Monday, 12 September 2016

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Reunification Palace

This year, we had our annual staff retreat in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. 

It was a 4D3N trip but being in a company trip meant we can't go anywhere we wanted to. The first 2 days were spent visiting international schools(I'm a teacher FYI) and pre - planned meals with everyone. Only on the 3rd day of our stay did we get the chance to explore the city on our own. 

Rather than going for the traditional tours aka Mekong River cruise and Cu Chi Tunnels, my friends and I all agreed to go for cafe hopping instead, which I will talk about on a separate post: 

click belowe for links"

Gac Hoa Cafe
To be completely honest, I did not expect a lot from this trip. I blame the people around me for feeding my mind with not-so-good thoughts about Vietnam(eg. bad traffic, snatchers, nothing much to explore on etc). Although the traffic part was quite true, it wasn't that bad, I've seen far worse traffic jam and I believe it was a still better situation in Ho Chi Minh. 

The streets were lively. The park opposite our hotel were full of people, young and old, playing street games, badminton, walking their pets or simply sitting on a bench. There were lots of vendors at the sidewalks where you can buy coconut juice(YESSSSS), fruits and all kinds of stuff. There were plenty of quirky shops and pretty cafes; like we can find 3-4 different in each corner of Ho Chi Minh, I am not even kidding.

Oh and yeah, there were motorbikes EVERYWHERE, if only I pursued learning to ride one when my dad was trying to teach me, I would have rented a motorbike and joined the fun lol.
Generally speaking, Vietnam was definitely a lot better than what people around me seemed to think. In fact, I liked it. I liked its clean but vibrant streets with lots of vendors selling food I've never seen before or local crafts. I liked all the fairy lights and LED flashing at each corner and seriously, I LOVED it most that coffee was within reach everywhere I go.

So here are the few places we've been to from our short but satisfying trip!



Reunification Palace
It was previously known as the Independence Palace but was renamed Reunification Palace after a completed negotiation between the communist in North and South Vietnam. It one of the must see architecture site and tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh.

Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street, Ben Thanh, district 1, Ho Chi Minh 
Opening hours: 7.30-11am and 1-4pm

Central Post Office
Our guide gave us only 15 minutes to explore this area including Notre Dame and I was not feeling well at that time so we just passed on exploring inside and had a rest at a nearby cafe instead.

Address: 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Opening hours: 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM




Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral
Address: 
1, Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh at Night
We went to a night market nearby our hotel called Ben Than Market. There were plenty of local goods you can buy to bring your family and friends back home some souvenirs. 

TIP: bargain all you can! Prices can literally drop to half of its 'original' cost. There were also lots of local street food sold at the sidewalks. The one pictured below was my favorite! Sticky rice with different flavors topped with coconut milk and flakes! I was not able to capture how the night market looks like because I was too engrossed taking a video lol. I will share with you the link of all the clips I've taken from our trip at the end of this post!


Accommodation

Vien Dong Hotel

Pros:
Good location! Walking distance to the night market, plenty of nearby cafes, malls, 24 hour shops and bakery. Loved the minimalist room interior, abundance of white color combined with pastel paintings. Small bathroom bathroom but has bathtub(hooray).

Cons:
Thin walls, I can hear and totally understand the conversation of the people staying in the room next to ours. Bed kept on moving. No swimming pool(for those who wanted a dip after a long day).

Address:
St. Dist. 1, 275A Phạm Ngũ Lão, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam


link of vlog(if that's what you call it) of our short trip including the cafes we visited below:

https://youtu.be/k1jzj5PQkLA


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