Despite the trip being a relaxing and mind capturing one for us, HCMC present us with a lot of curiosity and with all other holidays, time is definitely not on our side and we are all yearning to see and capturing everything. with the sun shinning high we set out for a day of exploring. On our agenda today was Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Independence Palace and Ben Thanh Market.
Au Parc was actually our destination for Brunch, but our stomach let us down before we even left the hotel. Seeing the weather and concern for our tummy we decided to go to Vincom Centre, the nearest shopping centre to our hotel, despite the change of plans it was actually good as we tried the perhaps the most iconic food of Vietnam, Pho. This chain of restaurant was called Pho 24, it is something like the Macdonalds in the States, there are numerous stores throughout the city, although it may not be the best Pho, but definitely affordable and extremely convenient and affordable for the tourists. despite my queries i was actually shocked that there were quite a lot of locals eating here also. A simple tip for tourists are definitely the locals, if the locals eat at the place also, the food must be quite good.
A simple bowl of noodles really warms us up for the adventures of the day. Pho 24 not only sell Pho but also have some Pork Chop rice which was only normal when my friend tried it. Saying this as the shop is famous for their noodles. Customers can choose from Chicken or Beef and there are various types you can choose from, such as breast, drumstick, beef fillet, beef balls……the soft noodles will just slide smoothly down your throat with the help of the flavourful stock. Prices were definitely gentle on the wallet,, this was actually our cheapest meal in HCMC. Prices ranges from 29,000 VND for a Small bowl of Pho to 79,000 VND for a meal which consists of a drink and dessert. The meal is super worth it, since the drink and dessert are quite expensive if you compare it to the price of the noodles.
There we continue on our journey, the cathedral was our first step, seeing the world in steps was our core value, we had actually wanted to go in to the cathedral, but it was close, tomorrow it shall be. This cathedral was definitely the most elegant and gorgeous attraction in the City, towering in district 1, making the buildings surrounding it to worthless.
吃喝玩樂 Eat, Drink, Play was the main idea and with the sun getting to strong it’s time to get some cooling done. To be efficient we have to cool internally and externally and we went for something that i would never have go in Singapore.
Finally, it is time for the Independence Palace, at 30,000 VND each for the tickets it became on of the cheapest attractions for me. Being only SGD1.80 there is no matter place to learn and spend your time. it was interesting for me to be able to know more about the past of Vietnam, the war period and also the american soldiers fighting during the Vietnam. In fact, the place was extremely huge, there was even a american war era helicopter on the rooftop. I especially loved the bunker park where I could see all those rooms, military adviser, maps detailing plans. At the end there was also videos to watch and I even saw the kitchen. They had really huge pots. From the outside you would never expect the Independence Palace to be a attraction but rather a fortress. It is guarded and you could not see the tourists inside. It is a huge complex and had large lawn. Only inside, the atmosphere turn less tense, with the photo taking, tourists and many people.
Our final destination of the day was Ben Thanh Market, to practise our bargaining skills and grab some local products. As per markets in other countries you do have to bargain, never ever give in, you can probably push the price down by 50-60%, if they don’t just walk off, most of the time they will come after you if not just go to another stall, many of them sell similar products. According to Dennison Wee one forces theory, the bargaining of buyers is definitely super high here. Ben Thanh Market actually is similar to the wet market here. it sells everything from packaged stuff to fresh meat and also food stalls. If you are a person that loves cleanliness this is definitely not a place you should come. Furthermore, given the weather, it is extremely stuffy.
To end of this, while on the way back, we got cheated !!! suddenly while walking, this coconut seller turn around and was super nice, offering his mobile coconut stall to let us take pictures.
It was fun, without knowing that he will force us to buy up his remaining coconuts so that he could close for the day. There was nothing we could do as he pretends not to hear us and just chop open the coconut. Not only that, once he saw the money in our wallet, from 150,000 VND he change and say 200,000 VND. Serious F*** Man. Hope you guys enjoyed this. I will probably finish up this HCMC trip soon in probably 2 more posts. Stay Tuned.