TRAVEL: Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City (S$500 ALL IN for 4 Days 3 Nights)

My humble and sincere thank you to all of you who have visited my blog and got me to 67K visitors! This meant a lots to me though I do not received any rewards lol... But this gonna be a new beginning! Out of boredom and out of idea on what to blog, I recalled that back in 2019, I made 2 trips back to back in Aug to Korea and Nov to Vietnam. I have shared on my personal Facebook about this short trip to Vietnam and I just thought about sharing more in depth about this trip on my blog. 

Ok...before I begin, what do you think about Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam? To me (in bullet points below), you may list down your own thoughts if you have not been there and tally against my blog if what you expected and you read on my blog are the same...then, you may have the idea about what you can expect...
  • War torn country
  • Great food
  • Friendly people
  • Antiques
  • Magnificent landscapes / building / historic
That's what my little mind came about if you're asking me about Vietnam (I never been to Vietnam). But, allow me to share at the differences.

This trip is somehow serve like a liberating and recollecting myself. It has been a real hard and rough ride since my break up back in Nov 2018. For the last 6 years of expensive relationship, I barely travel anywhere. Anyway, what happen had happened and no point bragging since turning back or talking about it make no sense...So, I was saying about liberating and recollecting myself huh...

I wanted to be liberated from unwanted troubles, obstacles, annoying matters and also find my passion back as I found out that I'm becoming someone else. Tailgating other's life and trying to be like them. I'm more than aware that I can never be like them even if I tried. Well...I did try and it still push me back to where I am...So! My travel buddy wanted some short getaway since our first trip to Indonesia in 2018. YES! We planned and here we GO VIETNAM!!!

This short 4 days 3 nights trip is packed of surprises! All start from the moment we touched down! Did we over spent? I guess not!

Did I mentioned that Vietnam looks really cool from the plane?

My first encounter of Vietnam's bird view is when I'm on my journey to Korea in August 2019 where I have an hour of transit at Vietnam. I was literally blown away for its jam packed population! I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing but I'm really run out of words to describe such view... Just WOW!

Anyway, let's go back to Nov's Vietnam trip.

Since you're here, here's some friendly tips for you who haven't been there.

1. Transport - go with trusted ride hailing apps like Grab or any other similar apps that allows you... They even offers the ride on motorcycle! But I won't recommend you to go on this if you're dragging big ass bag...
2. Jewelleries - shake all off or take the risk of being snatch :)
3. Trust no one who just come to you as they will do their best to persuade you to take up their offer... what they offering? You'll be surprise! I'll share more later...

4. Crossing road - literally on your own risk!

Touching down to HCMC, my initial thought is, let's get to our AirBnb at Ben Thanh District 1 which take about 30 mins from airport. Bracing through the heavy traffic and multiple of mini heart attack of how they can get so close to each other on the road is a real eye opening!

Nevertheless, we reached our first stop safe and sound... After check in, dump our bags, a small tour of our apartment, we head out to hunt for local food. As we came prepare with medicine should we suffer food poisoning and also Travel Insurance, we don't give any damn about street food, we see, we feast, pay and we move on. 

Our first stop is a food stall by the road side behind our nest. It doesn't look anything that attracted us. We were here just to try out. Taste is just fine, nothing fantastic really...

Notice that I'm wearing my gold necklace in both top and bottom photo? I decided to remove it after a random local guy approached us while we are trying to make our way to our next stop which is The Notre D'ame Cathedral.  *brags mood on*

This early 40s guy stop us when on pedestrain and asked where we from on his motorcycle. We told him that we are from Malaysia and all of sudden, he start saying some Malay word... He claimed that he used to work in Shah Alam about a decade back. When he saw that I'm wearing my gold necklace, he told me not to wear any expensive jewelleries as this will invites dangers. After a brief chit and chat, he started showing some old note book that show "reviews" in various of languages and he claimed this is from his previous customers (assumed that he managed to hook us up, we will be his next customer liao lor?). Slowly, he pulled out a file filled with lots of tourist attraction places around HCMC and he will be giving us special $$$ rate since we are from somewhere he called 2nd home once. The rate? Oh...I'm good to tour on feet...(I rejected his offer)

I walked away after thanking him for his kind reminder to remove my necklace. As I see he glides away on his motorcycle against the heavy traffic, I removed my necklace (try to do it secretly but I'm not sure if someone already eyed on me), keep in my bag and continue my journey. 

