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Pearl of the Far East – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Motorbikes, yes motorbikes! Millions of motorbikes, scooters, bicycles and vehicles will just pass by every now and then. That was the first thing I observed in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, it was like a swarm of bees! The streets were busy and vibrant. Foods are really different. The destinations are amazing. It is like a new world for me.

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Bui Vien Street
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The busy streets of Vietnam. This photo was taken by me while riding the taxi from airport to our hotel
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Various delicious choices

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named and still also referred to as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. It was named after the revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh.
Together with my sisters, Charisse Hazel Ann and Ma. Monica Chelsea, we stayed in Vietnam for 4 days. We never missed any chance to discover this country, we had lots of activities and exciting itineraries. Here’s a list of ‘what to do’ and ‘where to go’ for you to enjoy Vietnam.

WHERE TO GO:

1. Ben Thanh Market
After eating our dinner on our first night at Saigon, with only a map and with the help of the locals we found Ben Thanh market. This is a must-see place, there are many fun clothing and food stands. The price in here are quite expensive so negotiate hard.

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Sweet and colorful Bành tèt (sticky rice) sold beside the Ben Thanh Market

2. Cu Chi Tunnels
We had half-day tour at Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were utilized by the Vietnamese soldiers (Viet Cong soldiers) for them to hide during wars and it served as a passage and a supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.

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A secret refuge of the soldiers
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Traps made by the Viet Cong soldiers

3. Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral also known as the Saigon Church, is a Catholic church in a largely Buddhist country.
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4. Saigon Central Post Office
On the other side of the church is the splendid Post Office. This structure was designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is always mistakenly credited to Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer who designed and oversaw construction of the Eiffel Tower.
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Inside the Central Post Office

5. Saigon Square
Saigon square is the best place to buy “pasalubong”. The vendors offer low prices and still negotiable.
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6. Vinh Trang Temple
Before going to Mekong Delta we had a short stop at Vinh Trang Temple, it is a Buddhist temple near Mỹ Tho in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. In here, there are 3 large Buddhas, a giant happy Buddha, a giant standing Buddha, and a giant reclining Buddha.

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The happy Buddha
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The reclining Buddha

7. Mekong Delta
You need to ride a boat to reach Mekong Delta which is the Southern most part of Vietnam. We had some stops at different places to witness the Vietnamese culture. We went to some factories where they make their products like coconut candies, bành tràng (rice wrapper), woodcarves, snake wines and more. 
After having lunch, we went to Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta river is a 60,000 kilometer long web of interconnected waterways, which span across three Vietnamese provinces. We had the chance to ride ‘sampans’ to have a short tour in the river. Unfortunately it was raining hard, we were all wet and didn’t have very good photos.

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The boat that brought us to Mekong River
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Coconut candy Factory, Snake wine, Honey Juice and some of the Vietnamese cultures

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WHAT TO DO:
1. Eat Vietnam’s best street foods. Street food is a major part of Vietnamese culture.
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2. Don’t miss the Saigon beer!
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3. Buy a non la or Vietnam’s infamous hats
4. Shop until you drop
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5. Drink snake wine
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Visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is so much fun. You can learn a lot from their culture and practices. Their history is very rich. Next time when you visit this place, you will know why it is the ‘Pearl of the Far East.’

TIPS and NOTES:
1. The best time to visit Vietnam is Summer.
2. You will become a millionaire there. (Hihihi)
3. Be cautious especially when crossing the road.
4. Philippine time is 1 hour ahead of Vietnam.
5. Don’t let the local vendors scheme you so always ask for prices beforehand.
6. Practice how to haggle hard.
7. There are many motorbikes. They just park anywhere, with no locks like nobody will take it because they have their own. It is really different in the Philippines.
8. There is a Jollibee outlet in Vietnam!
9. There are tons of money changers and ATM’s.
10. There are many travel and tour agencies which can help you to organize your trip.
11. Some taxi drivers lie to you. Take the honest ones like Vinasun.
12.Always show gratitude. ‘Càm ón’ is the Vietnamese word for thank you. We were thought to say it as “Kah-mung.”
13. Be wary.
14. Be bold.
15. Enjoy

TRIP DETAILS:

Accommodation/Hotel:

Yen’s Hotel 2

#65 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam

email: yenshotel2@yahoo.com.vn

Travel and tours:

SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS

#266 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam

 


When we visit a place, let us all adhere to the motto:
“Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time. Leave nothing but footprints.”
If you have questions, ask me and feel free to leave comment in the comment box.
Thank you for reading, please check my other blog entries too!

About the author

Aspiring to travel as much as she aspires to pursue her dreams, Hannah is fascinated with planned adventures and shares tidbits of her travel experiences and photographs on this website. Outside of travel, she mastered finishing an entire season of a TV series in one go or replenishes her soul by indulging herself in reading well-written novels and substantial non-fiction books.

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