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> Saigon, Vietnam Starter Kit, All need-to-know tips about Saigon Vietnam, should read before coming
longvnt
post Jul 25 2008, 11:28 AM
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Saigon, or Hochiminh is a city of charm, and friendliness. We may call it Saigon, or Hochiminh city; neither are wrong. Saigon was the old name before 1976 and the name of Hochiminh city came after that. Welcome to my city, and let me tell you some brief information you need to know

What to bring: In Saigon we have nearly everything you need. So donít make a big pack and then you will feel sorry. You will pay cheaper if buying here.. Just bring a good walking shoes that you may not find down the real one that make you comfortable for your health. Bring your tablets and medicine that decide your health. Donítí even buy a guide book ( i.e. Lonely Planet) because you can buy it here with $6. Clothes and suite cases? Buy them at Ben Thanh market with a much cheaper price and good time to meet the Vietnamese people. A touch for tunnel and cave tours, calculator for your money notion ? Buy at a book shop at Leloi street. Mosqhito repellent? Buy at any chemist shop and they are a lot anywhere, just ask a person you see on the street. ATM are anywhere, just bring some credit or debit.

Traffic: in a city of 9 million people, of which 5 million of them use scooters and 1 million use cars and trucks, crossing the road is a challenge. In Vietnam we donít get used to use the zebra crossing, then the vehicles donít stop before that. Motorbikes and scooters are allowed to turn right even at the red traffic light. Then you will feel that they donít mind to stop before the traffic light. The best way to cross the road is that you should KEEP WALKING SLOWLY, AND NEVER RUN OR JUMP. If you go slowly, the vehicles there know how to go around you. If you run, they will be not able to control the traffic and accident will come. Wait for the cars and trucks to pass by and ignore the scooters. If you can do that you can tell yourself that from now on you can overcome any difficulty in this world. What can you compare with crossing the road in Vietnam?

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Transport: We donít have Metro yet. We only have public bus, taxi, cyclo and motorbike taxi. There are many men staying on their motorbikes at every corner and they are cheap to use if you are risky enough. You often pay Dong 5 000 per kilometer and they have no metre counter then just make a deal before you go. You will be given a helmet and you will know that you are still survived after arriving. There is another kind of transport named cyclo which is a kind of rickshaw that you stay at the front and the man at the back pushes the peddle. This is a very interesting vehicle for a trip to see Saigon and have pictures of people on scooters here. However, I strongly not to book buy yourself. You should ask a tour guide, or a hotel staff to book it for you. They know who they book and know whom to complaint the service to. Taxies are fine and all of them should be equipped by metre counters. However, some of them may have a much shorter kilometer than others, then just choose some I know they are ok. Mailinh taxi which possesses green and white color cars and is numbered 8 26 26 26 is the best. Vinasun with same color and is numbered 8 27 27 27 is ok. However, watch out the copy 8 27 27 77 ( notive that 77 at the end, not 27) with the same color. Grey one is also not recommended because their one kilometer is only 500m.

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Money: In this city cash is more preferred than credit card. You will see that you are millionaire here. Our currency is DONG. One USD is nearly DONG 17000. We use the note 200, 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000, 200 000 and 500 000 which are equal to 1.2 cents, 3cents, 6 cents, 12 cents, 30 cents, 60 cents, USD1.2 , USD 3, USD 6, USD 12, and USD 30, relatively. So with USD 60, you are a real millionaire. Congratulation! This is really a matrix for you then I tell you to buy a calculator at the book shop at Leloi Street to make you understand how much in your value when you hear a number from as hop assistant. Dong is better to be used than USD here because you may not get a good rate if you pay by USD. You can find out many banks, money exchange tables, or even you can change money at a jewelry shop. You can change traveler cheques there too ( some places you can even do that at 8 pm). I strongly recommend you to have credit or debit cards, which you can get money any time. Notice that some ATM doesnít give you cash, because this ATM belongs to a bank that doesnít have contract with your bank, find another, you can find Vietcombank is the most useful because they even have contract with Plus, Diner, Cirrus, etc. One drawing is only allowed two million dong which is about USD 120. After you get money and the card has been splitted out, you can put it in and do it again. Any withdrawal should be charged 3%

