Back to HCMC again! This time with four more people to share the experience (and expenses). Hahaha!
Before heading to HCMC, we had a day tour at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We took Mekong Express Limousine Bus to HCMC the day after.
WHERE TO STAY?
We booked a room at T & T Hostel via booking.com. We reserved a dorm type room for five people in the Backpackers’ Area in Pham Ngu Lao Street. It was the best decision we made since the area is close by the main road and near tourist sites and intersections and food stalls!
The admin/owner, Tuyet or Snow, was very gracious. We arrived a few minutes shy from 10PM, and Tuyet welcomed us. Though she mentioned that the room reserved for us is under maintenance since we didn’t show up on time, she managed to get us a room equivalent to what we booked in another place, Snow Hostel, which I think she owns/manages too. We spent the night in Snow Hostel, exhausted from the 14-hour bus ride. The next morning, we checked in at T & T Hostel and settled our payment (we didn’t pay anything to Snow Hostel).
Our room was big for five as they gave us the 8-bed dorm, so we had a lot of space for our things. The bed was not as hard as the other beds I have had in dorms, the linens were clean and doesn’t smell! (Yaaassss!!!!) They also replace the linens everyday! Our private toilet and bath was clean and big, too plus there was another common toilet and bath just outside our room. Perfect after a day of eating local food! Hahahaha!
The staff was great as both Snow and Chung (not sure if I remembered correctly) were easy to communicate with. Price for the whole room was decent and we got our value for money! T & T Hostel is located in Alley 373 near the Thal Binh Market. From Hideout Hostels Asia, walk going to the rotunda then turn left at the second corner (the first one is Alley 375). There’s a string of hostels in the street so you will feel safe.
If you are planning to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, do check out T & T Hostel!
SAIGON CITY TOUR DAY 1
We opted to DIY the tour as we haven’t received any confirmation from Saigon Free Walking Tour. From the hostel, we walked through Bui Vien Street going to Ben Tanh Market as our reference point.
- Notre Dame Basilica – Part of the site is under construction. We weren’t able to go inside and capture the whole magnificence of it.
- Saigon City Post Office – There were kids having their field trip that time and we’re glad we saw them! They are all adorable! Inside, there are souvenir items as well ranging from post cards, ref magnets, key chains, and stamps. We wanted to have a postcard sent to Manila, but it was a bit pricey and it’s not in our budget. Instead, we bought a stamp collection with 20 stamps on it!
- War Remnants Museum – I’ve been here before, but the heart break is still there when I joined them tour the place. My siblings took a really long time reading everything in the museum, which was a good sign. They were so immersed.
- Tan Dinh Church – The pink church! We were thrilled to go here since they’ve seen a lot of photos on Instagram. We took a cab going to D3 and was at the site around 1PM, but the gates wouldn’t open until 2PM. We decided to check the streets for food and went back around 2:30PM. The church didn’t disappoint, it was picturesque.
- Ben Tanh Market – First time for all of us to go inside the market. It was like Divisoria in Manila, with different sorts of merchandise in store for tourists. There are RTW clothes, souvenirs, fabrics (golly, it was cheap!), flower shops outside, bags and luggage, and food stalls! You notice how many times I mentioned food stalls already? They excite the hell out of me! WARNING: sellers in Ben Tanh are aggressive. They’d keep on insisting and even grip your arms so you won’t walk away without buying their items. Walk away if you don’t like the price they are offering, or if you feel harassed. Hahaha!
Taxis are your best friend in HCMC, but you’ll notice a lot of motorcycles on the road. They do have rentals here if you want to experience riding it for a day tour – just check from your hostel and they’d be able to give you more information. Being a group of five, it was a bit challenging to get a big taxi to accommodate us all so we have to patiently wait until there is one. We were also careful to hail only Vinasun or Mailinh taxi as they are the two most reputable taxi companies in the city. Watch out for copy cat rip off taxies preying on tourists!
WHERE TO EAT
I previously mentioned that I will go back to HCMC after my solo trip last year with the purpose of pigging out! Hahaha! We were able to enjoy the city’s food – pho and banh mi. My buddies loved their local food as much as I did!
We got our fix of Pho from Pho 32, near Banh Mi Hyun Hoa (best Banh Mi store I’ve tried!). While strolling the Le Thi Rieng Street, we saw the store and locals look like they are enjoying thier food, so inside we went. I am not sure what was served to us, but I just asked the staff for pho and he made it so quickly for the five us!
The Pho was so good with tender beef and tasty broth. You should try this!
Pho 32 is located at 32 Le Thi Rieng Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Next up is Vietnam’s famous Banh Mi! We went to this place late at night, around 11PM. There were still locals buying at this hour and the place hasn’t change a bit since the last time I went there. They only have Banh Mi to go as the store doesn’t have tables/chairs for guests. We’d say they serve the best Banh Mi in town, one baguette is filling!
Banh Mi Hyun Hoa, located at 26 Le Thi Rieng Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Operating hours: 3PM to 3AM | Cost: 36,000VND
We tried a other food and restos too, I’ll keep you guys updated on my next post. 🙂