Travelled towards end of 2013
Vietnam trip (Saigon was the city we went to) was a memorable one for many reasons. It was one of those trips that we were planning for a long time being so close to our home (Hong Kong) but never happened to finalise it. Usually we ended up travelling to other places which were further and in our eyes, “more exotic”. Moreover, we could never get around spending a lot of money on flights for “just” 3-4 days so again it never hit the radar for us. So when we finally went there, we had a good laugh that it was always so near, yet so far a place for us.
It is also a memorable trip since it was a complete surprise from me. Vietnam is one of the few countries where Indian passport holders can apply visa online and the traveller need not come in person. Hence I could short list it as a place to surprise my better half. It was a new place, had reasonable things to offer and short enough to be a relaxing jaunt overall. With much pride, I would say that I was able to keep the destination a secret till the boarding gate itself! Yep!!!
One more reason that it was a truly memorable trip is that it was the last trip before we seriously thought of “settling down”. Not that we remember it for it or planned it accordingly, but yeah, that is nonetheless a fact to remember.
A few points to mention before we get into the specifics / highlights of the trip.
- While there is visa on arrival available for many nationalities, it is still advisable to take a visa before hand if possible. The reason being that the queue can be quite long at the airport. Especially if you are landing along with several other flights, it can be a lengthy process.
- Some cab drivers at the airport try to charge you extra for “airport parking fees”, “toll fees” and so on. Ours asked us for US$100 for all this and including the fare. We were suspicious and asked the hotel staff (Majestic Hotel Saigon) to resolve this with the driver. The hotel staff knew all what is to be charged and what not and he helped us pay the right amount (I think it was around $30-40).
- There is plenty of food options including fine dining for Vietnamese food. So be ready to binge on it 🙂
- Safety wise, I would say take some precautions since from what I hear, bikers can be carrying snatchers. We were kind of worried and extra careful on first day (did not even carry my DSLR with me) but felt much more confident even in evenings around 7-8pm. However, being from an EM country, our ability to “sense” danger or some sort of threat could be a tad better than many other travellers so this is still the usual precaution that is to be taken.
- Awesome people and very helpful. We walked around the city (mostly within 3-5km of the hotel) ourselves and even took the tuk-tuks etc. While business transactions almost always need negotiations, apart from this, people are generally very helpful. We asked for directions, suggestions and so on, it was a smooth experience. And, English is fairly commonly understood. I don’t know whom to thank for that, the Queen or the Americans.
And with this, let’s see the highlights of the trip… jump on in!