Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Trip | Part I

*WARNING! This is a picture heavy post!*

30 August - 3 September 2014
5 Days 4 Nights
This is Part I of my Vietnam Trip 2014

Day 1 | Upon arrival... Food food food

Without further adieu, gonna reminisce in it while writing all these down.

The first thing we did when we arrived at the Vietnam airport is of course buying a sim card for internet usage! It's so important nowadays, we can't actually live without it. With the internet, we actually can do a lot of stuffs. We usually use it to find our way through the city, find cool hangout places and also restaurants serving yummy food, and also of course find out what food that is worth to order. But most importantly, social media. Haha. We bought our Mobifone card near the airport exit which is also a taxi service provider. I think it's the cheapest we can find in the airport because the other small shops were selling it for quite a high price. 
And if you've used finish the data, you can actually top up the money inside (like a prepaird sim card) and continue browsing. Of course the words are all in Viet language, so you have to ask for help. We were staying at a backpacker's place and we ask the family members to help us out with it.  

This is where we were staying for all of our 4 nights. Ngoc Thao Guesthouse. We were staying in a dorm like room which can accommodate 4 people. There were 3 of us so on every night, there seems to be a new guest in the room with us. Lol. The family managing the place is very friendly and the room we were staying in were not bad. The place is quite clean. Beds aren't that comfy but the rent is cheap so we can't really complain about it. 
The place is situated along the Pham Ngu Lao street which has quite a number of guesthouses. So, basically you can just walk into any guesthouses and book your stay for the night. Heck, you can even stay in different guesthouses every night if you like. 


image Phở Quỳnh

Well of course the first place we went to after we have checked in was the nearest place to eat and is recommended by locals & the non-locals. 5 minutes walk from our guesthouse is all we need. We were super hungry of course and we had to starve for few hours before we bloat ourselves up.

Really love the milk tea! Since I can't take caffeine drinks, milk tea was my choice. 

The pho is superb! Since we were quite new to Viet cuisine, we were not quite sure on how to eat the food. The beef noodles were served with a lot of herbs and bean sprouts. I just threw in few basil leaves in it and ate and then I fell in love. Then we ended up eating the whole bowl of soup with a lot of herbs in it. Hahaha. 
I would recommend the normal beef noodle. There's also a reddish soup colored one, it's more salty and in our opinion, it's not really that nice.

There is also a small banh mi shop nearby the place where we were eating in. Banh mi is of course another one of the signature food of Vietnam. We actually went banh mi hunting on one of the nights there. We bought like 5-6 banh mis in one evening and from different shops of course. There are so many banh mi stalls along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, so it's quite hard to pinpoint the stalls. There's one particular shop that we love the most, the stall is operated by a few aunties, like 3-4 of them sitting there chit chatting while preparing the ingredients. They put quite a lot of varieties of meat in there. All of them are homemade I think and one of the meat paste was super spreadable like butter but it's meatloaf! Super awesome-ness. And that's all I remember. Don't really know where the stall is situated because we walked around too much. 
But there's this one very well-known place too, which is the Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai. This one is great too! And will sold out fast. When we went there, we were lucky there were a few more left. 

Walking in the park

One of the street foods that I think we just had to try. Unfortunately, it's not as good as we thought it would be. But at least we tried something we never eaten before and knew how it taste like. It's quite expensive too for a food that is that small. Maybe it's because we are foreigners, therefore it's more expensive.

imageChợ Bến Thành (Ben Thanh Market)

Next destination, one of the most popular shopping center. It's more like a flea market and be careful about the price too. They will start by asking for a very high price for the item at first. Usually you would get it if you offer them half of what they offer you or even lower. Know what you want, how many you want because if you buy more, it would be easier to haggle. If the shopkeeper decided to tell you off, don't worry, there's a lot of shops there to try again. LOL. And you will get better at it after a few tries.

Cafe Thien Lien

As for the food, we've only been to one of the shop for real food. We went there to eat twice because we thought the food is quite great. 

We ordered the normal spring rolls, the sauce were awesome!

We also ordered the fried version. I like the non-fried version more. 

On the second visit, we ordered a more heavy dish. Which is noodle and wraps. Both are nice. Love the wraps!

Happy happy!

We also tried the dessert shop in the market. Sadly, no pictures of the food. The desserts are all very very sweet. It didn't suit our taste but would love to try and make some Vietnamese dessert based on this back home. 

image Trung Nguyên Coffee

There's quite a number of coffee shop in HCM city. Trung Nguyen is more of a high class coffee shop. I think it's on par with Starbucks.

Our verdict of the place... nah, just kidding.

image Biển Dương restaurant

As for dinner, we went to Bien Duong, they serve A LOT of different food. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the food. We ordered quite a number of food, everything was really nice except for the boiled fish which taste like sewage pipes. So please don't order that. And please don't order too much also, I almost had my stomach blown up from eating too much. 

That sums up our Day 1.. More like eating day. 

