Your 3Day Guide To Ho Chi Minh

Discover enthralling history, fantastic food, cutting-edge art galleries and a year-round party scene in one of Asia’s most exciting cities.

Touchdown Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, first thing we did after getting out their big and clean airport was to look for transport heading to district 1, Bizu Hotel our home for 3 days/2nights in Saigon.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s roughly a 40min drive (including the traffic) from airport to district 1, the backpacker’s area. We took BUS 152 just outside the airport instead of taking a taxi. Taxi costs you around 150 – 200k dong while bus is only 10k dong. Woah! Such a huge drop. And I would recommend taking a bus too than a taxi because the traffic is quite heavy. Even if you take a cab you still end up stuck in traffic. Anyhow the bus is air-conditioned, spacious and only got few passengers. Need not to worry coz it’s still comfy!

Along the way you can witness hundreds of motorbikes squeezing on the road, this explains the traffic. Err! Nevertheless, arrived in our hotel past 9 in the morning. We’re on a perfect location. District, 1 de tham street, home of the backpackers. So many tourists wandering around. At any corner were small hotels and travel agents. Food was everywhere, Cafes too. And ain’t too lucky though coz the hotel staff allowed us to check in even if it’s too early. Yay!

After everything was settled, we went for a walk around the area. And guess what? Just across our hotel, we found a great deal tour-package for the next 2 days including the afternoon tour on our day of arrival. Yuhoo! Total of 50sgd only (roughly 1800php). Hurray for cheap deals! Lol

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DAY 1: Morning

Airport Arrival around 9am
Hotel Check in by 10am
Eat local street foods
Tryclo ride for 2 hours in the main streets of the City

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DAY 1: Afternoon

Exploring the nearby streets through riding a tryclo was indeed fun. Back in our hotel for the CU CHI TUNNEL TOUR. (click to read separate post)

The daily tour package includes:
Air-conditioned Van/Mini Bus
Sightseeing with admissions as specified
English speaking tour guide
Complimentary water

Ended the tour at around 5pm and got back in our hotel by 7pm. The tour itself, travel and the congestion makes you dead tired! You need some rest, and…. oh shower. :p

On the good side, our location was perfect! Didn’t spend much time finding places to eat. So a nearby resto brought us to try their local dishes. Hunger pangs satisfied! After dinner was the most awaited rest and shower. Haha! 2 hours rest is enough though for you to be energized. Lol. And get ready to feel the night life of the City! Woohoo! Set off by 10 pm from hotel and have some cocktails in Chill Sky Bar. (the word “chill” is an understatement :p ) Awesome night indeed!20160125_225516-01[1]20160125_224824-01[1]20160125_230422-01[1]20160125_225642-01[1]image-5f49cf5de8630547bfd758db2a5b75a127c787eabad2f3a854075143a0b0f7f7-V-01[1]image-4d01bd701bd6824fa771c62797f128a7000b1fe81dc6839336d340128f36dbf9-V-01[1]20160125_225714-01[1]image-b80dacb996387772b6a99bc03367e9349997ff2a3614023482f3070213640adf-V-01[1]image-529d9fca82887ce097588370415a571cb6f695d268c870551dd81c2065c7402f-V-01[1]image-80ad186b7195fb920019d30a36854918f62b76db104396fd76698d3f5693c003-V-01[1]image-f0ed2e8be4183db144f5ed349cf07a5f4cd32b1cecb4373893f32609a461b82d-V[1]

Day 2

Rise and shine! 7.30am call for MEKONG DELTA TOUR (click to read separate post)

It was a whole day tour. Back in the hotel around 6pm. Well again, you need some shower and rest. Lol Set off by 8pm for the street food and night market outside Ben Than. Ended the night with a relaxing massage nearby hotel. I really love our location. Everything is just by foot.image-c0cfe532d180d050cb18cc08ba53ab4e806118968b332949d152c904ec9b9ec3-V-01[1]image-9ad8d4b5dd28280108e2d23d1ebb07a4ae6a8ed112d57728dc12aebc9e8731a3-V-01[1]image-cf8193c6b2e8e3271699c38dddd1b1b0e02e3c7257fb71e724b82fec0373cd44-V-01[1]

Day 3

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8am pick up time for HO CHI MINH CITY TOUR (click to read separate post). Ended around 4 in the afternoon. Need to grab a bite and have some cold drinks before saying tạm biệt.

