Useful tips, Ho Chi Minh City
Travel tip. you can easily buy Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China books and Phrasebooks for about US $3 (yes three dollars-if you bargain even less eg 40,000 Vietnam Dong) in District one in Saigon and all other tourist centres.Just walk along the street I the tourist strips…if you don’t stumble over their sidewalk stalls they will be chasing you with boxes of books for sale anyway!
Fondest memory: Majestic Hotel is special
We booked our tours with Sagotour, 171 Pham Ngu Lao St.
We were satisfied with the office manager's professional advice; he was polite, his English was good and his accent easy to understand. While we were waiting at his office for the tour buses we had free internet access.
Favorite thing: De Tham street and the surrounding area is called Backpackers District. You will see many tourists staying in this area. There are many guesthouses located here and at a low cost you can enjoy staying very close to city center. In this area, you can also find many travel agents which offer cheap daily packages to tourist attractions such as Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels. Many restaurants and souvenir shops are also available so everything you need is just in walking distance.
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Try this site:
This online map can help you find locations, roads, and much more in most cities in Vietnam. The thing is that because it is designed for Vietnamese, there is not English instruction in the site at the present (They plan to have the English version for tourists though but not known when).
I can provide you with some guide and key words to help you read the map.
Ban Do = Map
Quan = District (Quan 3 = District 3)
Red capitalise words mean names of province or city, smaller blue words indicate districts, towns, and suburbs, and if you zoom the map in, you will see names of streets shown right next to the roads ro streets.
On the right hand side of the page is the list cities in Vietnam, so you just need to move the mouse to the city you are after and then click. Basically, everything after that just uses common sense to nevigate yourself (if you are familiar to Google Earth, you will find no problem because the system has similar features).
Vietnam also has GPS available but I do not know if GPS devices from Singapore will work there or not. However, if you got one bring it with you and see if it helps. Look for the site Vietmap.vn or something like that where you can find more information about GPS in Vietnam and how to use it.
Have great time
If you don't eat at tourist targeted or top end restaurants you can easily eat well for under 20 usd a day.
A bowl of Pho BO is usually only 1-2 usd at a cafe or small restaurant and mains can be bought from 1-5 usd at the same.
Rules of thumb for eating in HCMC, eat at places that are doing a good trade with locals (the food will be fresher and locals are in the know), if there is no english menu (which is rare in dist1)just look at what other people are eating and point at what you like the look of.
I found an excellent rooftop BBQ place (quan an nyong I think it was called) above fannys ice cream just off Nyuyen Hue, you have a bbq in the middle of the table and you order your meat or seafood and grill it yourself rice and steamed vegetable were complimentary. We had venison, frog, beef skewers and prawns a couple of beers a couple of cokes and the bill came to under 30 usd for 4. We were the only westerners and the place was absolutely chockers.
A full day trip to the mekong or the cuchi tunnels can be purchased at Sihn cafe in De Tham st for around 15 usd and some of these trips include a decent lunch.
Entry to the War remnants museum, zoo and many other attractions in dist 1 are incredibly cheap and can be walked to, or are only a dollar or 2 fare in a metered cab.
As for shopping, well how long is a piece of string? A trip to Ben Than market is a must and some of the items for sale there (Lacquerware for example)I haven't seen anywhere else in Asia, as well as the usual chinese made rubbish that you can pick up anywhere, but hey each to their own.
In conclusion I think you could have a great 3 days sightseeing, eating and drinking and maybe even enough for a couple of pairs of fake sunnies, a T-shirt with a yellow star or pic of Uncle Ho for 180 usd.
Have fun, I know you will.
If for some odd reason you cannot find an internet cafe, if you come aross a hotel, they almost always have internet access for their guests and can either charge you like an internet cafe, or sometimes just let you use it for free.
