Thursday, January 12, 2012

19-22 April 2010 - Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam

Early in the morning we took another AirAsia flight, now to Ho Chi Minh, with a transit in … Kuala Lumpur. Third time in Malaysia! Visa and passport control was smooth and quickly (we used "visa upon arrival" with a LOI arranged in advance). Welcome to Vietnam!
I was not particularly enthusiastic about going to Vietnam, and I never thought that Vietnam would become a country I will miss, and where I want to come back to. Now that the trip is over and we have 9 countries behind us, Vietnam is my No.1 in the wishlist of future travels in that part of the world.
The most amazing thing about Vietnam for me is its people. Vietnamese start their day with sunrise (where else you can find a travel agency open at 7 a.m?) and work till late, and even though they work so hard, I can’t remember an instance of seeing someone grumpy or impolite. Vietnamese are strong in spirit. We saw many people physically handicapped: they were selling cards, books, but none of them was begging for alms. I do hope that economy in Vietnam will grow, and so will the standards of living. Vietnamese deserve it.
We arrived in the evening, and I could not help taking a picture of evening Ho Chi Minh:

On the next day we took a bus tour around the city. It was a smart idea, as it is not that convenient to move around due to traffic. Plus, the guide was great; he spoke good English, and was very friendly. The tour was only 7 US dollars, including lunch. If you need a recommendation for a travel agency, here it is: Mekong Lighthouse, 303A Pham Ngu Lao street. 
Traffic in Ho Chi Minh is .... crazy! During the rush hours the main roads are like rivers of bikes, cyclos, scooters, cars, buses. You need to have the courage to cross the street. I wonder, how many unskilled tourists have been injured? Have a look at this video.   

War Remnants Museum. It is very sad, but definitely worth visiting. The exhibits bring back the horror of the war, and Agent Orange section is the most disturbing.

Thien Hau Pagoda, Chinese style temple 

Reunification Palace, formerly South Vietnam's presidential palace, the warended on April 30, 1975 when a tank crashed through the gate. A replica of that tank is now parked on the lawn outside. The basement is full of old phones, radio equipment and retro cars. 

Ben Thanh Market, a huge market place in the downtown of the city

Our next stop was at 27-7 handcraft factory for handicapped people. They make fantastic things! I could not leave without buying anything, so now I have a lovely jewellery box, black with a dragonfly on top.
For more information, please visit this website: 

Central Post office:

Notre Dame Cathedral:

And now some random shots:

Do you remember the view? I love these caramel colours of the city in the morning. Good morning, Vietnam. 


  1. My aunt warned me about Viet on cyclos just snatching stuff off tourists literally the jewelery off their necks and their handbags. How did you manage to "blend in" and not get your expensive camera stolen? I was going to take my DSLR but now I'm thinking I"ll take my cheapo point and shoot. any tips of not getting my camera yanked off of me by a cyclo?
    Man reading it pisses me off, I thought my aunt was exaggerating. Now I'm reading these stories on forums. I guess I'll have to leave my jewelery at home and dress like a bum.
    imnotarunner at gmail dot com
    much thanks!

  2. I haven't heard any scary story about cyclos snatchig stuff but I would expect that in any country, I guess. Tourists are always visible and are an easy target. I always kept my camera either around my neck and holding the body with my hands or inside the bag, cross-body. I did not face with even an attempt to steal, nor I saw anything like that. Good luck and happy travels!

    1. Nice report We are travelling to Ho cho Minh and on to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Its comforting to read that there was no problem with carrying the Dslr camera .I would love to take picture with my new Dslr.Any mosquitos problem in April because We will be there in April 2012.

    2. Yep, no problems, just use the common sense and care and your camera will be safe. As for mosquitos, we always used anti-mosquito cream and were not bothered. These creams usually smell quite annoying but it's worth for not being biten.

  3. hallo, i come from Vietnam. Now i'm living in Germany, watching your fotos makes me miss Vn so much. One thing i think you should change is: "Ben Thanh Market", not "Ben Tanh Market" :).
    About Traffics: really interesting :)). i really like it. As i think, "nearly" none of tourists are injured. It's chaotic, but people usually drive slowly [certainly, there are some exceptions]. in Vietnam, IT IS REALLY DANGEROUS when you go on highway! Please Remember!!
    Yes!! there are many cases about cyclos snatching stuff! However, it would be no problems about carrying DSLR to shoot, just pay a little attention about your stuff.
    For prospective tourists, 2 things you should try: Cafe and Food!! Talking about HCM city/Saigon, we talk about them.
    Cheers ;-)

    1. RinC, thank you for your comment! (I'll correct the name of the market). And I agree, Vietnamese food is delicious!

  4. Awesome article. Loved it. Brought back so many nice memories of HCMC. Thanks! Loved your pics too...

  5. Interesting stories - plus excellent eye especially for indoor architecture. I've never been there but... as you've started - I'm at the point I'm not sure if I'll miss it... ;)