Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) - {Day 1: The Luxe Hotel x Banh Mi Huynh Hoa x Bun Cha x Pham Ngu Lao} & {Day 2: Com Tam Ba Ghien x Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica x Central Post Office x War Remnants Museum x L'usine x Ben Thanh Market x Pho x Saigon Square x Walking Street Nguyen Hue} + {Day 3: Mui Ne - Fairy Stream x Fish Village x White Sand Dunes x Red Sand Dunes}

Trying to rush Part one of my Ho Chi Minh Trip before flying to Hong Kong tomorrow hehehe. First overseas trip with my best couple friend of 8 years and we were deciding between Hanoi or Hochiminh as both are well known parts of Vietnam (advise: travel by airplane if travelling from either parts) & Hanoi is known for a colder climate. Chose the City area over the Scenic & decided to go for the latter.

Vietnam's map structure seems lengthier so getting to places out of Ho Chi Minh (HCM) will take a longer time. Managed to visit the Mekong River and Cu Chi Tunnels (attractions around HCM) & the furthest location we travelled to from Hochiminh was Mui Ne which was a 5 hour bus journey (have around two short toilet/rest stops). Other further beautiful places recommended would be Da Nang & Hoi An (takes over one day++ car journey from HCM).

Booked way before hand during SIA's promos, thus unable to squeeze in a trip to Hanoi, but still the most affordable SIA tickets I've ever gotten, around 170++ SGD to & fro HCM only?!

my buds this trip. William, Wenmin, Louis #photastic4 (check out our HCM hashtags on instagram!)

in-flight movies I love

airplane food + my fav tomato juice

mains: some dory fish fried rice (continental) & chicken + potatoes (western)

forever taking videos but failing to take constantly so end up my go-pro is used for photography instead of videography hahaha

beer all day cos free flow lolz

Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport

Mobile Data
 Recommend you guys to purchase SIM cards at the airport, got mine from this store!

Got the 290,000 Vietnamese Dong package which is equivalent to 18 SGD!

Basically, Ho Chi Minh city has 19 districts with District 1 serving as the city centre. This is where you’ll find the most number of bars, restaurants, cafes and iconic landmarks. 
Some other districts like: District 5; Chinatown/Cholon is the biggest Chinese community in the country with Binh Tay Market while District 6 is home to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, middle-range area, budget hotels as well as peaceful residential area.

Most popular and prominent locations for tourist accommodations will be in District 1 which is where our hotel was located at. One of the better choices has to be Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel (popular~) but it was already fully booked so I had to look for other good hotels around the same area.

Managed to book this super affordable & good hotel at around 60-70 SGD per night!!
The Luxe Hotel
261 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Thành, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

no window room but its clean & comes with buffet breakfast & wifi! Super value for money & convenient location - will recommend this for a stay in HCM!

scooters/bikes overload in HCM, at one of the main traffic cross junctions in district 1!

first trip w bae after 10 years of friendship :')

In my HCM posts, I will be covering most of the popular food places in HCM, first dish to recommend will be:
Bánh mì
 A kind of vietnamese bread or more specifically their baguette, introduced by the French during its colonial period.

Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa
Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Opening hours: 3:30 pm – midnight, daily
Price: 30,000 VND aka 1.88 SGD

One of HCM's most famous banh mi place. Bf dislikes food in vietnam but only loves this, he had this and made trips to this shop countless times LOL. Plus it was walkable from our hotel!!

super crispy

for takeaways only so we went to some rdm drink stall nearby with awesome mango smoothies along the famous french baguette!

they are super generous with their meats & I absolutely love the use of Pâté in the baguette!! 

Evening snack checked, off to try Bún chả:
A Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle, which is thought to have originated from Hanoi, Vietnam. Bun cha is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce (like soup).

Bun Cha 145 Bui Vien
145 Bùi Viện, Quận, 1 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Located near HCM's backpacker street known as Phạm Ngũ Lão street is located in District 1.

green milk tea + passionfruit tea~

pork skewers!

Popular place among the tourists for a taste of Hanoi's Bun Cha in HCM, quite yummy, recipe should be tampered to adapt to foreigners tastebuds, but still, worth trying!

Pham Ngu Lao - Backpacker street filled with tourists and bars!

supper settled at some street stall filled with locals selling 
Cơm tấm, or broken rice, is a Vietnamese dish made from rice with fractured rice grains. Also known as Cơm tấm Sài Gòn, particularly served in southern Vietnam, Saigon.

both pork & chicken com tam were yummy!

rdmly settled at a bar to chill afterwards



walking past the pretty grand starbucks otw back to our hotel after drinks

Late as usual so these are the face of two people blending in with the locals drinking coffee at a coffee place next to our hotel early in the morning next to road junctions while waiting for me hahaha. 

