Ho Chi Minh Itinerary, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Itinerary

Estimated Budget (2pax): 1,000 SGD / 15,300,000 Viet Nam Dong

First Day
Morning Arrival from Singapore to Tan Soh Nhat International Airport. Taxi fare: 600,000 VND. Warning: Never booked with private drivers who approaches you outside the airport. Go straight to the taxi reception stand , fare should only be around 200,000 VND depending how far your hotel is. Our hotel was just 30 minutes away from the airport and we paid thrice the amount. 

Check in Kaiteki Hotel
Address: 22 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
3 days 2 nights 
44.72 SGD

500 metres from Ben Thanh Market 
1 km from the Reunification Palace
3.7 km from Military Museum 
7 km away or 30 mins away from Tan Son Nhat International Airport 

Nearby Restaurants are everywhere from Kaiteki Hotel walk straight away from the main road and turn right. Lunch at Huong Viet Restaurant, 400,000 VND (good for 3 persons)

Cu Chi Tunnel Tour
Price: 5 SGD /110,000 VND
Trip starts: 12:30 noon

Tour package Includes: Air conditioned bus, English speaking guide Excluding: Entrance fee of 110.000 VND,Lunch and Gun shooting

Ben Thanh Market 
Souvenirs: (haggle! Settle for less) This is the time where you use the Vietnamese Words with a smile. 
T-Shirts: 130,000 VND -150,000 VND
Keychains, Pouch and more: 55,000 VND -200,000 VND

Dinner at Ben Thanh Market, 400,00 VND (good for 3 people)

Second Day
Quick Breakfast at nearby Circle K Convenient Store. Two cup noddles and one chocolate cracker for 40,000 VND. 

Mekong Delta River Tour
Price: $9 / 200,000 VND
One Day Mekong Delta (My Tho Ben Tre)
Depart : 07:45Am Return: 05:00Pm

Tour Includes: Air conditioned bus, English speaking guide, boat trips, Lunch and Snacks

Mui Ne, Vietnam Itinerary
Third Day 
City Tour
My friend's flight back to Singapore, Airport transfer from Hotel: 160,000 VND

Ho Chi Minh Bus to Mui Ne
Bus fare: 140,000 VND
Travel time: 5 hours

Hotel Address: 137 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Binh Thian Province
3 days 2 nights
54 USD / 1,178 VND 

Fourth Day
Jeepney Tour 
Price: 110,000 VND

Meeting point: Mui Ne Backpacker Village 
Trip starts: 1:30pm 
Visit the Fairy Stream, Fishing Village, the White Sand Dunes and lastly watch the sunset in the Red Sand Dunes. 

Fifth Day
Mui Ne Hot Spring Center
Address: 133A Nguyen Dinh Chieu Str., Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan
Full Package :1,330,000 VND (2 pax)

Hot Mineral Mud Bath (15 minutes)
Warm Mineral Water with Aroma and Flowers
Thermal Bath Therapy
Swimming in the Pool
Relax on the Sun Beds
Steam Bath
Body massage and Thai Massage for an hour. 
Meal and Drink nearby the Pool 

Sixth Day
Early departure back to Ho Chi Minh City. 
Bus ticket (Mui Ne to Saigon): 140,000 VND
Travel time: 5-6 hours 
Taxi Fare (Saigon to the Airport): 350,000 VND 

Learn some Vietnamese Words: (this comes in handy when you're buying stuffs in the market). Make sure to say it with a big grin or with your loveliest smile.
Hello - Chao 
Thank You - Kaman (kam Uhn)
Where - Didao
Cheap - Makwa


What to do in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 

Use your skills in crossing the dangerous pedestrian lanes of Vietnam.

First Day: Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 

I've never thought about travelling to Vietnam before but when jetstar airlines was offering promo fare to Ho Chi Minh I just book the ticket and that's it. My mum and a friend of mine joined the craze to visit this interesting part of Southeast Asia. My friend did the initial research for our accommodation in the city and I for the travel itinerary. 

Check in Kaiteki Hotel
Address: 22 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
3 days 2 nights 

We booked this Japan-inspired capsule bunker beds in Ho Chi Minh Central. They had a great location and even offers travel tours around the city unfortunately they don't accept reservations. Food, shopping, tourist spots and everything you need was right at the corner of this hotel. I always make sure we have a place to stay everytime we travel abroad. Nowadays researching before travelling is a must, it's one cool gift we have from technology which makes going on a holiday carefree. 

