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Aug 2 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

semi-overcast 86 °F
View steamy sojourn thru SE asia-summer 2011 on beachlovingirl's travel map.

Aug. 2 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam – Day 1

Aug. 2 Helpful Travel Notes:
Accommodations: Dai Huy Hoang – 283/22 Pham Ngu Lao Street | Pham Ngu Lao ward | District 1 | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (see details)
• $15 USD/300,000 VND per night for a clean room with 2 Twin Beds
• $18 USD/360,000 VND per night for a clean room with 1 Double Bed/1 Twin Bed

Exploring Saigon – Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1 – Ben Thanh Market – 24 Pho Restaurant

Moving from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is quite a change. Whereas the hustle-bustle, busy nature and organization of Hong Kong permeate the culture of Hong Kong, I feel an equal level of busy-ness here, yet it’s layered with a mellower, easy-going attitude. People aren’t in a rush, well, unless you’re crossing the street in front of their motorbikes. The Vietnamese people seem kinder, gentler, more approachable. They adore Serene, who gets lots of “Bay-Bay! Bay-Bay!” called her way.

We arrived late last night to our guest house – Dai Huy Hoang 283/22 Pham Ngu Lao Street | Pham Ngu Lao ward | District 1 | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (see details). The staff stayed up late to greet us and get us settled into our 2-Twin bed room. It was clean, if not sparsely furnished. They have another room for us tonight that sports a Double bed, Twin bed, refrigerator, A/C, fan, armoire, and tables. It’s much larger and better for us, and costs a mere $18 USD/night. Split between two of us, it’s definitely affordable and comfy.

Starting our day slowly is lovely – the guest house provides us breakfast of 2 eggs, fresh French baguettes and tea/coffee. We catch up on communications with home. At Noonish we set out for lunch on the main drag of Pham Ngu Lao Street – the Backpacker area. We stop at Allez Boo, which caters to Westerners with its Americanized versions of Vietnamese fare. Spending a whopping $ 11.99 USD, it’s a “treat” kinda place for our backpacker budgets. I vow to never return. Cool atmosphere with a tremendously attentive, wonderful Staff, but pricey!

After hitting the ATM for 4,000,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong – equivalent to about $ 200 USD), we traipse to Ben Thanh Market, where there are peddlers of all manner of clothing, luggage/handbags, jewelry, food and souvenirs. We troll the aisles for desired wares – I’m looking for a backpack, but otherwise not “goal-oriented”, which can in fact, prove more dangerous for my wallet. Some of you know what I mean. ; ) Jigga is on a mission to procure a jade (if they have it) “Buddha bead prayer/intentions necklace” and a sarong for our upcoming trip to Mui Ne Beach.

We find my backpack, swear to return to purchase it after a look around, and wander into throngs of tourists, touts and merchants in the Market. There are smells and sounds I’ve never experienced. The food smells are alternately delicious and nauseating. I pose with the snake wine and snap a photo, because it’s cool. Everyone should do this, by the way.

I stumble upon a stall with my favourite style of Vietnamese outfit – a thin sheath of full-length, royal blue, sleeveless, gauzy fabric (front & back) draped over silky-satin wide leg pants. For those unaware, I haggle like a bulldog. Experience is Life’s Best Coach: Globetrotting and living near Mexico have served me well! I haggle the saleswoman (and her sister/cousin/aunt?) down to 1/3 the price they originally quote me. No, it’s not the Vietnamese price, but I’m certain it’s less than a typical Westerner.

With my inflated ego, we head over to the Om”beads”man to haggle for Jigga’s prayer beads. But first, we stop to procure a little lilac-coloured flower-flocked purse for Serene (she keeps stealing mine and dumping it-ugh!). BEST $9 ever spent, IMHO, and a white Adidas ball cap for me. We leave the market famished, but accomplished. Across the street we sup at 24 Pho, a tasty Vietnamese soup restaurant. For under $5, we stuff ourselves silly, and head home. We’ll sleep well tonight.

Aug. 2 Places/Things to Do:
Pham Ngu Lao Street – the main street/backpacker/tourist trap area of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Dai Huy Hoang – 283/22 Pham Ngu Lao Street | Pham Ngu Lao ward | District 1 | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
• $15 USD/300,000 VND per night for a clean room with 2 Twin Beds
• $18 USD/360,000 VND per night for a clean room with 1 Double Bed/1 Twin Bed
• Amenities: Kind, attentive Staff, clean rooms/bathroom, WiFi in room + public areas, Hot water shower, A/C, fridge, armoire, table+chairs, Simple Western Breakfast included.
• Full tour company/travel agent in Hotel Lobby. Bottled water, 20,500 VND.
• website: | email: | phone:

Allez Boo Restaurant - 197 Pham Ngu Lao Street | Pham Ngu Lao ward | District 1 | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
• Convenient location, friendly, attentive Staff, and good food, but overpriced.

[Cho] Ben Thanh Market - Intersection of Le Loi Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
• Ben Thanh Market (from Vietnamese Ben meaning "wharf", and Quy Thanh meaning "turtle citadel") is a big marketplace in the downtown area of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in District 1. The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and today is considered one of symbols of Ho Chi Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, áo dài, and souvenirs, as well as local cuisine (albeit from Wikipedia, this is all accurate information).

24 Pho Restaurant - 23-25 Tran Nhat Duat St | Tan Dinh Ward, District 1| Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | www.pho24.com.vn/ | +84 8 848 0807
• Conveniently located across from Ben Thanh Market
• Great food at budget prices, friendly wait staff, great fresh smoothies; caveat emptor – you pay for every napkin you use, even though they are offered to you. ; )

Posted by beachlovingirl 15:44 Archived in Vietnam Tagged saigon ho_chi_minh_city mui_ne_beach hotel_dai_huy_hoang pham_ngu_lao_street ben_thanh_market 24_pho_restaurant allez_boo_restaurant

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