I really like my trip to Ho Chi Minh a lot, not mentioning its “wonderpho” local food, but there were so many things to do in this lovely city. Ho Chi Minh also known as Saigon during its old days, located at south in Vietnam with population of 8 millions of people, now becoming one of the modern city which attracts foreign investment in South East Asia. In relative with the size of population, the traffic was very hectic and heavy all the times. Motorbikes are the major group of users in the road, be it in middle of the road or even the walkways for pedestrians! So, golden rules/tips for visitors: avoid weekend, avoid entering city center in the morning and avoid exiting from city center in evening!
Finding way to the hotel from airport might be terrifying sometimes to fall into scam of taxi drivers. So I recommend Vinasun Taxi as they have good reputation of charge according to the meter. But make sure the person is legit from Vinassu as some taxi drivers who would pretend to be from Vinasun Taxi just to lure you get into their taxi. Also before exiting the airport, remember to buy yourself a 3G/4G SIM card which are at better deal than inside the custom control.
I stayed in Bay Hotel Ho Chi Minh which is a newly open hotel with modern design, necessary facilities and a rooftop swimming pool at decent price. Our itinerary are as following:
4pm Reached Tan Son Nhat Airport
Night – Visited Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Ho Chi Minh Square, Municipal Theater
Full Day – Mekong Delta Tour
Night – Shopping
Day – Visited Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh Market
Night – Shopping
Ho Chi Minh City Hall is located nearby Ben Thanh market, built with French colonial architecture. It is a great spot for tourist to take photo and there were also a park or Ho Chi Minh Square in front of the city hall. There were locals and tourist here and there even it was at night. You can find the Saigon Opera house – Municipal Theater, another French colonial building which was a few street away.
Mekong Delta Tour is one of the outdoor activity tourist can enjoy during their stay in Ho Chi Minh. Mekong delta composed of vast maze of rivers, swamps, island and floating markets. We booked day tour through our hotel for $50 per pax and departed as early as 9am. The tour itself was fully packed with many activities throughout the day. After an hour of road journey from the city, we reached the jetty and took a small boat to visit a fish farm. We were brought to the floating house and fed the fishes. There were really great number of fishes fighting for the food!
Next, we went to a coconut candy farm to watch the process of making coconut candy and of course bought some candies! While buying and tasting the coconut candy, I had tried their one shot of snake wine for free!
Then we stopped by a village for lunch. The meal was included in the tour fee. It was the local seafood with rice paper rolls. After lunch some cycled in the village, some took a nap on the hammock and some looked around the animals that villagers keep.
After we were ready to go to next destination, we took a mini truck to another village to watch locals performing music and singing. We were treated with hot tea with honey and fruits. During the performance audience would give a flower to the singers and later tipped them if they like the performance.
Lastly, the last part of Mekong tour, to exit the village with the small sampan. We were cruising along the swamp inside the village and reached the river to return home. Mekong Delta tour was indeed a highlight in our trip as we took the boat and sampan to the villages on the river, watching the Vietnamese traditional performance and embraced the mother nature of this peaceful village on the river.
The next day, we visited Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office and Ben Thanh Market. We sent post card with the beautiful iconic picture to home in the post office. You can find souvenirs at the post office too. We also went to Ben Thanh Market to shop very local stuff such as Vietnamese coffee beans, snacks – lotus seeds, fried dried jack fruit and many more. I think I would spend 3 hours in the market to buy all I can!
It was really an unphogettable trip to me as I enjoyed very much touring this city and experience their very own cultures and appreciate their historical heritage. I am looking forward to next trip to Hanoi in the future. Oh ya! I will share all the unphogettable food I had in Saigon in the next post!