If you're bringing more than 15 million VND a declaration form must be signed upon arrival. You can split the money with your companions to avoid the hassle. We arrived around 8 in the morning at Tan Soh Nhat International Airport. Once we got out from the airport a crowd of tour guide drivers intensely watched us as we made our way out. All of them were holding on to a piece of paper with certain guest names printed on it, hoping its us who ends their waiting time misery. The dismay in their faces were obvious as we passed by each of them along the corner. A taxi driver then approached us while we were looking around and taking some pictures. He continued to tail us and offered 600,000 VND going to our hotel. We just said yes besides he took our arrival picture and the deal sounded pretty good to me. However, It turns out that he had exploited our innocence and charged more than the usual price, as stated by our hotel receptionist. Next time better go straight to the taxi stall and book a tax right there, it only cost just around 200,000 VND for the trip. 

Anyways the taxi driver was kind and even taught us a few important Vietnamese Words:
Hello - Chao, Toilet/CR - Yasao, Where - Didao, Cheap - Makwa and Thank You - Kaman (kam-Uhn). I don't have any idea how they spell it ahahaa. The last two words were the most significant  during our interaction with the locals. 

Airport to Hotel travel time: 30 minutes
Check in Kaiteki Hotel 
Address: 22 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
3 days 2 nights 
SGD 44.72 

The hotel offers Airport Transfer: 160,000 VND ONLY
Laundry: 35,000 VND
Travel Packages: Cu Chi Tunnel and Mekong Delta tour
The place was perfect, it was a food haven for a traveller like me whose always curious when it comes to good food. Street foods, restaurants, bars and cafe were all over the place and a few tourist spots too: 
500 metres from Ben Thanh Market 
1 km from the Reunification Palace 3.7 km from Military Museum 

We immediately booked for our Half day Cu Chi Tunnel tour and Mekong Delta tour for the next day. We still had time for lunch so we went out and had our first Vietnamese meal. From Kaiteki Hotel just walk straight away from the main road and turn right and you'll find a stretch of shops and restaurants . There's also a nearby CIRCLE K, a convenient store to purchased a 1 liter water bottle worth 12,000 VND and some snacks for midnight.

Lunch at Huong Viet Restaurant

1. Goi Cuon Tom Thit or Fresh Spring Rolls with shrimp and pork: 79,000 VND
2. Banh Khot Tom or Traditional Banh Knot with shrimp: 86,000 VND
3. Muc Ong Nuong Muoi OT or Grilled Squid with salt and chill: 105,000 VND
4. Pho Hai San or Noodle soup with seafood: 79,000 VND
5. Watermelon and Fruit Mix Smoothies :49,000 VND and 59,000 VND, respectively. 
Total of 500,000 VND (good for 3 people) 

Once you get to know the place try to avoid dinning in at restaurants, so you wont have to pay for service charge or any food taxes. This is the street corner beside the hotel which stretches to the main big road where all the travel agencies is situated, and all the travel bus waits for the tourist. We went back to the hotel and the pick-up bus transfer was ready for our half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnel. The mini-bus was not well-ventilated, considering there were 20 people inside squeezed in like sardines. It was fine with me because of the scenery of the rice paddies and the mountain.

The city reminds me of Philippines with all the electrical wires hanging in the post, even the traffic and most especially the weather. It felt like I was back home again. When you're working in another country, everywhere you go doesn't feel like home at all, maybe you would feel comfortable for a week or so but it would still be different. This realization started when I don't get to see my family for a long time. For the past few years I've been travelling a lot and I've started to feel like a nomad now. I've also started the need not to feel at home,it's something different and I'm still trying to figure out how they call this feeling. The joy of being in a new land is not about capturing pictures, updating my instagram account and trying out new activities anymore. The need to be there, see new things, try new flavors and be amaze how other people live is what makes my travel experience precious. I think I'm starting and learning the art of contentment just by travel itself.

