Six weeks ago we left for Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam and as we mentioned we we’re so bloody excited. Well, needless to say we are well in truly back to reality and are experiencing some serious post holiday blues. Life is super hard right now so we are already deciding on where to go next AND WE ALSO HAVE A WEDDING TO PLAN!
Vietnam was possibly the most inspiring place we have visited (not that we have travelled many places – but run with it) – it was BEYOND AMAZING and we cannot recommend it enough! It had the most breathtaking landscapes, intriguing culture and in insane amount of people who were genuinely welcoming, friendly and helpful (despite some scammers who we naively trusted).
I would encourage you to make sure Vietnam is on your bucket list, in order to help you in your planning we’ve put together where we went, what we did, where we stayed and what food you MUST try.
We were so pleased with how we planned the trip, what we planned/booked before we went and what we left until we got there. It was a perfect amount of time and it meant we were able to stop, relax and explore each place really well.
Our three-week itinerary went along the lines of the below:
- Ho Chi Minh – 3 nights
- Mekong Delta – 1 night
- Hanoi – 3 nights
- Ha Long Bay – 1 night
- Hoi An – 5 nights
- Hue – 1 night
- Nha Trang – 4 nights
So that this isn’t an actual novel we’ll post each destination as a separate blog so bare with. Anywho, we’ll stop ramblin – grab that cuppa and ENJOY!
First stop, Ho Chi Minh City – formally known as Saigon.
We arrived into Ho Chi Minh International Airport around 7.30pm local time after a 12-hour flight. We didn’t have much/no sleep on the plane meaning we were both extremely exhausted and exceedingly vulnerable. This was clearly written on our foreheads as we stumbled out the international arrivals gate and stepped into the humidity, heat and utter chaos. There were people yelling at us left, right and centre if we wanted a taxi however we knew to ignore them all and make a B-line for the proper taxi stand – all we remember from Bali is TRUST NO ONE!
Anyway, it all began when we ignored what we knew and this gentleman approached us, he offered a good price to get to the city which we knew was about right (which by the way is approx.. 200,000 dong = $12NZD). Once we got to the car it had no signage or meter in it and he asked for the money as soon as we hoped in (something just didn’t seem right anyway we were hopeful as we just wanted to get to our AirBnB). Well, cut a long story short and a few laps of the car park later we were asked to hop out of his car and into his mates car as he was “heading home” – it was all just a bit weird and did not seem right at all so we made a run for it, went back to the taxi stand and on to the next taxi scammer… Now, this guy bloody charged us 800,000 dong ($50 NZD) for a ride to the city (probably fed his family for like a year so from the way we look at it, it was a nice donation on our behalf). It was our mistake by not hitting him up sooner about the meter going up in 100,000 ($6NZD) instead of 10,000 ($0.50) but anyway, we quickly learnt our lesson and it just shows how you just cannot let your guard down in these countries. Pretty hilarious when we look back on it now, but definitely quite curious as to what would have happened with the first guy who probably would have sold us to his mates and stole everything we had.
To be quite honest, we found HCMC very overwhelming to begin with, it wasn’t exactly a welcoming arrival and great first impression. We are not sure if it was because we were still on edge about being kidnapped and scammed again, or whether it was just us still trying to unwind from a hectic few months at work – however we made the most of it and would recommend it to everyone.
We stayed at The Bunker – Bed and Breakfast, which we found through AirBnB and it was PERFECT! They have 3 different rooms being The Studio, The Suite and The Writers Loft, which we managed to snatch up for our 3 nights. Located in District 1, down a quiet side street and full time security – it was perfect. Our host Long was awesome – he was super helpful, friendly, welcoming, spoke great english and nothing was too much trouble.
The next two days were spent exploring HCMC, finding our feet, soaking up the culture, eating lots of pho, and visiting iconic locations within the historical city. We ended up haggling with the locals for a cyclo tour of the city, which enabled us to see all the beautiful sights such as:
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Saigon Central Post Office
- Independence Palace
- War Remnants Museum
- Jade Emperor Pagoda
- Ben Thanh Market
We would totally recommend something like this (Cyclo Tour), we probably paid too much ($60 NZD) but it was like 3 hours of some poor bloke pushing us round in like 37-degrees. It also meant we didn’t have to navigate ourselves to see everything as it would have taken us 3 times as long with a few arguments along the way as we’re both so bloody stubborn and I have no sense of direction– so all in all it was a win win and a couple of great days.
Our standout restaurants, bars and eateries in HCMC were:
- Racha Room
- Asian Kitchen
- Pho Le Restaurant – BEST PHO EVER!
- Trung Nguyen Legend Coffee Shop
- Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar
Looking back Ho Chi Minh was personally not our favourite city, quite possibly it was because there was a billion things happening at once, it was impossible to cross the road and it was all a little stressful to begin with. However, we would definitely recommend a few days either side of your trip as the city has a lot to offer in terms of shops, nightlife, history and of course the delicious food.
Anyway, apologies once again for the novel but hope you enjoyed reading about our time in Saigon – stay tuned and next up … THE MEKONG DELTA!
L & A