Ho Chi Minh City Journals

Uncovering Saigon

A February 2004 trip to Ho Chi Minh City by Laura Rabbit

Windsor Plaza Hotel Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam More Photos
Quote: My first trip to Vietnam was a pleasant surprise. I only uncovered part of what its largest city has to offer. I can't wait to return.

Uncovering Saigon

Overview

Traffic Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
We flew from Bangkok to Saigon without many expectations for a city notorious for its chaos. My passive feelings changed quickly upon arrival as I started to realize this was a gorgeous city with amazing things to see. Walk the streets and admire some of the impressive buildings, and the outrageous traffic. Eat to your heart's content (the French food is FANTASTIC and inexpensive). Get a taste of what the locals and government think about Americans (they are quite contrasting views). And as always in Asia, do some bargain shopping. Popular sights not to miss: Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden, Cu Chi Tunnels (outside the city), Reunification Palace w/tour, and the Saigon Central Post Office.Quick Tips:...Read More

Windsor Plaza Hotel

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Hotel | "Windsor Saigon"

Windsor Plaza Hotel Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
After arriving in Saigon, we were pleasantly surprised with the accommodations at the Windsor Saigon. We had upgraded to the next level room for about $3 a day; I'm not sure if this made a significant difference in quality, but our room was fantastic. We had a charming living/dining area with some wicker-type furniture, a TV with cable, and a stocked mini-bar with full place settings for four. A room separated by a door led to a large bedroom (albeit with two rather narrow twin beds) and tasteful decor. The lighting was good, there were two separate controllable A/Cs in each room, and the sparkling tile floors were gorgeous. Compared to other SE Asian hotels, this hotel had nice modern decor wit...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 10, 2004

Windsor Plaza Hotel
18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5
555
848-3833-6688

Le Petit Paris at Windsor Saigon Hotel

Restaurant | "Le Petit Paris"

Quote:
This is wonderful food for an amazing price. My friend and I shared two appetizers, two entrees, and one dessert for a total of $11. I had a tasty seafood dish, and my friend had a pastry and seafood dish. The sauces and bread were great.

The ambience was that of a high-class restaurant in Chicago. There is a full bar and attentive staff. We were there for lunch and only a few tables were occupied, mostly by businessmen at lunch. Dinner didn't seem too crowded either. This place is a hidden treasure.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 10, 2004

Le Petit Paris at Windsor Saigon Hotel
193 Tran Hung Dao
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
8367848

Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden Bar

Restaurant | "Rex Hotel Rooftop Bar"

Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden Bar Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
We didn't eat at the Rex, but instead just had a snack and a couple beers. This was a great experience and the rooftop bar is voted one of the best bars in South East Asia by Newsweek magazine. We sat outside and enjoyed an amazing view of the streets of Saigon, hearing the traffic noise zoom past. We munched on overpriced peanuts and chatted with several other visitors to Vietnam from around the world. The bar had an extensive list of mixed drinks (ie. sex on the beach, sex in the snow, snake in the grass) for about 70.000 dong ($4.50USD). This is very pricey for Saigon. This hotel/restaurant also has quite a sense of history and presence. During the war, news media camped out here. The decor i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 15, 2004

Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden Bar
141 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(84-8) 38292185

Tailor-made garments (NIL)

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Attraction

Tailor-made garments (NIL) Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
One of my favorite experiences during my entire three-week trip in SE Asia was being fitted for an ao dai, the traditional dress of women in Vietnam, and then picking it up just two days later. The ao dai is typically a fitted top, full length with slits beginning at the waist and continuing to the ground. Underneath are pants, usually white. The women in South Vietnam are said to wear this dress much more extensively than those in the north. Whether it is a special occasion or just a day spent riding the city on a scooter, the visions of these beautiful women will leave a lasting impression on you. For US$40 ($20 deposit and $20 at pick-up) a group of young girls giggled and took my m...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 10, 2004

Tailor-made garments (NIL)
Near the produce market and blind institute
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tan Son Nhat Airport - Saigon

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Story/Tip

Vietnam Airlines Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
I was nervous about flying into Vietnam. Although we had arranged and received entry visas from the states (approx $75) I had heard from others that you could be hassled by immigration unless you provided a bribe in your passport. It turns out this IS true, but only for Vietnamese nationals. The immigration officials do look a bit frightening in their crisp uniforms, but my friend and I both passed through without any problems. Turning around to watch behind me, I saw every passport from a Vietnamese opened and relieved of US$5. The official would remove it and set it aside without any expression. It was strange, but I was just glad to be on my way and free of hassles. Without any problems, we c...Read More
Vietnam Airlines Photo, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Quote:
The best decision of our three week vacation was to buy a cheap ticket to Bangkok ($798 on United from Chicago) and purchase Thai Airway's SE Asia Pass. Currently it is called the "ASEAN Hip Hop Air Pass" and the rules have changed very slightly since my trip. But, for the sake of argument, what I describe is based on our experience, which is nonetheless almost identical to their current offer... For approx. $550 we bought one-way flights traveling Bangkok-Saigon-Kuala Lumpur-Bali-Bangkok. Thai Airways rules require that you start and end your trip on Thai Airways, which essentially means you will no doubt be in Bangkok twice. But this price is amazing. The pass encompasses the following ASEAN ...Read More