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Archive for October, 2007

saigon.jpg

Airline:
We took UA airlines to HCMC and it costs us around $1900HKD incl. tax. The flight schedule is a bit weird: hkG->HCM 20h00; HCM->HKG 06h00..so we departed on Friday night and came back on tuesday morning.

Visa:
The inconvenience of going to Vietnam is we have to apply Visa to get there…single entry $300HKD. The Vietnamese Embassy is located in Wanchai Road, It takes about three working days for the visa ready.

Currency:
I prepared US dollars before I left Hong Kong as I am told that the exchange rate is better if I sell USD instead of HKD, and it is true, though we could still be able to exchange HKD to Dong (Viet currency) in the airport. Nevertheless USD is widely accepted in many places and the exchnage rate (Oct 2007) is 1USD = 16,000 Dong. Well..as you see, the amount is not small when we handle Dong, what we did is that we neglect the last 3 zero and then divide the number by 2, then it is equivalent to HKD (i.e. 16,000 Dong = 8 HKD = 1USD)

Tips for getting out of the airport to the town:
Taxi is the most convenient way to go to the downtown, it costs about 5-6USD, and the airport is very close to the center; about 20-30 mins journey and it recalls my memory of Kei Tak Airport in Kownloon City before 1997…

Accommodation:
I booked my hotel in advance through internet, I found “hotel-in-vietnam.com” is quite good as it shows you the location map with all hotels. It is quite easy to pick one if the priority of the hotel is location

http://www.hotels-in-vietnam.com/hotels/saigon/district_1_map.html

I picked Spring House Hotel in Pham Ngu Lao. Pham Ngu Lao is a street for pubs and backpacking stuff..like local travel agency, cheap internet access, fake lonely planet books etc. Of course budget hotels are everywhere around Pham Ngu Lao. Spring House Hotel is clean, well-located, hair dryer is provided (very important to me!). A room is about 27USD per night for a “Deluxe” style. I think Duna Hotel is also good too….

Other than budget hotels, all luxurious hotels are centered around district 1, Rex Hotel (next to The City Office and behind Statue of Ho Chi Minh) probably is the most famous one while Majestic Hotel and Riverside Hotel are superb…(I wouldn’t dare to check the rate….)

Travel around the city:
Famous things are all in walkable distance. We stayed in Pham Ngu Lao, we walked to Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Catheral, War Remnant Museum, then we took a bicycle taxi to the riverside. It is a fun experience (20,000dong for a ride).

Taxi is still the most easy thing to get on and off….

My boyfriend is brave enough to hire a motorbike and honestly I would recommend this as it is the real way to experience HCMC. I felt I was a local and it is not difficult to travel around, despite it poured on the day we rode, my map was wet but I could still find our way!!

FOOD:
Beef Noodles..beef Noodles….beef Noodles…..I love it!!!!!! Pho 24 and Pho 2000 (Pho means noodles) are everywhere, just pop in and menu with pictures are for all of us – handicapped tourists!!

French food:
We tried La Fouchelle, it is very classic french cuisine with chef recommendations. No disappointment at all!
L’en Tete is located in very local area and it is on 1st floor…It is closed on sundays so we missed this resto.
Augustin is the budget french resto, according to all guide books.

Xu Lounge is a fushion Vietnamese international resto, situated at 71-75 Hai Ba Trung. Very hip but I find it is not very amazing except the good service and nice decor…

Party:
Allez Boo is the landmark of Pham Ngu Lao (junction between De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao) with its sparkling lightings on the tress and the bamboo design. It is always crowded with people, some hunting women, and a dancing hip-hop kid (3-yr-old)!
Go2 Bar is near Allez Boo and it shares the same owner with Allez Boo…but apparently there was a horrible story about a tourist being tortuned by the staff..so..I didn’t go there
Q Bar Saigon is located next to the music theatre and it is a very hip bar, just like Soho style…
Apocalypse Now is wanchai style bar or I would say Insonmia style…so you know what I mean…

Details of these clubs can be found in wikitravel…

Must go:
Ben Thanh Market: where we can find all home decors, coffee beans, snacks, frabics, clothes……at night they have seafood stalls outside the market, it looks good to me however I didn’t have chance to have a try…

Notre Dame Catheral: Nothing more than having european feeling in a SE Asia country…

Mekong River Trip: We took one day trip to Mekong River (My Tho and Ben Tre; 75km away from HCMC) with a local tour (30 people in one tour; USD7 per person including everything). It is nice to have a small boat to travel along the small canal of Mekong River, to have a bicycle ride around the village (unfortunately we were lost and we almost missed the boat).

Cu Chi Tunnel: Another famous one day trip for tourists like us who only have a short trip. It is the tunnel which local people built during the war…

Cao Dai Temple: It is always included in cu chi tunnel trip, and it is a very colourful temple with lots of strange design in which all religions are accepted.

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