(the entire exchange with him was briefly about 10 minutes and I maintained my safe distance about 1 metre apart) 

Our first street snack is none other than the infamous transparent spring roll wrapped vege! 

Taste : plain and greeny! If this is serve without that reddish gravy, I will not be a fan of this spring roll because its tasteless LOL

Walking distance from District 1 to The Notre D'ame Cathedral takes about 15 mins on foot. The plus point get the city tour like no other! 

Well, crowded place to be at! This 140 years old building survived so many wars and still standing strong! According to MANY MANY MANY (very important so must repeat 3 times) reviews, is a shame that we are not able to visit the interior because RENOVATION is forever never ending...

Since there are nothing much we can do beside selfie, check in and take tourist like photos, we head over Saigon Central Post Office which located just across the road. 

Even though this 129 years old building is jam packed with tourist, in and out of the building is beautifully preserved on the exteriors and also its interior. There are souvenir shops inside where you can get postcard, used stamps, expensive jewelleries and many other stuff.

If you're hungry or suffering itchy mouth syndrome yet wanted something familiar to stuff into your mouth, just hop over the next door where you can get McDonalds! 

Making our way back to where we come from is easy and we happened to cross over another place that we planned to visit. The Bến Thành Market! 

Did I mentioned anything about Banh Mi yet? Gosh! You MUST MUST MUST never ever and ever and ever miss any Banh Mi in Vietnam! If you did, just consider yourself never visit Vietnam bah! 

What's Banh Mi? (you can find lots of information about this on internet, but since you're here, read my version instead!)

Banh Mi is just a sandwich! (LOL) This sandwich is wrapped with grilled meats (chicken, beef or pork). However, there are new gimmicks where you can find they wrapped with ice-cream or even other stuff that you never imagine! The traditional one are usually comes with grill meat (I prefer pork by the way), corianders, chilli sauce (must have! unless you can't take spicy) and some pickles vegetables... It is supposed be serve to you with crispy outer layer baguette and full of surprise in between...

At Ben Thanh Market, they offers everything you want as a tourist.  As for us, we just recce around as back in our head, we started narrowing down the items that we wanna bring back...

This 15K Dong glass of warm soy bean pudding with ginger is so good! It just melts in your mouth, Warm and gelatinous, tastes sweet but not too syrupy BUT why we had a warm dessert on a hot day huh?! I guess we just have to as just seeing this lady squatting with her big pot of soybean pudding and we just have to patron her!

Almost immediate, we regretted our decision that having a warm dessert on a hot day is plainly stupid. As soon as we finish it, we continue our search for something cooling...then we found Cheng Po Leong! This is something that fits perfectly on every HOT DAY!!!

This 25K Dong bowl of dessert is also a sweet, cold soupy dessert. Known that the recipe may vary, the drink generally contains grains, dried longans, red jujubes, lotus seeds, and thinly sliced seaweed, with water, sugar (sometimes black sugar), and crushed ice. Combination of barley and thinly strips of ginger and/or /with ginseng root, wolf-berries, or ginkgo nuts may also appear as ingredients. This is what we call,  tailor made for hot day, effective for thirst quencher and refreshing drink / dessert to have!

Having spend my time at Ben Thanh Market for less than an hour, I'm already damaged by 25%.

All these required BARGAINING SKILL! The red sleeveless Vietnam flag design was offered to me at 200K Dong - with my skill? I got it at 50K Dong! Being a guy and at Vietnam, this gonna be a huge advantage to you! Not sure how I'm gonna put this in words but personally, the girls here have been really helpful and kind... While for my friend, she don't get the same treatment like I did...So we conclude that the people here are gender

Oh yeah, my housemate has been telling me that we must grab Highland Coffee here in Vietnam. Its like Starbucks. So I grab the freshly grinds coffee. (yet I was told this is fake a.k.a not original but still coffee). No worries, I drink coffee, but I'm not particular. A cuppa Americana, soy latte or flat white a day enough to make me feels like a human. 

