Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cuti - Cuti Ho Chi Minh : Part I

Ho Chi Minh is a paradise for shoppers..provided if you have great bargaining skills. For this trip, we have new partners i.e Sumai & Liza since our usual partners are in the process of adding a new family member ;-) ( To whom it may concern; Ghugi ooo tak p..;-) ). We drove from Penang after 7am and parked the car at Tune Hotel. ( RM20 per day ). Alhamdulillah, there was 1 parking slot available when we arrived.

We departed for Ho Chi Minh on Wednesday 19 Oct at 2.55pm and arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 3.50pm ( Vietnam time ). We had a smooth custom & immigration process despite having heard bad stories about them in forums. By 4.30 pm we were ready to catch a taxi to our hotel. There were many taxi companies. Since we were advised to take Vinasun or Mai Linh , we waited for quite some time as these taxis are popular amongst tourists and even viatnamese. When we got into one, we immediately requested for metered fare.

We safely reached our hotel with a fare around VND125K ( about rm20 ). This time we stayed at Hoang Phu Gia Hotel which is a nice hotel. But, I would rather stay at other hotels nearer to Ben Thanh Market such as these hotels ; Tan Hai Long, Hoang Hai Long 1 & 2, Gia Huy, Saigon Pink 2, Hoang Gia Huy or Ngan Ha which are located at Pham Hong Thai St just next to Ben Thanh Market, the heart of the shopping paradise.

After maghrib prayer ( Maghrib starts around 6pm ), we walked to Ben Thanh Night market which is 10 -15 min walk from our hotel. Yeay! we passed the test of crossing the roads swarmed with thousands of motorcyclists. Ho Chi Minh with a population of 7.1millions has 5 millions motorcycles! So, it was a challenge to cross the roads. The trick is to cross the road at a steady pace so that the motorcyclists can avoid you based on your pace. If you are afraid, just follow any viatnamese to cross the road.

Ben Thanh night market started after 7pm. There are 2 streets of stalls selling various items, from the famous Trung Nguyen Coffee ( Viatnamese delicious coffee ) to the beautiful beaded baju kurungs. A word of advice, if you are tempted to buy some fruits there, just ask a viatnamese to buy for you or bargain hard. The fruits here are expensive compared to Binh Tay market in Cholon.

If you are hungry here, there's a stall in front of Basiroh's fashion ( where many hotels are located ) selling viatnamese nasi lemak at cheaper price than other halal restaurants. There's also Vn Halal  not far from there although the price is a bit expensive ( Roti canai at RM 5-6, Nasi goreng & mee at Rm12, drinks around RM5 in a small glass ).

 During our first night there we only bought some clothing for the princesses and browsed the stalls. We also change our USD to VND as the rate here is better. 1USD = VND 21300 ( c.f 1USD= VND20800 at banks or in Malaysia ). You can change at Ha Tam goldsmith shop in Ben Thanh located at the same street as many hotels.

We got back to our hotel at midnight feeling exhilarated and also tired after a long day. We were excited about exploring HCM the next day.

On the way to our hotel

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