Recently, a photo that I took in Ben Thanh Market (in Ho Chi Minh City) was used in an article – The World’s Best Cities for Street Food by foodandwine.com. Please head over to http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/worlds-best-cities-for-street-food/10 for the photo that is being used. Look through the whole of the slideshow to see the rest of the best cities for street food!
This is my 5th day and also the last day of my Vietnam trip. If you like to see the last 4 days of my trip, please do click here. Above photo shows the corridor of Elios Hotel (which I am staying) – I was pretty satisfied with the overall experience (clean and good location) but just that sometimes it does get rather noisy in the wee hours when other guests return after a “night out”. Some guests also smoke at the corridor and the ciggie smell can get into the room. Not good for those whose are light sleepers or have sensitive nose!
Free wireless is available to all hotel guests. Took this while going for breakfast.
We do not have much on the itinerary today as basically we just want to rest/relax and do some shopping. This is also the reason why we woke up slightly later than usual. 🙂
After our breakfast, we went to nearby Highlands Coffee to laze around and also have their famous Vietnamese Coffee. Photo above is showing the 2nd floor of Highlands Coffee at De Tham street (near to Pham Ngu Lao St).
For smokers, you may want to check out the outside seats where you can sip you coffee and see traffic buzzing by. Yeah, the Highlands Coffee is directly opposite Allez Boo (See “A Day in Ho Chi Minh City” for my visit there). Noticed that there are lots of overhanging wires around?
Traditional Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, served with the tin dripper. VND 28,000.
Ca phe sua nong (Vietnamese: cà phê sữa nóng) — literally, “hot coffee with milk”.
After lazing at Highlands Coffee for an hour, we took a taxi to Cho Binh Tay (Binh Tay Market) which is the main market of Cho Lon (Chinatown). Taxi ride costs VND 70, 000 from Highlands Coffee at De Tham street.
Many shops are available here! Decided to quickly head inside the market to escape from the scorching sun.
Ladies, any handbags for you?
Rows of dried food and spices for sale!
Bags, backpacks and travel luggage can all be found here! My partner bought a “The North Face” branded backpack here at VND 180,000.
Store layout – it’s quite a large market with 2 floors selling a vast variety of products ranging from food, bags, shoes, slippers. Look at the bottom of the chart.
Hats for sale! As it was a hot day, we bought 2 hats (each at VND 30,000). Should have gotten it during our first day not the last day! Haha! But anyway it’s fine, we will use it for other upcoming trips.
Exploring the 2 floor of Binh Tay Market.
Chinese pagoda/structure at the middle of Binh Tay Market.
View of Binh Tay Market from the opening area in the middle.
Dragon statue sprouting water in a pond with fishes…
Public bus? We took a taxi from here and the taxi driver really took us for a ride by going round in circles thinking that we don’t know. Then, I purposely took out the map to check and then in less than 3 mins, we reached Ben Thanh Market.
Pho 2000 is the reason why we are coming to Ben Thanh Market area. The restaurant’s slogan is “Pho for the President” and this is because was honored by a visit from former United States President Bill Clinton in 2000.
After the lunch, since we are nearby to Ben Thanh Market, so decided to walk around for last minutes buys.
Food stalls at Ben Thanh Market. I forgot to try the glass dessert (che) here…heard that it was nice… 🙁
For coffee lovers, there is large variety of pre-mixed coffee powder for your selection.
Souvenirs and handicrafts are also available too!
Of course, how can Ben Thanh Market not have the girl’s stuffs such as handbags, purse, hair accessories, etc.
Walking back to Elios Hotel to take a break. There wasn’t much people around as it’s a Sunday and they are likely to be lazing at home.
After the short break, we venture out to look for a manicure shop that we passed by several days ago as my partner wanted to do her nails. Passing by Crazy Buffalo Saigon again.
Another nearby restaurant and bar, Go 2 Eat.
Walking along Le Lai street. The manicure shop which my partner wanted to go is closed. Haha…
Fruit seller along the streets.
Wet market where the locals purchase their daily groceries. We did pass by this area in the night before and it was really rowdy and gives my my partner an insecure feeling!
Pocha Korean Restaurant, seems to me that there are quite a lot of Korean restaurants around. Probably, it’s due to the influx of Koreans working in Ho Chi Minh City.
On our way back along Pham Ngu Lao, there were several fire engines on the road which was creating quite a scene. My partner said maybe it’s our hotel that caught fire and I quickly dismissed the thought. The fire engines was blaring their sirens as if something drastic had happened but after their loitering around the area for a few minutes, they left! Maybe it was a false alarm?
Anyway, we headed towards Sasa Cafe (242 De Tham Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) for dinner. It’s our second time here in 5days! See here for the first visit.
Having the delicious spring rolls (10 pieces) again VND 33,000.