Early morning Vietnamese Coffee concoctions & some nutty milkshake wm ordered which I surprisingly liked. (Me no like nuts)

vietnamese swag check

taxi with meters available everywhere & cheap hehehe

Cơm tấm Ba Ghiền
84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, phường 10, Phú Nhuận, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
6 am - 10 pm daily

HCM's most well-know com tam (broken rice grains) restaurant for brunch!

Com tam suon nuong, a pile of steamed broken rice with a marinated grilled pork chop on top!

yummy pork soup

3/4 of us ordered the legendary com tam suon nuong, but the chicken was almost on par as well! equally yummy.

Every local table had this green drink - Rau Ma so I forgot either me/william decided to order it, tastes like shiat though LOL some vietnamese wheatgrass weird mixture, other smoothies tasted better there..

Satisfied couples

and our day offically starts visiting Saigon's iconic landmarks.

    Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
    Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

right next to the cathedral is 

Saigon Central Post Office
2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

super photo worthy place to visit

who wants my coconut

who is the coolest couple?

I think me & wenshyy wins hehe

War Remnants Museum 
28 Võ Văn Tần, 6, 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
two opening timings: 7.30 am - 12 pm & 1.30 pm - 5 pm

Entry price: 15,000 VND

Many different floors & showrooms to visit if you are interested in Vietnam's history the War Remnants Museum presents an important but one-sided history of the appalling legacy of the decades of war that have ravaged Vietnam.

The Independence Palace

L’Usine Le Loi 
70 Lê Lợi, Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
opening hours: 7.30 am - 10.30 pm

Tried the HCM's version of P.S Cafe for dinner. L'usine is a retail space, cafe and gallery in the heart of Saigon.

read blog reviews of this place serving yummy cupcakes, so picked one which resembled a christmas tree, it was mint flavored and tastes alright, not super great but at least better than their red velvet cake? Can't beat the one I had in Jakarta.

Vietnam Milk Coffee 60,000 VND

Mango, passion fruit and yogurt (left) 105,000 VND
Sunrise Smoothie - Mango, banana, yogurt and berries (right) 100,000 VND
prefer the one with passion fruit :)!

Fat chips 85,000 VND
yummeh fat fries

Roast Beef Sandwich 150,000 VND

Chestnut & Pumpkin Soup 90,000 VND
too much nutmeg in the soup if not would have been better!

I guess the ambience made up for the pricey food here but for me its not really a value for money place to re-visit.


Walked from L'Usine to

    Bến Thành Market
    A large marketplace in central in District 1. This market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon & the most popular shopping area for tourists which is why prices would be super knock-off here but anyway HCM isn't really a place you go to buy stuff, things here are kinda outdated to me haha.
    Other Shopping Malls: Vincom Centre, Parkson, Diamond Plaza, Nowzone

had some leg massage nearby after walking for an entire day.

For dinner we met up with Louis's friend whose gf was a vietnamese so she brought us to eat what I've been most excited to try:
Phở - A Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken.

Phở Cao Vân
Not too sure about the address of the shop but other shops I wanted to try was Pho Le/Pho Phuong 25
They have pho franchises easily found around HCM as well, namely Pho 24 & Pho 2000!

super huge bowl but super yummy, I loveee pho + the generous servings of beef

Best place for "more trendy" clothes in HCM has to be the Saigon Square shopping malls (they have a few different locations) The one I went guided by the gf & managed to buy at least 2 pieces of clothes was

Saigon Square 3
176-181 Hai Bà Trưng, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Really looks so much better than the rest of the markets, more developed in HCM already.

Phố đi bộ Nguyễn Huệ
after some very chill (cause not much to buy in HCM LOL) shopping, they brought us to bask along the night lights at Walking Street Nguyen Hue located near Saigon River~

stark tower spotted *.*

Caffe Bene outlets in HCM & we decided to chill here instead of bars due to last min changes of the itinerary the next day as I made a silly mistake (to be continued..)

not very nice compared to korea's bingsus

weird red velvet drink

Loves of ma life

Night market around Ben Thanh Market area while walking back to our hotel (everything was like in District 1 hahaha loads of walking!!!)

