I was in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, for 3 nights. I stayed in the Silverland Yen Hotel, and I splashed the cash here! After finding it cheaper to book directly through the hotel on their website, I paid approximately £87 a night for a premier deluxe room – which meant I got a room with a window.
Included in the room rate was a daily breakfast, a welcome drink, afternoon high tea, free daily laundry for 3 items of clothing (per room), and a 2-way airport transfer.
I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Da Nang. The airport transfer was arranged through my hotel, Silverland Yen Hotel, and took approximately 25 minutes.
After I had checked-in to my room, I ventured out to the War Remnants Museum and spent just over an hour learning more about the Vietnamese War. Entry to this museum cost 40,000 VND and although it was sad, it was also very interesting. I learnt about Agent Orange – the chemical America used to eliminate forests, crops and troops – and was saddened to hear that people today are still being born with defects caused by this.
I then walked to the Bitexco Financial Tower for the Saigon Skydeck located on the 49th floor. Entrance cost 200,000 VND each. I went at the perfect time; just before sunset. I got to see Saigon in the day time, during sunset, and lit up at night time. At 178 metres high, the Saigon SkyDeck is Ho Chi Minh’s highest viewing point and has excellent views of the cityscape and Saigon river.
Dinner was at a little restaurant, tucked away in an alleyway, called Rice Field. It was a lovely little find – thanks to TripAdvisor. It started thunder storming whilst I was here, so the waiter called me a taxi which took me back to my hotel after dinner.
On my first full day in Ho Chi Minh, I booked a tour to the Mekong Delta through the hotel reception. The travel agent my hotel used was Kim Travel – Luxury Group Tours, and this cost me 740,000 VND. I got picked up from my hotel at 8am in a minivan with 8 other people. We made our way to the Mekong Delta, with a stop-off at Vinh Trang Pagoda.
We took a boat to Banana Island where we got to try some locally grown fruit, whilst watching locals dancing and singing.
The next island was Coconut Island, where we watched the locals making coconut candy – it was delicious, especially the peanut coconut candy! We also saw bees at the honey farm, and took a shot of Vietnam’s famous snake wine.
We then boarded a sampan rowing boat and cruised along the river before stopping for some lunch.
After lunch, we had some free time to look around the island. In this time you could feed crocodiles for 10,000 VND.
We then made our way back to the city. The journey took approximately 2 hours, and I arrived back at my hotel around 4:30pm.
Before I’d left for my day trip to the Mekong Delta, I had asked my hotel to book a reservation for dinner at the Secret Garden restaurant – another one of Lonely Planet’s recommendations. The rooftop terrace is decorated with fairy lights and Vietnamese lanterns. Although it was quite a rushed experience, the food was very good.
The next day I joined a half day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which I had also booked through my hotel reception. Again, the travel agent they used was Kim Travel – Luxury Group Tours. This cost 540,000 VND, and I was picked up around 8:20am in a minivan with 9 other people.
On our way to the tunnels, we stopped at a little handicraft workshop which employed disabled people who’d been affected by Agent Orange. The people here are exceptionally talented and made lovely souvenirs.
We then arrived at Cu Chi Tunnels, some 40 miles northwest of Saigon. We saw the various traps used during the war, and got to crawl through some of the tunnels. It was hard to imagine that people lived in these tunnels for so many years.
We also got to try native Cu Chi ‘tapioca’, which is a starchy substance and tasted a bit like potato. We had this with salt and peanuts. There was also an opportunity to shoot an AK47 gun for an extra fee.
We then drove back to the city and arrived back at Silverland Yen Hotel at around 1:30pm. I was starving by this point, so I went out in the city in search of bánh mì. I ate at a little café called … and it cost me 75,000 VND.
Next to The Old Post Office was the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was under renovation so I was unable to enter inside.
Dinner was at 5KU Station, where I had a DIY BBQ. I had some chicken and beef, and morning glory and chips as sides. The novelty of cooking it yourself soon wore off though!
After dinner, I headed to Glow Sky Bar as it was on the way back to the hotel. I don’t think they appreciated me turning up in my Converse, but it wasn’t busy! I paid 75,000 VND for a Diet Coke and left after one drink.
The last day was spent filling the time before my 7:30pm flight back to the U.K. I visited Ben Thanh Market, which was just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel. You can buy everything here from fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, to clothes, household items and souvenirs. It’s also a great place to try out the local street food.
I then walked across the river to Ho Chi Minh Museum, which is free to enter. It is a former customs house and is nicknamed the ‘Dragon House’ – Nha Rong. It is home to many of Ho Chin Minh’s personal items including his clothing, sandals and glasses.
I spent the afternoon chilling around the hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi pool located on Level 10. I somehow managed to get very burnt.
The hotel arranged for my airport pick-up, free of charge, and at 3:45pm I made my way to Tan Son Nhat International Airport to start my journey back home.