Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Day One

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Day One

The Arrival

I have been to Vietnam before, but never to the capital city. In the past, I visited Chao Doc during my trip to Cambodia. So, when my wife asked me “where are we going next, dear?”, I told her, let’s go to Ho Chi Minh city!

The flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Ho Chi Minh City, or its IATA Code – SGN, a reminisce of its old name: Saigon, takes around 2 hours. Upon approaching the city, the landscape changes from a swampy river area to a cosmopolitan where its buildings were built close to each other. We arrived around 5.00 pm local time, around 6.00 pm back home.

It feels so close and… white.

The Journey to the Hotel

Upon immigration clearance, we decided not to take the taxi. So, we took the Yellow airport shuttle bus No. 109 which will bring us straight to Ben Thanh Market. We booked our accommodation at The Luxe Hotel, which is within walking distance from the Market. The ticket for the shuttle bus costs 20,000 Dong per person.

The shuttle bus ticket

The journey to the hotel was fine, but Ho Chi Minh city really surprised us with the amount of motorcycles available on the road. It was our first time travelling in a country where the amount of motorcycles are absolutely more than cars.

A lot of motorcycles.

When the bus dropped us near the Market, we crossed the big roundabout full with motorcycles while dragging our big luggage. But one thing that I do respect about the motorcyclists at Ho Chi Minh city is the fact that they respect pedestrians. When they saw us crossing, the slowed down their motorcycles to enable us to cross. How considerate!

Dinner at the Daun

There are quite a lot of Halal food eateries in the city. After all, many Malaysians flock the city to buy cheap fabrics and knocked-down outdoor goods. There is even an informal “Malaysia Street” here due to the fact that there are swarms of Malaysians doing their shopping at the street.

Walking around Saigon looking for dinner

Near The Luxe Hotel, there are several Halal eateries such as Nabil Briyani House and Halal Saigon Restaurant. But we decided to try The Daun for its good ratings.

The Daun is a very nice and cosy restaurant. The Pho is so good (that remembering it now makes me drool!). The only downside of The Daun is the price, which is on the higher side. A bowl of beef pho costs me 90,000 Dong.

90,000 Dong beef pho

Nevertheless, for its ambiance and comfort, the higher price is justifiable.

Meeting our local friends

The best part of travelling is when you got to meet up your local friends. I have known Leo and Toan during my early years as a blogger. They blogged about their travels and from there, we got to know each other more.

Since we were in Ho Chi Minh city, we decided to meet them in person as a return gesture since when they came to Kuala Lumpur two year back, they made an effort to meet me.

A night market in Saigon.

So, after a short walk around the night market near Ben Thanh area, we walked back to the hotel and waited for them to pick us up. Being a lazy as Malaysian, I thought we would ride on a car, but no!

Walking along a narrow alley.

They told us that they were going to bring us to a cafe… by walking! The cafe is situated near the backpackers area where most of the European travellers stay (as compared to Ben Thanh Market where most Malaysians stay).

Us with them

We walked in a narrow alley until we arrived at the traditional-looking cafe. It is very charming to see the deco inside the cafe. The owner decorated the cafe to make it look like a traditional kampong-house.

The cafe.
UPDATE 2019: The cafe is permanently closed

According to Leo, the interior of the cafe exactly looks like the interior of a traditional house in Vietnam.

Inside the cafe

Back to the Hotel

We drank the amazing Vietnamese coffee (without milk as how I like it) and after chit chatting and swapping stories, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.

Walking back to the hotel.

+++++

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