Sweet Saigon (Part 1)

It’s been a month since my last post – purely because a lot of things had happened between this day and that time. Well, first off, I was too busy wrapping up tasks to turnover in time for my scheduled trip to Vietnam. Second, we have one last event the same exact day that I have to go for the said trip. Third, I need to pack up all my things because after Vietnam, I am bound to go back to the Philippines (YAYYY homeee!!)! And yes, I’m currently writing this post in our house back in Cavite, with my family watching The Voice PH and the rain falling hard in the background. Damn, I missed this. <3

Anyway, this post is solely to tell you my brief, sweet experience of Ho Chi Minh City (more popularly known as Saigon) in Vietnam with my pseudo- Mother/ close friend, Darika. She visited me last August 31, arriving in Phnom Penh via Singapore Airlines.

Upon arrival, she's into checking her Facebook.

Upon arrival, she’s into checking her Facebook.

It was her birthday week and since I’m pressured to do a surprise, I did this the night before:

I showed this to a friend and he told me I should be teaching in Kindergarten since I love doing these kind of things and I love kids (Yeah, thanks a lot!*sarcastic tone*).

Anyway, the following day, September 1, is our trip to Vietnam! Why Vietnam? Actually we preferred Bangkok since we’ve been wanting to go there ever since we’re in the PH, but because the travel would take us 12 hours one-way by bus with very complicated transfers upon the border, we just opt to go to Vietnam which is only 6 hours ride from Phnom Penh. We have roughly 3 days and 2 nights to spare for the trip so I’ll have time to tour Darika around Phnom Penh before our departure.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect in Vietnam. Excited as always, I did my research and booked for everything we need to do a week before the trip, taking into consideration that we only have limited time to stay:

  • Roundtrip Bus Trip (Phnom Penh – Saigon) via Capitol Tours Bus – $ 18/ person – already includes toilet inside the bus, 1 free bottled water and wet tissue. They will drop you off to De Tham St. in District 1. Pick up for ride back to Phnom Penh will be at the same spot.
Phnom Penh - Saigon Roundtrip Tickets!

Phnom Penh – Saigon Roundtrip Tickets!

  • Holiday Hotel – Superior Room at $ 23.92/ night via Agoda – located at Ly Tu Trong St. Includes free breakfast.
  • Cu Chi Tunnel Bus Tour via VietFun Travel – $ 18/person – from 9AM – 1PM, includes pick up and drop- off to your hotel with free 1 bottled water.
  • Saigon City Vespa Tour via Vietnam Vespa Adventures – $ 59/ person – from 8AM – 12:30PM, riding a Vespa motorcycle, with free 1 bottled water and lunch at the well- known, Cafe Zoom.

DAY 1: DEPARTURE FROM PHNOM PENH; ARRIVAL TO Saigon

We departed from Phnom Penh at exactly 1:30PM, the last afternoon trip for the day. The trip lasted for almost 7 hours, spending around an hour in the border as many people are going to Saigon because of the Independence Day on September 2. It was the bus service who processed our passports, we just need to show ourselves for fingerprint and verification.

We dropped off our things in the hotel and chilled out for an hour, afterwards, went out to experience Saigon at night. Boy, Saigon is hell-crazy beer drinkers!

DAY 2:  CU CHI TUNNEL TOUR + PASALUBONG SHOPPING + DINNER WITH VIETNAMESE FRIENDS

Still sleepy from the beers we had, the following day we went to have our Cu Chi Tunnel Tour. Our tour guide, Huy, picked us up in our hotel. It was almost an hour ride from District 1. The experience was something I really treasure – something worth doing. This made me appreciate the hardwork and determination of the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. The tunnel is really amazing! I can’t even imagine how people managed to live here!

After the  tour, we had our lunch at Jollibee (because I badly missed it!) and had our pasalubong/ grocery shopping for coffee and Vietnamese knick-knacks. It was funny that Huy, who happened to finish his tour guide shift, happily accompanied us and even bought himself a Jollibee burger before we parted ways.

Afterwards, we just droped off our groceries in the hotel and had our shopping in the known Saigon Square and Ben Tanh Market. These places are to-die-for in terms of branded items, though by the time we went here, we thought everything’s fake and did not buy a lot. Apparently, after we talked to Darika’s Vietnamese friends, all the items are original, some maybe run-offs or have factory defects.

For dinner, we met Darika’s friends and had Vietnamese dinner. I didn’t get any names of the food since it was them who ordered for us but they are all good, except for the mint leaves part in the fresh spring roll (I really don’t like menthol in any other food apart from candies. HAHA.) Everyone’s really nice and funny. I cannot believe that all of them are married at the age of 25 /26. They said it’s usual for them to get married at such a young age! Before the night ended, I managed to learn from them few Vietnamese words like “hello” (“sinchao”), “thank you” (“cum on!”) and “bill please” (“tien tenh”) – sorry for the spelling but that’s how they pronounce it.

Here’s a photo of the group, grabbed from their Facebook as I forgot to take photo on my own:

Grabbed photo from Phan, one of Darika's Vietnamese friends.

I’ll be writing about our City Tour on my next post.

That’s it for now. <3 lots, Irene

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3 responses to “Sweet Saigon (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Sweet, Short Glimpse of Saigon (Part 2) | Chasing Happiness·

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