Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scam City: Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Notre Dame Cathedral 

Old General Post Office

 Night Life at Bui Vien

Botanical Garden

Bahn Mi

Ben Tanh Market
There’s always going to be a first time in travelling. During my first visit to Vietnam, I got scammed. Getting scammed is sometimes part of the adventure. It’s also an eye opener that you should be careful at all times especially when you’re travelling in a foreign land. We got scammed with our ride from our Airport to the hotel. The taxi driver asked 30 USD instead of just paying him 10 USD. In addition to that we only found few taxis roaming around the airport since we landed at around 2 in the morning. We did not realize we got scammed until we googled the information at our hotel room. The driver did not even bother to turn on the meter of the taxi. We got pissed off and just decided to sleep and prepare for the next day.

Come Morning we decided to tour the City of Saigon. We thought that the tourist spots were far from each other, so we rode a Cyclo to have the ultimate Vietnam experience. The driver told us that we would only pay him 50,000 Dong to the destination that we wanted to go, but instead he took us to a half day city tour. After the 3 hour tour he asked 1,500,000 VDONG or 70 USD to us. We thought that was expensive we gave the money to him and then he left us at some random destination. We got so angry because when we googled it we should have only paid him 300,000 VDONG or 15 US. That’s quite a lot a money for us since we were just backpackers travelling with a budget. We got so angry with all of the things that happened to us that we just decided to take a walking tour of the city. Then we realized that every destination was just near to each other we did not have to take a cyclo, a motorcycle, or even a taxi. We just did a walking tour of the whole city of Saigon from 3pm till 7pm. Then we experienced the night life at Vietnam. It was really fun since the night life in Saigon was very simple, we ate street foods like grilled squid, octopus and chicken, served with cold beer along the side streets of BueVien. We enjoyed the night life there since it was fun to people watch and sit at their small chairs while gossiping with your friends. The next day we just ate breakfast at the botanical garden. We packed our things and left since our flight for  was at 11 in the Morning.

Even though I got scammed in Vietnam, I will still want to go here again since I love the place and next time I’ll make sure to myself that I will not get scammed.  I fell in love in this place since I realized that is like the Asian Version of Paris. You would see so many similarities of their infrastructures which was inspired during the French Colonialism.  Saigon now has the image of Paris since it has a Notre Dame Cathedral; Opera House; Hotel de Ville; botanical gardens; parks; tree lined boulevard and a Café Culture with an Asian Twist.  I would definitely recommend this place to my friends since the attractions are nice, the food is great and commodities here are very cheap.

Getting There:
BY AIR:  Cebu Pacific Airways and Philippine Airlines flies direct from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City                    
Tips: You can get cheap flights as low as 100 USD roundtrip to 200 USD  ;                                  
          just wait for online seat sales so you can get the best deals . 

Where to Stay:
Pham Ngu Lao (backpacker area)- you can find cheap accommodations from $10 to $20, this is also where you can find most of the travel agencies in Saigon 
Dong Khoi-this area is where you can find more luxurious hotels which price ranges from $20 to $100 USD per room per night. 

Getting Around
The best way to see Saigon is to walk.                                                                                                  
 If you want to go from one place to another is by Cyclo (1 USD ) 
 Rent a scooter for $10/ Day                          
 You can also find metered taxis that can be found anywhere
 Rent a car but this is not available which would cost you $30 a day

Must See Tourist Attractions
Notre Dame Cathedral; Reunification Palace ( Old General Post Office); Ho Chi Minh City Museum; Ben Tanh Market; War Remnants Museum; Ho Chi Minh City Hall; Municipal Theater; Botanical Gardens;  Independence Palace; Cu Chi Tunnels 

Must Eats
Never leave Vietnam while not trying the famous Banh Mi ; Bun Cha; Cold  Coconut Water served in a coconut shell; Pho;  Grilled Octopus; Fresh Fruits; Brewed Coffee;  Spring Rolls 

For  the shopaholic who wants to find the best bargain in Saigon you might get  awesome deals at the Ben Tanh Market and Thai Binh Market. 

Night Life
Bui Vien Street- is the perfect place to chill and meet new friends, eat the local street food, drink cold beer and do some people watching. 

Travel Tips
-Get a Tourist Map at the Airport
-Know the plate number of taxi you’re riding.                                                                              
-The best way to see the city is by walking. Just be careful when you’re crossing the street.              
 -Before going here, make sure to have a photocopy of your passport in your email                                 
 -Be careful of your belongings since there are many  cyclo thieves roaming around the city.              
-Get Lost. Have Fun. Do something crazy. Make friends.  Always Trust your instinct. Explore always.

Saigon  3 Days /2 Nights Itinerary and Budget
Day 1
Cost in USD
City Tour (Walking)
Nightlife (Street food and Drinks)
Day 2

Chichi Tunnel 
Day 3

Last Minute Shopping and Food Trip

Roundtrip Airfare Manila-Saigon
(Promo Fare)
Hotel Accommodation ( 2Nights)

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