Oct. 20-21,2013 (Last night in Saigon)
From Cu Chi Tunnel we went to Qua An Ngon for dinner as suggested by our tourguide.
Qua An Ngon is one of the most popular restaurants in HCMC. The place is very nice, the food is excellent (the best Vietnamese food we had since arriving in HCMC), service is quick, staff are friendly and helpful.
Since it was our last dinner in Saigon, we ordered as many food as we can. From pho to banxeo to shrimps, oyster, dumplings, di ko na maalala yung iba.
One of the food we ordered. Delish!!
After that sumptuous dinner we still had a few hour to spare before our flight back to Manila so we wandered around the city with our heavy bags.
Night shot of the City Hall.
Bitexco Financial Tower is owned by Bitexco Group, a Vietnamese company and is the 124th tallest building in the world.
In Tan Son Nhat Intl Airport while waiting for our 1:00 am flight back to Manila.
Right after we checked in and done with the immigration. We still had few dongs left so we went to the duty free but i wasn’t able to buy anything kaya ipinalit ko nalang yung dong to dollar.
that is the end of our 4n/3d trip to Ho Chi Minh City. If you would ask me if i would go back again in Vietnam? Definitely! But next time it will be in Hanoi. I did enjoyed my stay. The city tour, Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnel Tour is a great way to experience the Vietnamese Culture and see the beautiful landmarks and scenery of Southern Vietnam.
Oct. 20, 2013 (Day 3: Cao Dai Temple-Cu Chi Tunnel Tour)
Another tour that we booked from Kim Travel Co. LTD is a one day trip to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnel. The tour cost us 495,000 VND which includes pick up/drop off, english speaking tourguide, a/c bus, bottle of water and Cu Chi Tunnel entrance fee.
The tour started at 9:00am where they pick us up from the hotel. First stop of the tour is in a Lacquer Factory located a few hours outside HCMC. There are 3 kinds of lacquerware: Mother of pearl, eggshell, painting or any of the combination of these three.
Second stop is in Cao Dai Temple located in Tay Ninh, 95km away from HCMC and very close to Cambodian border. Cao Dai is a religious movement in Vietnam which incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism.
Upon entering the temple it is a must to leave your shoes outside.
Worshipers inside the temple during their noontime prayer service.
Colorful interior of the temple.
After 30 minutes we left the temple for lunch in a restaurant somewhere in Tay Ninh. Lunch is not included in the tour fee so we have to pay.
Cambodian food recommended by the owner na di naman nakakabusog. Why Cambodian food? As what I’ve mentioned earlier, Tay Ninh is near Cambodian boarder.
Last stop for this tour is the Cu Chi Tunnel located in Ben Dinh in Cu Chi District. The Cu Chi Tunnel plays a very important role in the Vietnam War. It was used as a shelter, hospital, weapons cache and supply route during that devastating war against the American forces.
A brief history about Cu Chi Tunnel and the Vietnam War.
One of Cu Chi Tunnels secret entrance.
Some of the traps made by the Vietnamese.
Mautak sila noh? hehe
Life of a Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War.
The most exciting part of this tour is the chance to enter the tunnel. It is so small that you have to crawl inside. Good thing we’re quiet small compared to the westerners in our group, mas madali gumapang sa loob. haha! It was really fun!
Upon arriving in HCMC our tourguide suggested a good Vietnamese restaurant and we agreed to have our last dinner in HCMC there.
Oct. 19, 2013 (Day 2: One day Mekong Delta tour)
Mekong River is the world’s 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia.
There are different agencies and tour packages for Mekong Delta tour and we ended up with a one day tour from Kim Travel Co. Inc which we booked through our hotel. One day tour cost 495.000 VND which includes pick up/drop off, a/c bus, english speaking tour guide, boat trips, lunch, bicycle, fresh fruits and traditional music.
Our tour started around 8:00am. After breakfast we waited at the hotel lobby for the pick up. Bus ride from Saigon to Mekong Delta took more than 2 and half hours with 20 mins stop over in Mekong Rest Stop.
Motorboat ride in Cai Be.
Floating market in Cai Be.
