RK and I travelled a lot during the first half of the year. Most of which we planned the end of last year after I completed all my cancer treatments. So when our travel marathon ended, it felt a little weird that there’s no more holiday to look forward to for the rest of the year.
We didn’t want to commit to another holiday because we didn’t have any wishlist. But we didn’t want to not travel too. Thus we decided we’d go for a last minute trip at the end of the year.
Our last minute 3D3N in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in mid-October became that trip.
A lot of our close friends have been to Ho Chi Minh. That made the last minute decision a lot easier because we haven’t come across anyone who wouldn’t recommend Ho Chi Minh; at least not like travelling to Phnom Penh (even though we defied skepticism).
I’d share itinerary for Ho Chi Minh in a separate post but today, let’s recall my best of Ho Chi Minh travel!
#1 Shopping at Ben Thanh Night Market
This was at the top of my list because RK broke his treasured Crocs slippers as we were taking a long walk back to the hotel from the city attractions. His first decision was to buy cellophane tape from 7 Eleven. It worked. For 3 minutes. 😂
We realized we were walking past Ben Thanh Market on the way back to the hotel so decided to try our luck there. We ended up with one RM18 Adidas slippers, three RM14 each Under Armour and Nike sports top, and one RM14 elastic waist boho pants. Pretty sure they were all counterfeit or rejected goods but (hey!) they were great steals even for non-branded.
I liked the impromptu-ness of the incident and the pleasant blessing in disguise we encountered. We didn’t even visit the famed market during the daytime despite staying 10-min walk away.
#2 Having A Drink at Bui Vien Walking Street on Saturday Night
Our hotel was located in an alley off Bui Vien Walking Street without us knowing that it’s a nightlife hotspot. When we arrived on Thursday night, I complained about the motorists that couldn’t stop honking me off the edge of the road despite the “walking street” signage.
On our final night, I asked RK for a drink on those low stools by the streets because we haven’t done that! That’s a Vietnam icon right? We recalled that street having a few shops with those seating arrangement so we went even though we were super tired.
There weren’t a few. The street came beyond just alive that Saturday night. It was bursting with energy and excitement! Throngs of people were sitting on those low stools on every sidewalk space you can find.
Best time and place for people watching. We picked to sit beside a couple who couldn’t stop smooching. We looked out for hot chicks (sadly, not plentiful). Adults were dancing under neon lights in bars while toddlers were cycling on the street. Friendly patrols came to ensure we don’t sit too far off the sidewalk.
Did I say alcohol was cheap? RM10 for two bottles of alcohol. It was fantastic.
#3 Duck Walking 100m in Cu Chi Tunnels
Tell anyone you’re going to Ho Chi Minh and there’s a good chance Cu Chi Tunnels is recommended (after coffee and food).
Cu Chi Tunnels was a 250-km network of tunnels built by the (North) Vietnamese soldiers during wartime with the Americans. It wasn’t just a battlefield but a refuge for civilians to live for many years. They cooked, made weapons, and raised children in the tunnels. And we’re talking about tiny tunnels where the typical Americans can’t fit. How impressive right?
We learned a lot about the resilience and adaptability of the Vietnamese troop in Cu Chi. I also learned first hand I accidentally signed up for leg workout that day.
Duck walking in a tiny tunnel was fun. Sliding deeper into the lower section of the tunnel was exciting. Charging forward for 100m when tour guide recommended to only do 40m was thrilling. Coming out from the tunnel sweaty and legs all sore was unexpected… 😆
My legs were so sore that day and even more sore the next day. I wasn’t even kidding when I kept telling RK I could get a cramp anytime, moving or not moving. The muscle ache made Cu Chi Tunnels all the more memorable? Yup.
#4 Drinking The Best Craft Beers in The World
I’m not an alcoholic ok? This craft beer brewing spot was at the top of my list because how often can you drink the best chocolate beer in the world? I didn’t even know such beer exists. Plus, it’s affordable and conveniently located!
It was a rainy night when we visited Pasteur Street Brewing Company. We visited the Original Tap Room as opposed to the newer rooftop tap room. Just realized they have another outlet in Hanoi so maybe I’d drop by in Jan!
Anyway, the chocolate beer was very interesting. I had a sip of RK’s while I ordered a passionfruit ale myself. This got a Gold in Asian Beer Award. They had other award-winning craft beers also. We ordered single serving each but I’d recommend ordering the Sampling Flight to taste all 6 of their signatures.
Space was tiny, just like every single lot shops in Ho Chi Minh. But it was comfortable. The vibe was great.
#5 Walking Tour within Ho Chi Minh City
We toured the city on our last day at Ho Chi Minh. Looking beyond the crazy soreness in my legs, I liked how Ho Chi Minh was walkable for tourists. A lot of tourist attractions were within walking distance. The city also offered a lot of noteworthy food and nightlife spots.
The hotel we stayed was 20-min walk to the furthest city attraction we visited. But along the way, we visited places and ate so we never took such long walks. Besides that, the traffic was so bad in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh that it’s faster to walk.
We visited War Remnants Museum, Saigon Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace (didn’t buy ticket in), Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Walking Street Nguyen Hue, Bitexco Financial Tower Sky Deck, and Ben Thanh Night Market.
Guess which was my favourite city attraction? To my surprise, it was War Remnants Museum. Maybe because we spent the most time there. But likely because it provided a glimpse into the history of Ho Chi Minh. Pretty intense I would say.
During the trip, I couldn’t help but keep comparing Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. But looking back, both cities were quite different despite being neighbours sharing the same Mekong River.
It was a good first trip to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh made me feel intrigued to want to explore and see more of Vietnam.
Will I go back to Ho Chi Minh? Maybe. After all, travelling in Ho Chi Minh was relatively affordable, if not cheap. It’s such a popular tourist destination that I met three groups of Malaysian friends during my three days there. Wonder if there were more that I didn’t bump into.
Till the next trip!
Teaser. Next AirAsia flight booked: Hanoi, Vietnam in January 2018! Vietnam, back to back yo!