For the first half of the day, we spent on traveling and the second half, we had a good tour of HCMC and we finally call it a day. Head back to recharge for another long day. 

Posing at a random street that looks like Chinatown nearby our AirBnb hostel. See that little sling bag I'm carry? According to my grab driver who pick me up from the airport this morning, it is advisable to carry a small pouch than a big bag-pack and keep it in front instead of behind. This isn't mine so I got one fake Supreme (as photo above). 

Since we didn't have proper dinner, I got a little hungry after we reached our hostel. After a short rest, I head out to nearby for a short stroll and try my luck if I can find Banh Mi... (I'm seriously addicted)... Frankly, I did not do any proper research around my area. But it is FREAKING HAPPENING! 

Then I found my Banh Mi, ordered, paid and nom my way back to hostel... I'm a little worried to stroll more as I'm alone, at night at foreign country, don't speak Vietnamese and I'm particularly fair... Yeah, I chickened out and I head back.

As soon as I'm awake, I heard some noise from the outside. In my mind, hope the noises are a good one (to me, a good noises are referring to pop up stall that sells local breakfast or coffee) and not those random group of local gathering around and chit chatting. I made my way to the ground floor, slide the door open and I giggled. 

Actually, I didn't bring much clothes for this trip as I assumed that I'll just randomly grab whatever simple I can put on. Hence, I put this on ( I got it last night at Ben Thanh Market).

I saw Banh Mi, a coffee stall, grilled meats...All my favourite food are just within steps! 

Waste no time, I get ready, the shower, the make ups the sun blocks and hop out my hostel for a cuppa of local iced coffee! Kid you not! This is cost only 15K Dong! Compared to the one similar at the cafe which cost 50K Dong, this one single glass taste like 4 shots of espresso! Mother Jesus and Mary! Almost immediate I felt like I was injected with coffee through my veins... I will ask for more!

Our first destination is the infamous Cafe Apartment! If you ask me what to do to an abandon building, I'll show you this! This exterior of this building is unlike any other building you ever see! Since we arrived way too early, none of the cafe is ready for business. Price wise...hmmm...I'm not sure If I wanna spend money here though...I have mix feelings! We spent about an hour here walking from the top floor to the ground, take photo, check-in and check out their menu...I'm like...maybe I'll just hop back if I have the feeling of having some dessert? Or maybe nope...

TAKE NOTE: If you're aren't adventurous and cheapskate like me, you will walk from Ground Floor all the way up via old and creepy looking staircase or you pay 10K Dong just to board the elevator. 

After a good "visiting" we head out to our second destination. The Independence Palace or you may know it as Reunification Palace. Entrance Fee is 40K Dong.

This is where many important events happened and they places some tank and fighter jets around the garden area. What's the purpose of being here?

Well, if you must know, Vietnam is a war torn country. Even till this very date, you still able to see many things that left behind or severely affected from the war. The war isn't just like any Tom, Dick and Harry got drunk and argue, it take years and years to settle down and to restore it. Thus, we are here to check out and understand a little bit (yes, just little bit) about what had happened.

After having spent about an hour here, we head to our next destination. The Pink Church or you may known is as Church of the Sacred located at District 3.

This 150 years old building stand gracefully and standout amongst all other dull coloured building around it. 

Again, to my disappointment, this church is CLOSED! Why both church in Vietnam always on renovation yah? It wasn't just me though...I read many blog post and review, many were disappointed like me! LOL

Anyway, I crossed my bucket list and had fun talking photos at this church. I again, make my way to Ben Thanh Market! This time is for real bargaining war and shopping!

Piece of advice X2: don't submit to their first, 2nd or even 3rd price... I don't know bargains but I straight give them a price that I'm comfortable with and walk away if they don't let me... Check out my bring home price!

