[One week before trip]
Kisscie: Hey, Stephen. It’s holiday next week. Let’s go to Vietnam.
Stephen: Okay, sure. My passport was issued for so long and has never been used once.
Kisscie: Alright! Let’s do the planning and budgeting.
[Few days later]
Kisscie: Hey, three of my church mates will join us.
Stephen: Oh, okay. But will it be awkward? I don’t know anyone of them beside you.
Kisscie: Don’t worry! They are soooooo easygoing!
[One day before trip]
Kisscie: Three more people will join us!
… … Lmao! That was exactly how I started my first trip ever abroad!
Immediate planning; Has no much budget; Has no experience abroad at all! And here we are: (P.s. I was the one taking this picture… T.T … no me here)
A week prior to Phcum Ben festival (in September 2017), Kisscie (my colleague) and I decided to have a trip to Vietnam since we didn’t have much budget and it was too soon, but still we wanted a holiday. Ridiculously, it ended up that 8 people was going on the trip. (lol)
Let’s meet the team first, shall we?
It took us around 6 hours from Phnom Penh city to Ho Chi Minh city by bus. We departed around 8 AM and arrived there around 1 PM. After that, we spent around one hour checking-in and relax. Then we headed to these destinations:
1. Bitexco Financial Tower:
This is the highest building in Ho Chi Minh city with 68 floors in total. From the 1st to the 4th floor consist of retail stores, restaurants, food court, and cinema. Beside that, from 7th floor till 48th floor are office spaces for varies type of companies. The most attracted place of the building is from the 49th to 52th floor.
When we visited Bitexco Tower, we went to shop some staffs at the below floors. After that, we went up to the 50th floor which is EON cafe. Below us one deck is the Ho Chi Minh Sky deck. It costs 20,000 VND for Adult admission ticket, and 18,000 VND for kid ticket. You can get a bottle of water and enjoy the fascinating view of the whole city. However, if you go up to another floor – the 50th or even upper floor, you may enjoy better.
At the 50th floor, each of the members in the team were required to purchase a glass of drink (coffee, cocktail or any drink available in the menu) in order to stay up there to enjoy the greatest view of the city. My team spent 1,600,000 VND (around 70 USD; we spent 8 to 9 USD each)
We haven’t gone up to the 51th and 52th just yet, but it looks interesting, and I highly suggest you should go there. Check out the below pictures for your reference!Map
Operating hour: Monday – Sunday (9:30 – 21:30)
Admission fee: Varies
More information: Official Website
2. Museum of Fine Arts:
This French-Chinese colonial style building is gorgeously standing to attract many tourists each day, mostly those who are interested in arts, paintings, and sculptures. In the campus of the museum, it consists of three buildings which exhibit collections of artworks. It’s highly suggested to visit all three.
When we visited, it was raining like cat and dog. Thus, we spent the whole morning in the museum. We could have visited more places, yet spending more time here was worth it. We lost words in those great pieces of artworks and sculptures. Check out the gallery below!Map
Operating hour: Tuesday to Sunday (9:00 – 17:00)
Admission fee: 10,000 VND / Adult & 3,000 VND / Child
More information: Website
3. Ben Thanh Market | Ho Chi Minh City Hall |Opera House | Saigon Central Post Office | Notre Dame Cathedral
It’s so nice walking around the Ho Chi Minh city in district 1. There are so many top attractions to visit such as the City Hall, the Opera House, the Saigon Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
After we left from the Museum of Fine Arts, we walked to Ben Thanh Market to do some light shoppings. In the market, it’s not so far different from what we have here in Psa Tmey (Cemtral Market) in Phnom Penh. You can find varieties of clothes shops, small retail shops, and some food stalls. Later on, we spent around an hour or two having lunch in the area.
Next, we started our city tour. Firstly, we walked to the Ho Chi Minh City Hall. We didn’t actually get into the city hall, but we were hanging around in the park in front of it. It’s highly recommended to visit here during golden hour if you want some great photograph. During our visit, sadly it was a rainy day, so lucky for us, we don’t need to bear much sunlight! Lol.
Leaving from the park, we walked to the Opera house, took some photos and continued to Saigon Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Operating hour: Varies at each attraction
Admission fee: Free or chargeable at some attractions
5. Mekong Delta
After a few days wandering around the city, one of our teammates suggested we should visit Mekong Delta to see another site of the country. We had booked a tour for the team. We spent around 15 USD per person, which included pick-up from and drop-off to the hotel, refreshment, a team leader, and lunch.
Our first stop was a park along the road. We stopped there for a while to rest and our team was so busy taking plenty of pictures. After a while, we continued our way down to a sacred place, Vinh Trang Pagoda. Next, we continued to the Mekong Delta. What we did there were: We rode the boat along the river, inspected the way of making the coconut candy and tried them out, had local fruit and honey tea, listened to some Vietnamese songs and visited a factory. It was such an amazing day.Klook
6. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
Last day before going back to Phnom Penh, we visited the Ho Chi Minh Zoo and Botanical Garden.
It was big and had many things to see. We walked around for the whole morning and end the trip by going to see 9D movies. To be honest, it was a bad experience since all of us got dizzy after the movies (actually some short clips… like roller coaster and etc.).Map
Operating hour: 7:00 – 17:00
Admission fee: 50,000 VND
7. The Walking Street
Lastly, how did we enjoy the night? Well, we went out to the Walking Street. I experienced culture shock while walking along the street there.
Did you know? Instead of hopping into any restaurant or store, you sit outside and face to the road… lol. During the weekday, the road wasn’t blocked so that many drivers could drive using the road; but during the weekend, the road was blocked for drivers. You can only walk in.
What’s more, while you enjoy your food along the street, someone will bring over his small base and sing some songs for you; or else, someone will do some magic trick for you (and don’t forget to give some tips, they will ask for some after the performance).
You can find many street food stores, pub / club and massage houses along the road. It is highly to try street foods, they taste freaking good. Vietnamese foods and Cambodian foods are not so far from each other, so yeah… we had a great time and some great food!Map
Operating hour: 18:00 – 0:00