Surviving in Saigon during Monsoon Season

In All, City Tips by Hoozing

Angela Schonberg (Travelfish) once described the weather in Ho Chi Minh City: “It comes in two flavours: dry and wet. The wet season sounds like a downer, and brings with it high humidity and daily downpours. But precisely because of the rainy season’s bad reputation, this time of the year can be a great and affordable time to visit if you don’t mind dodging a few raindrops”.

As an expat living in Vietnam for three years, to be honest I really enjoy the monsoon season from May to October. The temperature cools down to 25 — 26°C and I usually find myself having better lunch nap than overnight sleep. The sound of rain is one of the most relaxing sounds in existence. This sound alone eases away stress and makes everything outside look more calm and quiet. In other countries you might have to install an app or go to website like http://www.rainymood.com/, here in Vietnam you get it naturally for free.

Of course people whose work requires them to travel a lot, such as our sales executive team who support customers on their house visits and go to different apartment buildings to take photos would definitely find the rains so troublesome. A few things they told me:

“Saigon’s showers are sudden and short, with the sun usually reappearing fairly quickly. I don’t really know what to wear these days”

“It rains in one district, sunny in one district and rains again in another district. I am always in dilemma whether or not to put on my raincoat all the time”

“My motorbike doesn’t have a trunk to store helmet and it gets wet every time I park in outdoor parking lot”

But none of the problems mentioned above irritates Saigon residents like the the one I’m going to mention: Street Flooding.

The city’s poor flood-prevention infrastructure leads to massive flooding after every heavy downpour. Streets and roads turned into rivers. Severe traffic congestion and broken-down motorbikes are the common chaotic scenes.

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Traffic Congestions and Broken-down Motorbikes | Image Credit: Zing.vn

Here are some tips I’ve got from friends and they turn out to be so useful that I decide to share it massively with the expat community.

On Driving Motorbikes

  1. Take advantage of a full-face helmet because it will keep the rain drops from smacking against your face while cruising.
  2. Wear bright colours raincoat to make sure you are seen at all cost. Decreased visibility in the rain is one of the main reasons for accidents.
  3. Give yourself more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Braking distances are much longer in the rain.
  4. Observe people who ride in front of you to avoid committing the same road mistakes.
  5. If possible, ride in the middle of the streets as the water level there is much lower compared to the area near pavements.
  6. Do not ride with high speed into flooding streets as it would create water wave which is dangerous for other people. Besides, it increases the possibility that water gets in the engine.

On Planning for Appointment/ Travelling

  1. Develop a habit of checking weather forecast on your phone or computer before setting an appointment.
  2. Do not travel between 4 — 8PM as traffic congestions mostly happen during this time. Arrive earlier or get back home later would save you out of many troubles.
  3. Have a map of city areas/ streets that are more prone to flooding. This map can also serve your best interests when searching for long-term accommodation in Saigon.
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Saigon Flooding Areas | Image Credit: Vnexpress.net

If you have any other tips, leave a comment in the below section and I would update the post right away!

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