Hi, a friend and I have just one day to spend in Saigon before we head out to Cambodia. We really want to maximize the time we have. We've seen the Reunification Palace and the Cuchi tunnels already so we want to see other places and do other things. Any tips on what else we can do in 24 hours? Thanks!
#1 mia22 has been a member since 19/10/2010. Posts: 1
You have to go to the Ben Thanh market, also I agree, don't
miss Remnants Museum! the Jade Pogoda also pretty special.
#3 salome has been a member since 20/10/2010. Posts: 2
I know that Ben Thanh market is in every tourist guide but I don't really know why, it's just a place full of "made in china" stuff and it's alot more expensive than anywhere else... for something in the same style I'd go to Cholon, although again it wasn't my favourite thing in Saigon. Walking around is what I'd recommend, if you'll be lucky you might see real local markets with live animals waiting to be chosen and eaten. It does shock you but at least you're seeing true Saigon and not the one made up for tourists...
#5 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133
I've seen several people say that Ben Than is quite expensive. If not there, where else should we buy Vietnam souvenirs? Also what is the best kind of coffee we can take home and where should we buy it? Is the half day Cu Chi Tunnel tour worth it? Or should we do a one day tour? I only have a day and a half in Ho Chi Minh before heading out to Bangkok :o
Ben Thanh market - expensive or not - might be ok if you have limited time and want to get some shopping
War Museum - don't miss, very interesting.
OR, grab a beer and people watch
Tunnels - half day tour is enough
I brought several packs of Trung Nguyen coffee, the S series, it's delicious. I found out that buying it in supermarkets was the best, in markets they just try to rip you.
#10 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133
Coffee is huge in Vietnam and Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter after Brazil. In all honesty I wouldn't buy it at a super market (if you also want to have a little fun).
Spread out over the city there are coffee shops that sell beans (arabica, robusta), it's hard to miss if you walk around for a while (although not many shops in district 1). Only problem is that the coffe is roasted over open fire and usually too black. At least for espresso. Perfectly fine if you also buy the typical vietnamese coffeemaker (the one that goes over a single cup) and very cheap. Most of them can vacuum pack as well.
If you want espresso quality you will need to buy in more specialized shops that have an dry-air roaster and blend arabica and robusta. A friend of mine used to be a coffee buyer (wholesale) in Saigon and took me once to the coffee-exchange. If you're really interested in it I could recommend that (and even buy coffee there) but I do not know however how to get there. But you could ask around and you should be able to find it.
I also think Ben Thanh is overrated for shopping. Ok for fake watches but not much else but I guess alright if you don't have much time.
Overall I think it's best and easiest to head towards Cholon (chinese area) along the way you will find some beautiful roads with tall trees and plenty of shops and the occasional pagoda.
I also recommend to do that trip by cyclo. Yes it's touristic but I still enjoy it and you can take great pictures with the camera in your lap of the motos whizzing around you and people won't notice you so much.
You don't say when you intend to arrive or how you are going off to Cambodia. But one day: if you been to Cu Chi tunnels and the Palace already then I suspect you've already done Notre Dame cathedral and the Post office. I'd be inclined to book a one day trip to the Mekong, assuming you have time and aren't going to Cambodia that way. Cao Dai is another place to go but usually the tunnels make up the rest of the day on that tour so might be a waste of time.
Personally I'd just wander around, have a massage, sort of pamper yourself a bit. People watch with a drink. In the evening you could always go for a river cruise / meal. If you are here and it is open to the public, you could always go up to the viewing gallery in the Bitexco Financial tower. I doubt if you will get a better view of HCMC. It's opening date is running late though - suppose to be opening this month. They seems to be still beavering away like mad on it. There is always the new Vincom Center that opened this year to go shopping in. 5 floors, downwards! It's bigger inside than it looks outside. The outside area including the gardens is the size of the shopping area inside below ground.
You could always head off to Saigon Sq. market of which there are two. The one on Ton Doc Thang has some nice eating places at the rear end of it. Ben Thanh market I think of as a sweat shop with over-priced goods. Very uncomfortable shopping conditions too despite all the fans.
scarletscorpion: Cu Chi tunnels...is a half day tour, morning or afternoon.
If doing a cyclo tour, be very firm in dealing with them and write down the agreed price. To be frank, given the reports of abuse, demands for far more money etc on various forums i would avoid like the plague!
#12 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90
Of course that buying in a market can be quite fun, but after the trip I got annoyed with that characteristic we find so many times that is trying to rip you. I've travelled a bit in different parts of the world and nowhere else I got people laughing at me because I had paid more than the normal price. Just because we are westeners doesn't mean we have an endless pocket. But you only need to leave a tourist area to immediatly be away of those unpleasant moments. I do understand that for them we are the lucky ones that enjoy holidays. I'm sorry, this is nothing against you eastwest! :-) And I loved my trip, the countries visited and 99% of the people I met!
#13 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133
I'm Filipino and I'm arriving at Vietnam at 9am on a Monday then planning the Cu Chi Tunnel, war remnant museum, Notre Dame and the Palace on tues. I leave HCMC on Wed early morning, 1am. :D
Is it okay to do the Cu Chi tunnel tours in from the Pham Ngu Lao cafes as I have read that it is cheaper to go with the tours rather than hire a taxi? I am going with 2 friends.
I would probably do the shopping on monday. I haven't heard of the Vincom center. I will try to check that out as well. I can buy the coffee press with the coffee right? Planning to bring home some of that :)
Thanks guys for all the information :)
For a group tour you can't beat the prices from the backpackers area for Cu Chi, you can't go far wrong. about 110k dong or so.
The Vincom looks like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bertie_is_here/4563009638/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/bertie_is_here/4565171608/
#15 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90
the vietnamese coffeemaker is a drip (not a press) and can be bought anywhere
@indoluso. No offence taken, but I also wasn't referring to buying coffee in the markets. There really are plenty of coffee sellers where only vietnamese people come to buy their coffee for their own (coffee)shops. These places have fixed prices written on transparant boxes (containing the beans) and this is the price per kg normally. There is absolutely no haggling and why should you if a kg of Arabica is for sale at $3-4 per kg. Just don't try to buy in tourist areas. My impression is that too many people do their shopping in Pham Ngu Lao and there you get ripped off in an unpleasant way.
for shopping textiles (silk, ties, dresses, shirts) you have some nice shops in the side streets from Dong Khoi but although these places offer good quality they are obviously also expensive but any purchase is easier and if you compare with markets it's not that much of a difference.
Although 1-day is not enough in Saigon, I can suggest the following:
01. Stay in Pham Ngu Lao Area...
02. Walk from there to ben Than Market ..and be ready to get ripped off...
03. If you are ready to spend some benjamins, head straight to Parkson and Vin Com Tower..
04. Go back your hotel in Pham Ngu Lao. rest.rest.. or hang out in some small bars, have a drink or coffee there and chit chat with some expats...
05. Take a rest ....Save your energy for your next trip..you may need it...
Have fun !
#17 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24
To Scarlet Scorpion :
Nice to hear you will visit HCMC via Cebu P. flight. You said Monday? Is it 27 Dec ?
Pham Ngu Lao is I believe the only place that can offer tours (a lil cheap) to Cu Chi tunnel...
Come to Cu CHi tunnel by TAXI ? hahaha...you must be joking..
Get a ticket from any agency in Pham Ngu Lao and have fun in Cu CHi.... Enjoy...
#18 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24