The poor chaps at Sinh Cafe must be well miffed about the number, and it's a huge number, of people using their name. So for once and for all this is the contacts for the REAL Sinh Cafe:
246-248 De Tham, D1, HCMC. Tel: 836 7338,
Some useful Vietnamese word..
Kam En (thank you)
Sin Loik (sorry)
Baun Nyiur (how much)
dat kuah = very expensive
tam biet (bye bye)
Ao Yai (vietnamese costume"ao dai")
Cho Lon in HCMC is pronounce as 'ja len'. Cho means market and lon means new. Cho Lon = new market.
Cu Chi Tunnel pronouce as "die dao gou ti"
Vietnamese is very unique and sounds nice to me.. they use nose to pronouce most of the word.. very interesting
Favorite thing: Before I went to Saigon, I was worried about carrying large amounts of money on myself. No need to worry, ATMs are everywhere. All you need is an ATM card. When I was shopping in the Ben Thanh market I had no cash on me one day, but no need to worry, the lady selling the clothes directed me to the nearest ATM which was a block down. There are many banks available as well and many are even open on Saturdays. I had no trouble cashing in my travelers cheques either. If the bank is closed, you can also cash your cheques either at your hotel front desk or at the Sinh Cafe. I do advise however that before you come that you have a stash of $1 US bills. They are a good means to bargain and tip people. You will find that if you carry large US bills people will all of a sudden have no change for you. Deal in small US currency whenever possible.
Favorite thing: The thing I enjoyed most about HCMC was the shopping and bargaining. Whether visiting Ben Thanh Market, Cholon, other markets or even street stalls, if you are not Vietnamese, you will be quoted the tourist price. Look at the item and decide what you would like to pay. That will be your midpoint between what they are asking and what you will offer.. Ask "how much", but ask in Vietnamese. They will be happy you took the trouble to learn a few words in their language and warm up to you. For example: The shopkeeper wants 400,000 dong (about 25 u.s. dollars). You decide that you would be happy if you got it for about 17 usd, or about 280,000 dong. T his is your midpoint between 400,000 and 160,000, which is what you offer. She wants 400,000, roll your eyes, let your jaw drop, act incredulous, and say "mac qua" pronounced "mack qwawh" which means "too expensive". She will probalblly find this amusing, and also be impressed that you know FOUR words in Vietnamese. Then you offer 160,000. She will have a handheld calculator just for such negotiaions. .She will act as if you want to confiscate her house and take her first born child, but she will make a counter offer. Whatever she comes down, you go up by an equal amount. Do not be surprised as you approach the midpoint if she stops coming down. She is testing your determination. Repeat your last offer and say "final offer". As she looks at the number on the calculator, smile and say "Da, da. Cam on." - pronouced "Da, da, Kam uhn" smile broadly. She will usually take this offer. If she counters again and is very close, go ahead and let her have the extra fifty cents. If it is a little more that that, ask for a small gift from her to compensate, a small change purse or fan, or a pair of nail clippers. Everyone is happy.
Most of the vendors we ran across really like you to pay in US dollars. It appears that US dollars are in fact, the underground currency around Vietnam. I would be careful about exchanging too much cash for Vietnamese Dong as it is useless (and worthless) outside of Vietnam.
Now, that doesn't mean it isn't fun to get some. How often do you get to hold 20,000 of any kind of money! LOL
But, make your exchanges in small amounts so if you get stuck with a few dong, it won't be more than a few dollars worth.
It's pretty hard to get VND outside of Vietnam as it's a controlled currency. The locals in Vietnam accepts USD. So if you are from US, you're definitely the fortunate ones. As for the rest, do change some VND and also bring along smaller USD note. i.e. USD 1 or 5, as small shops and taxis will not return you in USD if change is required.
Also, there's no need to change large amount at the airport as those at the shopping malls offer better rates. Just change enough for your trip to town and a little bit more to spare just in case of any emergencies. About 200,000 VND should be good enough.
I'd kept USD 24 in my little pouch for the longest time. You see, I was told that we needed to pay USD 12 per person for the Airport tax. I stinged on food and drink to make sure that I do not spend this last bit of money and end up becoming an illegal immigrant in Vietnam.
But the truth of the matter is that...THERE IS NO NEED TO PAY AIRPORT TAX ANYMORE!!!! It's true. I didn't believe it myself. I was about to board my taxi to the airport and was asking if the hotel counter could help break my USD 50 note into smaller denominations...and the lady seemed a little astonished as she mentioned "Don't need to pay airport tax". Woohoo!
More spending money...just that by that time, I was already at the airport!
Traffic in Ho Chi Minh..........I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life, at least they weren't going fast like at home!
How to get across to the other side of the road?
Mmm, rather daunting with all those bikes, but it can be done quite easily.
The trick is to stay aware, and walk slowly and confidently. The motorbike riders are watching and will simply move to avoid you - just don't make any sudden lurches forwards, backwards, or stop for that matter!
Just look for a gap in the traffic, and begin a slow but steady movement. If you hear a beep coming your way it's likely a motorbike rider is about to enter your personal space.
Be a alert and prepared to stop putting your foot forward until he passes
If you don't feel up to doing this, then go and stand with a local and cross with them!
I've heard of Sinh Cafe and felt that this would be a safe bet if I'd to book my day tours with them.
I can safely say that they are one of the best tour agency around. Booking of the day tours was a breeze and they have everything from a one day tour, to a 3-day Mekong delta tour, to even adventure tour for those who wants to rough it out.
Located along De Tham St (Along a row of backpacker's motels), Sinh cafe was easily the busiest of all the tour agencies located there. Bus after bus brought tourists to their various locations, and everything ran like clockwork. If they say they'l leave by 8.15am, they will, though not without a grace period.
The guides speak understandable english and there were no forced purchase of any items (Had a very bad experience in China. I'll leave you to read my entries about Shanghai), and they did not demand for a guide's tip.
They also ensure the safety of those under them and also gave us enough time to explore the places that they brought us to. Extremely good customer service at a totally inexpensive price.
They are also very efficient in replying your queries through email.
246-248, De Tham St, Dist 1
24-26, Pho Duc Chinh, Dist 1
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
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