Scene From Above

Saigon’s backpacker row (aka Bui Vien), as seen from one of District 1’s cheapest rooftop bars, The View. In general, unless you’re just traveling through, this section of Saigon is best avoided — unless you enjoy mixing it up with clueless tourists, shabby backpackers, sketchy locals, and smarmy old men dragging reluctant “sexy girls” back to the nearest cheap hotel. But if people watching is your thing: my friend, you’ve found your Mecca.

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Mischief on Monkey Island

On Can Gio, aka “Monkey Island,” tourists can pay about $5 (half that if you’re a local) to roam around for the day watching monkeys and feeding them improper food. Monkey Island is about an hour motorbike ride south of Saigon — worth the day trip down, especially if you’re into monkey circuses, “fishing” for crocodiles, or simply spending some quality time with your closest genetic ancestors.

Mui Ne to Phan Rang-Thap Cham