A blink and A glimpse: Saigon – Vietnam

When
6 – 9 December 2009


Travel Mate/s
Jack & Sat


Itinerary
6/Dec/2009 Jakarta (Indonesia) – Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
7/Dec/2009 Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnel – Mui Ne
8/Dec/2009 Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh City
9/Dec/2009 Ho Chi Minh City – Jakarta (Indonesia)


Travel Notes
Why I go to Vietnam then..it is all because of the spontaneous attitude toward the budget airline fair price and a friend invitation, a great opportunity combine with a tempting offer. And suddenly I have booked the ticket ^_^


Are you sure to have a holiday in Vietnam? Don’t you worried about the war? Yup that was my mom first reaction when I told her about this plan. The fact that Vietnam is famous because of the war which inspired some of great movies. But now Vietnam is an interesting destination for travel, because of its rich historical sites and nature beauty.






From Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) go up to Hanoi to see Ha Long Bay. It will be a perfect itinerary. But due to my spontaneous act which would be my excuse not to do research before booked my flight. I know those interesting places after the fact that I have bought my return flight. And I only had 4 days 3 nights spent there. With time limitation we decided to go to:
1. Cu Chi Tunnel – it’s a must!
Located 2 hours by bus from Saigon (total: 4 hours back and forth), Cu Chi Tunnel is a must see historical site if you go to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It will show you the tunnel built by Vietnamese during the war as part as their strategy. We can also try to go into the tunnel and experience how they lived at that time. Really awesome.
2. Mui Ne
Located almost 6 hours by bus from Saigon (total: almost 12 hours back and forth), we left Saigon in 3 PM and arrived in Mui Ne almost at 9 PM. It is also because the bus need to stop for the toilet and mini market.
What famous from Mui Ne is the Sand Dune. White and Red sand dune. Also if you like Kite Surfing, there is Kite Surfer school in Mui Ne.
3. City sightseeing
Ensure not to skip the War Remnants Museum, it will give you the real picture of war. Then go to Reunification Palace which located in the city center which near of a really nice park and several European style antique building such as the Cathedral, Postal office, Opera House and also House of Representative. We also will see Uncle Ho statue near the House of Representative.
4. Of course me want shopping in Ben Tanh Market
For all the shopaholic, Vietnam is famous because of its cheap price but a lot of the time we need to bargain badly. I bought 8 meters of Vietnam silk only for 19 USD. And it is two sided, we could use both sides of the silk. Insider tips would be always to put a smile in your face while bargaining. A ladies pinch me due to my consistency and determination to bargain, it is ok because we laugh together and at the end I got the price that I want…2 USD for a nice velvet Vietnam girl bag. And I bought a lot! ^_^


Another insider tips would be to consider the distance of each places is important.
4 days 3 nights was really a blink! Actually I only had 72 hours (total hours) – almost 16 hours on the road – almost 24 hours for my night sleep. A blink and a glimpse!


Budget


This is the fact, Vietnam is cheap even for me who come from a developing country.


We had a really good accommodation for about 5 USD – 10 USD; big room, en suite bathroom, tv (even flat tv screen), hot water, air conditioner, breakfast and also lift! In Saigon, just go to Pham Ngu Lao Street as its backpacker area. In Mui Ne, you can try Hanh Cafe.


Total budget spent for this 4 days 3 nights trip was 95 USD plus airline ticket more or less 80 USD.


For detail of our actual costs (click the image, then press ‘page up, page down, right and left’ for the whole spreadsheet):



Personal Notes
Language barrier would be something that made my journey spicy ^_^
* Saigon – Cu Chi Tunnel: we book the tour from our hostel. After breakfast, the hostel person guided us to a big road used as a bus terminal, she told us to ‘Wait for Him -> ???’. Then she left us without any of Cu Chi Tunnel tour bus information. After waiting for 10 or 15 minutes, we manage to found our bus and amazingly our name were already in the list.
* Saigon – Mui Ne: again we book the bus and also our accommodation from our hostel. At 3 PM, the bus left Pham Ngu Lao street (our hostel location). At 9 PM finally we reach Mui Ne area, several people drop directly in their hotel/hostel. I saw our hostel name through the bus window, but the bus was not going to stop. My friend-Jack-tried to asked/told the bus driver, he only gave him a waive -> ???. We were dropped at the end of the road (with condition, we did not know where were we -> typical ^_^ ). And once again, amazingly our hostel guy there to pick us up. ‘Pick us’ means help us to get a taxi, then we paid the taxi.


Another insider tip would be to agree first on the price before taking any of the service/goods. Especially in the tourist spot, they will tried to give you the highest price (even it is unreasonable). We were the victims, drinking the most expensive coconut water. Almost 10 USD for 3 coconuts. It was nut enough! In our country 1 USD for 1 coconut is already expensive.


Sleeper bus was also a unique transportation. We had it during our way back from Mui Ne to Saigon. It was a regular bus, but instead having a seat/reclining seat, they gave bed with a little pillow and blanket! Note this sleeper bus has the same price with the regular one back then.



At the end, lot of time travel also about with whom we share the experience.



References
Thanks to Jack’s blog that help me to recall several memories
http://rekamankehidupanseseorang.blogspot.com/2009/12/south-vietnam-trip-part-1.html
http://rekamankehidupanseseorang.blogspot.com/2010/01/south-vietnam-trip-part-2.html
http://rekamankehidupanseseorang.blogspot.com/2010/02/south-vietnam-trip-part-3.html

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