Tours: You can book tour from the two main places. The first is the back packersí place in a corner made by the De Tham, Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien streets. Tour are run avery day to interesting spots around. If you donít want to be in a group of 40 and be herded like sheep, you can book tours at many tour desk at Dong Khoi street. The tours you had better not to miss are tour to Cuchi Tunnel, Caodai temple, Mekong 2 days to floating market

Water: strongly not recommend to drink water from tap, only drink bottled water. Thatís why if you stay at a hotel of 4 stars or more, you will find out there are free bottles of water. These water are for you to brush your teeth and if you drink a bit when you are doing it, you are still fine. Just only drink ice with round shape with a hole in the middle because this is the only ice made from purified water.

Hotels: The hotels are same to tours: Bui Vien Street for cheap ones and Dong Khoi street for up-class hotels. For the hotel in Dong Khoi, you should book before thru internet or a company; they are usually fully booked. The hotels at the cheap rate at Bui Vien Street are more handy. You can go around there, have a look at their rooms and prices, and pick the most suitable

Market and bargain: Ben Thanh market in the center of Saigon is the main place for anyone to buy any thing you want to buy. Bargain is recommended here. If you here 10, you may think of 7 and start from 5. Remember that bargain is culture in Vietnam and donít feel annoyed about this. Always keep your face happy, smiling and not to argue. Besides Ben Thanh market, you can go to Saigon square at the cross road of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street and Leloi street. Some doesnít like hot whether can go to Tax Trade Center at the cross road of Leloi street and Nguyen Hue Street. You can enjoy here air-conditioner, late close up to 10pm, and no bargain

Dress: In Vietnam we donít respect people who wear too few in their body. Short are alright but not too short ( not shorter than 30cm for a pant). Showimg too much skin at thigh, arm and shoulder will be considered sex-arouser. Sandles are good for walking and easy to take off before going to temples

Internet and phone. Internet shops are anywhere. You can check email at their PC easily with the price less than 50cent per hour. In Saigon wiless is more popular than many big cities in Europe, and it is mostly free. If you have a laptop, you are recommended to switch on your wifi detector, if you canít have wiless in your hotel, surely you can find it at a coffee shop or a hamburger shop. If you make a phone call to your Mum from Saigon, you had better to re member this number: 171. You can dial like this 171 + 00 + country code + state code + your number at any public telephone place. You only pay 60 cents per minutes instead of USD 3. If you call this system from your hotel, the price is cheaper than normal call but of course the hotel will charge a fee on that

Crime: Saigon is like other cities of Vietnam: safe, friendly and free. You can go to anywhere you want, back to hotel any time. Police will help you and with them even you are more protected than the local people. However, back snatchers are still scared to some tour guides because this takes time to take tourists to police station for a report. There are often 2 guys running motorbike very fast and the guy at the back will snatch you backpack. Then do not bring all your Credit cards when you are on the street, carry your backpack by 2 ropes to 2 arms, or put a rope round our head. This rarely happens but this happens as the same to any other big city in this world. So carefulness is never useless

Food and drink. What to drink? Of course Saigon beer, a very tasty beer. Saigon Beer has many versions: green lable, red lable, short bottle and 333 ( only in can). I choose red lable but you may have another idea. For meal, donít forget to take PHO, a Vietnamese traditional food. This is a kind of rice noodle with beef, and now the variety has been open to chicken, seafood and veggies. PHO now is so famous that some companies has made their own taste and franchise to nationwide level. Pho 2000 and pho 24 are the most well-known
Saigon has many things more to discover, so why donít you come? For more information, ask me. Nice to be your friend in Saigon


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starlagurl
post Jul 28 2008, 01:09 PM
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Thanks Long, you're our new Local Expert for Saigon!
If anybody has any questions about Vietnam or Saigon, don't hesitate to ask him.


