In a comment to my 24 April posting on the cash economy of Viet Nam, hikaru stated he needed more cash when in Sài Gòn to pay for taxis and entertainment. While taking taxis in HCMC is much cheaper than in most cities (about 50,000 VN dong (US$ 3.14) to cross town), we tend to take the local city buses whenever we can. HCMC has a pretty good system of bus lines crossing the city from neighborhood to neighborhood. To me, this is an important benefit of urban life. The ticket cost per person per ride is 2,000 VN dong (US 13 cents), so it definitely beats taxi costs, or xe ôm (motor-bike taxi) costs, which are about one-third of car taxi fares.
The bus line we take most often is the No. 3 line that runs through our Phú Nhuận District neighborhood to downtown Sài Gòn. It runs down heavily congested Đường (Street) Hai Bà Trưng. Here is what the street scene looks like from the front of the bus:
Most of the bus lines feature air-conditioned buses and are not usually crowded except during commute hours, and even then, they are not as crowded as San Francisco MUNI buses.
You can see from the photo above that the streets are crowded with motor-bikes (xe mô tô). The Vietnamese love their motor-bikes just like Americans love their cars, and even though it is much less stressful to take the bus, they stick to their motor-bikes.