Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Travel: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Honestly speaking, Vietnam has never been in my "list-to-travel-places" list mainly because one, i don't know much about the place as a tourist destination and two, i think i won't be able to get used to the local food (because everything there seem to be served with veggies, and i don't take veggies at all.) But anyway, i was looking to get out of country for a short getaway during December "time to clear annual leave" period but airfare to practically anywhere were pretty steep. Even a return fare to BKK would cost me around $300! Usually it's only $160 for non peak period :( 

I was then randomly browsing one night and i came across VietJet advertisement and they were running a promotion to Ho Chi Minh City at only $130. Not the ideal getaway i had in mind but better than nothing, LOL Told K about it, blocked our leaves and booked the tickets to Ho Chi Minh City! Accommodation booked at Liberty Central Saigon Hotel! 
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Departure at Changi Airport Terminal 3! Flight time: 2 Hrs 5 Mins.

Prior to our trip, we did some research on where we want to visit, where to eat etc. Important note for those who stumble upon this post while researching on HCMC: Apparently there are two taxi companies that you should take. Either Mai Linh (mostly white with green lettering, though sometimes green or silver) or Vinasun (white with green and red lettering) The others are not to reliable. Fares increases by thousands but is typically quite cheap in HCMC so no harm taking, even for short distances. Exchange rate was SGD 1: 15,500 Dong when i exchanged prior in Singapore.
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I tend to take a photo of the taxi number every time i enter a taxi, just in case. Anyway it took about 30 mins to reach our hotel (Liberty Central Saigon Hotel) from the airport. Sorry, no photos of the hotel but it's highly recommended. The location is right beside the famous Ben Thanh market and the hotel is quite reputable in HCMC, paid about $100 a night? Checked in, and roamed out to the streets. Made a reservation at AB tower Chill sky bar, one of the taller tower which gives you a panoramic view of the whole HCMC. Drinks and snacks are slightly pricey but i guess it's pretty worth it :)   
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Next morning we roamed out to search for a noodle place recommended by Nina. It was scorching hot that day. I swear we should go for a colder destination for our next trip. The noodles was pretty good but i had no idea what the dish is called or what was i eating. LOL We then headed to the nearby War remnants museum because i was interested in the war aircraft static display. Admission to the museum was 15,000 dong if i didn't remember wrongly. Inside you get to learn about the Vietnam war, basically the remnants of war and whatever is left over or preserved lah. LOL
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Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon. Not as magnificent as the famous one in Paris but good enough.
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1st floor, 26 Lý Tự Trọng, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam

One of the list of cafes in our list to visit: Loft Cafe. Saw photos of it on Instagram while researching on HCMC and i was like MUST GO because the cafe seem so white and chic, plus there is this huge Roman clock which i definitely must take photo with. HAHAHA i sound so bimbo. Apparently there is 2 Loft Cafe in HCMC so we googled-map ourselves to the other one. I was like, where is the clock, where is the clock. LOL Then the staff told us the other outlet is just nearby. Heng ah. Service was excellent, food was good and it's very cheap for a cafe compared to Singapore. Took my photo!
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2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh

Another place in my list of places to go: Saigon Central Post Office. I love both of the interior and exterior of this post office! Even though it's now considered a "tourist attraction", this post office is still fully functional and you can still post parcels or send a postcard. It was pretty crowded that day but i would still recommend people to visit the place :)

Booked a Củ Chi tunnel tour the day before at USD10 which included admission fee, pickup and drop off at our hotel. There are a lot of tour agency everywhere so do survey around before booking your Củ Chi tunnel tour. Some maybe slightly more expensive because it's conducted in a slightly smaller group or they provide lunch, some might be super cheap like USD 6 which probably means it doesn't include the admission fee etc, only transport.

The lady at our tour agency told us to get ready and wait in our room at 8.30am and the guide will give our room a call once they reach. The next morning, we finally got the call at 8.45am and we got scolded by the guide for being late. He was like, "The whole bus waited for you guys for almost an hour. This is not a private tour you know?" I tried explaining to him but no use. Suan le, LOL Then on the bus, we got scolded again not bringing our booking receipt along. HAHAHHA I guess he must be really pissed off with two of us but he maintained his composure pretty well i would say.
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The half day tour was really interesting i would say. Everyone got to learn about the history of Vietnam war and how they fought and utilize the cu chi tunnel. The entrance was really camouflaged well and it was REALLY small. We even got to experience a slightly enlarged 100 meter version of the tunnel at the end of tour. Not easy and very very hot.
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3/F p. q. 1, 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Another cafe to visit: The Workshop. The interior is very nice, service and food was just so so.

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Wanted to try the famous "broken rice" so we got kelvin's friend, Ryan to this place to try their authentic broken rice. IT WAS SO GOOD that i had another serving of rice. It was just BBQ pork with an egg but the marinating of the pork was so good. It was just a stall by the wet market, makeshift area with low tables and chairs along the pavement. I guess only the locals would know of such a place. I wonder if there is a place in SG that would serve such a good broken rice dish.
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In a blink of an eye, 3 days 2 nights was over just like that. The only downside was probably our return flight was shifted earlier so we had to wake up early on the last day, like 6 am to get a cab to the airport. Arrived Singapore in the afternoon. We could have spent the morning having some local food, oh wells. Wait, we didn't even had a single bowl of Pho in the entire trip!

Till the next trip,