A Look at Traffic

Traffic can be pretty crazy here. I think it’s not as bad in Shanghai as in other parts of China. Some countries’ streets seem even more frantic, however. And yet, amidst all the chaos, traffic still flows

Traffic in Saigon:


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. scrappenthal Says: November 25, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve driven in Saigon on a motorbike while visiting a friend. It’s actually worse than it looks. Generally, people separate by driving on the right-hand side of the road. However, if I were Vietnamese, and my bike was on the opposite side of the direction I want to be driving in — I just drive headlong into oncoming traffic, letting people move around me until I’m on the right side.

    Also, red lights don’t count for anything.

  2. C’mon, that’s amateur material. In most coastal Chinese cities, replace the motorbikes with cars and you get the pictures. Oh yeah, and throw in thousands of bikes too.

  3. Patrick,

    I don’t know about that… I’ve been to quite a few cities in China, both big and small. Not only do I think this video shows traffic that’s crazier than what China has, but I think that more bikes/motorbikes and less cars makes the traffic crazier. Keep in mind, also, that the actual traffic will also be worse than it looks on video. (If you’ve ever tried to capture crazy traffic on video, you’ll understand.)

  4. John,

    It’s funny you mention that, because last time I was in China I put my sweet video function to work on my camera and went crazy filming all sorts of tangled traffic scenes. You are right though, I guess the reason this seems so much crazier than a Chinese street scene is because of how the traffic just flows. In China, the awe is more on the side of “wow, they are going to need a crane to untangle that intersection”.

    I have seen a very similar scene in China, however, it was back in Nanning in early 2003. Not really sure why, but everyone in that city seemed to be buzzing around on scooters and motorbikes- barely a bike or car in sight. I remember trying to cross through a free-for-all ’roundabout’ (if you can call it that) under an elevated road, oh man I seriously thought I was done for.

    Similarly, some of the bike-only roads under the canal just east of downtown Hangzhou can get pretty nuts at rush hour, I spent about an hour there last April filming all sorts of fun. Shanghai, last time I was there, even had some astounding chaos just a few streets back from the Bund, where those bike-only roads run into that elevated expressway.

    But yeah, this footage is pretty amazing because of how everything is actually moving. And that certainly makes it more nuts than China’s gridlock, but not necessarily more entertaining. : )

  5. Fantastic! Woo-hoo. That would take some getting used to.

    This is a trackback.

  6. Haha, that video is so accurate!

  7. […] Well, the traffic is still calmer than Vietnam I guess (Sinosplice), I'll never get over the old quarter in Hanoi which really did blow my mind! Anyway, if you haven't been put off getting a driving test yet, you might want to read about an account of two westerners applying for driving licenses in Beiing. I love the quote: When I asked the bossy woman behind the counter where I could buy a book to swot up on it, she said breezily: "Oh there is no such thing, just ask someone who has done the test." […]

  8. Paul Brownsell Says: March 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Think of being a pedestrian! When I was in Saigon in ’05 you eventually learnt how to cross the street. Step off the pavement, keep walking, do not veer away from intended direction, do not slow down, do not look! Scary stuff!

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