What to bring checklist: 
- VND Dong Bills 
- Slippers/Sneakers
- Water (1 bottle is provided) 
- apply some sunscreen, wear a hat 
- Camera
- A must-have: A vigilant eyesight to spot vehicles when crossing the street. The vehicles don't stop at all! like really! literally! ahahaa
-Learn some Vietnamese words. This comes in handy when you're buying stuffs in the market. Make sure to say it with a big grin or your loveliest smile. I'm not quite sure if this works for western tourist. My favorite useful words were "Makwa" for cheap especially when bargaining for goods and "Kaman (kam-uhn)" for thank you when I assumed I got the price that I want. My secret weapon for lowering the prices are my big brown eyes, soft arm squeeze (be careful with this one, choose wisely) and my bubbly voice saying these two Vietnamese words again and again.

My First Try of Vietnamese Street Food! I had the Flattened/Dried Banana Pancake worth 10,000 VND. The banana was thinly sliced like a paper and it tasted sweet and crispy. I saw these lady cooking this paper like food in a small pot with charcoal, I looked closer and still can't determine what was she heating up. So I simply bought one to feed my curiosity and it was a banana! She was kind and sweet. I loved how genuine people sell their goods, it makes the food more tastier and memorable. 

Travel Scoop: I was able to composed my blog drafts while travelling for 5 hours to Mui Ne. It was quite a comfortable ride with a great window view of the countryside. If you're interested to go on a tour outside the city then check out Mui Ne for a relaxing and excting getaway.

Cu Chi Tunnel, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Cu Chi tunnel Tour
Price: $5 /110,000 VND
Trip starts: 12:30 noon

Located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. The legendary tunnel network played a big role during the war in 1960's. This one tour you shouldn't missed when you're in Vietnam. 

Tour package Includes: Air conditioned bus, English speaking guide Excluding: Entrance fee of 110.000 VND, Lunch and Gun shooting. 

A travel agent picked us from the hotel, escorted us out to a small bus then drove 60 kilometres away from Saigon to Cu Chi District. The bus was not well ventilated, so the heat of the afternoon sun tortured everyone inside. I slept for two hours due to heat exhaustion and the next thing I knew we were at a Handicapped Handicrafts Factory. 

All the products in this store were hand-made by able-handicapped people, which makes the artwork more special. We watched them work with the art pieces, I was amazed how they'd level up children's artwork to the highest level. The art piece reminds me of my primary years when the teacher asked us to bring clean, dried egg shells and colorful paints for art class. All their works were beautifully made, it's clean, detailed and worth every penny. We rendered our support by buying one artwork worth 210,000 VND. 

Artwork prices ranges from 100,000 VND -700,000 VND

We drove another 30 minutes more to reached our main destination. The Cu Chi Tunnel vicinity was jam-packed with tourist, I guest its better to have a tour guide to clearly explain the history. The underground tunnel network is estimated to be over than 200 kilometres, I can't imagine how they dug night and day to finish the pathway. It clearly shows Vietnamese perseverance and discipline to protect their country and defeat the invading troops.  

During the tour we meet Tony, our guide throughout the day. He briefly  narrated the tunnel's significant history and the self-made weapons during the war. He even task everyone to crawl inside the tunnels to experience how the soldiers felt back then. It really made me feel claustrophobic but I kept going knowing that there's somebody behind me. They said the tunnel is more spacious now and even cleaner compared last time when Vietnamese soldier goes in and pass along military messages to their fellow comrades. 

We had short break at a firing range where we bought some softdrinks and ate some biscuits. The firing range is an optional activity for everyone. 

The crawling session began in two more tunnels, the height of the passageway became more wider for it has been altered for tourist comfort and most especially for accessibility. The tunnels were a  great hiding place for communication, transfer of military goods and food supply by the Viet Cong soldiers. It was used against the American forces during the Vietnam War.

Before we ended the tour they offered us snacks with mini tea shot glass and boiled cassava root crops. Afterwards, a documentary film was played at a small hut to further explained about the tunnel, and the heroic deeds of the Vietnamese people. The half day tour felt like a whole day of fun facts about Vietnam, its not really a good memory for the country but everything turned out well in the end. I hope this tragic event wont ever repeat itself. 

The bus drove back to the central city and stopped at the same spot right in infront of the Chu Lai Lan Archway, a few walks away from Kaiteki Hotel. 

We decided to have an authentic Vietnamese Dinner at Ben Thanh Market just 500 metres away from our hotel. Walk straight and follow the main road, once you spotted McDonald just cross the street to the park, at night it's well-lighted with white and blue lights. You will need to crossed another pedestrian lane to the market. Always watch out for vehicles when crossing the street, they don't stop at all even in the zebra lane.

