February 10, 2016

Ho Chi Minh #1: Walk Around The City

Three musketeers begin their journey to Ho Chi Minh! Instead with horses, we fly, erghh, this seems a little bit out of topic don't you think?

Aha, it's because I'm really excited to share about this trip. I would say it was a bit different from Bali Trip. In Bali, we used tour guide all the way, but here in Ho Chi Minh, we decided to do by our own.

Note that every picture was taken by Go Pro and cell phone only since we bring a carry-on luggage.

Day 1 (5/2/16) Friday

Our flight from KLIA2 to Tan Son Nhat International Airport are at 9.10am. Therefore, we need to arrive three hours before that. Why? In cased, anything came out of like flight delay for example. But, just hope and pray that everything runs smoothly before depart.

We woke up around 4 AM and left home at 5 AM. Honestly, I'm not a morning person at all, but since I'm all set and ready, everything was fine and keep on track.
Fun Facts : I must eat rice daily.
I personally like morning flight, and since my little brother already prepared the itinerary quite packed as soon we arrived, it was not a waste of time at all.

Upon arrival, here are some of the things you should do:

1. Roaming the internet outside of your country can be quite expensive. Buy a sim card (Mobiphone) for 20.0000 VND, that were around RM30 and so. This sim card gives you unlimited data and awesome coverage. We bought at the stall on the right before you went out to look out for the bus.
2. If your are more towards manually driven, instead like us using the mobile data for google maps, buy a Map!
3. You have two choices to go to your accommodation, either by taxi or bus. If you are taking a bus, take bus number 152, that green bus (near Burger King) and they will bring your straight to their bus station at district 1 for 10.000 VND per person.
4. For taxi, download this application (Vinasun), reliable taxi in Vietnam. 
5. Vietnam time would be one hour early from Malaysia. Set your watch as soon you arrived.
6. Don't afraid to cross the road, they will not hit you instead giving you a friendly reminder horn. Pon pon!

Since we are in tight budget, and up for adventures, we taking the bus. I was surprised by unstoppable horn sounds from the motorcycles. Take note, that their main vehicle is the motorcycle and at first, you will feel shocked, but after few hours, you should be adapt to their nature.

We check in to our hotel, Aries Ben Thanh Hotel or Aries Hotel. Personally, I would not recommend this place if you are going to spend time a lot in your room. But if it's only for sleeping purpose, it's okay then. From our experience on our last day, we asked the receptionist about the taxi and if we need to pay for airport tax, but he only answered 'I don't understand anything that you say' with that annoying face. Therefore, make sure you bring any dictionary to avoid this kind of situation.

First stop: Reunification Palace 

Only 10 minutes walk from our hotel, this place are open from 1 to 4 pm only. The ticket is for only 30.000 VND per person. Basically, it's like our Istana Negara, but it was wider than our palace. 

This 3 main floors building with over 100 rooms is a must-stop visit if you are into culture, history or maybe architecture or interior design. Each room have its own function with a finest decoration.

Click here for some reviews about this place.

Second stop: Saigon Cathedral Notre Dame & Central Post Office

2 in 1. Basically, when you arrived at either of this place, it will be easy for you because the building was just side by side!

It was my first time to enter a church, and I would say it was very impressive to see the decoration and situation inside the church. Oh! There is no need to pay a fee to visit Notre Dame and it's open from 3 until 6 pm only.

Central Post Office that open 7 AM to 7 PM on Weekdays, while 7 AM until 6 PM on Saturday, and 8 AM to 6 PM on Sunday.

Along the way to visit Hard Rock Cafe, we get to walk on their Book Street. According to my friend who are into books, there are about 13 bookstores on the street. Plus with a beautiful book cafe, where you can take a sip of coffee or tea while reading your books. What more can you ask for?

We didn't buy anything from Hard Rock Cafe, and we head up to Opera House and Dong Khoi Street. Opera house was closed, so we only get to view the exterior only and about Dong Khoi Street, it were basically like our Pavillion, but a bigger version of it, I guess. If you are looking for designer brands, you might want to splurge at this place, (I didn't say it was cheaper because I was not into that kind of things).

Along the way, we capture a very interesting stall where they just hanging around with drinks and street food.
Then, we just walked by Ho Chi Minh Square and Bitexco Financial Tower. At first, we decided to get the whole view of Saigon from that tower, but since it was an exception to our plan, we decided to just walk around. If you are interested, it will cost you around 180.000 VND per head. The place is open from 6 PM until 9.30 PM if I am not mistaken.

Last stop: Ben Thanh Market
Known for it's affordable shopping place, I'm sure this would be a heaven for a shopaholic. During daylight, the have their market indoor, but during night time, they have their night market at outside!

We did a light shopping because we are hungry and tired due to excessive walking.

It was not that hard to find halal food at district one because there is one place that called as 'Malaysian Street' where all the Muslim are here to eat. 

We decided to try Hjh Basiroh and our overall expenses (for three pax) are 315.000 VND. Our menu for the first day at Ho Chi Minh are sirap strawberry, sirap bandung, coffee milk ice, nasi goreng Ikan Masin (2x) and Pho daging Vietnam.`

Then, we continue by walking to the market to survey some items to purchased. But hey, don't forget to try Coffee Halal outside of the restaurant. 

Phew, the first was tiring enough but hey we will continue to our second post about our Mekong Delta trip. Stay tuned! 
Sneak peak on next post.


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