First stop is in a village where basically there is nothing much to do but wander around and look at the souvenirs, try some honey products, watch the old lady make rice paper, observe how the coconut candies were being made and eat many free samples as you can, haha!
Ate making rice paper.
Coconut Candy making.
Fermented wine. eeekkk!
It took us 45 mins boat ride to another island for lunch. The boat ride along Mekong Delta is a good way to see what a typical vietnamese life is in the Mekong.
Upon reaching our destination, lunch was served and it was.. blah. After lunch we went biking, feeling ko tuloy vietnamese ako. hehe!
At around 1:00pm, it took us another 45 mins to reach our third and last stop. I must say that this is the main highlight of this tour, we got to ride on a small boat with a Vietnamese paddler passing through mangroves along the Mekong River.
Free fresh fruits and tea while watching a short play.
Boat ride along Mekong River.
After 2 hours of bus ride, we were back in Saigon. For dinner we wanted to eat good food kasi puro di nakakabusog nakakain namin mula nung dumating. So.. Jollibee here we come!!!
Since it was raining we took the cab, went back to the hotel first to rest then to Ben Thanh night market again. Since arriving in Saigon, we never failed to visit the night market and we never leave empty handed. Haha.
After shopping in Ben Thanh we walked along the streets of Saigon until we saw NYDC.
Saigons busy street at night.
NYDC or New York Dessert Cafe is famous for its desserts and drinks. It was established in Singapore in 1995 by an American couple. It is good place to relax or catch up with friends over cake and coffee.
We stayed in NYDC until almost midnight then we walked back to the hotel for a much needed rest.
Oct. 18, 2013 (Day 1: Exploring Ho Chi Minh City)
Most of the main and popular attractions in HCMC is in District 1, so it is a perfect choice to book your hotel here. Our first day in HCMC started with breakfast at the hotel. Choices are from pastries, rice, fresh fruits, pho, spring rolls, bacon and sausage etc.. The food was ok but the coffee was great!
First stop of our city tour is in Reunification Palace.
Entrance ticket cost 30,000VND (around$2). You can tour the palace in groups with english speaking tourguide wearing ao dai; vietnamese national costume.
Reunification Palace is also known as Independence Palace and was the residence and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Replica of the tank that crashed through the gate of the palace.
Inside the palace.
View from the fourth floor.
After the palace tour, we took a little rest then went to Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s a few blocks away from the palace so we opted to walk instead of taking the cab.
There are gazillion of motor scooters in HCMC and sometimes crossing the road can become really challenging.
Notre Dame Cathedral is also known as red bricks cathedral and it is another famous landmark of Ho Chi Minh City.
Inside the church.
Across the street from Notre Dame cathedral is another French Colonial Structure. Saigon Central Post Office was designed and constructed by renowned architect Gustave Eiffel, the who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Beautiful and wide post office with a portrait of Ho Chi Minh.
Telephone booth found inside the post office.
After visiting the post office we decided to have lunch since it is 12 noon anyway. Near the post office is Diamond Plaza and we decided to settle down in the food court where there is plenty of choice to choose from.
A typical vietnamese lunch. >.<
We’re not satisfied with what we had for lunch, buti nalang we saw Baskin-Robbins on our way out of the food court. I bought one scoop of strawberry cheesecake. Yummy! A few steps away from Baskin is Choux Creme a well known japanese cake brand which recently opened in Vietnam. We bought one lava cake and one cream puffs. Hehe.
Next in our itinerary is Saigon Square for some shopping. On our way to Saigon Square we passed Vincom Center and Parksons, two famous shopping malls in Saigon.
Another famous landmark, the Saigon Opera House built in 1897.
Across Saigon Opera House is a garden and the famous REX Hotel. The hotel was made famous during the Vietnam war when it was hosting the American’s Military daily conference.
Near Rex Hotel is Saigon City Hall or Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.
Manila is to Greenhills while HCMC is to Saigon Square. Lots of items are sold here for cheap price like bags, shoes, shirts, shades and even underwear. There’s also plenty of brands to choose from, some are factory reruns while some are imitations. (photo credit to vietnam720.com)
After spending an hour in Saigon Square we went back to the hotel to rest for a while since we’ve been walking the whole day from Reunification Palace to Saigon Square.
Vietnam is one out of the top best coffee producing countries in the world, so we decided to try drinking coffee ala vietnamese (drinking coffee while sitting by the road side). There are many coffee shops in Saigon but we opted to go to the coffee shop a few steps from the hotel. Traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Cape Sua Da is a mix of strong Viet coffee and condensed milk poured into a tall glass of ice.
After spending an hour in the coffee shop observing/watching people and motorcycle pass by, we left the cafe to shop in Ben Thanh Market. Since it’s only a few blocks away from the hotel, we just walked.
We were able to buy shirts for 80VND/piece, souvenir keychains and bag. We took the cab (Vinasun as recommended by many blogs) and left Ben Thanh at around 4:30 pm to watch the water puppet show in Golden Dragon Theater.
When in Vietnam you must watch the water puppet show, kasi sa Vietnam lang meron niyan. Although the singing/narration is in Vietnamese we enjoyed the show. It was interesting, funny and well executed.
The ticket we bought comes with a buffet dinner. The restaurant is located behind the theater. The food was ok, but we didn’t enjoyed it that much.
Aside from bahmi, banxeo or sizzling pancake is a famous food in Vietnam.
After that disappointing dinner, we went back to the hotel rest/freshen up then went to Ben Thanh night market for some shopping, again.
A bottle of beer before calling it a night.
I’ve been wanting to go to Vietnam for years and fortunately i was able to booked a flight via Cebu Pacific’s piso fare promo last year (Aug. 2012). Initially it was a trip of two, then it became three. You know what they say, the more the merrier!
Oct. 17, 2013.(Arrival)
We left the house at 6pm for our “red-eye flight” to Ho Chi Minh. Upon arrival (NAIA 3) we paid our travel tax, checked in and went through immigration.
Our ETD in Manila is 10:45pm and ETA in HCMC is 12:20am. The total flight duration from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City is 2 hours and 30 minutes and Manila is one hour ahead of Ho Chi Minh.
While waiting for the check-in counter to open, kain muna sa kopiroti.
Boarding time! HCMC here we come!!
We arrived in Tan Son Nhat Intl Airport at around 12:20am Vietnam time.
It is said in other blogs that exchange rate at the airport is more competitive than in the city. So we had our US dollar exchange in Dong before leaving the airport. 1 US dollar is 21,074.82 VND.
I had my $100 exchanged to Dong and look how much i’ve got! I’m an instant millionaire! Wuhoo!
Tan Son Nhat Intl Airport is around 7 km from the city. Since our arrival time in HCMC is past midnight, before we left Manila we already made an arrangement to the hotel were staying to pick us up at the airport.
Gutom lahat pagkadating sa airport, luckily there is a convenience store beside the hotel. Circle K is one of 3 most popular convenience store in Vietnam. Soon it will open it’s first branch in Manila. (Photo credit to virtualtourist.com)
And voila!! My first meal in HCMC. :)
We stayed in Asian Ruby 4, District 1. The hotel was great! It is in good location and the staff are friendly. The room is large, nicely decorated (one single bed and one double bed with one side table), clean and comfortable. It has a flat screen tv, hair blower, mini refrigerator, safety deposit box, closet with hanger and free wifi! The bathroom is clean and spacious. It has bathtub, shower with hot water and basic toiletries were provided. They also have house keeping and change the towels everyday. Buffet breakfast was already included, it consist of simple breakfast foods with combination of local and western. We booked the hotel online via Agoda.com.
Why i love Vietnam.
*the people are warm, friendly and are totally laidback.
*the vietnamese culture is fascinating.
*the food is interesting
*the best coffee in the world!
*the scenery is gorgeous
*ho chi minh is fun and diverse city
*mura ang mga bilihin at food!!!
*crossing the road is nerve wracking but fun
*pwede tumawad pag namimili. Hah!
Vietman is a fantastic country. Di man siya isa sa pinaka maunlad na bansa pero ang dami niya pwede i-offer. I feel lucky that i was able to experience vietnams culture, their simplicity in way of living at makita yung mga dati sa history books or discovery channel ko lang napapanood. ★
State of the Minion Address. haha!