Four reasons to attend VnExpress Marathon Ho Chi Minh City Midnight

By Hoai Phuong   February 4, 2023 | 08:05 pm PT
Runners in the VnExpress Marathon Ho Chi Minh City Midnight will be able to enjoy the city's stunning streets, nighttime activities, and cuisine after finishing the February 12 race.

VnExpress Marathon will bring a much-awaited tournament for runners for the first time in HCMC. Some 10,000 participants will take part in the tournament as well as learn about the city's local customs, cuisine, and tourism.

The two racers shared a kiss at the VM Hanoi 2022 finish line. Photo by VM

Two racers share a kiss at the VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight 2022 finish line. Photo by VM

Exploring a city that never sleeps

Saigon is known as the Vietnamese city that never sleeps. Runners will have the chance to experience the city's commotion throughout the route, regardless of the time.

The first 5 kilometer pass through the streets of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dong Khoi, Ton Duc Thang, and Nguyen Hue, where the bustle is most obvious. These streets are home to several well-known attractions and restaurants.

Runners can easily spot young people conversing over coffee, chatting with each other at the Notre-Dame Cathedral at midnight, or hear the energetic beat from street dance groups on the walking street at 1 a.m.

District 1s Tran Hung Dao roundabout concentrates several skyscapper. Photo by VM

District 1's Tran Hung Dao roundabout is the site of several skyscrapers. Photo by VM

Vo Van Kiet Street gives runners a clear view of the pace of life in the crowded markets. Observing the flow of motorbikes carrying products in time for the morning market, runners may get a sense of the pulse of daily life.

Athletes will be impressed by rows of smoky eateries selling broken rice at night or people getting up around 2 a.m. to prepare pots of stock and sell beef noodles. Running along Vo Van Kiet Street as the city reflects the sparkling lights of the Tau Hu Canal is also an interesting experience.

The nightlife moves more slowly in Thu Thiem's urban region than it does in the city center. Runners will be surprised to see nipa palms lining both sides of the path. A panoramic view of the city can be seen on the other side of the Saigon River.

Conquering two iconic bridges

VnExpress Marathon is the first full marathon taking place at midnight in HCMC. Runners at distances of 10, 21, and 42 kilometers will traverse two bridges across the Saigon River: Ba Son Bridge and Thu Thiem Bridge.

The two bridges have a total length of nearly 3 kilometers, which is a challenge but also a unique experience when runners can see the city from the middle of the river. Athletes can also see several skyscrapers, such as Landmark 81 and Betexco from here.

Ba Son Bridge (Thu Thiem 2). Photo by Quynh Tran

Ba Son Bridge (Thu Thiem 2). Photo by Quynh Tran

The images of Ba Son Bridge, Bitexco, and Landmark 81 are also engraved on the medals of the tournament, which resemble a doorway arch from ancient French architecture.

A few lines from the song "Starry City at Night" by musician Tran Long An are printed on the back of the medal as encouragement and a nod to the wonderful memories that runners have of their visit to HCMC on this occasion.

Medals for VnExpress Marathon HCMC Midnight. Photo by VM

The medal for the VnExpress Marathon HCMC Midnight. Photo by VM

Athletes will also find a clip-on LED light in their race kit bag. Runners can clamp the LED anyplace they like. In the middle of the night, crowds of people running through the streets will resemble sparkling stars.

Savoring cuisine

Saigon offers almost all the culinary traditions of Vietnam as well as that of many other countries, including traditional Vietnamese dishes, and Asian, European, and American cuisines.

There are numerous restaurants in the starting and finishing areas of District 1 that range from the widely known to the upscale. The 10,000 runners will have a range of options during their stay there.

Runners can easily find typical street food stalls along the route. The most popular ones include ones selling broken rice with grilled pork chops, shredded pork skin and pork pie, noodle soup, Saigon shrimp and pork chop noodle soup, banh mi, sticky rice, steamed rice rolls, and more.

Stalls selling snail dishes along Truong Sa Street, Hoang Sa Street, and District 4 are great places for the gathering of clubs.

Hot pot dishes are also recommended for a meal following the race. Many people enjoy fish hot pot, beef hot pot, goat hot pot, chicken hot pot, and chili hot pot in Saigon.

Visitors are also drawn to food streets in District 4, Ho Thi Ky Market, Nguyen Thuong Hien and Phan Xich Long streets. Those having a sweet tooth can find a variety of sweet soups at these places.

Like in other events, the organizers will bring the city's most well-known cuisine to the food court following the marathon. The food court will be open throughout the night, and runners can visit there to savor specialty foods and drinks and recover after the race.

Understanding indigenous culture

Even though it has a diverse population, HCMC retains the qualities that make it a brand that runners flock to. Locals who are hospitable, gentle, and open are always willing to respond to visitors' questions.

Runners can also experience the river culture with the intricate network of canals and rivers in HCMC. The rivers and canals are a place of trade with neighboring provinces and surrounding countries.

Runners can travel by river bus, yacht, or ferry to feel the vitality of the Saigon River and its influence on the city.

A corner of Tet flower market on the river at Binh Dong Wharf in January. Photo by Quynh Tran

A corner of the Tet flower market on the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe Canal in January 2023. Photo by Quynh Tran

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