Also... They are rather biased towards sex... Guy! Or Gays! You have your adbaktiawage! (your meat stick is useful here)

After our quick stroll, we head over one local favourite Pho restaurant, Pho 2000 that located just right opposite Ben Thanh Market for a quick Pho experience. Original Pho is supposed to be beef. Since both my travel buddy and myself don't eat beef, we go for a bowl of seafood and a bowl of chicken... A bowl of goodness at its most basic consists of a clear beef - or chicken-based broth, rice noodles, herbs, and thinly sliced meats. How do I verdict this? I had pho before but this bowl is from HCMC...To me, it doesn't taste much of differences comparing to what I had in other country like Singapore or Malaysia lar...but for the sake of having what originated...ok lo...not bad LOL...

After our quick pho experience, we head back to the market to continue our shopping...

My damage of the day be like...

RP = Retail Price
BHP = Bring Home Price

  • Fake Supreme Black & Gold Sling Pouch - RP 350K Dong - BHP = 150K Dong
  • Vietnam Flag Singlet - RP 250K Dong - BHP  = 50K ( I got 2 pieces)
  • 3D Mask - 36K Dong
  • Coffee Powder 50K Dong / 100gm + Presser - RP = 20K Dong / Each - BHP = 120K for 250gm of grinds coffee + 2 coffee presser (saving of 45K Dong)
  • Strap sandal (black and Dark Green) - RP 500K Dong each - BHP = 500K for 2 pairs
  • Wet Tissue. This one you gotta hop around Circle K, GS 25, Family Mart, Vinz Mart, Cheers and some random Vietnam Mart. Price rang from 16K to 20K for each pack of 30 sheets. I got it from GS25 at 16K Dong for this fragrance free and the usual price I see around are mainly 18K or 20K each.
  • KeyChains = RP 350K / Each - BHP = 200K for 2 rows

For dinner tonight we will feasting at 5KU Station which serves Seafood BBQ and more! My friend found this restaurant which introduced by some Taiwanese Vlogger... But we were rather disappointed! Comparing to one BBQ restaurant I once had in BKK, this is 5KU Station is too expensive! They charged in mall prices for all their dishes and they don't have set meals! All are ala carte!

The restaurant is located a bit far from our hostel and we decided to hop on Grab Bike. After all, they charge about 20K - 25K Dong to the destination that we wanted to go. 

Reaching to the restaurant, we were greeted and asked to wait for seat LOL. The place was crowded with locals and don’t expect if you are looking for a quite place. There is no proper explanation from the staff or written on the menu how many we should order so we just pin point to those that have photos...

As we sat too closely to other, I wasn't in the mood to take photo or the ambient...Nope...Not going back and we paid 600K Dong for a meal that we both got so much disappointment...But on my research, this restaurant is well loved by the local and on my observation, the patrons are well dress, polished looking and unlike those local that I saw in the market or nearby my hostel! They are like the mixed races local... (and many are those from club course they looks drunk LOL)

After our meal, we decided to visit parlour massage for a foot massage... There are many shop mushroomed along the same street of our hostel and all of them will display their massage charges as well as "tips included". friend who enjoyed foot massage don't enjoyed it here compared to what we had in Bali in 2018 and what I had in BKK...this is too vague! They are like just playing your little toes! Texting my good friend while doing my foot massage, she also had horrible experiences and we paid about 185K Dong for the service...lamest day of my life!

A brand new day and new beginning...As usual, I always start my day with coffee and you know where I get it...just right in front my doorstep!

Today, we will be visit War Remnants Museum. Just right before we hop over, we made a stop at Highland Coffee. I ordered the local favourite which the same I got from the road side... This glass cost me 35K Dong! doesn't taste as strong as the one I had in front my hostel. Anyway, brag over...not going back to this but support more local road side stall!

Reaching to War Remnants Museum, paid 40K Dong for entrance. Unlike other museums that I visited, this museum have lots of things to read and not much artefact to see... By just reading, you gained its of insight of how Vietnam became what they are today! I've never visited a museum and leave with sunken heart...

They brag about Agent Orange which is a type of harmful chemical that were used during the war. The effect isn't just a day or two as it carries from generation to generation. This chemical causes defect on almost everything! Be it breathing or not...(even presenting myself at this museum make me feel that I'm exposing myself to Agent Orange lol). Walking out of the museum, there's a guy born without eyeballs selling handmade souvenir...with a board saying he is one of the living example of what Agent Orange did...

