Crossing the street in HCMC is an absolutely terrifying task. With nearly 8 million people in the city, and seemingly every single one of them on a scooter at exactly the same time, traffic is intense.
We enjoyed sitting in Cafe Anh, overlooking the streets by Ben Thanh Market, and watching the madness unfold before us. Having to partake in the act of crossing the road ourselves, though, was a bit of a different story.
We would wait
impatiently on the curb for a break in the stream of scooters. Sometimes it would never come. This is when we were left with no other choice but to walk straight into the oncoming traffic and hope to make it safely to the other side of the road.
Miraculously the traffic would part and flow around us. But only if we followed the rules:
A) Do not, for any reason, stop walking.
B) Do not make eye contact with the drivers. It’s distracting to them.
C) Keep the same steady pace. Don’t slow down and don’t run. The motorists can estimate where you’ll be by how fast you’re walking, and veer accordingly. Changing up your pace will throw the formula out of whack.
Taxis and trucks can be quite aggressive towards pedestrians. Be especially cautious when crossing the street in HCMC if there’s a taxi or truck coming your way. You’re better off waiting on the curb until they’ve passed, honestly.
And, whenever possible, try and cross with a group of other people. Especially seasoned locals. That saying “there’s safety in numbers” rings true here.
Don’t think that just because you are crossing at a green light, you have some sort of “right of way”. That rule either doesn’t exist in Vietnam, or the drivers simply don’t care.
Now, with this bit of advice, you too should be able to confidently and safely cross the chaotic streets.
Reward yourself with an ice cold Saigon beer or a massage afterward. Because no matter how successful the passage, it takes its toll on the nerves. It goes completely against everything our mothers taught us growing up about road safety.
**The photo below was taken by my good friend and travel partner, Hep**