Enchiladas VND 62,000. Also had 2 x Saigon beer (VND 15,000 each) and 1 Dalat red wine (VND 22,000). Total for the dinner is VND 195,000. After dinner, we went back to hotel early to do packing up and also to have an early night as our flight back to Singapore is at 9am. We need to leave from hotel around 7.30am to cater additional time just in case we are caught in traffic jam.
Woke up, eat breakfast, checked out and then took a cab to the airport for VND 120,000 (fixed price). It was due to the hotel bellboy asking whether I need a taxi to the airport, which I replied “Yes”. I thought he was going to help us flagged down a taxi (using meter) but instead he bought us over to another taxi which promptly asked for VND 120,000. As I don’t want to be late for my flight, so I accepted without any haggling. My estimation that it will cost around VND 95,000 during 0730am.
Checked-in and waiting for our JetStar flight to arrive from Singapore (which will route back to Singapore).
Boarding the plane for our journey back home.
The overall trip was fun and amazing even though the weather was really hot. Next time we will be more prepared!
There are a few places or activities which I planned but didn’t visit or do respectively, namely
- Visit “Reunification Palace“.
- Try “Jolly Spa” at 38 Mac Dinh Chi Street, Q1, HCMC”
- Visit “Quan An Ngon at 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 – a food-court layout but with various small stalls each whipping their specialties. Prices are inexpensive.
- Eat “Bang Chang” – heard it’s nice and made primarily of vegetables, much like salad.
- Eat “Glass dessert (che)” at Ben Thanh Market.
- Explore more at Vung Tau (beaches, temples, statue of Jesus, seafood, etc.)
Well, it’s fine as it gives us another reason (other then the cheap and tasty beers) to return to Ho Chi Minh City. I also heard great feedback from fellow travelers about Dalat and Halong Bay! Both places will be in my next itinerary for sure! Might even add Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) if my partner (cannot take hot weather) is not joining!
Until next time then, Vietnam!
Hey all! It’s been a while since I last updated my blog as I have been mulling over some plans for work. Now that it’s been sorted out, it’s back to blogging again! So here I am at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 for my flight on JetStar to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. It was an early morning flight at 0725, which means that I reached around 6am. Anyway, while waiting for boarding, I went to Burger King to have breakfast – purely for the caffeine (coffee) to keep me awake. Zzzzz…!
Journey from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City was pretty short, reached in less than 2hours. Timing in Ho Chi Minh City is earlier by 1 hour so I gained another hour. Once I passed through the customs, I went to exchange some Vietnamese Dong taking taxi to hotel as I only have US Dollar. Please note that there are some money changers who charge a commission on top of the exchange rate. Go for those that do not have such practices!
At the outside of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. It is the largest airport in Vietnam and operates from two terminal buildings – Domestic Terminal 1 and International Terminal 2. Towards the far right end (photo) of the airport is where you can take taxis. I was advised not to take any taxis which do not go by meter as they charge exorbitant prices. Even those that have meters in their taxi, make sure they on it before the journey starts. Safest bet is to go for reputable taxis like Vinasun or Mai Linh. You can approach the taxi wardens for help to get taxis – Mai Linh wardens are in green shirt green tie and Vinasun warden are in dark green shirt maroon tie.
On a Vinasun taxi going to our hotel which is located at Pham Ngu Lao street, which is known for it’s affordable guest houses, mini-hotels, tourist agencies, bars and cafes. The journey took around half hour and costs VND 120,000. Actually, it was around VND 110,000 but normally taxi drivers do not return change so make sure you have small notes on hand.
Reached Elios Hotel and was lucky that we are able to check-in despite it’s way too early from the usual check-in timing. I made the reservations at S$58 per night for 01 Standard Double Bed room (inclusive of daily buffet breakfast and all taxes) through a contact in Vietnam. The rates are reasonable and rooms are clean. Hehe!
Elios Hotel – TV (many channels available) and wardrobe area. There is free in-room WIFI (WEP-secured) available too!
Elios Hotel – Shower area. Very clean!
Elios Hotel – Wash basin area. Toiletries such as shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush, etc are all available.
Elios Hotel – Toilet area. Comes with a note – Cleaned and Disinfected!
After putting our stuffs in the hotel and rested for a short while, we walk over to TheSinhTourist (established since 1993 and formerly known as SinhCafe) to make bookings for our tours for the next 2 days. You can also book over the internet but I prefer to check it out in person since it’s nearby 🙂
- For the following day: 1 Day Cao Dai Temple & Cu Chi Tunnels (VND 120,000/person)
- For the following day after next:1 Day Cai Be – Vinh Long via the Mekong Delta (VND 210,000/person)
The SinhTouristOffice 1 is at 246 – 248 De Tham St., Dist. 1, HCMC which is less than 5mins walk from Elios Hotel. It have to be near our hotel as the tours departs early in the morning (around 8am) and you have to be there at least 15mins prior to departure.
