Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon – Vietnam

Posted: September 22, 2015 in travel
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Ho Chi Minh City.  Southern Vietnam and more touristy than Hanoi.  Flight on United Airlines cost $2550 total (including taxes and surcharges).  The single entry visa was $640 HKD per person.  Hotel – Alagon Hotels in District 1, it’s 3 hotels in one: Central, Saigon and City Point .   Alagon Central Hotel would be our home for the next few days.  Each hotel has a different entrance with a different price point but they share the same dining hall so the breakfast buffet is the same.  Ho Chi Minh is different than Hanoi, it’s more metropolitan and international so everyone here is out to make a fast buck.  Remember this.

breakfast buffet spread is broad.

breakfast buffet spread is broad.

We ordered the hotel car to pick us up from the airport, $20 USD.  I didn’t want to fight with taxis after arriving in the dead of night at 1am.  We settled on District 1 but on arrival noticed a ghost town for Friday night.

Tourist Knick Knacks – Ben Thanh square but bring patience and poker face.  Ben Tanh is the premiere tourist mecca open-air-market.  You will not find locals shopping here as it’s also rip-off central.  The food vendors are pushy and expensive with terrible quality.  The streets surrounding Ben Thanh also sell the same knick knacks at a significantly lower price point without the need to feel ashamed by lowballing.  Walk 2-3 blocks away to Saigon Square and you find the retailers offering the same wares of Ben Thanh with fixed pricing.  One example is the North Face backpack.  North Face manufactures a lot of their products in Vietnam so there is ample supply for fakes and factory seconds.  Vendor in Ben Tanh offered the bag at 900,000 VND, vendor across the street outside of Ben Tanh gave a price of $450,000 and at Saigon Square $340,000.  With the first two options, you can negotiate.

War Remnants Museum – gory.  It’s a good way to spend one afternoon.  Go early to beat the crowds.  The War Remnants museum closes for lunch from noon to 1:30.

Cu Chi Tunnels – 250,000 VND to book through the hotel.  We 14 others on the tour with us.  At the Backpackers district, the same tours can be found for 80,000 but the group size will be much larger.

Pho Hung for pho.  Do not mistake Pho Ong Hung for Pho Hung.  Pho Ong Hung has the fast food cafeteria decor with the multiple locations.   Pho Hung is reminiscent of the NA Vietnamese restaurants dining standards.  2 people with large bowls of pho and a coconut – under 200,000.  Each bowl of pho was in the 70,000 range.

Pho Hung in Vietnam HCMC District 3

Pho Hung in Vietnam HCMC District 3

Stay away from the Vietnamese pancakes.  It’s a crepe with the contents tossed inside.  Nothing special.  Greasy and terrible.  The waitress knew as soon as she took our order that we saw through the fraud.  60,000 for a small.  Lunch time on a Monday and zero local clients, all tourists.

vietnamese pancake

vietnamese pancake

IMG_20150921_143429

Dinner.  428,000 + 50,000 tip.  Steamed lemongrass clams, morning glory with garlic, fried squid and beef porridge.  Restaurant is located on the corner of Nguyen Trung Truc and Ly Tu Trong in District 1.

IMG_20150920_192153 IMG_20150920_195430

it's similar to Chiu Chow style soup rice.

it’s similar to Chiu Chow style soup rice.

Pedestrians need to pay attention while walking the sidewalk and motos use it to take short cuts and avoid traffic.  Not a care in the world.  I did not have time to dine at Lunch Lady.

scooters everywhere even on the sidewalks

scooters everywhere even on the sidewalks

 

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