Fondest memory: Not sure I'd call it my fondest memory, but the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi tunnels iinvoked the strongest memories. I suppose the fondest were some of the wonderful people I met, and the Ben Than Market. ;)
April 4th to 11th 2008 in Saigon City and environs; stayed at Madam Cuc 64, District 1; had a big room at the front for $25 night which included breakfast and a dinner time noodle snack, also tea, coffee and bananas all day long! The smallest rooms were $16 night. It was noisy at night [wear ear plugs to get to sleep] but that meant it was very central and the happening place to be. The receptionist introduced us to two great local motor bike taxi drivers and they showed all the sights and more in 2 days. They took us to great restaurants too. Had a hydrofoil to Vung Tau = recommend that as a day trip. Had a tour to the Mekong Delta with a local travel company = waste of time, 12 hours on assorted boats going no where; other trips could have been better? After that we didn’t try any others… I’d say they need to get their act together on tourism. Beware of over charging especially in taxis which will go the least direct route to push up the fare. Beggars were a real nuisance in the evenings around the local bars, restaurants – mother pushing your kids to get money were especially annoying. Went to lemongrass restaurant and although the food was good the atmosphere was nothing – at very high prices this wasn’t worth the money.
All in all a very enjoyable 6 days, the people are more refined than in Thailand and there was plenty to do; we bought lots of lacquer ware at a very reasonable price. The main surprise was the cost = same a Thailand not cheap any longer after 3-4 years of 20% per annum inflation. We won’t be going again but were glad to have had the experience.
i think you should travel to Nha Trang for 2night flight to Hoian for 3 night 2night in Saigon.
Day 1: Arrival day overnight in Saigon. Day 2: Enjoy Saigon. Day 3: Morning flight to Nhatrang enjoy relax on beach overnight in Nhatrang. Day 4: enjoy Nhatrang, then you can take train or continue flight to Hoian stay for 3 nights, my recomendation you should stay in Hoian instead of Muine, because Hoian is great beach and great foods, great shopping place, pretty pleasure place for honey moon trip. you should book through travel agent in vietnam
let try out to drop few lines for Viet Vision Travel . they take good care of you and affordable
Enjoy have great time
Whilst in HCMC we decided to take a 3 day 2 night tour to Da Lat in the highlands. We arranged this tour through BenThanh Tourist Travel Service located at 73-75 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, approximately 100 meteres along from Gloria Jeans Coffee restaurant.
The staff were very efficient and arrange the flight to Da Lat (40 minutes in the air), accommodation, a car with driver and guide to meet us at airport and take us on morning tours, plus the driver drove us to HCMC on the 3rd day.
Everything went smoothly, the accommodation was excellent. Contact detais as follows:
Phone: ++84 8 8273073
I've always been one of those who prefer „Plastic Money“ and therefore I travel with minimal cash or T-Cheques.
Here is my tip on getting Money on a cheap and safe way in Vietnam...
During my 14 days stay in HCMC I always picked up cash at the CitiBank ATM in Downtown HCM (SunWah Building, 115 Nguyen Hue St. District 1 Ho Chi Minh ). CitiBank has two ATMs within walking distance. If you have a Bank Card from CitiBank you can withdraw Money in local Currency without any fees based on fair daily rates.
There is no easier way to get money.
Just avoid Sundays. The ATMs are regularly empty(!) on a Sunday, because they are not filled over the weekend. Try to plan to pick up money on Monday to Friday!
PS - I do not work for CitiBank, just a satisfied customer.
Hanoi...We stayed mostly in the Old Quarter. Took trips to perfume pagoda and Halong Bay from Hanoi. Hanoi is a great place to start your vietnam journey. Culture shock to the extreme! Busy, crazy traffic and shopping epitomise the experience. Be brave with the street crossing and move steadily, and slowly, across the street without stopping, jumping backwards or running...all very natural human behaviours in this environment but not advised.
Check out the water puppets and the lofty restaurants around Hoan Kiem lake. Don't be afraid to eat the street food but use common sense. We followed the guidelines that if it was steaming hot and fresh we would eat it and we never had any tummy issues. The Pho (noodle soup) is to die for!
We stayed at the Hanoi Elegance II. Highly reccomended. Good price and internet in your room. Ask for a balcony room on the front side. Big, sliding doors are double glazed so sound is minimal and the view of the morning and evening street life along Ma May street is excellent. Good food, good service, clean, modern and well located and they can book nearly any tourist excursion going for a good price..
