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Saigon…by Vespa?


Click here for a short film on YouTube.

So there I sat in my hotel room in Saigon, contemplating the city skyline and trying to work out a new way to see the city’s highlights and lowlights. I know Saigon well, I’ve been here a few times over the years, and it’s probably the most fun city in Southeast Asia these days (though I admit I am in love with Phnom Penh, perhaps the best city in Asia for an un-globalised, non-corporate, non-chain, below-the-radar night out). But familiarity, so they say, breeds contempt.

The key, I thought, is to reimagine the city. Try as hard as you can to suppress what you thought you knew and see it from a different angle, with a different person, on a different day. And that’s when I decided to take a tour by Vespa. You can even see a short film of it on YouTube!

Yes – I took a tour on the back of a scooter. In what is surely one of the world’s busiest cities for two-wheelers. It sounds crazy, but it’s the most fun I’ve had in a big city for years. I’m so used to travelling on city buses and trains, even taxis that I’ve forgotten the thrill you can get from hustling through the traffic wearing shades. I’m 33, but felt somehow 22 all over again.

My driver – Phuc – was a gentleman. Not a “tape player guide”, but not overbearing either, happy to let me take it all in and above all, safe. He knew what he was doing and never pushed our Italian steed too hard. Vespas have serious muscle, but Phuc did the cool thing – he showed off the bodywork and didn’t flex too much.

We saw the War Remnants Museum – still a must see; City Hall and the Ho Chi Minh statue; bits of Cholon and the riverfront; the Opera House. I’ve seen them all before, but Phuc and his Vespa managed to refresh it all. He even pointed out a great Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) shop that I tried out the next morning.

You can get a flavour of it from some of the grainy video I took along the way. It’s not Scorsese, but it’s like Saigon – authentic, busy, a jolt to the system.

Make it happen

Vespa tours can be arranged in a few cities in Vietnam – check out our Vietnam country page for more info. All trips created on our site by local travel companies are 100% bespoke and unique to you.To talk to someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 342 7898.

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