Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1: SG-HCM
Jeanette and moi headed to HCM one day earlier before Serene join us on the next day...

From the airport, we had 2 options to get to our Hotel:
1 - Metered taxi (cost abt US8. SASCO TAXI has a counter just beyond the baggage carrousels, where you can prepay for a taxi.
2 - Airport bus! 3500 dong only. No. 152, departs every 15 minutes. Stops at both international and domestic terminals before making regular stops along De Tham Street (Pham Ngu Lao area) and international hotels along Dong Khoi Area.

And for some reasons, we chose option 2!?!!
Well, we managed to get to the Hotel safely as the drop-off point is only 5 mins away from our hotel and the bus ride is decent.

Majestic Hotel overlooking Saigon River
They have got nice colonial style rooms. Spacious and clean.

After checking in, we took a cab straight to Sinh Cafe(a local trusted tour agency) to book our tour for Day 3 & 4.
Thereafter, a quick lunch before we took a cab down to The White Lotus Spa to pamper ourselves! We took a scrub and wrap, plus hot stone massage packages (about 2.5hrs session) and it cost about US$60.
Address: 7/2 Phung Khac Khoan St
Da Kao Ward, District 1
Tel/Fax: +84 (08).38242451
After SPA, we tried searching for a recommended restaurant, but realised the restaurants were closed for renovation.
In the end, we settled for Dinner at Pho2000
Their Pho Bo is really nice. The seafood is nice too, just that the soup is slightly sweet.
Day 2: HCM City Tour/Ben Thanh Market/SPA

Serene reached the Hotel really early, and we were still in bed when she called! And I realised I did not switched on my Mobile... Luckily, there's Jeanette....
Trying out the Vietnamese hat...
And we have: The mysterious girl, cute safari ranger and the traditional viet girl!

The park infront of CityHall
After a long stroll down the busy streets, we found Trung Nguen Cafe for breakfast
After breakfast, we can even buyTrung Nguen coffee powder for our family and friends.

Serene and Jeanette getting all excited when they realised the Kem Bach Dang (Vietnamese ice-cream) that we were looking for all morning is right besides the cafe where we were having breakfast!

(What's upsetting is that we actually missed the more "up-class" Kem Bach Dang ice-cream restaurant just opposite the more run-down outlet that we were all so excited about! If you look hard enough, it's just beside the cinema on the left.)

Posing at Ben Thanh Market tibits corner

Up to a certain point, the market can get quite stuffy with all the things going around you,
and all the stuffs packed in the tiny stalls...
And we wonder what makes Serene's World twirl non-stop...
~ Serene feeling all Dizzy...
(*Hint: It's definitely not the heat)

I heard these tonic wine made with exotic creatures is going to make you really strong, but I',m sure this is not going to work for Serene.

After shopping at Ben Thanh Market, we walked to Quan An Ngon for lunch.
Jeanette and Moi getting ready to dig in!
Must-try! Their Clams are so fresh and juicy that we ordered 2 servings!
Banana boiled in coconut dessert with peanuts is really good too!
Quan An Ngon
Tel 8257179
138, Nam Ky Nghia Street
Mains cost around 17,000 – 60,000 dong
Opens at lunch and dinner
Surrounding the garden style patio is a ring of cooks at individual stations, mixing up softly spiced creations in the open air. An excellent selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes.

As we were walking down the streets of HCM,
I managed to snap a pic of Serene looking all-excited...

Guess what's making her so excited....
Check out the bikes!
That's the reason Serene is getting all-excited everytime she crosses the road.
After a supposedly light lunch (no carbo, just dishes to share), we rushed to La Maison de L’Apothiquaire, where we had made an appointment (reservation recommended for this highly popular SPA).
64A Truong Dinh, District 3
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel. : +84-8-3932 5181 / 3932 5082
It slightly more expensive than The White Lotus, but the SPA experience is really good! For a pampering and luxurous treat, I would definitely recommend La Maison de L’Apothiquaire. However, for more value, it would be The White Lotus
Thereafter, Dinner at Temple Club!
On the 2nd floor of a beautifully restored colonial villa, Temple Club serves delectable Vietnamese plates such as fish with tamarind or shrimp in coconut milk
Temple club
Tel 829 9244
29 Ton That Thiep Street
Mans cost 70,000 – 130,000 dong
Opens lunch and dinner

We love the decor!

Day 3: Cu Chi Tunnel Tour

Breakfast: Pho Bo Tai - Nice!
Gathering at Sinh Cafe, as we waited to board the bus...
Check out the crowd!
Sinh Cafe
238-246 De Tham Street
(beware of fakes)

Cao Dai Temple
Tay Ninh town – capital of Tay Ninh Province and serves as headquarters of one of Vietnam’s most interesting indigenous religions – Cao Sai. (read more at the Cao Dai Great Temple was build between 1933 and 1955. Tay Ninh is 96km northwest of HCMC. The Cao Dai Holy See complex is 4km east of Tay Ninh.
Prayers Session

The famous touristy shot...

Going into the tunnel...
After Cu Chi Tunnel, we took a cab to Mandarine...
Tel 822 9783
11A Ngo Van Nam Street
Mains cost 60,000 dong
Opens lunch and dinner
The fine selection of traditional dishes on offer draws on all regions. The food is superb and the traditional music performances make it an all round good bet
Based on above, we didn't suspect that it could be a fine dining restaurant until we reached there in our day singlets, shorts and flats....
Luckily, we were not turned away for being so underdressed...

Live music performance at night

Day 4: Mekong Delta Tour

After the long tiring ride back to city, we went back to our Hotel to wash-up before we head out for our last night at Lush.
2 Ly Tu Trong Street
Anime-themed bar that gathers an attractive mixed crowd. The wrap around bat takes centre stage and is great for people watching.
Day 5: Home Sweet Home

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