The fabulous Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon, where scooters speed like crazed meteors in the streets and sidewalks, where the Pho is the norm in food, where you become millionaires in a day ($1 US = 21,000 Vietnamese Dong).
My sister and I traveled through bus from Phnom Pehn Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City. The travel time is about six hours if there is no stop over. We left Phnom Pehn at around 7:00 am and arrived at Ho CHI Minh at around 3:00 pm. You might be wondering why it took 8 hours. Well here it goes. Coming from Cambodia, there are a lot of Bus available to travel Vietnam but we chose Kumho Samco Bus Lines. The ride cost 12 US dollars . We haven’t got the opportunity to research about the bus line, so we just took whatever available bus going to Ho Chi Minh. The popular bus line going to Vietnam is Mekong Express, I don’t remember why we did not book our travel there.
Anyway, the Kumho Samco Bus that we rode is a little bit old and not tourist or foreigner friendly. One of the things that bothered me most is that there are lots of mosquitoes inside the bus. Good thing may sister is a mosquito hater and that she always bring her mosquito repellant lotion. Another weird experience riding the bus is for 7 hours the television of the bus had been continuously playing a local music video that I can’t understand. Honestly, I do like listening to folk songs or new songs I haven’t heard but repeatedly for 7 hours?
We arrived at the Mocbai border (Vietnam Border) at around 11:00 am. Photographs are not allowed. The bus’ conductor took our passports and gave it to the immigration for stamping.
NOTE: The area is flocked with people, tourist or locals alike and you probably wondering if there are steps or things to be followed. There are no lines while waiting for your passports to be stamped. No organization. The border does not have english signs so it is really difficult which one is first or etc. The conductor of the bus just gave our passports together with the ones we share the bus with.
Tips: It is better to go in front to wait for your name to be called because they don’t have speakers or mikes and it is really difficult to hear or recognize if they are calling your name. They just shout manually and can’t pronounce your name clearly. For example, my sister’s name is Jacqueline and they called her something like Zhagenelee or something.
It took us an hour before all of the passengers finished in the border and are aboard the bus. At 3:00 pm we arrived at Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City is overwhelming with tourists, especially in district 1. First thing we tried to find is food. It’s a traditional vietnamese cuisine which is really great and tasty.
The staff of the hostel are nice and helpful. We also have free breakfast. We stayed there for two days and our room is cleaned everyday.
Day 1: Since we only got one whole day to explore the city, we chose the nearest spots in the vicinity.
The Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, built by the French in 1880 to establish the Catholic faith in Saigon. The statue of Mother Mary in front of the church has been reportedly shed tears from her right cheek. That incident reported thousands of people to flock the church.
One of our few pictures together with my sister.
The Saigon post office is just beside the Cathedral. There are a lot of souvenirs sold here and it is far more cheaper that the night market.
War Remnants Museum: Entrance Fee: 15,000 dong Opening hours: 7:30 am- 12:00pm , 1:30 pm- 5:00 pm
The War Remnants Museum consists of the collections, photographs, artifacts and evidence of the crime and consequences of the war in Vietnam.
The place is interesting and knowledgeable and it can also be depressing. There are a lot of gruesome photographs, sad stories on how the war came about.
Stop the Vietnam War!!
The Reunification Palace also known as the Independence Palace. This is the landmark of Ho chi Minh City. This is the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the fall of Saigon. The place is spacious and wide but there’s really nothing interesting to see. However, if you’re that kind of person into architecture and history this place is a must to go.
Entrance Fee: 30,000 dong
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden: Entrance Fee: 12,000 dong
Saigon Zoo is known to be one of the oldest zoo in the world. If you are a plant and animal lover the zoo is a very interesting place to go because it caters to a variety of plants and different kinds of animals. It is very wide and relaxing with the park like ambience good for family outing and picnic. My sister and I was tired roaming the place because its very big and wide. I really enjoyed going to the place.
The picture shows some of the animals that you can see in the zoo.
The main city center, District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. A very busy place that caters to tourist. There are a lot of food stalls and souvenir shops in the area. Watch out for speed maniac motorist, they can be really irritating. Even though you are in a side walk, they are the ones who get angry on blocking their way. Sidewalks or pedestrian lanes are rarely followed in this area.
Ho Chi Minh City is also known for its night life. During night the streets in district 1 come alive that attract a lot of tourist and locals alike.
Ben Thanh Market is just around the corner of downtown Saigon. The market is popular for its local handicrafts and textile. Souvenirs are also sold in the area but prices are a lot higher for tourist. Practice your haggling expertise.
If ever you do go to Vietnam, go to the Night Market to experience, not to buy. Most of the items here are really more expensive than what you can buy at the usual stalls in Ben Thanh. The Night Market is grossly overrated.
Don’t forget to try the famous Pho of Vietnam.