Ho Chi Minh City, the New Saigon – One Day in the Capital with a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels

Scooterville in the Capital
We are reaching the end of the Vietnamese adventure, we have arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, better known as Saigon, and ready to explore the capital of Vietnam.
Moto-driver awaiting his next ride in the shade

Moto-driver awaiting his next ride in the shade

Coming from Can Tho, we get dropped off at the Bien Xe Mien Tay station. We googled the journey to Pham Ngu Lao and figured out that we had to take Bus #2 for 2,000VND each towards Ben Tanh and get off on Le Lai street station which is one of the streets off the Ben Tanh market roundabout. The public bus is right where we get dropped off, the ride should take 30mins, and just as Google Maps indicated, that’s exactly what we did and how long it took. The city is divided into districts, the backpackers/touristy area is in District 1. And, as in Hanoi, you are crossing the streets at your own risk, constantly dodging motorbikes. By the end of our trip, it almost became second nature. We were dodging motorbikes like pros, or at least that’s how we felt…always look BOTH ways before crossing!
Scooterville in the Capital

Scooterville in the Capital

We found Mi Mi backpacker, a hostel hidden in the alleys of 219 Pham Ngu Lao for 294,000VND per night ($14). We were highly satisfied with our stay during the two days we were there and the location is great (location really mattered to us, due to our time restriction). We had 2 days in Ho Chi Minh so the musts on our list were the Cu Chi Tunnels, The War Remnants museum and the Ben Tanh market while looking for cheap and delicious food stands around the city.
Another Great Soup in the Capital with meat combo for 47,500VND (<$2.50)

Another Great Soup in the Capital with meat combo for 47,500VND (<$2.50)

Cu Chi tunnels is accessible by public transportation, though it may take longer, it is cheaper,  but we decided to go with a morning tour for 100,000VND ($5) per person to save time- which, did not include the entrance fee of 90,000VND ($4.5) per person –  and the bus can drop you off at the War Remnants Museum on the way back to the capital. Having a guided tour actually helped us learn so much more about the Cu Chi Tunnels and the conditions in which the Vietnamese were living during the Vietnam War or American War as Vietnam refers to it. We hopped off at the museum on our way back. It was a very comprehensive exposé of the war and its ramifications up until today. Really two-musts if you are in Ho Chi Minh City. Entrance fee to the museum is 15,000VND per person ($0.75).
J entering the access used by the Vietnamese to hide inside the Cu Chi Tunnels

J entering the access used by the Vietnamese to hide inside the Cu Chi Tunnels

Access Point to the Tunnels made Bigger to fit Westerners - we used these ones tho we crawled inside the tunnels

Access Point to the Tunnels made bigger to fit Westerners – we used these ones though we crawled once inside the Tunnels

We went to the Ben Tanh market the next morning. the market is a labyrinth of shirts, dresses, shoes, fabrics, souvenir, gadgets and food stands. You can find anything you want there but the bargaining is not as easy as it is in the touristy area. Vendors usually have a lowest price and will not accept a sale for under.
Inside Ben Tanh Market (Cho Ben Tanh)

Inside Ben Tanh Market (Cho Ben Tanh)

By noon, we checked out of the hotel, walked down Pham Ngu Lao towards Ben Tanh market to catch the bus #152 to the airport. You can also take a taxi to the airport, we read the fare is 95,000-100,000VND in 2010 so expect a bit more nowadays. The bus cost 5,000VND and we arrived within a half hour on a Saturday afternoon to Tan Son Nhat International airport.
HCM Bplane
Chào Vietnam!….until next time!
Our next adventure is in the Kingdom of Cambodia 😉

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