Indochina 2018: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Travel Guide 2018-2019 (Itinerary, Budget, Accommodation and Tips)

Lately, I am feeling super inspired to work on travel posts especially personal trips I shelved for quite some time. There are times when the feeling of "burnout" becomes so overwhelming that I can't even bring myself to open my laptop. Have you ever felt that way fellow bloggers or writers? Anyway! So sorry if it took me one whole year before writing this post. So many things happened in between that I was not able to go right back to it. And so, finally, here it is! The first part of our super epic 10-day INDOCHINA adventure! Traveled with a few of the Cubao crew making the trip more special. Our first stop? HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM! Read on to know more...

To be honest, this trip took weeks of planning. We booked our tickets early so we could get the lowest fare. We booked from two different airlines (we waited for a seat sale hehe) and I think we paid P1,500 for our MNL-Vietnam ticket and then P5,000+ for Thailand-MNL. Not bad na din! For our accommodations, I took care of the hunting and booking. Chose cheap but nice dorm rooms on Booking.com (so we could pay for it at the property) that would fit all 6 of us. Success naman! Will include budget breakdown at the end of my posts. We also challenged ourselves to just bring a backpack for our 10-day trip! We didn't pay for extra baggage so we just added the amount we saved to our pocket money. Yey!

 NAIA Terminal 3 VIP lounge. Thanks Tita Con for letting us stay here while waiting for our flight.

And thanks Tita for the free dinner hihi

Ready for take off! :)

 Picture muna coz GGSS kami

 After going through immigration, we headed straight to the money changer in the airport! Had a few bills changed so we could have money to pay for Grab and snacks.

 We booked a a GRAB car from airport going to our hostel because it's cheaper!

Bui Vien Walking Street where our hostel is located! It was just a 20-minute ride from the airport.

Finally arrived at SUPE HOSTEL!

Supe Hostel or Viet Dream Travel is a backpacker hostel located in the center of the lively Bui Vien Street and a few steps away from the vibrant Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Street! The location is near everything (we discovered the next day that it's just a 2-minute walk to Sinh Tourist where we booked our tours!) and it's mostly where locals and tourists hang out to drink and party. If you're after peace and quiet, this might not be the hostel or the area for you. We loved it though! :)

 Reception area and there's tour desk on the left side

May mini sofa

Here's how our 6-bed dorm oom looks like!
It was tiny but d na kami choosy. Haha. For $15 per person (roughly P700) for 3 nights, super okay na! :) We're gonna be out most of the time anyway.

 Triple deck bed on both sides

 I stayed on the topmost bunk since d naman ako ihiin. Hehe.

 Winner na din coz we have our own private bathroom inside!

Bed was comfortable, each bunk has fairy lights and there is a socket.

 After settling in we went outside to for a quick bite bilang tomjones na kami haha. Daming tao sa labas db? 

 People usually just drink on the sidewalk! Our jam!

 Banh Mi everywhere! Rjae bought from this stall and paid 30,000 vnd or P68 for his sandwich. 

 P68 sandwich pede na

 We walked some more and saw this food place at the side of the street! 

 Decided to try it! We wanted to eat like locals. Hehe.

 Saigon Beer pampatulog

 My fried noodle shrimp for 35,000 vnd or P80. YUM!!!

 Our tiny table at the corner hehe

 Nico's 30,000 vnd noodle soup

The next day...
 Good morning, Ho Chi Minh!!! In fairness ha kahit gano kagulo and kakalat the night before, super linis na sa morning! Good job!

 Ready na for our first day in the city that never sleeps!

 How our hostel looks like in the morning. It's easy to find!

 Turista shot sa Bui Vien arc! This street is very similar to Siem Reap's Pub Street! :)

 First stop, THE SINH TOURIST to book our Cu Chi Tunnel & Mekong River tour + our bus ticket to Cambodia!

 It's one of the most trusted and the most popular travel agency in Vietnam. Had a tour with them na years ago during my first visit to Saigon!

