Leaving HCMC today (assuming my flight doesn’t get moved again tonight… Avoid Vietjet air at all costs!!) so thought I’d just list a few things I found useful for first timers in Vietnam like myself!
1- How to take public bus from the airport to the city
Get the yellow 109 bus from the airport if you are staying in district 1. Its right outside departures, leaves every 30 mins, and has a few different stops in district 1 so ask the person on the bus which stop to get off closest to your hotel/hostel, they were really helpful and it’s only 20,000 dong! And back to the airport was just as easy, the stop was right opposite the park with Saigon love Lake. Buy your ticket on the bus, again 20,000 dong.
2.What is the best choice for sim card
If you want to get a sim card don’t get at the airport, there is WiFi at the airport if you need to access anything but try and wait till you are in the city. The official viettel store near backpackers walking street will sort you out for much cheaper. There are other local vendors but I chose the official store, 60,000 dong set up and 70,000 for the month for 3GB data and 1000 mins calls. As so much WiFi in hotels and hostels I used that for any downloads and the data for any grab taxi or information while on busses etc. 166 tran hung dao. It’s about 8 mins from backpacker Street and next to the Pullman Hotel.
3. Tips for tours/ day trips
Avoid larger group tours if you can, you’ll find yourself with 20+ other people and get rushed about. Try and use local guides and private/small group tours where possible to get the most out of your experience. I used Cẩm Xôi Lá City tour and we also went for coffee and dinner as she is just the loveliest lady and guide. She has several guides who work for her and I went on my city tour with Danny. Do try and take a tour on the back of a scooter with a local guide, it’s quite the experience especially at night!
4. Do not
I didn’t really rate the 3 day Mekong Delta tour I did as it was just a selling trip, everything we went to see was followed up by, now buy this product, not quiet the experience I expected, especially the IKEA style shop at the bamboo place! I’ve read reviews of people who did homestays and they appear to have had a much better time on the over nights and less of the commercial experience.
5. Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh city
Although I rated staying in district 1 as you can walk to most places, make sure you get out beyond district 1 to eat at more local and cheaper restaurants. I stayed in a hostel for 3 nights and a hotel for 1. Suite Travelers Inn is great hostel for your stay in Saigon because it’s 4 mins walking to bars, restaurants …
6. Where to eat
If you fancy a treat dinner (assuming you’re on a budget) go find the Secret Garden… Down an alleyway and up 5 flights of stairs of an apartment block you’re greeted with a lovely location and good food but book ahead of with a group!
7. Cu Chi tunnels- must do
I did enjoy the Cu Chi tunnels tour but it did feel rushed and I’d have like to watch the films available but the half day tour didn’t allow for this because of needing to get back to the city.
8. Swimming Pool
Finally if the heat gets too hot, there are plenty of hotels with pools willing to let you use them for a small fee or the price of a drink, three of us used a small rooftop pool for a 25,000 can of coke each!
9. Get the maps me app… Really helpful when offline