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Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

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Singapore
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Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Just came back from a 7 days trip and here are some feedback that might be useful to fellow travellers.

1. Transport from airport: After reading about the hassles over taxis, I decided to try the public bus no. 152. It worked as one poster said. Just turn right upon exit and walk 5 minutes to the domestic terminal. You can see the terminal even before starting off. The bus will stop directly in front of the domestic terminal. If it is not waiting there, just wait for a few minutes. The fare is only 3000 VD (about 0.20 US cents!) A side window will show the road names served and it is very easy to follow its progress because all street corners are well named. At Pham Ngu Lao, it has a stop directly opposite the backpackers' lane. Otherwise you can take it all the way to Ben Thanh market.

2. Going to Binh Tay market. This is just off the tourist map at the lower left hand corner. I was worried about being lost but it is actually very easy to get there. Just take bus no 1 from Ben Thanh market. It serves the two markets end-to-end. Bus fare again only 3000 VD. At the terminal, look for the gate where the buses exit. The market is visible at the opposite end of a short street.

3. DVDs: The cheapest are at Huynh Thuc Khang, 5 minutes walk along this road from Ben Thanh Market. Many many shops here. Example of prices: 50,000 versus 80,000 elsewhere. A bit puzzled whether these are legal because they are nicely produced and packaged 7 to 8 movies in one disc and also sold in good class shopping mall.

4. Day tours: A half day Cu Chi tunnel tour cost me US$6 when booked at the hotel but only US$5 if you go to the tour office directly. Tour prices vary so unbelievably if you compare expensive ones with those near the backpacker's lane. A 1-day Mekong tour cost only US$8 with lunch plus several trips on different types of boat. Cost of living is so amazingly low!

5. Sudden tropical rain: Those living in the tropics know how these are like. The torrent comes quite suddenly and places get badly flooded. If you are wearing shoes, be prepared if it is your only pair. Most locals wear sandals.

6. Pho24 etc: When they realise that you are a foreigner, some charge you for the disposable hand towel and the fried dough that they put on your table even if you did not order it. (The one at the west side of Ben Thanh market did this). Then they charge you for it. Sure, it is only a few cents but you get the idea.

7. Crossing the road: A most unnerving and unique experience! The trick is to move very slowly. Never make sudden moves. The endless swarm of motorcycles will skillfully avoid you. Some first time visitors even stand at street corners to admire how the traffic works!

8. Being approached: After reading about all the scams, I ignored everyone who approached me. You get approached by all kinds all the time, especially the cyclos. Nothing good seems to have been written about them. Even though if you are an Asian, they seems to know who are the foreigners. I think the advice and experience of fellow travellers about these scams are worth taking note of.

9. The War Remnants museum: Although I had seen the days of Maoist insanity and both my parents (from huge extended families) are the only ones who escaped, it is educational to see the suffering on the other side and why war has no moral.

Hope these points are helpful.

California
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1. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to post.

Ho Chi Minh City...
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2. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Yes, useful advice but a couple of corrections:

DVDs - yes I think the ones you found are official/legal discs. Sony & others have started selling cut-price legal discs here to try & discourage people from buying copies (which can be had for as little as 10,000VND if you know where to look). They have yet to really take hold as, whilst they are cheaper than in most other countries, they still cost 5 times more than fakes...

Pho 24 - nearly all restaurants charge for cold towels, not just for foreigners. Usual price is 2,000VND. Same goes for peanuts etc. Worst 'extra' I've come across recently was at a cafe on Le Thanh Ton. They brought me toast without butter, so I asked for some, & got a small pat of margarine, for which they added 6,000VND to my bill. I laughed & told them how ridiculous was, only to get a surly grunt in return. Another place to chalk off my list :)

Miranda, Sydney
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3. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Thank you happy wanderer - Great information from you.

Cheers,

Sandy

MaineUSA
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4. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Excellent report. Another prime example of the usefulness of these forums!

westport
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5. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Thank you Happy Wonderer.We will be in Vietnam in May. We are from USA and department of state has some warnings re: safety in Vietnam . …state.gov/travel/…safety

I understand we should exercise caution like in other large cities - Hanoi and HMC .

Any suggestions? I booked cooking class through my Vietnam tour operator , it includes cyclo transportation.. Should we forego it? Any tips?

thanks!

Ho Chi Minh City...
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6. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Booking a cyclo tour through a tour op is the safest way to do it - they choose the most reliable, trustworthy drivers and the drivers rely on them for a lot of business. And you'll be paying the tour op rather than paying the driver directly.

Perth
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7. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

Hello Happy Wanderer

A very good report. Very helpful. What street do you mean when you mention backpacker street?

Thanks

Marlene

Singapore
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8. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

There is a small road connecting Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien, running almost parallel to Nguyen Thai Hoc. Once the bus 152 turns right into Pham Ngu Lao from Nguyen Thai Hoc, tell the bus conductor that you wish to get down. The small road is directly opposite the bus stop. Bui Vien itself also seems to have lots of small backpacker hotels. Hope this helps. (I wander all over the world, so I might not always monitor this forum. Pls pardon if I don't reply after a while. Tks.)

Melbourne
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9. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

i would like to know, where should i change my USD to dong with a better price?

Singapore
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10. Re: Some Feedback for Fellow Travellers

I am from Singapore, so I can only compare with the situation here. It would definitely be to change in HCMC. I changed S$20 before going, as a precaution. I found that I paid over 5% more compared with doing it even at HCMC airport. Within HCMC, I didn't bother with where I change because the rates were very good and the differences were at most a few cents. I had done money changing at the airport, a bank, a shopping centre reception (Zen Plaza). They were all ok for me.