 Tour price list. For your reference. You're welcome. Hehe

So anyway, we booked tour #7 or the Cu Chi Tunnel + Mekong Delta 1-day tour for 398,000 vnd or P900 and one way bus ticket to Siem Reap for 598,000 vnd or P1350. The tour includes aircon bus, lunch, guide, wet tissue, bottled water, boats & horse cart ride, snacks. Excluded the entrance fee to Cu Chi Tunnels (90,000 vnd or P200) but that's okay! Worth it na din the price. :)

Click here to check out their other tours! 

 Lots of art shops all over the city

 Ate lunch at the Saigon Central Market! Parang mini banchetto or merkato.

Busy ako magpic ng food haha

Nico bought from this stall

Catch had skewers and rice

 I had the vermicelli bowl and Paula (ata) ordered the seafood noodles. Sherep! Mine was only 30,000 ata. 

 Nico ordered these--snail and squid! 35,000 vnd for the snail and 60,000 for the squid

 I don't know what this is but lasang gulaman

 We were supposed to eat in that alley but changed our minds hihi. I think there's a Buddhist temple inside! Didn't see it sayang.

 Cheaper this Banh Mi than the one Rjae bought!
I see fresh spring rolls! Nom

 We just kept on walking til we reached this roundabout (rotonda in short). We just used Google Maps to get to our next destination!

After buying our tour & bus tickets and eating lunch, we headed next to the War Remnants Museum! It was a 20-minute walk from our area.
We meet again, you heartbreaking place. :(

 Entrance fee is 40,000 vnd or P90

"The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City first opened to the public in 1975. Once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, it's a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War. Graphic photographs and American military equipment are on display. There's a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft. You can also see a conventional bomb that weighs at 6,800kg. American troops had used these weapons against the Vietnamese between 1945 and 1975."  (source: http://www.vietnam-guide.com)

 Saw a lot of people in tears and utter disbelief (like this lady in the photo)-- including me. HUHU. Nakakaiyak talaga guys. Sobrang heartbreaking. I've been here before but it never fails to make me cry. :(

 I didn't include na the other photos I took 'coz super heartbreaking talaga lalo na the stories behind them. Visit the museum nalang.

The War Remnants Museum is located at #28 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. It's open every day from 07:30 to 17:00. A visit to this war museum can be disturbing for most people (especially children and I think those suffering from depression) so discretion is advised. It's very informative though and eye opening.

 A child painted this :(

 A lot of journalists covering the war also lost their lives like Sam Castan

Again, I left the museum with the heaviest heart. I hope we never forget what happened during the Vietnam War. How many innocent lives were lost. May it serve as a lesson to future leaders. I hope this brutality and cruelty never happens again, EVER. Let's pray for peace everyday. 

 Trying to cheer up after our museum visit!

 OOTD muna hehe

 We didn't have time na to visit the Reunification Palace so took a photo outside nalang. I already toured inside years ago so okay lang. Hehe.

From the War Museum, we walked towards the Reunification Palace and then crossed the street and walked through this park.

We meet again! Closed nga lang sha. Waah.

 So photo-op nalang outside

 And then just across the street is the Saigon Central Post Office!

 Turista shots pa more

"The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. Located next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, the two cultural sites can be visited together and offers visitors a chance to imagine life in Vietnam during the times of the Indochinese Empire. The building was designed by Alfred Foulhoux and features arched windows and wooden shutters, just as it would have in its heyday in the late 19th Century."

"The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh was constructed between 1886 and 1891 and once inside, the looping arches, intricately designed marble floors and antiquated telephone boxes all serve as a reminder of the importance the post office played in days before email and mobile phones. Although the architecture is distinctly French, the large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging high above everyone at the far end of the building reminds everyone we are definitely in Vietnam. Painted onto walls overhead are two maps of the region; one of them showing the telegraph lines that crisscross Vietnam and Cambodia and the other displaying a map of the Saigon region in 1892."

 Kind of amazing that this historical post office is still in operation until now! :) So much history!

Rested for a bit here at the Nguyễn Văn Bình or Ho Chi Minh Book Street!

