I always remember the joy of being in a home stay. My last encounter was in Hongkong around 8 years back. The experience was just precious and indescribable. No research being done, no itinerary being scheduled and I could confirm the excitement ahead of my vacation dates.
Ho Chi Minh City, previously best known for Saigon, is the largest and busiest city in Vietnam. With the surprisingly well maintained Tna Son Nhat International Airport, I could see a rapid development to the metropolis. The best way to roam around city is with car (9am to 4pm) and bike (below 9am and above 4pm). Seriously, bike is the best invention in this city! My eyes were so tired of ogling around at the back seat of the bike.
Where to visit?
Reunification Palace – Everything is just vintage inside. Listen to the history and you might get the importance of the guarding gates and the restoration of the building from the damage incur by the bombs.
War Remnants Museum – Gruesome photographs, heart-breaking story telling, provocative weapons are all here. But I’m the “make-love-not-war” type of guy. So I shall skip this.
City Hall, Opera House and Post Office – Deeply influenced by French architecture, and beautifully light up at night. These buildings are the darlings for avid photographers.
Notre Dame Cathedral – A must go! Iconic French-style cathedral in the city centre!
Ben Thanh Market – One of the most popular markets in town. Be careful on the bargaining, special techniques required!
Mekong Delta – Only if you have the extra leisure time and keen to visit bee-farming, honey-tasting, boat-cruising and sampan-kayaking.
De Tham and Bui Vien (District 1) – Famous for the hotel to hostel with lot of foreigners. You can have bars, clubs, pubs, massage parlours and girls (opss!)
Bitexco Financial Tower – the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh. Honestly, I’m not so impressed with the viewing deck (Eureka Tower, Melbourne, is slightly better than this)
Where to stay?
- Splurge – You have Intercontinental, Saigon, REX and Majestic (my personal favourite)
- Medium and budget – De Tham and Bui Vien (refer to the “what to do?”)
- Super budget – Follow my trail, home stay!
What to eat?
PHO 5 SAO (Q10) – Never say never to the beef noodle!
COM TAM CALI (32 Nguyen Trai Q1) –Special crispy chicken broken rice is a must! But not impressed with Pennyworth Drink (wild herbs + plants); maybe I don’t have the tummy of a cow.
AN LA GHIEN (780 Dien Bien Phu, Q10) – any pancakes will melt me, not over-rated and worth the visit.
CIAO CAFE (72 Nguyen Hue, Q1) –Never try the food but love the decor! Sorry, I’m a sucker for fancy decor.
And I should give a huge compliment to my host with a top notch home-cooked Vietnamese traditional food!
Lastly, I miss the simplicity that they have, I miss the sincerity that they offer, and I miss the warm that they give. Sometimes the language is secondary, but the gesture is primary. Thanks you Mr Phu & Family for having me and I truly appreciate the journey!