Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ho Chi Minh - Tips and Bits


My friends were right. Changing VND at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport gets you a better rate than you would at home, especially Singapore.

How best to remain in contact with family/friends or rub it in their faces that you are enjoying yourself while they slave away in their cubicles (just kidding),  get a SIM card while you are still at the airport. Go to the extreme left near airport exit where there are some phone companies and the pretty ladies speak English. I bought my deal (100,000 VND for 5GB data) at Vinaphone. It is an awesome deal. Doesn't allow phone calls, but you don't need it if you can use Whatsapp calls, Skype or Facetime anyway.

We stayed 4 days, I tethered my phone everyday, and between 3 of us, we still couldn't use up more than 1 GB *annoyed* lol, though the likely reason is because my shitty phone has a shitty battery, and dies very fast everytime I tether.


(1) When you exit the airport, go to the extreme left end of the airport to catch the cabs (taxis). There are a group of cab company employees in uniform to help you coordinate a cab. Don't cross the road where another group of cab company employees are standing, they serve only members.

(2) We took Vinasun or Mai Linh. Vina sun cabbies were always professional, but the Mai Linh cab driver we took was professional and really funny as well. Both companies use meters and quote in VND. The drivers are in uniform and their ID and names are displayed on the dashboard.

(3) Note the spellings of the two reputable cab companies, there are some counterfeit ones calling themselves Vinasum, ML or use similar coloring. Don't get in if:
- the meter is not pointed to the backseat.
- cab has tinted windows.
- driver quotes you in USD

(2) Bus 35 goes to most major tourist spots until 8 pm. Costs 4K VND.


Here's the map I created for this trip. You can try staying at Alagon City Hotel like we did, it is made up of a mish mash of interconnected hotels that are connected via the first floor dining room. It's accessible to alot of places.

Most of the tourist action was at District 1 as you can see on the maps. If you are in the need of culture, check out the performances at Saigon Opera House (Ao show is very popular) or the water puppet show (which you can also watch at Hanoi).
All the eateries we ate at charged about 50K VND per dish. The roadside stalls charged 20 VND for bánh tráng nướng (YUMMMMMMMY)

There are many options for side trips out of Ho Chi Minh. You can try the Mekong Delta (2 routes), Cuchi tunnels, Can Gio (for you sun worshippers) etc.

What is important is to shop around for your side trips at the various tour agencies around District 1.  They will quote different prices but some of these agencies are consolidated to one tour agency in the end. Anyway once you booked, don't answer you fellow tour companions how much they paid. May or may not upset you. LOL.

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