For a few days in Ho Chi Minh, I’ve only had a very short time exploring the nearby areas to where I stayed. Basically, these are the tips of how to get around the city area, particularly the District 1.
Our flight from Mnl-Sgn was around 10:00 PM and arrived at 12:00 Am. Most travelers took taxi to their guest house for maybe around 10 USD but since we are trying to maximize our budget, we choose the alternative. We stayed at the airport til morning. There are bus/shuttle that runs from the Tan Son Nhat airport to Ben Thanh Market for 10,000 Dong. We spent the rest of the night at the airport’s 2nd floor near Burger King. There are backpackers who stayed there until morning. First bus is at 7 AM ground floor at the right most part of the airport. Bus # 152
Tip: watch your belongings. Our Indonesian friend lost his backpack in the airport with everything on it.
2. Where to stay
There are some backpacker’s district where most guest houses and hostels are located. The most famous area is in Pham Ngu Lao Street where the whole stretch of the road is basically full of hotels, guest house and hostels and its pretty near Ben Thanh Market. You can score a $10 room. I recommend booking your room at Agoda.com.
3. Where to eat
Pham Ngu Lao Street is stuffed with various options to eat – from street foods to fancy restaurants to fast food chains. We usually eat right just down the alley of our guest house. The meal would costs around 25,000 Dong. We usually have our meal with rice, dish and coconut. A coconut or buko costs 15,000 Dong. Basically, Vietnamese foods come with meat and vegetables. Nom nom
4. Places to See
The primary places to visit at the center of Ho Chi Minh is located in District 1. There are a lot of travel company who offer city tours. But if you enjoy walking, most of the landmarks are within walking distance. Be sure to grab some map before you leave the guest house. Majority of the guest houses gave out free tourist maps.
Some Interesting places to visit includes:
a. Reunification Palace
c. Opera House
e. Ben Thanh Market
f. Saigon Square
h. Hindu Temple
5. Where to shop
Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Square are the shopping center in Saigon. Ben Thanh Market for handmade crafts, cloth, and random products while Saigon Square is where the branded apparels are sold. I scored a La Fuma winter jacket for 460, 000 Dong brand new and original. Now, I am ready to travel to Japan and Nepal. Yay!
We got scammed by a cyclo and a store vendor. We were charged as much as double the original price. So try to look around first and compare. The usual haggle system is to cut the price in half. If the product you want to buy costs 100,000 Dong, start to haggle at 50, 000 and meet half way. But there are stalls that have fixed price. These are outlet stores located in Saigon Square. So shop away!
Watch out for the motorbike. The number of motor bike in Vietnam is ridiculously overwhelming. Even the thieves and snatchers run away on a bike. So careful with the cameras and your bags.