Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
We flew to Ho Chi Minh with Viet Jet airways, which was fine for a budget airline with no frills attached. The flight was only about an hour and the weather was so much better than rainy Hue. Ho Chi Minh is named after the General Ho Chi Minh, but most people that live there still call it Saigon.
We got a metered taxi from the airport which cost 240,000dong and took about 45minutes. From our first impressions, I already liked Ho Chi Minh, it seemed more modern and clean. There were lots of coffee shops and fashionable clothing stores. Most people seemed to take care of themselves and there were lots of young people scooting around.
We will not mention our accommodation as we would not recommend it, but definitely get a hotel near the main backpacker street you will be in a great location.
Most of the time we walked around and as it was close to new year’s eve there were lots of extra things going on, like: live music, extra food stalls and a pop market on the backpacker street.
For our first day, we booked a Mekong Delta day tour through Travel Mate. Honestly, this was our worst tour. Jackie had found it online and had good reviews however, when we actually got to the Mekong Delta it felt so fake and a massive TOURIST TRAP. Our guide was nice enough and spoke good English but the tour on the river was not.
As soon as you arrive, you feel like you’ve been ripped off, it’s all set up for you to try lots of nice things and then you get offered to buy it. It wouldn’t be so bad but it’s like the people there aren’t really that bothered. For example, one place we were asked to sit they sang two short Vietnamese songs, then sang ‘if your happy and you know it’ and then put a basket on our table and stood there waiting for us to give them some money.
Lunch was included which was nice but we were slightly put off our food as we had just seen a snake be killed and a tourist eat it’s heart. Apparently, some Vietnamese people drain the blood and drink it make them stronger. It was so sickening I couldn’t watch and I didn’t see the point in this and again it felt like they just did it for tourists. There was also a random pit with crocodiles…so strange.
On the way back we stopped at a Pagoda with a giant Buddha. The gardens were quite pretty and it is a sacred place for the locals. On the way back we were sat contemplating how we felt about the day. We jointly decided that it felt completely fake and the best part was meeting a lovely family who were also on the tour!
New Year’s Eve was crazy! We had heard about the fireworks being cancelled this year, which was a real shame, but apparently the money saved on the fireworks was going to the poor… I hope so. Jackie and Luke stumbled across a rooftop bar literally a stones throw from our hotel, in the Zen Plaza, and it wasn’t extortionate to buy a drink. It was pretty much empty when we first arrived but a few hours later the place was rammed with young smart looking locals.
We managed to glimpse the last light of the sun going down and enjoyed a few drinks before getting ready to go out and eat at the street food ‘pop-up’ market, located on the backpacker street.
For midnight, we headed to the main backpacker street and all the surrounding roads were absolutely packed. It was quite funny because every now and again sparklers and Catherine wheels were set off right in the middle of a crowd of people, how no one got hurt was truly amazing.
It was so rammed and almost scarily packed we managed to literally push and force our way out of the big crowd, to a less busy part of the road. We celebrated the new year and headed back to the hotel before the stampede of people and wave of scooters washed down the road.
We booked a tour with Tam Hanh Travel Company, to go and see the Chu Chi Tunnels which were used during the Vietnam War. It was good value and our tour guide ‘John Wayne’ was hilarious. The only thing about getting a coach tour is that taking your turn to go through the tunnels takes quite a while. You also had to pay an extra 110,000dong pp. when you got to the tunnels for the entrance ticket.
You can also pay to fire guns at a shooting range. Luke had really wanted to do this and in the end we all ended up having a go! No health and safety rules here, just ear defenders!
Among the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh was the War Remnants Museum, which cost 30,000dong pp. The museum displays weapons and vehicles left behind by the Americans, it also shows horrifically graphic photographs of Vietnamese people affected by the chemical ‘Agent Orange’. It was probably the most eye-opening thing we had seen alongside the COPE Centre, in Laos. It was very upsetting and once on the top floor you walk around numb from seeing so much suffering. We saw children walking around with their parents and we would definitely NOT go with children. Although, they might understand some aspects of war the images are disturbing.
Baba’s Indian Restaurant– delicious authentic Indian food, great service and reasonably prices- free wifi
Vuvuzela (rooftop bar/restaurant), Zen Plaza– amazing views of the city especially at sunset as the buildings light up. Drinks and food are not too expensive for a rooftop bar- free wifi
Cai Gi Do-yummy Vietnamese food and western food-decent price- free wifi
Journey’s Sandwich Café– amazing banh mi sandwiches, modern and stylish café, very clean and great service with a smile- free wifi
Street food-any food near the backpacker street
- Metered taxi from the airport– 240,000dong
- Mekong Delta Tour- 750,000dong pp.
- War Remnants Museum– 30,000dong pp.
- Chu Chi Tunnels Tour with Tam Hanh Travel Company– 110,000dong for entrance to the tunnels and about $5USD for the bus and guide
- Sleeper Bus to Mui Ne also booked through Tam Hanh Travel Company