Vietnam, a country of contradictions. It is vibrant. The cities are riots of colour and noise, packed with aromatic street food stalls and endless swarms of motorbikes. Another jam-packed adventure for me.  Cám ơn Vietnam!

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City of Saigon

Embrace the spirit of Saigon – “Pearl of the Far East “.IMG-20160127-WA0331-01

Ho Chi Minh City – former name Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city. A fast paced city with a unique mix of French colonial architecture, Chinese influences, a modern entrepreneurial spirit and numerous temples.

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The Vietnamese metropolis can intimidate you at first, but with a local to guide you on a Ho Chi Minh City tour, it’s never been easier to visit this incredible city. The city tour unravels Saigon’s raging past and provides a glimpse into the captivating variety the city has to offer.

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Morning Highlight.

The War Remnant Museum – the most popular museum in Ho Chi Minh city. For me, the museum isn’t for everyone; some of the pictures and displays are explicit and shocking.

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The brutality of war is on full effect. What is displayed there may not be suitable for the faint of heart. But if you’re interested in war history, this is definitely your place.

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Headed to Thien Hau Pagoda located inside China Town, it’s a place of great historical and cultural importance.

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Then shopping at Ben Thanh Market in city center. It offers extensive range of souvenirs and mementos. But this market is not just for the purpose to serve the tourist and travellers’ need, it’s also where the locals get their daily necessities such as fresh foods, groceries, household items and more.

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Afternoon Highlight.

The Reunification palace served as the South Vietnamese president’s home and office during the Vietnam War.

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It’s immense significance to the Vietnamese was when a Vietnamese military tank crashed the gates marking the end of America’s failed mission in Vietnam thus ending the war in April 30, 1975.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post Office – 2 most famous and oldest of classical French colonial architecture construction was built more than 100 years ago.

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The cathedral was built by the French late in the 19th century. Its design, apart from the intention to create a religious look, aims at showing the influence of French civilization and Christianity over Saigon. At the time it was built, the Basilica was the most beautiful cathedral of this kind amongst all French colonies. IMG-20160127-WA0519-01-01IMG-20160127-WA0553-01-01IMG-20160127-WA0546-01-01IMG-20160127-WA0509-02-01IMG-20160127-WA0521-01IMG-20160127-WA0544-01

All the materials were directly imported from France like red bricks of the outside walls, which retain their bright and lively red color until today.

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The beautiful colonial General Post Office facing the cathedral square was completed at about the same time as the cathedral. With its huge clock and cavernous interior, the post office has the air of an old-fashioned railway station.

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The lacquerware shop, handicrafts from handicaps. The paintings and other handicrafts were assembled by handicapped people, mostly war victims who were no longer eligible to work in offices or farms but who still wanted to earn a living.

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“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.

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The Mekong Delta Experience

A trip to Vietnam would not be complete without a trip to the Mekong Delta.IMG-20160127-WA0202-01-01[1](you don’t wanna miss that Iconic shot on a canoe ride with a conical hat right?) :p

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IMG-20160127-WA0401-01-01[1]Heading to the Mekong Delta, never miss to drop by the Mekong Rest Stop. We halted at this place, had a quick drink, bite and pee. hee! :p Much to our surprise we saw a nice landscape garden behind the resto. The place combines man-made sight with modern facility in a very natural way. Seems that all the tour buses and all the people that will go to a Mekong River Delta, stopped here.

IMG-20160127-WA0419-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0432-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0433-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0243-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0231-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0226-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0254-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0285-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0265-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0233-01[1]On arrived at My Tho, we visited Vinh Trang pagoda. It is an exquisite, restful site with beautiful gardens. It features a giant happy buddha, a giant standing buddha, and a giant reclining one.