Dinner at Ben Thanh Market: Ben Thanh TSC
1. Heo Rung Xao lan
Stir-fried wild boat meat with little water : 70,000 ( my favorite! )
2. Mixed Hotpot : 190,000
3. Banh Hoi Thit Nuong: Grilled pork with gine rice vermicelli: 85,000
4. Steamed Rice

T-Shirts: 130,000 VND -150,000 VND
Keychains, Pouch: 50,000 VND -200,000 VND

Second Day: Mekong Delta River 

One Day Mekong Delta : My Tho Ben Tre 
Tour Price: $9 / 200,000 VND
Depart : 07:45AM Return: 05:00PMIncluded: Air conditioned bus, English speaking guide, boat trips, lunch and fruits. 

The tour bus picked us up at the same location the previous day when we did the half day Cu Chi Tunnel tour. When we went inside the bus you can see that Vietnam's tourist industry is doing great. The big bus was jam-packed with  tourist from all over the world. This time around the bus is way bigger, better  and comfortable. 

We hit road when all the seats were taken, then first drove to the provincial roads of the Southern region of Vietnam. Passed by paddy rice-fields, pine-apple plantation, orchard, small hamlets and tombstones. Yeah, I typed that correctly tombstones and I'm not even talking about their cemetery. This is something new and unusual information for me. They have 1 or more tombstones placed specifically in the middle of the land. Our guide told us these graves were their family and relatives, fellow farmers who passed away. They serve as a guardian of their fields to secure a prosperous harvest during the season. The bus once again dropped by just like yesterday to a Handicapped Handicrafts Factory, bladder break for everybody for the long trip ahead. After endless sights of rice fields I doze off to the wonderful color of nature- a great excuse for a sleepy head like me.

Travel time: 2 hours

Arrival in My Tho city, a local motor boat took us to the muddy-like Tien River, sightseeing of fishing ports, the Rach Mieu bridge, stilt houses and an old Ice production company. There were 4 islands mentioned in our brochure tour : Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix and Turtle Island which are named according to Vietnamese holy animals. 

In the first island stop we witness the process of making coconut candy by skillful workers. They sell a variety of coconut candies too mix with cocoa or ginger , buy 5 packs get one free promotion for 150,000 VND. 

We went back to the boat for our second island stop. In this island we had our lunch at a local restaurant this is included in the package tour. After lunch, the guide gave us a short time to explore the island and do some activities: enjoy walking in the bamboo bridge, feed the crocodiles, a few minutes nap on the hammock and even rent a bicycle.

I'm not quite sure where the boat dropped us off but in our brochure it says we were in Unicorn Island. We simply followed our guide as we transfer from one island to another. In this island we got to enjoy the real taste of honey tea with some sweets. The service attendants will be in the corner waiting for you to buy one of their honey products, decline politely if you don't have any plans of purchasing.

The next part of the tour is my favorite where we hopped on to a small 5-seater boat, as it carried us through a small river full of water coconuts. It reminded of my trip in Thailand's Damnoen Floating Market yet this time around is different, it was focused more on nature-what a calm and peaceful ride. No more smoke belching motors boats and vendors selling food and souvenirs. 

The feeding program doesn't stop in the honey tea tasting table. We got to enjoy it again this time around with tropical fruits plus serenaded with Vietnamese traditional music. A unique genre of music which is performed only in this region of Vietnam. The tour ended with a lovely song as the final boat trip made its way back to My Tho. The bus waited at the same spot which then took us back to Saigon City. 

Just when we thought the tour already ended, the bus sidetrip to Vinh Trang pagoda. An architectural designed pagoda inspired with the fusion of Western and Eastern art. 

Dinner at Mon Hue Restaurant. They have different branches all around Ho Chi Minh City so I guess it's safe to say they serve great food. We all have different preference and maybe I just choose the wrong dish. Located behind Ben Thanh Market right across the street. 

Third Day: A short city tour around Ho Chi Minh City 

We heard Vietnam is quite famous when it comes to coffee. This country is even known as the number one coffee exporter in the world. As soon as the sun rise in the east we followed the sweet aromatic smell of coffee in the city. 