 Feeling bookworm ung isa pfft haha

From the cathedral, we walked for about 15 minutes going to the City Hall or People's Committee Building! Google Maps is key! Hehe. We wanted to take photos in the middle of the intersection surrounded by beautiful French colonial architecture. Achieve naman! Hihi. 

OOTD sa People's Committee Building or formerly known as Saigon City Hall bago sitahin ng guard haha. 

"The People’s Committee Building Saigon in central Ho Chi Minh City features well-preserved French colonial architecture in a spacious garden landscape. Originally constructed as a hotel in 1898 by French architect Gardes, it now serves as a city hall and one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Occupying the end of Nguyen Hue walking promenade, it has three buildings with embossed statues of animals and people, intricate bas-reliefs on the walls, as well as a statue of Ho Chi Minh in front of the main building. The best time to visit is in the evening, as these features are beautifully illuminated with LED lights."

And buwis buhay shot here sa intersection

For dinner, we tried the famous hole-in-the-wall Banh Mi Huynh Hoa! There was already a queue when we got there but it was just a few minutes of waiting. Swerte! I heard this place is usually packed. Each sandwich was 38,000 VND or roughly P85! :)

 OMG so much meat and sahog hehe

 My sandwich. It's so delicious! Worth it for P85

Dinner is served! Hehe. We also stopped by a local fruit stand to buy fruit shakes 'coz the heat was killing us. Haha. 

Happy Birthday Catch!

Everyday scenario at the vibrant Bui Vien Walking Street! 

After dinner, we met up with Nico's friend over pulutan and wine and then surprised Catch for his birthday! Downed a few cans of beer to celebrate and then we headed straight to bed to catch a few hours of sleep for our early morning Cu Chi Tunnel + Mekong Delta tour the next day....

Meet-up was 8am at The Sinh Tourist office and then we walked towards the tour bus parking across the plaza where Saigon Central Market is located.

I forgot the name of our guide but he was not that good sorry na huhu. We even had an episode (confronted him) during our Cu Chi Tunnel tour. We waited for him at the spot he assigned while the others tried firing a gun sa firing range but he left us and didn't even look for us so we got lost and had to join another group to go inside the tunnel. When we found them ayun nagmemeryenda lang sila tapos kami pawis na pawis kakahanap haha. But bumawi naman sha after so keri.

We paid 90,000 vnd for the Cu Chi Tunnel entrance fee. It's not included in the tour package okay. Take note. Coz there was this a-hole foreigner who scolded our guide 'coz he was insisting kasama na dapat but it was clearly stated in the voucher that it's not. Basa basa din kuya haha.  

First stop is this Orientation Hall where we watched a short video and was introduced to the history of the place.

Ate who gave the orientation

"The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting tunnels located in the Củ Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort." (wikipedia)

Booby traps all over the place! 

One of the many entrance leading to the tunnels

Hello! Grabe noh imagine how they all fit in there!

Different kinds of traps! You have to hand it to the Vietnamese soldiers for being resourceful and smart! They outplayed their enemies during the war.

Another bunker

This was the firing range I mentioned earlier! We had to wait for the others who tried it out. 

Different kinds of guns you could try! Rate is per bullet

Chuckie OOTD haha

Sup! Went around the souvenir shop while waiting

How to make rice paper! So cool!

Squad goals char haha

At this point, we can't find our group anymore so we just joined another group who went inside the tunnel!

It was so small and it was super hot inside! We gave up agad haha. But can you believe that this was where a lot of North Vietnamese soldiers lived (to hide from enemies) during the war? Wow.

How to siesta in Vietnam. Love it!

After the Cu Chi tour, time for lunch (and our Mekong Delta tour)! Excited. Hehe.

We rode a boat and stopped by this restaurant along the way

OMG nagutom ako bigla. Haha! My favorite fried fish called "Elephant Ear" fish. It's similar to Thailand's Snapper fish and our very own Tilapia. Hehe.

Lunch is included in the tour package! Sulit!

Had to pay for drinks though. Ice cold Coca-Cola is always a nice idea. Hehe.

Ate showed us how to eat the fish. Wrap some fish meat in rice paper, put mint leaves, noodles, cucumber and other sahog and dip in sweet Tamarind sauce! So good!!! 