Leaving this museum feels like something really heavy possessed my body... heavy and sad about what happened to the Vietnamese and everything around them...yet, one particular photo I the exhibition caught my attention. The photo of a crippled couple at a field was photobombed by a dog smiling at the back is what stuck in my head till today LOL

Since we have visited all the places that we planned, we still left with 1.5 days to go with no plan upcoming. We just walk about the town and exploring. We then made up out mind to hop over the Saigon Central Post Office to mail out some postcard to those we dears.

Then we came across a Food Fair which turn up on the right time course we are thirsty and hungry!

After this hipster brand beer at the food fair, I got really tipsy LOL. We then proceed to Saigon Central Post Office.

Being the first timer, I only think of my family at hometown and out of so many designs, I just couldn't help but pick this up this one. I paid for the 5k Dong for postcard and 35K Dong for stamp to all Asia regions...

For our dinner, we just walk around our hostel and randomly sat at one road side stall that serves grills dishes. 

Grilled pork with rice...Seen as one of the local dish... As we around around tourist spots and this sells at 35K Dong / plate. That small bowl of marinated red chilli isn't spicy at all lol!!! To my surprise, the portion of rice they serve together is NOT ENOUGH FOR ME! I also noticed that the rice they served are very fine. As I'm writing this post, I recalled that I once bought a bag of cheap rice and had the same exact texture... I'm not  trying to be an asshole but that's how the rice taste like yah... After check out with some friend who have been to Vietnam, it came to my knowledge that it is a luxury for Vietnamese to have rice serve on their table! Our dinner concludes our second day and tomorrow will be another day with few places to explore.

Since this will be our last night at HCMC, we went out for a short stroll behind our hostel that I told my friend about the happening street and out to hunt for more Banh Mi...Since its Saturday night, the crowds tripled and we were really surprises to see there are so many foreigners and we witnessed a group of kids age not more 10 years old chasing over a Korean looking guy and "forcing" him to buy souvenirs from them... Trust me...I've heard much a this and there are cases saying that people got robs! So my dear readers, you be careful and I'VE WARNED YOU. But I hope the kids are purely selling souvenirs and just purely being aggressive lah...I hope her!

My last Banh Mi in HCMC, I'm too full to have another one but the next trip I'm back to Vietnam, I'll grab more! If you're here but never eat any Banh Mi, PLEASE CONSIDER YOURSELF NEVER COME.

We head back and called it a day after our stroll...we ran out of battery and too full to move too!

Waking up the last few hours at Vietnam is not fun... We haven't had enough of shopping and the feeling of success on barging is too awesome! I had really lots of fun bargaining at the market!

Again, my day starts with a glass of local iced coffee in front my hostel and today is a little special...We dine at the "restaurant"!

Trust me! The grills are PERFECT! Literally brighten up my last blue day at Vietnam! This cost only 30K Dong per plate and we ordered 3 plates! I had 2 glasses of coffee too...(I'm overdosed) 

Right before check out, the weather turns really gloomy and within minute, it start pouring heavily...Glad that we woke up early, had what we craved and got what we want... Now we can chillax and wait till our Grab driver pick us up to airport...

Nevertheless, big thank you to my travel buddy Miss Louise for her great companion, tour and being so anyhow/cincai even though I kinda "forced" her to walk over 20k steps a day LOL

This is also sums up our 2nd trip together... Hope there's another one soon in near future!

Visiting Vietnam...for boys, you'll be grabbed by the girls on the streets but they meant no harm... The girls grabbed my arms and I got freaked out which caused them to freak out till all of us burst into laughters... 

There are many beauty parlour with lots of girls in heavy make up with their breast pushed to their ears. Their entire looks just looked altered and all of them are wearing  the same traditional and really sexy looking costume... I think they provide lots of services la...You can try it yourself...

Bargain bargain bargain (very important so I need to repeat 3 times) and always bargain at the market! Surprisingly, the ladies will not entertain same sex much but if you're a guy, do your part money for more beers and more cigarette! 

Read back all the things I've warned and shared...

Till then!
Jeremiah Teoh.


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mags premiums said…
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