I think everyone else in my group has explained how difficult it is to cross the streets, so I’ll just touch on it briefly. Basically, there are a couple cars on the road and then a bazillion motorbikes. And they don’t stop for anything (slight exaggeration). So naturally that makes crossing the streets rather difficult. Instead of stopping or slowing down for pedestrians, everyone just dodges you. It takes some time to get used to stepping into oncoming traffic and predicting which motorbikes will stop, which will swerve in front of you, and which will squeeze behind you, but we’re all pros now! The key is to be predictable. You can’t start running or decide to turn back or else no one will know how to dodge you. You have to time it well when you leave the sidewalk (avoid cars because they will just run you down) and then just trust that no one is going to hit you.
This honking drove me crazy until I actually had the chance to ride on the back of An’s (one of the program coordinator’s) motorbike. This was about a week into our time in Saigon, so I was pretty used to Saigon traffic at this point. Good thing, or else I wouldn’t have learned to trust that no one will hit me and I would’ve been really freaking out. But instead of freaking out, I loved it and can’t believe I almost left Saigon without seeing it on a motorbike. And the honking was actually insanely comforting. I wasn’t even the one driving, and I still really liked always knowing if there was a car nearby and in general where everyone was just from listening to the horns. I’d say all the honking actually is a big reason why there are few collisions.
TL;DR: Saigon traffic is amazing, terrifying, frustrating, confusing, chaotic, and harmonious all at the same time. And I never ever want to drive a car or motorbike in it because I would probably have a heart attack or at least pee my pants.