We left Da Lat the same way we came, by plane, a bigger sized plane this time, heading for Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh the capital of the united Vietnam, also known as Saigon, which is the old name. The city is popular amongst expats and it is much newer than Hanoi for instance. Arriving at the airport, a cockroach, sized 5cm at least tried to seek shelter under our suitcase. We took a taxi to the hotel, which was 12 km down to the city in quarter 1. Luckily we had negotiated a fixed price for the taxi, because traffic was busy, very busy, it took us over an hour to get to our hotel.
Ho Chi Minh is quite a modern city with well-maintained roads and pedestrian walkways, which are also frequently used by scooters, when the roads are blocked by traffic jams. So be careful whilst walking them.
To get a view on the entire city you really should take the elevator to the 49thfloor of the Bitexco financial tower where there is a sky-deck; the shape of the building represents a lotus flower and it is the 3rdhighest building in Vietnam. We were lucky as there were no clouds and had an amazing view on Ho Chi Minh. The place gives you an idea of the size of this city, and it’s big, in fact it’s huge.
Like the rest of Vietnam no tuk-tuks here, so we decided to walk most of the time which is ok if you’re a little careful. In case you’re a little more adventurous you can use Grab, there’s a lot of Grab scooter drivers willing to drive you from a to be at really cheap prices.
Another must see in Ho Chi Minh is the ‘War Remnants Museum’. It shows in detail the cruelties of the Vietnam War during the sixties and seventies. The museum has several photo collections, which tell you the story through different eyes, all having one thing in common; it was horrible and mind blowing. You just can’t understand it if you haven’t been there. Most people probably don’t realize but besides the excessive amount of bombs dropped on this country and the zillions of landmines this country was sprayed with chemicals like ‘agent orange’ to death. Even now, generations later, still quite some children born have deformations and will have no life whatsoever.
On our last day we booked a trip to the Mekong Delta, the Vietnamese call it Song Cuu Long, which literally translated, means nine dragons, because the Mekong River is split in nine main branches in the area. The Mekong Delta is economically very important to Vietnam, as there is many rice fields, coconut trees and quite a lot of other fruits grown in the area. As we changed boats a couple of times the channels got smaller and smaller and so did the boats. In the end there were just 4 of us in a small sampan. It was a nice trip but felt a little touristy. Other stops during the tour were at a coconut factory where we ate the best coconut ice cream ever and bought a stash of coconut candy for our further journey and at a place to have a local lunch including fresh fish, spring rolls, soup and rice (or what did you expect). The place was a little controversial for some, not so much because it looked a little like a Vietcong training camp, having all kinds of rope three tracks and stuff but because it had crocodiles, porcupines, frogs, snakes and catfish. The fish, snakes and frogs were there as food for the guests, you could pick one and have it prepared. The fish, snakes and frogs were there as well as food for the crocodiles, the porcupines were just there as an attraction. Our last stop was at a local floating fish farm on the Mekong River. It was amazing how creative they are in building floating fish farms like this all over the place. It was somehow funny as well because the group had to split in several smaller groups to visit the place because the floating pontoon was not stabilized at all. We were not sure about this trip in the beginning and had little expectations but in the end we were glad we did it and learned some more about the area.
Just before leaving I had a short chat with one of the waiters in the bar of our hotel, at least as far as his English allowed a conversation and explained it was our last day in Vietnam and that our journey there had come to an end. He kindly asked where we were going next. When I answered ‘Cambodia’, he replied: Oh Cambodia… why you go there, ‘same-same’, it’s the same like here, rainy season, very hot, temples… Well… I could do some more of ‘same-same’, some more of Vietnam, so I was totally ready for Cambodia!
- Triple E hotel
If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh City, and you’re looking for a trendy hotel in District 1, Triple E is really worth looking at. The rooms are really nice, and the breakfast they are serving is out of this world. French cuisine alike … We ‘ve been there for 4 nights, so we have been so lucky to try and loved all the different options.
- Marcel gourmet burger
After weeks in Asia, a good burger is always a good idea, we thought. And boy, do they serve good burgers at Marcel gourmet burger! Without any doubts, the best burgers in Saigon!
- Skydeck Bitexco tower
The entrance fee is a higher than most ‘attractions’ in Vietnam (200 000 VND, which is about 7,5 euro), but it is really worth it. The views are a-ma-zing! Maybe a tip for Heineken lovers, for a little bit more you can also see the Heineken experience center in the Bitexco tower, you even get a few beers with your entrance fee!
- War Remnants museum
A must see when you’re in Ho Chi Minh. Be prepared, because the pictures and stories are very confronting. But still, a must see!