Perfume pagoda...a pagoda built into a mountain. Kind of cool but a longish trip to get there. However part of the trip is an hour row along a river with the rowing being done by very fit women. The scenery through authentic Vietnam life in more rural area is worth the trip.
Halong Bay...if you go to vietnam you MUST go to Halong Bay...surreal, peaceful, dramatic, exquisite...do an over nighter on a junk but choose your boat wisely. We chose a junk through Tropical Sales...research said they were one of the best. Expect $100 for overnight per person. Worth every cent. You can get cheaper but there are horror stories out there about some of the economical options. On this junk you get a king bed, your own shower, great meals (included) and they make great cocktails which are reasonably priced.
Fondest memory: Hoi An...We spent 6 nights here and I wish we would have had a few days longer. Charming, slower, beach, UNESCO heritage buildings, friendly people, tailored clothes and great shopping are here. We stayed at the Hoian Beach Resort which I think was, by far, best value for money. This hotel is on the river and across the road from the beach (10 min drive into town and free ferry service to town). Perfect location. Ask for a riverfront room on the 2nd or 3rd floor and watch the local fisherman in action. If you need laundry done, skip the hotel service and go directly accross the street for a fraction of the cost. Recommend a boat ride on the river. Book at the Veggo place by the bridge. Excellent experience. Give yourself plenty of time for having clothes tailor made. My experience was having to go 4 times before my clothes fit just right. Only rec. for tailors are to go to the side streets...same quality and much cheaper. If you need a break from vietnamese food, pop into the Cargo Club for Mexican, Caesar Salad, decent pasta and good atmosphere.
Seam Reap/Angkor Wat..What can I say....WOW! Angkor Wat blew me away. I won't go into details but this is a must on 'places to see in a lifetime' list. Not hard to imagine you are Lara Croft from Tomb Raider here...And the food...Khmer cuisine is the best I have experienced. You haven't lived until you have feasted on amok and Khmer curry. Siem reap is like a little ole wild west town. Wide, dusty streets and The people were so lovely. Three days there seemed enough but I could have easily done another couple. One full day at Angkor Wat also seemed enough.
Finally...vietnam airlines...sufficient but not outstanding. Very poor entertainment system, average food and seemed to be always running late. on flip side...generous with drinks. It saved us a few hundred dollars over Singapore airlines but just depends on what you want and need for an international flight.
The advice I got from those travel books was that we should not drink the tap water. Some books even went to an extent of saying that even if you boil your water, you should just use it to brush your teeth. I don't know the extent of truth as to not being able to drink even boiled water, but I definitely didn't want to take that chance.
So Jac and I subsisted on mineral water.
The amount of water we consumed was tremendous because of the humid weather. We'd finished about six bottles of 500ml mineral water. Per bottle cost us 4,000VND (Approx USD0.25).
With so many empty bottles on hand, we thought the wiser and the more cost effective way was to buy a bigger bottle of mineral water and using that to fill the smaller bottle. A 5l bottle cost 13,000VND (Approx USD0.80). "What a steal!" I thought. That's enough water to last us for about two days.
These small bottles then became our regular companions when we head out for sightseeing, while we kept the bigger bottle in the hotel room.
What's more, they even gave us a free plastic cup!
when having troubles with tickets
or if you want to fly to Philippines from HCMC.
Philippine Airlines, Flight Code: PR
has an office at:
229 Dong Khoi Street, District 1
tel: (08) 827-2105
Fax: (08) 827-2107
PAL shares code with Vietnam Airlines.
this is the arrival-departure card given to all passenger bound for Vietnam
this one piece serves as your document of entry for both immigration and customs
upon arrival, and on leaving the airport, you will be left with 1/3 of the card
which you have to surrender to immigration upon departure
I'm not an adventurous drinker so I started out drinking Tiger beer for two reasons. One, this is a tried and tested beer produced in Singapore. The texture is very smooth. Two, beer is about the same price or even cheaper than a can of soft drink. A bottle of Tiger cost me 10,000VND while a can of coke cost me 8,000VND.
Along the way, I learnt about their local beer - Ba, Ba, Ba. No, it's not a new song by N'Sync, but it's 333. Not too bad at all. A little too strong on the malt though.
A can of ba, ba, ba costs 10,000VND