sipping Vietnamese coffee and watching the action as motorbikes weave in and out of traffic trying to avoid other bikes and pedestrians.

By watching the traffic you would think there are no rules as motorbikes dart in and out of traffic but under closer inspections you find that the bigger the vehicle the more power on the road it has. These vehicles stay in the center of the road while the smaller slower vehicles drive on the right side of the road.

Motorcyclists and all the passengers on the bike must wear a helmet by law as you often find a family of four all piled on the motorbike together or motorbike loaded to the brim with all sorts of things. Ho Chi Minh really doesn’t have many traffic lights and if there are some the vehicles don’t seem to understand them as it looks like Green means go, Amber means go and Red means go. This is why it is so difficult to cross.

How to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh

With the constant flow of traffic, there are very few times when there is actually a break in the traffic therefore you have to step out on the street in front of the ongoing traffic.

At first you will be apprehensive to do this but after watching the locals do it a few times you will catch on quickly. Of course you still look before stepping out on the street but basically you walk at a constant pace in a straight direction, the motorbikes will swerve to miss you. They predict that you will go forward or stop but never, never turn back this they can not predict and if you do this brace yourself to be hit. Also never run just walk at a constant pace.

Once you have done this a few times you really will start to cross the road without really having to think about it and you will be wondering what all the fuss was originally about.

Good luck in crossing the street guys.

Have you been to Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh? How did you find it crossing the street? We would love to hear about it. So leave us a comment in the box below.

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5 thoughts on “How to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Chris….. we found Rome difficult to cross the street…… We finally realized we could just tag along when a grandma crossed …. no one messes with the grandmas ….. This was a fun article ….. and very true. hugs. sylvia

  2. In Hanoi, it takes lots of guts to cross the streets there. After doing it once or twice, it will be a norm as long as you are confident. That’s how I ‘managed’to cross the streets when I was there.
    By the way, good write up. =)

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