The easiest way to spark debate (or argument) in Vietnam is to ask someone if they prefer Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. In addition to the deep, historic, political divisions between the largest cities of the North and South, each place also has its own modern, cultural identity.
Despite these differences, there is a palpable energy and excitement that can be felt in both cities. From graffiti artists touring the countryside to entrepreneurs taking risks to promote local artists, there’s an inspiring generation determined to build a creative culture across the country.
Most visitors spend a day or two in each city and leave. That is a mistake. These are cities to be savored. Whether it’s a world class cocktail bar in an seemingly abandoned building, or some of the best street food in Southeast Asia, there are surprises around every corner. Grab a coffee or beer outside of a local spot, sit on a tiny red chair, and watch the world go by.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE ENERGY YOURSELF…
Check out any one of Linh Nguyen’s three venues (Saigon Outcast, Rogue Saigon, SOMA Art Café, and check out the work of local artists around Ho Chi Minh City
Make friends while drinking bia hoi (at your own risk) and eating ribs in Hanoi. It’s an acquired taste, but an experience you shouldn’t miss.
Spend a quiet afternoon drinking coffee and writing at one of the many creative cafes. You’ll be sure to overhear an exciting conversation about someone’s next artistic endeavor.