Urban Station Coffee 
Near the Bus Terminal and Petroli Mex Gasoline Station, a few steps away from Highland Coffee. 
Traditional Black Coffee (hot): 17,000 VND
Traditional Milk Coffee (ice): 18,000 VND
Amaretto (ice blended): 35,000 VND

Benh Thanh Market was just accross the street from the coffee shop. We had some pork barbeque street food for 10,000 VND, and at the same time window shop for my brothers t-shirts. If your stomach is looking for something familiar , then there's McDonalds two streets across from Benh Thanh Market. 

Food in Ben Thanh Market ranges from 70,000 VND to 250,000 VND

T-Shirts: 130,000 VND -150,000 VND
Keychains, Pouch: 50,000 VND -200,000 VND

We only want to see one landmark in the city and that the Reunification Palace also known as Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập)

Address: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam Opening Hours: 730AM - 5:00PM 
Entrance: 20,000 VND

I'm not quiet sure about the right way to the palace. If remembered correctly from Benh Thanh Market turn to Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa road. Walk straight, pass by the zebra crossing, spot the Remnants War Museum on the other side of the street. Keep walking until you see the grand building of the Reunification Palace. This establishment is close to public during international meetings. 

Along the way we found some cool guys fixing the electricity post. They were hanging on to bamboo ladders and swinging side to side to fix the wires. It's a dangerous job and I hope they find a new career in life. 

After a good walking exercise around the palace it was time to head back to the hostel. My friend was flying back to the airport, while my mum and I were taking the bus to Mui Ne. Good thing we got there on time and had enough time to have some lunch at Huong VY Restaurant nearby the hotel.

How to get there Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne:
Bus from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne
Bus fare: 140,000 VND 
Travel time: 5-6 hours

Beef with Pineapple 72,000 VND
Special Fried Rice 65,000 VND
Chicken Fried Rice in Coconut 70,000 VND
Sauted Mixed Vegetables: 38,000 VND
Pineappe Juice: 22,000 VND
Watermelon and Cucumber Juice: 29,000 VND
Cucumber and Pineapple: 29,000 VND
Total: 329 VND ( 3 pax )

My mum had a 20 kg luggage and it was really hard for me to  roll it on the uneven street. If you're travelling from one place to another make sure just to bring a backpack with you. 

I'm quite used to this kind of travelling, it makes me relax and think clearly. Back in Philippines we would always take the bus to travel the north or south end of Cebu. The beach is awesome in this part of the island. Its worth every inch of those bumpy roads and the agonizing bladder break deprivation. 

Travelling to Mui Ne in comfortable seats is a must. The Hanh Bus Liner is a great ride for long hours trip, the adjustable seats and dim lights are conducive for sleeping. They also provide free water bottle for each passenger. The thought of seeing the white and red sand dunes of Vietnam is worth to travel for. Check in Mui Ne Backpacker VillageHave fun and be safe ^__^


Itinerary Reminders:

1. Flight Details
Make sure to write down your booking reference number, be at the airport two hours before your flight and allocate time for your travel to the airport.

2. Accommodation Details
Write down your hotel/motel/resort/bnb booking number. Contact your place to inform them around when you'll be arriving — it really does help.  Also, ask if your accommodation has any discounted activities.  You'd be surprised!

3a. Transportation
List possible times your bus/train/boat arrives and leaves so you don't miss an activity.  Always give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes in case you get lost, get stuck in traffic, or are looking for parking.  Better early than late.  Of utmost importance: check for the last trip and fares!  So you still have time and money to get back.

3b. Car Rentals
Take note of your pick-up address and time allotted.  Our last car rental told us to bring the car back by a certain time with a certain amount of gas.  Allot money for fuel and parking.

4. Budgeting
Set aside a minimum and maximum spending amount for: meals, transportation, entrance fees, activities, souvenirs and emergencies.  3 meals a day + snacks adds up quickly, so keep track!  As well as tips for restaurants and activities.

5. Activities
Call to confirm your booking(s) a day or so beforehand.  Set alarms and/or calendar reminders for things you plan to do (i.e- bungee-jumping, river-rafting, or even city / food tours).

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have one more day to spare why not go to Mui Ne and go sand boarding in the amazing sand dunes of Vietnam.

Where am I going next?
My next adventure is to climb one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia, Mount Kot Kinabalu of Malaysia.