17 Street Photos of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Young guy sewing in Saigon

I made two short trips to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as everyone still calls it, within a few months of each other. On the first trip my wife and I did all the touristy things like visit the uplifting War Remnants Museum and tour the Cu Chi Tunnels. On the second trip, my wife was there for work and was busy during the day. Liberated from my wife and having already seen the tourist sites, I was free to wander the city with my camera for three days. 

After those three days, I was exhausted. The streets – and sidewalks! – are abuzz with speeding motorbikes; the heat and humidity are oppressive; the noise and pollution are overwhelming. Walking the streets taking photos really takes it out of you.

In spite of this, Saigon is a fun and fascinating city to photograph. The city is visual anarchy, and the challenge is to find order in the chaos. Although I took many photos trying to capture the energy of the city, by exploring narrow alleys, visiting green parks and entering street markets, I was able to find simple scenes among the madness.

Here is a collection of 17 photos I took in on my two visits to Vietnam’s largest city. Click any photo open a slideshow view.

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Street Photography

Have you been to Saigon? Crazy place, right? 

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15 Comments on “17 Street Photos of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Wonderful,exhausting ( as you say) and fascinating city, and ohhh the food! Love your collection of every day life photos – especially the scowl of the guy in the first one! I also really like the one of the guy on the motorbike with the billboard behind, because it so captures the feel of the streets.
    Peta

    • The funny thing about the scowling tailor is that he let out a huge smile after I took his photo. I saw him with his headphones, cigarette and hat on backwards and just had to snap it.

      The bike and billboard photo was near the Chinatown market area. Have you been over there? That part of town was wild! I’d say it compared to India as fas as crowds and chaos.

      Thanks for the comments!

  2. Enjoyed ALL your pictures Jeff. Since I’ve not been there, I feel like I have. You know how to capture the most interesting pictures to share with everyone. Thank you.

  3. You’ve made it look downright relaxing and calm. I loved your phrase “visual anarchy” and can picture it perfectly (I’m channeling Kathmandu since I’ve not been to Saigon), but you’ve managed to catch scenes that belie what might be going on a few feet away!

    • I have lots of unusable pictures with maybe 500 motorbikes in them too or shots of a cluster of signs that would give a dyslexic brain bleeding. I try to look for simpler, manageable scenes to shoot. Yes, sometimes all it takes is turning into an alley or pointing the camera to the side 2 meters to get a totally different shot.

  4. Fabulous collection. I have favourites but it’s nearly all of them! The woman under the awning, the scooters in front of the red towers, and the men at the table are standouts for me.
    Alison

    • Those men at the table were all drinking beer in the late morning. They seemed to be having a great time and it made me wonder what they were celebrating. The red towers are part of the construction of the cities first metro line. All of downtown is a mess and evidently it is way over budget and years behind schedule.

  5. Vietnam is on my wishlist. Your street photography gives a good feel for this city, I imagine the traffic to be mad like in Thailand?. I love the one of the 3 girls walking like they are models on a runway…so funny the guy watching them with his jaw dropped…

    • So, those girls were walking like models on the runway, and the guy was their coach. I watched for about 5 minutes and couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was very funny. I moved in and took one photo because then they all started laughing and got self-conscious and I knew the moment would be lost if I kept shooting.

      I’d say Vietnam traffic is way worse than Bangkok traffic. Vietnam is a river of motorbikes and to cross the street you just wade out into the traffic and keep a steady pace. They bikes avoid you. It is nerve-wracking!

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