Had an early night & woke up SUPER early because it was our day trip to Mui Ne

Mũi Né is a resort town with beaches & steady wind conditions. It is a popular weekend getaway from Saigon and it seemed like a more different & interesting part of Vietnam near HCM that we can visit (5 hours car ride lol)

Story was: We initially planned on going as I booked a private car tour for 4 which was around 63 SGD per head (180 USD in total) which I thought was going to include pickup from the hotel to Mui Ne (where got so cheap one LOL), but the day before I realised that the pickup is only from your resort IN Mui Ne. lol we wanted to forfeit it and had louis's friend called but it was too late for a refund, everyone was super chill and then we managed to get instructions of a bus ride we could take to Mui Ne before noon & in time for our private jeep tour we booked under this agency. Not going to name & give credits since they failed to check that I placed pick-up at Hochiminh instead of A RESORT IN MUI NE & didn't even give me any reminders.

at least we woke up so early we were the first & managed to try our hotel's complimentary buffet breakfast that ends at 10 am

btw there are plenty travel agencies around HCM especially in backpacker street area, so its not necessarily to book online. But I prefer settling everything prior to trip. End up also almost screwed everybody's asses hehe kidding.

I forgot how much extra we had to paid for this 5 hour bus ride but should be quite affordable LOL

bed bus seats so cool we all have to take pictures

& WE REACHED. after 5 looonnnnnggggggg hours

quite undeveloped location so settled for lunch at the place the bus stopped at. 

Got cheated by this bus agency to book super late return tickets at an overpriced sum and ended up paying extra for finding a better alternative for another earlier bus ride back (didn't really want to roam deserted mui ne after our activities) using our private guide's mobile. (forgot to take the guide's information to share as he was really helpful T.T)

dk how hygienic is the kitchen here but the pork still tasted the most acceptable

After lunch, our private jeep tour of Mui Ne begins!

1st Stop the Fairy Stream~

yellow/red sand dunes part near the fairy stream

had so much difficulty trying to climb on sand

Mui Ne Fishing Village~

ATV riding at the White Sand Dunes was so fun despite eating sand everywhere & failing to take much artistic shots due to the wind and sandiness LOL

more photogenic x better photographer around (me) than me

my bf is so gay hahaha

Magnificent view of lotus lake in the middle of the white sand dunes

Red Sand Dunes

did some charity by paying kids who were loaning their boards for sand sliding for a fee haha.

Super long day & scenic trip which marks a once in a lifetime experience, for the different areas to visit around the world or in asia. But Mui Ne is not a place for leisure to revisit. Hahaha sorry we were just too sandy, hot and tired after the tour, spent10 hours worth of journey on the road.

Headed separate ways for dinner as william was in need of western food & louis loves local delicacies hahaha

Settled for Le Crespo Pizza - late night eatery which serves decent wooden pizzas near our hotel.

cutting off my bf's explosive/sandy hair after a day in the raging sands

parma ham pizza + carbonara

shall end off Part one of my HCM travelogue here or I'll get runny nose due to lack of sleep in the plane later on. 

Forever etched in my memory xx.


  1. Hi, i am heading to ho chi minh soon and considering choosing to stay in the luxe hotel.. Do u have any itinerary to share? Esp to places out of ho chi minh and where to book for local day tours?
    My email:

    1. hi, i'm going to there with my family too,might to share with me too? my

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  2. What a really interesting trip you guys had. All the food looks amazing and activities look like fun! Thank you very much for sharing this!

  3. Nice photos and interesting trip to Mui Ne. Cheers!

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  5. I will follow your itinerary on this Dec :P .... Superb Writing

  6. Hi, your itinerary is so interesting. Was in HCM earlier but did nothing much there. This time I am bringing my 2 girls (14 & 11 yrs) for a 8-day holiday. Any recommendations to make it enjoyable for them? Thanks.

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  8. Hi there, interesting write up for HCMC trip. I would like to know for your one day trip to Mui Ne, normally the jeep tour will end at 6pm. And as i checked the bus schedule from Mui Ne to HCMC, it departs at 5pm. How can you manage to grab the bus? Any bus company that you reccmend. Tq:)

    1. hi thanks joey! Yea if you've read the post you would have noticed the slight screw up, thus I don't really have a specific bus or tour company to recommend because we literally went around the stop area when we were at mui ne to find a suitable bus & timing to head back to HCM as we did not want to stay in Mui ne for a night :/ hopefully you can find some good ones online/ in HCM itself in the backpacker street! We managed to grab a bus back because we rushed through our entire tour, so we ended our jeep tour earlier than it was supposed to be. As it was a private tour, the tour guide understood and could accommodate to us in order to let us catch the last bus back! I hope this helps~ :)

  9. I see. Yeah you are right. We are in control if joining a private tour. Thanks for your kind advice ! I dont have to take a private tour all the way from HCMC which cost much more higher :p

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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