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Welcome aboard! The leisurely boat ride along the river. Viewed the stilt houses, fruit plantations and fishing villages along the river bank. Proceeded to Tortoise islet, and finally! time to feed our hunger pangs in the orchard garden. 🙂

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Vietnamese honey tea
The canoe ride through gorgeous waterways with my conical hat. Oh yes! THIS was the Mekong Delta that I had imagined.

IMG-20160127-WA0184-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0139-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0155-01-01[1]As the local man rowing our boat took long, sure strokes to propel us through the groves of water coconut trees, we all marveled at the beauty of this part of Vietnam. Truly in awe at the simpleness and at the silence.

IMG-20160127-WA0005-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0115-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0112-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0079-01-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0078-01[1]IMG-20160127-WA0123-01-01[1]The perfect way  to get a taste of the gorgeous Vietnamese countryside is a day trip to the Mekong Delta.

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Stylishwanderer
Sometimes the journey means so much more than the destination.

 

Củ Chi Tunnels

Step back in time to experience the world of the Viet Cong with a glimpse into The Cu Chi Tunnels. It is certainly a great place to get a hands-on look at Vietnamese history. Well, I’m not a history geek nor a history lover. I even almost failed on this matter. haha :p
And to be honest, I never knew much about the Vietnam war until recently, so I’m only just getting to grips with how vast and brutal the combat was.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIMG-20160127-WA0026-02[1]IMG-20160127-WA0037-02[1]IMG-20160127-WA0066-02[1]The Cu Chi Tunnels —a dark and claustrophobic 250km underground network that helped the Southern Vietnamese hide from the Americans during the last war in Vietnam, served as a hiding place, living quarters and barracks for Vietnamese soldiers and their families during the war —

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s hard to imagine that the peaceful forest could just forty years ago have been home to so much death and destruction.

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Bamboo pikes beneath this trapdoor, back in the day splashed with poison. Whoever advanced to this area, shouldn’t be able to return to his comrades to tell about his discoveries.

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A row of holes in the ground, each full of spikes arranged in different patterns. Varied in their size, depth, and the particular way they were designed to rupture your body, but they all had one thing in common: they were utterly horrifying. I shrink away while just looking at them.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFurther into the woods, we walked past the trenches and then stopped at some old shelters.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShuffled along to the next attraction: an old American tanker.

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And apparently it was time for another photoshoot, as people took turns climbing up onto the tanker and smiling for the camera.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDuring wartime, Vietnam was ravaged and those torrid years plenty of structures, bases and monuments were completely destroyed. Cu Chi Tunnels, though, remain fairly intact and similar to how they appeared during the time of the war, making them one of the best preserved artifacts of the Vietnam/American War.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere’s the final encounter where you wou’d be crouching and crawling. Not only it’d be hot, sticky and narrow, it’d be dark. Really dark! :p

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBut don’t be afraid, 2 frail wooden stairways lead up to the daylight every 20 meters. Sadly, after the first 20 meters, felt choking, the air got tight. Not being able to stood up and just being able to walk in squatting position, drove me insane. So I flee to the daylight. Went out on the first exit, the first 20 meters coz I really wanted to breathe.

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The Rest Stop

Before I forget, when we were on the way to Cu Chi, we stopped at a local gallery disguised as a rest stop, where we had to walk through an art factory to get to the bathrooms and outside got some snacks or coffee.

It was interesting to see people working on egg shell mosaic paintings at all stages of the process – and what’s striking there was these artists were disabled. Though expensive compared from buying it at the souvenir shop at Cu CHi, think of it as a donation to them.

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I look upon it as a blessing that I was born in Philippines 1989, and not – well, almost anywhere else, at almost any other point in history. Not a day goes by where I don’t remind myself how lucky I am. Today especially.

There are some experiences you can have when you travel that really will get to you. That get deep down within you and make you think. And so this was one of those.