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longvnt
post Jul 30 2008, 01:33 AM
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anyone asks me why I say Saigon, not Hochiminh city? I am just lazy. You see "Saigon" has only two sounds, meanwhile Hochiminh City has 5 sounds

Saigon was the name before 1975, after the country becomed reunited, the city was name Hochiminh City, after the name of the leader of the North Vietnam. And now we call it HOchiminh city in our official document, and Saigon in out oral way

See you in Saigon


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starlagurl
post Aug 14 2008, 10:49 AM
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Haha, that's amusing. Do most people say it that way? That seems so needlessly complex. Ah, bureaucracy.


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longvnt
post Aug 23 2008, 03:27 AM
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Yes, people still call it Saigon at daily life talking and Hochiminh at the documents. And no one feel confused

Beaurocracy? It's much in Vietnam. I have many American tourists and they are happy to see this things, and they enjoy it. They said traveling to see something different from their country is a fantastic travel

Do you agree?


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starlagurl
post Aug 25 2008, 12:17 PM
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Americans? Happy to see bureaucracy? Noooooooooo, I don't think so.


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longvnt
post Aug 26 2008, 06:10 AM
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QUOTE(longvnt @ Aug 23 2008, 03:27 AM) *

. They said traveling to see something different from their country is a fantastic travel

Do you agree?


Just see it and not experience it


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happyolive
post Oct 3 2008, 10:47 PM
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great advise .. thinking of going to vietnam this december 2008. ... other places of interest that we are thinking of visiting is Hue. Any tips on Hue .. best way of going there and to Hanoi from Saigon?
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jeppsson
post Oct 12 2008, 03:42 PM
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QUOTE(happyolive @ Oct 3 2008, 10:47 PM) *

great advise .. thinking of going to vietnam this december 2008. ... other places of interest that we are thinking of visiting is Hue. Any tips on Hue .. best way of going there and to Hanoi from Saigon?

From Hue, you can take bus or train to Danang and Hoi An old town. Hoi AN and My Son are world heritages. From Danang you can either take night train or cheap flights to Hanoi and Saigon. cheap flight can be booked in advance at www.jetstar.com. Hotels can be booked at Travel impression for 20% discount. My husband and I spent 3 months there. Let me know if you need any other advice.
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aussiepanda
post Dec 21 2008, 09:19 PM
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hi wayfarer

if you were arriving in danang (think it's actually chan mai port) and had choice of going to hoi an or hue which would you pick? we only have a day cos we're on a cruise

we've also booked hydrofoil to saigon from the port (vung tau). a few people think we're crazy but we can't see any probs. think we've booked greenline? any hints on what not to miss in saigon when we arrive? especially places to eat?

thanks

pete
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faffyko
post Oct 5 2009, 01:29 AM
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Hi Long!

Reading your post gave me a brief background on what to expect in HCMC.

My family and I will be going there for a vacation on the 14th of the month until the 19th.

We have booked our hotel to Nguyen Khang. Hopefully, its good since their reviews are okay.

We are planning to go on tours but I am undecided till now on where to go. We are 5 adults with 3 year old boy with us. What can you recommend?

What are the must see places in HCMC?

What is the weather now there? I was so worried these past few days coz I heard about the typhoon. Is HCMC affected?

I love shopping and I am interesting to buy those "good buys" from there. Any recommendation?

What about the resto? My husband's bday is on the 16th, what is the place resto to dine in? I want those cheap but with good fud.

Thank and regards.


MS. FLORENCE BERNARDO
Philippines

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lucyluxy14
post Sep 20 2011, 05:01 AM
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I get used to hearing the word "Saigon", because when I was a child, I have heard about this through my father's stories, about American War crazy.gif
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intan_sinuhaji
post May 22 2012, 08:39 AM
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Hi there, plan to take a trip to Vietnam this July. So, wanna ask about the shopping spot there? Is there any chance that I can buy"Deuter" or any outdoor gear there cheaper? Thanks alot
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longvnt
post Jan 16 2013, 11:40 AM
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Sorry guys, now I am back. Will answer your questions if any


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emilyflaherty
post Jul 8 2013, 07:47 PM
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Here is my blog, lots of entries and photos from Vietnam, only 2 weeks ago! Check it out! http://www.travelpod.com/members/emilyflaherty
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