Dear1 and Dear2 went for a short holiday to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam recently. It was truly a short trip, just 4D3N, but we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It was definitely one of our most enjoyable trip to date. Here’s the itinerary.
Day 1 – Set off from Budget Terminal at Changi Airport by Tiger Airways in the morning, 0745hr flight. We touched down at HCMC at around 0830hr local time. We bought Vietnam Dong at the airport becos our pre-trip research told us that it’s cheaper to buy VND in Vietnam, even at the airport, compared to the best money changer in Singapore. We bought our VND at 11200 at the airport whereas Arcade at Raffles Place quoted us just 10000.
Next, we hail a taxi to our hotel, Bich Duyen Hotel at Pham Ngu Lao St. Since it was the first time we’re taking a cab in HCMC, we were conned! The taxi driver asked for VND300k to drive us to our hotel in District 1. But so happens that there was a taxi meter running in the taxi, and it registered barely 100k when we arrived at our destination, which meant that we over paid extra 200k which translated to about SGD20. :(
After arriving at the hotel, we learnt that there are 2 reputatable taxi companies in HCMC whose phone numbers are 8272727 and 8262626. So if we ever wanted to take a taxi, we should hail one with either of these numbers displayed on their car bodies, and we can safely ask to be charged according to meter rates without being conned.
After unpacking and a short rest, we started our city walkabout. We were headed in the direction of the Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. As we started walking, we realized the true chaos of the traffic there. Every millisecond a vehicle horn could be heard. Beep! Beep! There were motorbikes everywhere. Luckily, we read from our travel guide that the best way to cross the road was to walk at a steady pace so that drivers could drive their motorbikes around us. And that’s exactly what we did, just walk steadily and not too slowly, motorbikes will go around us. After several tries, it became quite natural! However, that doesn’t mean we could blindly cross the road. As one of our tour guides mentioned, Vietnam has quite a high road accident fatality rate due to the chaotic traffic conditions. We still must be very alert and look out for any potential dangers when crossing the road.
By the time we reached the Post Office, it was mid afternoon and the skies threatened to rain. We quickly seeked shelter at Diamond Plaza, a shopping mall less than 100 meters away from the Post Office. According to our guide book, it’s supposed to be one of the newest shopping malls in town, but we found it rather small and not very interesting. Besides, prices are not cheap! Some time passed and the rain didn’t stop. So we decided to abandon our outdoor walkabout plan and headed for the sheltered Ben Thanh Market instead, by taxi.
There, we bought quite a lot of cheap shirts, bags and shoes. And we enjoyed bargaining for every dollar with the local shopkeepers there. We had our dinner at one of the roadside stalls selling seafood. Wow! The fish was really fresh! Eventhough Dear2 was not a big fan of fish, she ate quite a big portion of the fish. To us, the fish was the highlight of the dinner.
It was getting late for Day 1, so we decided to take a taxi back to our hotel and rest for the night. Before going up to our rooms, we booked a full day tour with Chanh for the next day, visiting Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels.