Crossing Busy Streets
With lots of motorcycles zooming left & right on Ho Chi Minh's streets, crossing the busy streets became dangerous.
To cross the street: cross slowly and confidently, the motorcycles will zip pass behind you. Do not, in any instance, go back or you will be hit by a motorcycle.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
There are lots of motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City and they compete with the cars.
If the road is two way up and two way down, one way up and one way down is full of motorcycles and dangerous for car drivers.Related to:
This is only a warning for the elderly or incapacitated.
When doing a boat tour, like on the Mekong Delta, you will probably be put onto three different kinds of boats.
The one that may be a problem, is the shallow boat that takes you through the canals. As it sat low in the water, I noticed older people having difficulty getting in and out of the boat.
You need to go on it, as it takes you to another boat to continue your journey onwards for the day's tour.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
The True were always there
I want to told all travel ,who love travel the true story about this palace and if you want to come this place for food and drink, think again, This palace at Bui Vien St. before this place is most number 1 place at Bui Vien but after the restaurant has change chelf many times the food was not good anymore.This place had mouse in the kitchen. run in around the restaurant and I saw the food server for next table. Garlic bread with the one animal can fly four legs.So awful, The ower was knew that friendly person, nice men, that outside how the ower look, He has Viet wife, Who help a lot for his company , He hit her , tell liar, went to the bed with ex gril friend,took the frist one gril friend working with her,she was leaving to let he things what he does for her, so fast after he be boy friend wonmen who married before had 2 children and old mother working next door his restaurant, massger girl, but still sleep with the wife at night until she found out the true,can not safe this married, This pace is most to know by friend the owre told people. After this palce change the chelf most customer now is new,old customer is leaving, the food was like home cook food,just friend the ower went to and tell wonderful palce. Stella cafe, 119 -121 bui vien. Ower Terry Willemsen - BellRelated to:
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
Cyclo scams are apparently quite common in Ho Chi Minh City.
While some tourists report being physically intimidated by unscrupulous cyclo riders, the most common complaint is that of being overcharged. Many of the scams seem to revolve around confusion and ambiguity over the agreed fare.
Some of the examples that I read about before our trip were:
- Translation issues (cyclo riders claiming that they quoted a price of "fifty" thousand VND and not the "fifteen" thousand VND that the passenger had agreed to at the outset);
- Ambiguity (riders quoting a price and not making it clear whether it is per hour, per person or a set fare).
We took a cyclo ride during our visit to the city in May 2013 and a version of the latter scam was attempted on us.
For a full account of our cyclo tour (which was a very worthwhile and enjoyable journey on the whole), see my "Transportation" tip about cyclos. Here I am just presenting the facts regarding the attempt to renege on our agreed fare and to charge us a much higher price.
We were approached by a couple of cyclo riders in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao. The riders showed us a map of the city and a list of numbered sights that they would take us to. A price of 500,000 VND (ca. £17) was displayed on the bottom of the map. I knew this was ridiculously overstated and so we began to barter. We were quoted prices per hour and prices for one way trips to the War Remnants Museum. After much haggling, and us threatening to walk away on several occasions, we agreed on a price of 120,000 VND (ca. £4) per hour. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure whether our agreed price was per cyclo or for both of the cyclos, but either way it seemed reasonable. One thing I was sure of was that we had agreed a "per hour" price.
Our cyclo journey lasted for around 2 hours and took in many of the city's major sights. Towards the end of the journey, our riders took us to a garden on the banks of the Saigon River and asked us to pay the fare before they pedalled us back to Ben Thanh Market.
Perhaps they thought that they were in a stronger bargaining position here. Perhaps they thought that we'd give in to their demands rather than face a walk back to Ben Thanh Market. That would explain why they tried to charge us 1,000,000 VND (ca. £34) each!!! Apparently, our "agreed" fare of 120,000 VND was not a per hour charge but a one-way charge to the War Remnants Museum. When we decided not to go into the museum, this seemingly implied that we were agreeing to pay the 500,000 VND per hour charge instead. 2 hours at 500,000 VND = 1,000,000 VND each. Ah, that old scam!! Confusion and ambiguity!!
Being aware of the scam, we stood our ground and resolutely refused to pay any more than the agreed fare. Our riders agreed to reduce the fare to 750,000 VND each, then 500,000 VND each, then 300,000 VND each....but we continually made it clear that we would be paying no more than the agreed fare of 240,000 VND each (2 hours at 120,000 VND per hour). Despite their protestations ("Come on, we agree a price that makes us both happy"), we handed over the originally agreed fare and they pedalled us back to Ben Thanh Market.
In truth, I'm not sure whether we overpaid or not. However, the fare of 240,000 VND (ca. £8) each for a 2 hour cyclo tour of the city, including stops at many of the major sights, was good value for money. I got the impression that our riders (despite trying their luck) weren't too disappointed with the fare either!
Despite the many warnings online about getting into cyclos on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, we thoroughly enjoyed our tour and would recommend it to others. Just be alert to the prevalence of this attempted fare-hiking scam!
Avoid eating raw vegetables, salads and taking ice in your drinks. I had a very mild stomach bug, but it took a full day to recover from it and I missed the opportunity to participate a Vietnamese cooking class.
A couple of words of warning. Some individuals may try to scam you with lots of things. For instance, when you leave the airport the taxi driver may ask you to pay 10,000 dong for him to get past the barrier. It should be included in the price, but they still ask for it. All the taxis should have a meter on them unless you prepay them in advance.
While 10,000 is about 30p this is pretty small, considering that we had an incident in a bank where the girl working behind the counter tried to scam us about 200 dollars. She was going to give us several million dongs less and she actually tried it twice!!!! We had to make her count the money 3 times. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the bank, but always count all the money you exchange. It is not the bank on the photo.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Vendors outside the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
The Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple is located at Truong Dinh Street - close to the Ben Thanh Market. Outside the temple where are vendors selling oil, incense, candles, flowers etc. When you enter the temple they will handle out incense sticks and candles for offering to the gods – and then demand a ridiculous amount of money when you leave the temple.
My friend and I visited the temple without a guide – and we were the only tourists around. We got a few offering gifts in our hands when we arrived and were charged 25 USD at the exit!!! I have no problems paying for the offering gifts – but charging 25 USD was way out of line… We refused and gave them 5 USD (which was still too much!), but the vendors were not happy and we were followed for a while and shouted at when we left. Not a happy experience… Later we spoke with a couple of Canadians who visited the temple with an official guide – and they were only changed 1USD!!!
Hotel booking using desktop
Ensure to delete your browsing history in the desktop everytime if you use the computer to make payment for air ticket, hotel or etc. This will make potential hacker more difficult to steal your id password or credit card password. Rgds, Jonathan Tan from Malaysia
ALWAYS CARRY SUFFICIENT WATER FOR THE DAY
SAIGON Whenever you are "out and about" here in Vietnam or just visiting sites out of town. ALWAYS make sure that you have plenty of fresh bottled water on hand. The temperatures here at some times of the year are extreme as is the humidity and fluid loss can be a lot.. Although it's hot and humid all the time due to its location, dehydration should always be of a concern.I am never without a large bottle of water in the tropics.
Whenever purchasing water be aware that the cap seal has not been broken on the bottle!!. Sometimes these bottles are refilled with regular (dangerous) tap water and sold off as new .Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Visa at the Airport
Armed with our agency letter which we arranged online and brought with us ,we had only a short wait to get our visa.
Honestly I don't think they even read our application or letter. If you don't have a photo ...no problem they take your picture with a digital camera and charge an extra $2.00.( beats the $17.00 we paid at home).
Getting our Visa on arrival saved us $65.00 each fromthe cost to send to our embassy before leaving home!!