Day 2 | Cu Chi Tunnel Half-day Tour

Let me tell you a story and also an advice to those who would like to go to Ho Chi Minh. You would meet quite a number of friendly locals when you are there but there are some which will use that as a weapon to trick and con you. I think this is especially important for lone travelers out there especially guys. So, make sure you don't trust them easily when dealing with money! 

This guy was selling baked goods and we found out he was selling 2x the original price because we were foreigners. Luckily we met a very honest old lady who told us how much it costs (she was also buying some from him) even though she did not speak English or Chinese. She showed us how much it cost with her fingers when we wanted to buy. It's a small case I know, but it feels so bad being conned like this.
We also met a guy selling coconut juice on our last day there. He was being very forceful on giving us free coconuts. We were taken aback on how friendly he is, so we offered him money in exchange for the coconut (means we want to purchase instead of taking it). He ended up charging us 4x - 5x the amount people normally sell...... I didn't calculate properly when he told us since I was busy with my damn coconut, and we just gave him the money in haste. By the time I realized it, he was gone.. Out of sight. Damn carnivorous. 
SO BEWARE! Learn to say NO when you should! Don't give in to these people.

Okay okay, enough rambling. More photos!

Decided to take a stroll around the guesthouse to enjoy the morning scene while waiting for our half-day trip bus to arrive. We booked the half-day trip to Cu Chi Tunnel from our Guesthouse the night before. It's pretty cheap too. Though, I forgotten how much since I'm only writing this out after 3 months.

Through our bus journey, we stopped at the "Art Centre"? I guess? I'm not sure. All handcraft products made and sold for a good cause.

A lot of beautiful art piece there. Thought of buying one to put at home, but it's too pricey for a student like me. Lol.

Cu Chi Tunnel

Some pretty interesting stuffs here. A must visit place if you're going to HCMC. We were lucky to get "John Wayne" as our tour guide too. That guy is pretty popular I guess plus his English has that Wild Wild West slang. XD

You could also buy some ammo for shooting sessions. I tried the machine gun but I think it's not worth it.. Because you'll use up 10 bullets in just 1 second. Unless you buy 100 bullets, then I guess machine gun is a good choice. :P
Dig a hole in your pocket.

image Bánh Tráng Trảng Bàng Hoàng Ty

We stumbled upon this place by random since the bus dropped us off at a random place when we got back. We were super duper hungry because there wasn't any decent food to eat during the trip. We were only offered some military food that the Viet ate during the war.. That is some boiled Cassava dipped in sugar and peanut which was quite delicious but not enough to satisfy my appetite.
And I have to tell you, this was the best thing that happened to us. Because the food is seriously.... heaven... One of my favorite restaurant in HCMC!

A MUST EAT DESSERT and my favourite Viet dessert! Che Khuc Bach. A highly recommended dish too according to FourSquare and me. Proven!

It was pretty damn cheap too. We ate quite a lot and it only cost us around RM50.

We are happy tourists. :D

Next, we walked to the War Remnants Museum since we're free for the day and it was too early for us to find more food after our very fulfilling late lunch. 


Ngek. Gawd, that face and pose.

Played around with the panorama
The War Remnants I think is a must visit place if you're going to Ho Chi Minh City because you can really see what happened during the war and be educated on the history of Vietnam. There's a lot of pictures during and after the war. For me, some of the pictures were way too gruesome for me that I actually feel quite disturbed and I felt very uncomfortable after awhile in there. War, it's just... horrible. Hope everyone can learn something there. Violence doesn't solve anything.

While walking back to our guesthouse, we stumbled upon a really beautiful park. We decided to take a few shots there before we went back. And these are the results...

Optical Illusion much?

We also tried the kebab that was on sale at the end (or should I say the beginning) of the guest house street (like finally). Very tempted to order this on our first day there but we just gave it a pass. And yes, it should stay as a pass because it wasn't really anything special or good. It's not even filling too. So, an advice, not worth it so don't order it.

image Ngon Restaurant

Dinner was spent here which was highly recommended by TripAdvisor I think (or some other site). We could see most of the foreigners dining there. I can see why, it's kind of a classy/more high-end place and they charge quite a "classy" price too. Basically, expensive Viet food. The quality and taste of the food was very good (thankfully) but I think it's just a bit tad too expensive. No wonder we could't spot much locals here.

I think Highlands Coffee is a pretty cool place for coffee too. The prices are cheap cheap cheap. We actually went to Highlands Coffee for quite a lot of time after this first visit. Lol.

My favorite drink to order was anything from the Jelly Series. *love love*

See, cheap I tell you. My drink only cost RM9+, The coffee and cheese cake both cost around RM5 each. Quite reasonable.

At the end of the day, we just chilled there until the shop closes and went to sleep.

More beautiful and artistic photos of Ho Chi Minh City's sceneries can be found here in Ah Lok's Photo Gallery on Dropbox.
I didn't upload any pictures from his Gallery as the pictures were waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too high res for my internet speed to compute and download, so I just left it be. But they are super breath-taking. All the pictures uploaded in this post are either from my phone or le bf's GoPro camera. 

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