Visa on Arrival process
There seem to be a lot of talk on different travel websites about how grueling the VOA process is… I guess I was one of the lucky ones to land in Ho Chi Minh City and not spend more than 15 minutes at the counter. All you have to do is bring an invitation/approval letter from the department of immigration of Vietnam, fill up a small form at the counter and pay the ~$25 fee and get a one month visa.. Pretty easy !
Finding a Place to stay
Pham Ngu Lao street is the place to be if you are a budget backpacker in HCMC. It has plenty of cheap accomodations, good food joints selling local and international cuisines, plenty of tour operators.. I stayed at My My Arthouse which is a small family owned hostel.. it is a little difficult to locate and a tad expensive but it is safe and the owners make you feel at home… you can also book tours through them at a cheap price.
1. Reunification Palace… This is a place with tremendous historical value and is definitely a must see…
2. War Museum… Another must see.. you can learn a lot about the war and the tortures met out on the Vietnamese.. Also, seeing the fighter planes and tanks from close is awesome
3. Ben Tenh Market.. One of the most famous markets in HCMC. It provides an unique Vietnamese experience and a valuable insight into the local culture and lifestyle. Also, you can buy some awesome souvenirs from here… BARGAIN HARD!
4. Cu Chi Tunnels… Another place with a lot of historical value.. these tunnels were used by the Vietnamese against the Americans.. The village and the nearby forest are BEAUTIFUL… Also, you can try firing anything from an AK-47 to a Grenade Launcher at the shooting range.. for an unreasonably high price, ofcourse
5. China Town and the Pagodas..
1. Eat Pho! Its awesome…
2. Visit the church near Pham Ngu Lao..not a tourist spot… very peaceful… (i fell asleep on the benches after a day of exploring.. )..visit in the evening to attend the prayers.
3. Buy some Vietnamese Military gear… or one of those triangle bamboo hats…
Always pre-decide the price of the Moto Taxis
There are a lot of over friendly moto taxis in HCMC.. Even though, not all of them are dishonest.. most of them are.. and it is a good idea to decide on the price before you hire their services.. Dont go by their bullshit lines like “Ill take whatever you will give”.. Move on to the next guy if this is the case….
I hired one of these guys to visit the China Market and the Pagodas… after visiting around 5 pagodas and the China Market, I asked him to drop me off at the Benh Tenh Market… which he did… happily… but then, he asked me for 700000 dongs which was extremely unreasonable… after a lot of bargaining, I gave him 200000 dongs, which was an okay price (a little on the higher side maybe).. My advice is save on all that trouble and pre-fix the price…
HCMC is a great place, a bit unorthodox but still… worth a visit…. Loved it!!!
Me and Tamh!