Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Vietnam Itinerary Day 2 [Ho Chi Minh-Mui Ne]

It was our free time day in Ho Chi Minh until 1700 (local time).

Had our breakfast at 0800 right in front of their reception counter (hotel's lobby). There are limited breakfast choices from the hotel breakfast menu. The receptionist is well talented as he is the one who in charged to take order, prepare and serve our breakfast. 

Began our free time with buying a conventional MAP and look for the places that we planned to go. As usual, the navigators will start doing their job and hunting for the famous Bahn Mi. We ordered roast pork banh ni (VND17,000) and chicken & sauce bahn mi (VND15,000).

Visited Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh. Kiki had a bad day as he was conned by a passerby cobblers. (Tips: Ignore those passerby cobblers or else you will be ripped. They tend to persuade you and insist to repair your shoe by stopping you). Forgive us as we were taking #grouphie while Kiki waiting for the cobbler to repair his shoe.

We passed by the reunification palace and decided to take a group photo. We didn't enter the palace as it is included in our tour package on Day 6. Found a beautiful garden near the Notre Dame Cathedral and so we took #grouphie again.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was constructed in between 1863 and 1880 by the French colonists (following their conquest of the city). The building reaches a height up to 60m. Initially the church was named Saigon Church but soon change to Notre-Dame Cathedral in 1959 (by Bishop Pham Van Thien) after the ceremony to install the statue of peaceful Notre Dame (made with granite from Rome).  

Right across the Notre Dame Cathedral is the General Post Office. It is a French post office built in between 1886 and 1891. There are 2 painted maps inside the post office. The first located on the left side of the building is a map of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia whereas a mosaic of Ho Chi Minh can be seen at the end of the hall. Remember to spot the magnificient tiled floor of the interior. There are shops available inside the post office where you can grab a few souvenirs for your friends or perhaps sending a letter/ postcards to them.  

After sending postcards to my friends (where the other 6 were waiting for me), we walked passed the book gallery alley near the Notre Dame Cathedral. At the end of the alley, we spotted a small stall that was pretty crowded and decided to take our lunch there. We ordered 3 different kinds of noodle soup, rice with deep fried 3 layer meat and rice with braised fish which costed us VND160,000. The rice came with soup and as usual the tea was complimentary. We gulped few jugs as it was HOT in HCM.

Went to Hard Rock Cafe and looking for directions in the air-cond building. A kind man helped us by giving direction with their limited English vocab. The guys were so eager to visit the river but somehow I forgot the name and we walked so far under the hot sun. Thank goodness I brought a cap for the trip.

Visited a market and spotted a lady selling Banh Xeo (pancake). We takeaway the Banh Xeo (VND30,000) and enjoyed it in our hotel. Decided to use taxi on our way back hotel which costed us VND62,000 per trip. (Tips: Remember to use "Vinasun Taxi" and "Mai Linh Taxi" ONLY while traveling in HCM)

We decided to chill in a cafe before leaving HCM at 1700. We found a cafe named Chong Coffee Cafe that is located at the same street as our hotel (about 2 minutes on foot). 

The driver picked us at 1700 and headed to Mui Ne. We ate the takeaway a meat spring roll with rice noodle (VND28,000) in the van and it tasted so damn good with the sweet and sour sauce. It took about 5 hours from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne where we stopped at the Dai Phu Rest Stop for dinner. We ordered all kinds of Pho which costed VND50,000 per bowl.

Reached hotel about 2230, we checked in, took bath and had an early rest as the driver will pick us up at 0500 for the sunrise. We stayed in Ocean Valley Hotel in Mui Ne. As usual, toiletries and towels were provided. (Tips: There is NO lift in this hotel)

** Assuming RM1 = VND5,000.
Watch out our trip video HERE!!!! Thanks for your support.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Vietnam Itinerary Day 1 [KL-Ho Chi Minh]

A group of SEVEN, working at DIFFERENT states and cities but heading to a SAME destination.

All of us attempted to meet up in KLIA2 which I'm the LAST person to arrive. The group messages kept on buzzing once I switched on upon my arrival: asking on my whereabouts and spamming me with pictures (showing that the gang were enjoying their lunch without me *sob*). Upon meet up with the gang, we headed to check in counter to drop our luggage. Initially, I planned to take a quick takeaway lunch in the departure hall (in case my flight delay) but lucky me (us), the gang decided to accompany me back to Subway so that I can enjoy my lunch slowly.

After lunch, we walked pass the immigration counter and ready for boarding. Took a few pictures in the departure hall and the guys managed to have a quick massage before departure.

The flight took about 2 hours [Info: Vietnam is 1 hour behind Malaysia]. Due to half an hour flight delay, we landed in Tan Son Nhat International Terminal around 1610 (local time). Pretty lucky cause I got the window seat and I got to see the city sky view. My first impression was the city is CROWDED and yeah..... the airport seems located in the middle of the thousands of buildings.

Passed the immigration counter and claimed our luggage. Spotted our driver that was holding an A4 paper with our leader name on it among the Vietnamese.

He fetched us and guess what..... ***TRAFFIC JAM*** Dang....Skill needed to drive on Ho Chi Minh (or i should say VIETNAM) road.

Checked in @ Seventy Hotel, Ho Chi Minh. Toiletries and towel provided. Breakfast included for this hotel.

After checked in, the driver fetched us to watch the water puppet show at 1830 (local time). Details on the program can be found HERE. There are 2 shows per day: 1700 and 1830. The Golden Dragon Water Puppet show costed VND150,000.

Had our FIRST Vietnam style dinner after the show. I forgot the exact location but it is situated opposite of the main road once you out from the theater (there is a bus stop).

