Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 1 part 2 (Saigon)

4 Sep

Hello there!

Here’s the long-awaited part 2 post of my Vietnam Travelogue. I mentioned on my part 1 post that we arranged for a tour with Saigon hotpot. You might be thinking, what is Saigon hotpot right?

Saigon hotpot is a non-profit organisation where Vietnamese university students volunteer to be free tour guides for tourists like us. It provides the opportunity for the students to practise speaking english and as a form of cultural exchange. For the tour, the tourist will be required to pay for the meals & the entrance tickets for the guide. Even though it is free, tourist whom like to donate to the organisation can also do so. Do try to book earlier if you can as the schedule and availability of the dates depend on the guides themselves. You can find out more on the different tour sessions they offer here: http://saigonhotpot.vn/what-we-do/free-tour-guide/introduction.html

And so, we booked the tour a month before the trip. As we only have 2 days 1 night in Saigon, we have a very tight schedule. We planned and decided to book a short city tour with Saigon hotpot. As our flight only arrive on day 1 at 830am, we requested for the door to start at 11am instead of the usual 9am. And because of the lesser time we have, we only managed to cover a few places. As time is a key concern, we actually researched and checked out the places we wanted to go. I will probably give a brief introduction and my review for each of this places 🙂

Here’s our Itinerary with Saigon Hotpot from 11am to 5pm:
– Notre Dame Cathedral
– Central Post Office
– Reunification Palace
– War Museum
– Opera House

Our lovely guide, ruby, picked us up at our hostel before we walked to the central area.
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Started with Notre Dame Cathedral, it is located directly opposite the central post office. There are masses held on every Sunday where it is open. Sadly, we missed the mass timing and did not manage to enter. Just take note that general visiting hours into the cathedral is 8am to 9.30am and 3pm to 4pm. Sunday mass starts at 9.30am.

Side view of the cathedral
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Front shot of the cathedral
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Next, is the Saigon Post Office! Someone is having a wedding shot there
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The interior architecture was inspired during the French Colonial period. And while researching, I also found out that the building is actually designed by the artist whom designed the Paris Eiffel Tower.
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Written some postcards back to myself and my friends 🙂 You can buy the postcards and stamps at the shops in the post office for about  ₫120,500 (S$7) for 8 postcards including the stamps  .

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Saigon Central post Office

Address: Bến Nghé, Quận 1  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7am to 8pm
Things to do: Post some love back home

After that, we headed to a nearby coffee bean to just chill and hide ourselves in the air-conditioned room. We had a snack earlier and wasn’t hungry so didn’t went for lunch. Bought our guide a drink too.

Next up is the reunification palace. Are you wondering why there are 4 tickets? It’s for me, my friend, another backpacker friend we met and our tour guide. It costs us  ₫45,000 (S$2.60) for 3 of us.
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And here’s a picture of our guide, Ruby and me 🙂

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A brief introduction of the reunification palace. The reunification palace is known by its name as it was the symbolic site of the liberation of Saigon where Vietnam was reunified. One of a really important place to Vietnamese history

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If you are not with a guide, they also have tour sessions for different languages that explains the different areas in the palace.
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There are many meeting rooms for different delegates in the palace.
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Even a movie theatre for themselves
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The kitchen was still intact and here’s a really old mixing machine

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Reunification Palace
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30am – 11am ; 1pm – 4pm
Entrance fee: ₫15,000 (S$1.80)

And on our way to the our last stop, the war remnants museum, our new friend stopped to take a shot with the drink seller. Please be aware that taking pictures with them comes with a price….. of buying a drink from them. The drink seller, without asking us, opened 3 coconuts and gave to us.

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It was a really hot weather, good time for a coconut drink!

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At the last stop, the war remnants museum. As our guide is a student, it was a free entrance for her.
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I would recommend coming to this museum before heading to the Cu Chi tunnel, where I’ll talk about it in my day 2 post. This museum displays photographs of Vietnam before, during and post-war graphics. It is a three-floor museum. Outside the museum, tanks, bombs and aircraft are displayed.

Coming to this museum gives you a better view of how and what Vietnam has gone through during the war. The chemical warfare was the most saddening as the traces and consequences of what happened in the past is still present currently.

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The displays outside the museum

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War Remnants Museum
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30am – 12pm; 1.30pm – 5pm. Last admission at 4.30pm
Entrance Fee: ₫15,000 (S$1.80)

After that, Ruby suggested that since we still have some time left, we should go take a look at the opera house and the expensive area in Saigon. And we took a cab to here.

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Feels like I’m in Europe! The architectures are pretty French/ European style.

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The Opera House.

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And then we took a cab back to our hostel and bid Ruby good-bye. Before we say good-bye, she has a note-book that asks us to write a note for her. I did, on behalf of our group. It was an awesome time spent with a local bringing us around 🙂 If I didn’t remember wrongly, we were her 3rd or 4th group of guests that she brought.

And that’s it! The end of my Day 1 part 2 posts, I still have a part 3 coming up where we booked a paid tour with XO tour ladies on a Vespa. I try to finish that soon and post it up next week. Till then!

With love,
Raine.

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3 Responses to “Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 1 part 2 (Saigon)”

  1. riic2000 September 4, 2013 at 17:03 #

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    • travellingwithraine September 12, 2013 at 00:52 #

      Hi riic, thanks for the enouragement (: sure I’ll pop by soon and let u know. Have a good week ahead. Cheers.

      • riic2000 September 12, 2013 at 02:08 #

        Thank you ! Good luck at your blog 😉 !

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