Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ho Chi Minh City Part 1: Knowing Saigon

About Ho Chi Minh
Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the heart and soul of Vietnam. 

Useful Tips One: How to Get to Ho Chi Minh from the Airport?
The city centre is located about 8 km from Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Two ways to get to the city centre:

One, by bus. Bus no. 152 is the cheapest way to go to Ho Chi Minh city from the airport (4000 dong i.e. RM 0.60 per person). Immediately upon exiting the International Arrival Terminal, turn right. Cross the road. The buses labeled 152 are located opposite the Burger King. The bus will drop you off at the bus terminal opposite the roundabout in front of Ben Thanh Market.

Yang ini kalau awak nak mengesot macam suster ngesot pergi hotel pun takpe sebab dekat.

Scam #1: Some taxi drivers would trick you by saying that there are no more buses from airport to city centre. Ignore them.

Scam #2: Be careful with Xe Om. Agree with the price before you agree to engage their service.  

Two, by taxi. Metered taxis provide reasonable rates (about 140 000 to 150 000 dong). Other than Mai Linh and Vinasun, I was advised not to accept any other non-reputable taxis to avoid scams and extra hidden charges.

Useful Tips Two: How to Choose the Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh?
Depends on your purpose of traveling to Ho Chi Minh.

Purpose one, shopping at Ben Thanh Market. For shopaholics, please choose any of the hotels nearby Ben Thanh Market only (e.g. Le Loi Street of District 1). Spend some effort to google up the exact location. Do not rely on the statements advertised by some of the hotels such as “walking distance to Ben Thanh”. Well, half an hour is walking distance too right?

Purpose two, for hipsters and adventurous backpackers, any hotels along Pham Ngu Lao Street of District 1 is an ideal spot. Most of the budget hostels and dorms are located along this road anyway.  Clubs playing loud music along the way at night. Families spending healthy and quality time together at the park nearby.

I chose An Tam 3, situated by the Pham Ngu Lao Street. 12 minutes walking to Ben Thanh. I am not saying that I am a hipster or an adventurous backpacker. But walking under the shady trees by the beautiful garden full of flowers where cheerful kids were running free, listening to Vietnamese traditional music played by old people in the gazebo, stopping by Highland Coffee to take a sip of nice coffee/chocolate mint and finally crossing challenging route to Ben Thanh Market are rewarding and worthwhile moments that I should not let go.

Useful Tips Three: How to Cross the Roads in Ho Chi Minh City?
Ho Chi Minh – motorcycles madness defined! There are approximately five million people in Ho Chi Minh. And there are approximately three million motorcycles on the road in Ho Chi Minh. These motorcyclists are like a school of piranha swimming in a strong current of a narrow river towards their victim. Miscalculation and misjudgment while crossing the roads would be fatal to both motorcyclists and pedestrians.

And I find it difficult to predict the road direction. Confused most of the time, I keep tight the rule of “look right and left and to the right again” most of the time.

Rule 1: Cross the road. Don’t wait. Or you’ll end up waiting forever. The motorcyclists won’t stop. Even for zebra crossing. Take a deep breath and observe the following rules.

Rule 2: Observe the techniques employed by the locals in crossing roads. They are the experts at this. Or the best way, follow their lead. Nearby Ben Thanh Market, you may find some officers (wearing green shirt) assisting locals and foreigners crossing the road to Ben Thanh Market. Be nice to them.

Rule 3: Make your move predictable by the motorcyclists. Walk slowly. Do not run. One step at a time. The motorcyclists are experts at this too. They would definitely avoid from running over you, calculated and judged by your speed and movement.

Rule 4: Whatever it takes, do not turn back! It is fatal! Never. Never. Never. Turning back would mean your move is unpredictable by the motorcyclists and anyone would run over you.

Rule 5: Use zebra crossing. Four wheels vehicles would definitely stop to give you way (well, most of them would). At least you are able to minimize the risk of being hit by a four wheels vehicle. 

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2 Nukilan:


Saya dah di ingatkan gunakan taxi Vinasun tetapi ternaik juga taxi lain di hari2 terakhir , akibatnya driver lock pintu dan minta tambang 10x lebih dr biasa.

Hairi Tahir said...

Bahaya tu. Tapi syukurlah tubuh badan tak diapa-apakan...

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