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Getting around Saigon

Saigon's iconic cyclos (three-wheeled bicycle rickshaws that fit one passenger comfortably, two with some effort) are a cheap and easy way to get around, and most cyclo drivers speak English, but you should negotiate the fare in advance and be prepared to fend off their suggestions of where to go and what to buy. (Many drivers get a commission from certain shops.) Note that some areas of town are off-limits to cyclos. Taxis are fairly plentiful and useful for traveling longer distances. For about 10 times the price of a cab, you can also hire a limousine and driver through your hotel, which may be worth the premium if you're shopping and/or venturing beyond the city center.

Don't even think about renting your own car; navigating Saigon's tangled traffic on four wheels is a serious chore. Consider instead renting a bicycle (your hotel concierge can recommend a dealer) or, if you're very confident, a motorbike. The latter can be hired for about $10 a day from one of the many rental shops on Pham Ngu Lao Street, in Saigon's backpacker enclave, five minutes by taxi from Dong Khoi Street. Again, ask your concierge for recommendations, and be prepared to leave your passport as a deposit. You'll also need a helmet-they're required by law. Most motorbike shops include a helmet in the rental price, though you can usually buy a better one for less than $30.

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