We tried the grilled pork rice (VND24,000) and noodle with pork knuckle slice soup (VND25,000). Noticed that eating in Vietnam will never lack of FRESH greens where you can add into a bowl of hot noodle soup up to your liking. The noodle soup wasn't oily at all as what I expected. The grilled pork rice is savoury with the bbq smell. The rice came with a soup (which initially I thought it was watercress soup but it turned out to be water spinach) and it tasted a little sour. The tea is complimentary and refillable.

After dinner, we headed to Ben Thanh Night Market on foot. It is just a typical "pasar malam" in Malaysia with more local souvenirs and all sorts of original imitated (fake) "branded" luggage, shoes, clothes and pants to choose from. There are a few stalls that you can enjoy local foods and seafood. Regarding the Vietnamese coffee (3-in-1 or 2-in-1 type), I suggested that you survey the price as I found that the coffee that sell in supermarket is cheaper than the one sold in night market.

There is a saying "spot the place that is crowded and you will find a good stuffs". Well, we spotted one and we found the 'Halal Kopi Vietnam'. It was DAMN GOOD and I had it each time I visited Ben Thanh Night Market. There are 3 drinks that they offered: iced coffee-o, iced coffee-milk and iced milo-milk. It costed RM3/ VND15,000 per cup (yeap... they accept Malaysia Ringgit).

That was our FIRST DAY hunting. My travel kakis: Jody, Summer, Miko, IZ, Kiki and Mike.

** Assuming RM1 = VND5,000.
Watch out our trip video HERE!!!! Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

7D6N Itinerary in Vietnam [Ho Chi Minh, Da Lat & Mui Ne]

For this trip, my friends and I opted for a ground tour where my friend, Kiki emailed one of the Vietnam travel agency and asked them to prepare the travel itineraries for us. Mr. Law (the travel agent) replied my friend's email and was very helpful (from answering our questions, changing the itineraries and gave us suggestions based on his experiences). We were very thankful that his side was very cooperative with our last minute changes and gave us a new itineraries- in which we were supposed to stay one night in Da Lat instead of two nights but just because we love the weather in Da Lat so much and we all agreed to stay and cancelled our trip to Vung Tau beach. Here are the details regarding the travel agent, the services provided as well as our trip itineraries.

Viet Vacation Travel Co. Ltd

Website: http://www.vietvacationtravel.com
Email: superlawer@yahoo.com/ lien.vietnhat@gmail.com
Skype: tranlaw82
Contact: 
1. Mr. Law (+84) 946 757 392; (+84) 915 636 661
2. Miss Lien (+84) 903 182 148

Services

1. Provided trip itineraries (places that we will visit), accommodations (hotel/ guesthouse) and breakfast (hotel/ guesthouse) and entrance fees for certain places

2. Provided a private driver. Mr. Tom (our companion throughout our trip) fetched us in the airport upon our arrival and departure. He was also in charged to fetch us to all the sightseeing locations and drove hours on the road (5 hours for HCM-Mui Ne, 3 hours Mui Ne-Da Lat, 7 hours Da Lat-HCM). He is very friendly and his self introduction was "do you know Tom and Jerry?? I am Tom."
US with Mr. Tom (wearing white shirt)

3. Miss Lien: She met us on the first day we reached HCM at the hotel (to collect the deposit money for our tour) and the very last night during our stay (to collect the remaining tour money) as well as keep updated with our trip and frequently ask about our comments regarding our trip/ stay that the company provided.

4. Provided a private tour guide. We have a tour guide during our stay in Da Lat and our visit in Ho Chi Minh (Day 6).
Our tour guide: Left (during our trip in Da Lat) and Right (during our Day 6 tour)

5. The common thing that every hotel/ guesthouse that we stayed will choose to keep our passport at the counter. They will give excuses that: (1) they need time to key in our information- which you can tell them to key in on the spot or give the some time to key in all the information; and (2) there is no personal safe box in the room-which you can tell them you want to carry it along.

6. Total charges: USD260/ pax + VND1,019,250 (for 7 pax as we last minute cancelled the hotel in Ho Chi Minh)

Accommodation

Ho Chi Minh: Seventy Hotel (www.seventyhotel.com)
Mui Ne: Ocean Valley Hotel (www.oceanvalleyhotel.com)
Da Lat: Best Western Dalat Plaza Hotel (www.dalatplazahotel.com.vn)

Itineraries

Day 1: KL-Ho Chi Minh
  • Flying off and check in
  • Water Puppet Show
  • Ben Thanh Night Market
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh & Mui Ne
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Post Office
  • Cafe Hopping
  • Check out and road trip to Mui Ne
Day 3: Mui Ne-Da Lat
  • White Sand Dunes
  • Red Sand Dunes
  • Fishing Village
  • Fairy Stream
  • Pho Shanu Cham Tower
  • Check out and road trip to Da Lat
  • Check in and stroll around Da Lat Night Market
Day 4: Da Lat
  • Cable Car- Robin Hill
  • Truc Lam Zen Meditation Monastery
  • Tuyen Lam Lake
  • Datanla Falls
  • Domain de Marie Church
  • Bao Dai's Summer Place
  • Crazy House
  • Valley of Love
  • Drip coffee testing
  • Da Lat Train Station
Day 5: Da Lat-Ho Chi Minh
  • Da Lat Garden (near our hotel)
  • Golden Valley
  • Traditional embroidery village
  • Check out and road trip to Ho Chi Minh
  • Check in and stroll around Ben Thanh Night Market 
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh
  • Chu Chi Tunnels
  • The War Remnant Museum
  • Reunification Palace
  • Cafe hunting and shopping
  • Ben Thanh Night Market
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh-KL
  • Check out and flying off