Walking around Ho Chi Minh City towards our next destination.
Petrolimex gas station.
Passing by Ben Thanh Market.
Fruits for sale nearby to Ben Thanh Market.
Cobbler peddling his wares along the pavement.
Looks like a nice place to relax and hang around in the afternoon. 🙂
Walking around Reunification Palace (on the right), wherer you can enter from 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. It is open daily 7:30AM-11:00AM, 1PM-4PM and also known as Independence Palace (this is the old name). Entry VND 15,000. Love this stretch of road as there isn’t much people around. Hehe!
Facade of War Remnants Museum.
Effects of Agent Orange – deaths, disabilities and children born with birth defects. Sigh….
Weapons used during Vietnam War.
Bomb shell casing used during Vietnam War.
On the 2nd floor, there is a room which showcase the collection of documentary photos by Japanese photographers – Ishikawa Bunyo and Goro Nakamura.
U.S. OUT OF S.E.ASIA NOW – One of the many posters which are framed-up.
Another U.S. Air Force plane.
Tanks used during Vietnam War.
Of course, not forgetting heavy artillery!
Nam Phan Vietnamese Cuisine – A very nice and expensive looking building. Haha!
Another building, it caught my attention due to the “Shanghai” word. 🙂
One of the numerous lunch time spots for that the locals usually go to.
Passing by Water Puppet Show at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre (nearby to Reunification Palace).
Having our lunch at Pho 24, a Vietnamese noodle restaurant chain which can be found easily around Ho Chi Minh City and other areas. It serves quality Pho and also air-conditioned; the perfect place to hide from the sunny weather. 🙂
Dwarf Sugar Cane VND 12,000. Very refreshing!
Notre Dame Cathedral, constructed between 1863 and 1880.
The interior of Notre Dame Cathedral. As a tourist, you are only allow as far as where I take the photos from, unless you are going in to pray.
The elegant interior Saigon Central Post Office. We took a rest here for a while, to escape from the scorching afternoon sun. 🙂
Row of ATMs hidden within old phone booths. There are also stamps and souvenirs are from the counters as well as currency exchange.
Feeling thirsty, we went to nearby Lavazza to have some drinks and tt was quite empty. 🙂
Actually I wanted to have soft drinks, but went for Saigon Beer instead. My first beer in Ho Chi Minh City and it was at one of the more expensive places to have it! ^_^”
There seem to be quite a number of Lotteria around in Ho Chi Minh City. I managed to chance upon one inside Diamond Plaza and decided to stop for a snack as I didn’t have enough during lunch. The last time I ate Lotteria was about 2 years back when I visited South Korea and had the delicious Hanwoo Bulgogi Burger (made with Korean beef). Oh man, I am salivating as I am typing this! Haha!
Can’t really remember how much is the set above but it’s somewhere around VND 53,000 and it comes with 1 ice-cream cone which was delivered to us automatically after we finish the meal. Excellent service!
Normal beef burger. Nice but can’t compare to the superb Hanwoo Bulgogi Burger! 😛
We had a long walk around Ho Chi Minh City and was feeling tired so decided to head back to hotel to rest. Probably, it’s due to the early waking at 4.30am to catch our flight and also the hot weather. Passing by Ben Thanh Market on our way back and bought a few T-Shirts (haggling is a definite must!). Also, we bought 6 big bottles of mineral water from a shop nearby our hotel for VND 30,000. Need to stay hydrated!
After watching TV in the hotel for 1 hour, it’s time for dinner and we went to nearby Allez Boo at 197 Pham Ngu Lao. Allez Boo is one of Ho Chi Minh City‘s most popular cafe and bar (open 24 hours). The most interesting feature is that the exterior as well as the inside of the bar is made from bamboo. I am seated at 3rd floor (roof) and have a fantastic view of watching the crazy traffic as well as people go by. Prices at Allez Boo are relatively higher, it’s the premium to pay for the ambiance, music and view!
Allez Boo – Trying out 333 beer at VND 40,000.
Allez Boo – Fish Fillet at VND 107,000.
Allez Boo – Chicken Cordon Bleu at VND 107,000.
Allez Boo – Wanted to try Hanoi Beer but it was out of stock. So I went for BGI at VND 40,000.
Allez Boo – Banana shake for my partner at VND 20,000. Overall experience at Allez Boo was good, food was tasty and we had our dinner with a great view. As a tourist, I think you just have to try it once! We didn’t stay out too late as we need to wake up around 6.30am to freshen up, have breakfast and then walk to TheSinhTourist for our 1 Day Cao Dai Temple & Cu Chi Tunnels tour which departs at 8.15am. Look out for the next blog post on the coverage!