We used ,http://hotels-in-vietnam.com/ to get our agency letter..they were less expensive than some of the others. They also arranged our us to Cambodia and to Mui Ne.Related to:
- Budget Travel
TICK PARALYSIS (??) at Cu Chi Tunnels! Scary!
I traveled with my friend, a gastroenterologist, to the Cu Chi Tunnels and he had quite an experience! There is much jungle foliage and he was wearing shorts at the time, and he noted a reddish insect bite on his shin which enlarged and then subsided after a few minutes. He did not know whether he got this from walking through the jungle or through crawling through the tiny tunnel (he was the smallest in our group and so was the one chosen to go into the tiniest of tunnels).
About 30-45 minutes after the bite though, he suddenly fell down and we though it was just him tripping. But this was followed by periodic episodes of falling down (every 20-30 minutes) and he had about ten episodes of this scary “falling down” during the tour.
We asked the guide if this has happened to anyone before and he is unaware of any such events. But, with both of us being doctors, our analysis was some kind of neurotoxin from the insect bite. There was no sensory loss - just pure motor weakness occurring on and off. We were suspecting a spider bite then, and re-inspected the site of the bite and it had already subsided (not red or swollen) but the “fallings” occurred on and off for about 9-10 hours. We did not bring him to the hospital since we decided to bring him only if he developed more scary symptoms like difficulty of breathing (can be from diaphragmatic paralysis). Besides, the falls were occurring farther and farther apart indicating resolution of toxin from his body.
After further research later and consultation with a neurologist friend, we concluded it could have been a form of tick paralysis (especially since it was summer and the Vietnam ticks are out and about). But still, some spiders can release such neurotoxins....I was wearing pants and was fortunately not bitten.
Better words from Wiki:
"Tick paralysis is the only tick-borne disease that is not caused by an infectious organism. The illness is caused by a neurotoxin produced in the tick's salivary gland. After prolonged attachment, the engorged tick transmits the toxin to its host...Removal of the embedded tick usually results in resolution of symptoms ... within several hours to days. If the tick is not removed, the toxin can be fatal, with reported mortality rates of 10–12 percent, usually due to respiratory paralysis. The tick is best removed by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and applying firm steady pressure...Individuals should therefore take precautions when entering tick-infested areas, particularly in the spring and summer months. Preventive measures include avoiding trails that are overgrown with bushy vegetation, wearing light-colored clothes that allow one to see the ticks more easily, and wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes. Tick repellents containing DEET..."
Stop. Look. Listen. ... then Look again.
Majority of the vehicles on the road are motorcycles and they swerve in and out of traffic, sometimes even AGAINST the flow of traffic (counterflow) so it is wise to be very mindful of your left and right sides regardless of which lane you are on.
And no, you can't let your guard down even on the sidewalks. Bicycles and motorcycles sometimes use the sidewalks much like how they use the main roads.
Although, there's really no need to be paranoid when you're out on the streets, I still think it pays to be a bit more cautious of two-wheeled vehicles when you're in this city. :)
The most comfortable way to get a Vietnamese visa is by online application. The application feemay vary on some websites, but it is generally around 20-25 USD per person. After online application, your approval letter will be sent to you by e-mail. You take a print out of this letter and give it on customs office where your passport will be stamped. Another 25 USD is charged for stamp fee. You also need to fill a form and submit a passport size recently taken photo. But still, this will be less costly than applying to a Vietnamese embassy in your country.
Ice and water
I still see a lot of people refusing ice here, don't worry, expect for a few dodgey street vendors, everywhere does sell clean ice. I've seen some postings saying they saw ice in big blocks sitting under tarps of the street or being carried on the back of a bike, this is cooling ice. The drinking ice is transported alot more safely.
Tap water on the other hand is very much to be avoided, ok for brushing teeth, but if there is a heavy down pour avoid this aswell (especially in Hanoi or smaller cities). The fresh water and sewer systems have a tendency to mix if it floods.
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