Of course we had to ask for rice. Hehe.

Our boat!

Rjae Biggie is inside that boat! He went on a Mekong Delta solo tour hehe

After lunch, we stopped by the Coconut Candy and Snake Wine factory!

Would you dare? Hehe

Pabibo si Nico haha

After the factory, we then hopped on these horse-drawn carriages.

We stopped at this place where we were feasted on delicious snacks and honey tea while we enjoyed wonderful performances by locals.

Of course, honey is from these jolly bees! Haha. May pa exhibition si Kuya guide.

Fresh fruits and honey tea! Sherep!

Locals sang for us

Pinush ni Chuck ang sawa enxhibition nia. Haha brave!

Our last stop was a boat ride along the Mekong River! Missed this!

Anyway, we were not able to take much photos because the boat lady used motor and the ride was super fast! As in parang 3 minutes and we were out of there. And we weren't even the first boat to leave the platform. We were so disappointed so we asked her to go back and go slowly so we could enjoy the scenery. She was not very friendly and she looked pissed. She took us back but she asked us for extra money. But other than this experience, the tour was amazing naman. 

Buti pa sila sagwan so more time to take it all in huhu

The tour started at 8am and ended at 5pm. Worth it na sa price! We were dropped off at the Sinh Tourist office where we walked back nalang to our hostel.

Street performance na may stage sa Bui Vien!

Along Bui Vien, a few steps away from our hostel is this food alley. We got curious so we decided to eat dinner here. 

Grilled chicken and seafood! YUM.

We just sat sa low plastic chairs and used chairs as tables. Hihi. Local na local! Our orders. One of my best meals in Ho Chi Minh! 

Saigon is full of little alleys and mobile food carts serving delicious local food

Our bus from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh (and then a van to Siem Reap) which we booked via Sinh Tourist!

How it looks like inside. Comfy naman!

Toilet inside the bus!

Our seats! Thank God hindi leather seats (allergic ako haha)

View from our bus window. Love that Saigon has nice public parks

Bye Vietnam and your bajillion motorbikes!

Travel from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh took 6 hours and then another 6 hours from Phnom Penh to Cambodia with 2 hours layover in between. We had to get off sa Vietnam border to get our passports stamped and then again at the Cambodia border. Our bus waited for us both times! :) Super convenient naman and we never got lost.
After I think 2-3 hours, we finally arrived at the border! We got off the bus passed through immigration and we're off again! Bus was waiting for us on the other side na agad.

Hello again, Cambodia!

Killed time by watching my downloaded Netflix movies! Used my favorite wireless JBL earphones :)

We stopped at this local restaurant along the way 



Finally in Phnom Penh! We were dropped here sa bus terminal

 We waited for our other service to arrive which took about an hour. It was okay though we rested for a bit muna.

Photo-op sa parking haha! We are all wearing Cabin Zero bags! :)

Our van to Siem Reap! We left at 5:30 pm

Comfy naman!

Finally arrived in my favorite city at around 12 a.m. Been here a few times before but it always feels like it's my first. Every time. :) 

So that ends my first installment of our Indochina trip last year!!! Siem Reap, Cambodia next! Actually, Taal Vista muna next and then back to Indochina or Taiwan? Hehe. Anyway, thanks in advance for reading my travel guides. Love you all! :)

BUDGET per person in PHP:
Airfare = P8,000 roundtrip
Airport tax = P1,620
TOTAL = P9,620

Vietnam Budget for 3 days in PHP:
Grab from airport = P40 each
Accommodation for 3 nights = $15 or P780
Midnight Snack = P150
 Cu Chi Tunnel + Mekong Delta tour = P900
Bus ticket to Siem Reap = P1350
Entrance fee to Cu Chi = P200
Saigon Market lunch = P120
War museum entrance = P90
Banh Mi dinner = P85
Fruit shake = P40
Barbecue dinner = P150
Miscellaneous (water and other snacks)= P200
TOTAL = P4,105

* Budget depends on traveler's preference and spending habits. :)

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