A Fleeting Trip to Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh
If you’ve made a trip to bustling Mumbai, Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh should come as no surprise. But if you have not, the sights, sounds, crowds are bound to get you panicking or dizzy at first. The sensory inundation can be quite overwhelming! The language may seem like a barrier; and, a few officials at the immigration, daunting. But if you have Google translator & all your documents in place you have nothing to worry.
What you’re about to read is a quick glimpse into my itinerary and about my accommodation in Ho Chi Minch City. It was a fleeting 10-day trip to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Hoi An. However, let me warn you, 10 days is not enough as each tour can take up an entire day. Also, please note my itinerary is a cross between a backpacker and a family trip. It was my first solo visit to these places, therefore the selection of hotels was reasonably priced keeping location and safety in mind. On hind sight, had I planned better, I'm sure I would have accomplished a lot more. Below is my itinerary, a few handy tips and recommendations below to prep you for an exciting holiday! And I'm sure after seeing a few pictures, you just might pack your bags and book your tickets.
“However, let me warn you, 10 days is not enough as each tour can take up an entire day.”
To begin with, I made a list of things that were necessary before and after I entered the country. I have put a few of them out here while the trip is still fresh in my mind.
Must Haves before you enter Vietnam:
- A Valid passport that’s not within the expiry date
- Local Currency Cash + Traveller’s Card
- Currency Convertor App
- Basic Medicines for cold, flu and painkillers
Must Haves once you enter Vietnam:
- A local sim card with a data pack (available at the airport, right outside the immigration counter)
- Mosquito repellent(Depending on time of year, I got there in December and some places had a lot of mosquitoes)
- Comfortable shoes and clothes. Visit as much as you can like a local in this city by walking/ cycling.
- While most roads in Vietnam are way better than Bombay, the sidewalks are not that great, so watch your step.
My choice of Hotel in Ho Chi Minh: Nguyen Shack - Saigon
In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 this quiet little Shack is one-of-a-kind. I highly recommend it for its uniqueness, hygiene, delectable food and good service.
At first glance one would mistake this hole-in-the-wall place for a coffee shop. Just like I did, almost walked out and the neighbouring security guard gestured telling me to walk back in. I was in for a visual treat! - A beautiful boutique Hotel and Homestay with a Zen feel.
As you can see, the place is neat, clean and value for money. I had a peaceful stay and wonderful time. I booked my hotels and tours with the help of this new travel site + app Taxidio. This app is ideal if you're not a regular backpacker; and, want to organise your trips to save yourself from poor planning and last minute harrowing experiences. This site and/or app helps you plan your itinerary, gives you good accommodation options and of course redirects you to partner sites to book your tours. In short, it's safe and reliable.
When it comes to food, especially when travelling to a new destination, I get excited and worried. Excited to try out new cuisines and worried about catching some kind of bug.
But, I was at ease in all parts of Vietnam. There are plenty of options and if you're not that adventurous, you can always opt for vegetarian food or something to suit your palate.
The food at Nguyen Saigon Shack was pretty good and close to comfort food. Skeptical? Then look at this tempting fruit pancake and omelette with baguette:
Still not convinced? Then how about some Pork chops with lemongrass and ginger coconut rice.
And it tastes even better with rice wine, you'll know what I'm talking about if you've tried the Japanese drink - Sake! Except this is literally 2x more potent than the latter. So what makes it so potent? Because they are infused spirits.
Rice wine by itself is a very potent liqueur as it contains almost 50% alcohol. Different medicinal herbs, leaves, wood, mushrooms, roots etc. are infused in this to make a strong concoction. This mix is preserved in glass jars and bottles from a few months to few years, thereby extracting all the healing properties of these 'herbs'.
Moreover, every jar is accompanied with a tag that states the benefits of the concoction:
I was warned that since the spirit was too strong, I ought to try just about 10 -15ml - a good night cap and just enough to keep me in good spirits! I thought it was a joke at first and agreed to try it. Boy, it was true. It's pretty strong and addictive! A must try.
Nguyen Shack also stocks up a large variety of herbal teas that are infused. So you can choose from artichoke, jasmine, oolong or lotus tea to name a few.
If you do visit Ho Chi Minh City, this boutique hotel is bang for your buck and worth visiting.
There's so much more to describe and even more to explore. You'll definitely see more of Vietnam in my posts. But I'll stop right here for now. Join me in my next post, as I discover something new or old that might resonate with you :) .. I'd love to bump into you again. See ya!