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May 27, 2016

Ho Chi Minh City - A day tour in the former capital city of Vietnam

1st days of my 7 days backpacking through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar


Even though Ho Chi Minh City was only as a entrance for my trip, i kept to try enjoying every part of this city. Ho Chi minh City is a metropolitan city and consider as the most populated in the country. However, i didn't fell any annoying and busy situation like any other big city in ASEAN. It is still tolerable! this is what i like with this city. Previously, i was not aware with the name of the city then i got excited when i know that the city is named from their first leader, Ho Chi Minh.

The trips

It is my 7 days backpacking through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar on 30 April to 7 May 2016. follow the full adventure by clicking each link :

Itinerary

Day 1
  • 07: 25 - 08:20 Flight from Johor Bahru to Ho Chi Minh City by Airasia
  • 11:00 - 14:00 : Going around the city including Mekong River, Municipal Theatre, Benh Than Market, Melayu Street, Ho Chi Minh City hall
  • 14:00 - 16:00 : Going back to Hostel. It was very hot at noon
  • 16:00 - 21:00 : Going around the city including Independence palace, Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, Central Post Office and Ho Chi Minh City hall
Day 2
  • 08:00 - 20:00 : Travelling to Siem Reap with Mekong Express bus via Pnom Penh 
Getting here and around


Getting here
It is a main city in the country so a lot of transportation option for getting here. For low cost flight option, it is connected by Airasia, Nok Air, VietJet, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, Malindo and Tiger air. For land transport option, you may travel using bus from/to Laos, Cambodia and China or train from/to China. I experience with Mekong express for the bus and i give good point for them even though it is overpriced

Getting around
Actually, i just used once for public bus from Airport, Bus no 152. inside the city center, i just walked to visit all the touristy place. It is quite tiring but possible. other option, you may use public bus. The bus route has been spreads to all part of the city. You need to get familiar with the name of bus stop before you use it or just to be bold to ask the driver where you want to go. Local is kind and helpful.

Accommodation

My hostel name is 4 boys hostel, funny and weird name. I didn't know where they got inspiration of this name. Why i chose this hostel? because it was cheap, 4.5 USD/day for dormitory. The good thing is the dormitory has attached with bathroom. The bad thing is complicated route to go to the dormitory building. They have 2 separated building. The first place is for private room which is the location is pretty good and another one is for dormitory building. Both is inside a small complicated alleyway like a maze. Woman may get lost here. however, it's not a big issue

Arriving in the Airport : Get the bus! forget the taxi!


Since i read a lot of bad review for the airport taxi so i preferred taking bus to go to the Pham Ngu Lao street, known as famous backpacker/tourist street in town. It was pretty easy to get the bus. Upon exiting the international airport entrance, i turned right then walked until i found Burger king. The bus was at front of the burger king. No sign indicated the bus stop but i could clearly see the bus number. They charged me 5000 Dong! it is freaking cheap!

Local was honest and helpful. We asked where we gonna go to other passanger and they helped us to explain to the bus driver. Actually they have known where tourist usually go but our face is quite similar with the local so we had to proactive. To know that you almost arrived at the Pham Ngu Lao street is simple. When you have arrived in Benh than bus terminal means your stop is another 1 stop ahead or you just alight in the terminal because the street is just 5 minutes walking from there. How to recognize the bus terminal then? it is even simple. It is the only terminal that you will pass it or when the bus stop while a lot of bus around you...that is exactly the Benh than bus terminal!

 My random day tour

Although i didn't have fixed itinerary and just had a day, my trip in Ho Chi Minh City was pretty successful. My travel mate had searched some sightseeing place in the internet before. just recognized the iconic places at first then followed the map to get there. All place was quite nearby. 1-2 hours walking Was considered nearby for me. Just information, we started the trip at 11 AM and gave up at 2 PM because it was very hot!



Mekong River

We were looking for the halal food and heard that there were a mosque somewhere in the city. Walking with a printed map is useless. The map that we got from the hostel was not informative enough. We had tried to ask to another tourist but it brought us to the Cau mong beside Mekong River instead of the correct place. Gladly, i was able to visit this place. Another unspoiled place was that not many tourist coming here.

Just few information about Mekong river. The river is considered as the 12th longest river in the world and 7th longest in Asia. The river Runs from Tibetan Plateau in China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I think the river existence is very important. It  also become one of main transportation of this city..


Municipal Theatre

Also known as Saigon Opera House was built during french colonialism and used for entertain the colonialist. Nowadays, this European style building become place for a lot of famous opera and art performance in town. The ticket fee for the performance was quite expensive so i didn't watch the performance.

Benh Than Market

It may be the most famous Market in the city among the tourist. It is located very strategic in the city center. Lot of stall that sell goods and it must be bargained. I didn't go inside the market because the floor was being cleaned. The cleaner liquid was smelt very bad so it made me thinking twice. Every night, the street around the market is close for vehicle. It become another market.

Melayu Street

Nguyen An Ninh street, or i prefer to call it with Melayu Street, is a place where you can see a lot of Melayu people along the street. Mostly, they come for shopping. We looked for Halal food here and it was a lot of choices. We tried Pho, Vietnamese Noodle Soup. It was good and delicious! However, the meal price seems overpriced in this street.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall


It is a french colonial style building built in 1902-1908. The building is not open for public but tourist is permitted to take photograph outside the building. At the front of the city hall, there is a long plaza. It is free from vehicle so tourist will comfortably walk around the plaza. There is also a lot of shopping mall and a brand new bronze statue of the most famous leader, Uncle Ho or Ho Chi Minh, standing to greet his follower. I just aware that this city name is came from him.

I came to this place twice, during day and night. I think it was a good decision to visit this place in a different time. At day, i just see people walk around the plaza and the city hall for taking a picture or shopping. However, it was very hot to walk at mid day since there was no shelter. At night, the plaza became very crowded. It seems because of the weekend that they arranged a performance in middle of the plaza. The stage was not to high and big. Some kids and teenagers did an interesting dance and attraction. Be careful, i heard about the pickpocketing in this place

Independence palace

Every country has its dark history. You shall know about the vietnam war between the south and the north. Once, this building ever been bombed by skyrider aircraft during the war and made half of the building destroyed However, like like a wise person said that after dark, light will come. Now, the country is really peaceful and attract a lot of people to visit. Unfortunately, the original palace can not be restored again so it came a decision to demolish and commision a new building like what we can see now. it is named Independence palace.

I visited this building in the afternoon but the palace has closed for the visitor. the opening hour is start from 7.30 AM until 4 PM. I only enjoyed the building from far of the gate.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

We continued to walk to Saigon Notre Dame Basilica after visiting the palace. It is a big cathedral and famous in town. There was a mass during my visit so it was very crowded until the building could not accomodate the people. At the front of the cathedral, there is a virgin Mary statue.


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