Saigon Vietnam Coronavirus Shutdown Explained

I've been calling Saigon Vietnam (offically Ho Chi Minh City. A name only tourists use) home for the last year now.

I've been using it as my home base so to speak and a jumping off point for travel. A lot of new visitors to my blog and YouTube channel simply assume I'm some 20 something, wannabe, struggling travel vlogger.

It's quite funny how that perception and the reality could not be any further apart. This blog and that YouTube channel are really just a personal side project.

I travel as a hobby and have no desire to make it into a business. A part time, fun little side income? Sure. Creating content is fun and I simply want an outlet to create whatever without worry.

But I want to travel on my terms and on my dime. Not because I ever have too in order to pay rent. Also, I'm well past my 20s, and doing quite well financially from my online business which is NOT this blog and YouTube channel.

With that out of the way I just want to say that I love it here. I've been able to setup an enjoyable and fulfilling life. So what has life actually been like these last few months during this Saigon Vietnam Coronavirus shutdown?

In this post, I simply want to layout what it's like here during the pandemic.



1 - Mask Wearing Has Always Been The Norm

In Vietnam, people wear surgical masks when they ride their motorbikes as it is. Even before the pandemic, this was normal behavior and a bit odd to view as a foreigner for the first time.

They wore masks previously for air pollution reasons, but now because of SARS Covid-2 it's also done for that.

Upon living here you get used to and then it becomes the norm for you as well where you simply want to wear a mask when ridding a bike. Side note, this is only something I've seen in Vietnam. It's not an "asian" thing like some in the west assume.

As people already wore masks, there is an industry here of making masks, it was not an inconvenience to request that people keep their masks on when indoors like the grocery store.

2 - Things have finally shut down

For months Vietnam has managed to prevent any outbreak and in the first few of my Covid-19 updates things we're pretty normal. Cafes and bars were open. People were still going out and any place that could hold a crowd of people was closed.

That changed come the start of April. Everything was shut down and you could only visit restaurants as a take-a-way service. Still, not as terrible as America.

You're still free to go about your day though social distancing is encouraged. It's just that there is nothing really to do even if you wanted to do something. Most of my days are spent at a little cafe in the morning that has stayed open then working non-stop on my online business from my apartment as I have nothing else really to do.

Gyms are closed which is quite annoying, and the over-whelming majority of cafes are closed (beyond take-a-way) so there really is not much to do other than work. For that I feel lucky that I am able to work, that I am able to make money. Particularly as I'm a guy living abroad as I'm quite on my own here.

3 - Hand washing before going into a building

I was shocked at the stupidity of the United States when I talked to my mother how they were originally handling this pandemic. In Vietnam you wear a mask inside and they spray your hands with sanitizer so you don't go around spreading the  virus.

People were not doing this in America until April it seems. In Vietnam the society had been doing this since late February.

These are silly and basic things. It does not seem like you're saving the world or fighting anything by washing your hands and wearing a mask but it's been proven an effective method of prevention.

4 - You're free to go about your day

One contrasting difference when talking with my family back home is that here I'm still able to go about my day. I can drive my bike where ever, go get food, go get coffee and so forth without being hassled by any authority figure.

As I just previously mentioned, everything is take-a-way and there is simply nothing to do and no where to go. But if you want to grab coffee and head to a park with your girlfriend no one is going to stop you.

For simple freedoms like this, it makes a world of difference despite things being under a mild shutdown. But everyone here, foreigner and local alike are all in this together and you don't see any bad behavior. People follow the guide lines and everyone is left alone for the most part.

5 - They lock down entire buildings and neighborhoods with confirmed Covid cases

One thing to note is that while you're free to go about your day they do take confirmed Covid cases very seriously.

A popular bar in District 2 called Buddha Bar had a confirmed case from a foreign pilot who is still in critical condition at the hospital. In part because of him, this shut down went into affect.

Also, his entire building where he lived was locked down. Meaning everyone who lived in his building could not leave for 2 weeks.

They've also done this in Hanoi where they lock down entire blocks of a neighborhood. So it's quite unfortunate if you happen to live in that building as you were basically stuck in your apartment for 2 weeks.

Horrible - and yes of course they have the logistics in place to provide food and water in place for everyone affected.

Saigon Shutdown Conclusion

So that is it for my quick take on the Saigon Vietnam Coronavirus shut down.

As Benjamin Franklin once said:

 "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure."

I'm currently a bit stranded here at the moment. But I'm lucky that i'm on a 1 year tourist visa that does not expire for another 10 months. I am required to by law however to leave every 3 months which is normally a non issue as I like to travel and it's one of the reasons I live in Vietnam in the first place.

But that puts me at having to leave mid April which is impossible. I can't fly to my country, all surrounding countries have closed their boarders, there are minimal flights as it is and even if i was able to leave Vietnam, I would not be let back in because like everywhere else, they have closed their boards to travelers


But I'm not particularly worried to be honest because i do have a valid visa. I can only imagine the stress some foreigners feel  who are on a 3 month tourist visas that is soon expiring. Their options are to overstay, try to get an extension or get on a plane and leave if possible.