On the planning, going to Vietnam was already a stretch. Upon research, the only bus schedule for Ho Chi Minh City from Phnom Penh was by day. Considering our limited days of travel, day bus is a no-no. But not going when you are already so near feels like cowardice. Glad we did. Our time in Vietnam was nothing like Cambodia in wanders but we had some noteworthy moments with other travelers. We had our first night time stroll too. Dined well and had a super spicy breakfast. And—we stayed at a private room this time. 🙂
3rd Day of 12
We left Phnom Penh early morning on our 3rd day. We were picked up at SLA hotel and brought to the bus station. There was 1 other passenger with us on the tuktuk, David. The ride was enough to chat a little. He is a teacher from Spain who has been traveling for 2 months in Southeast Asia.
Unlike the night bus from Siem Reap, the day bus to HCMC was comfortable. There were only 7 passengers and all of them are foreigners.
When the bus left, I felt the urged to pee. I peed when we left SLA but it seems that wasn’t enough. To keep my mind away from my predicament, I decided to blog. After a while, I noticed the bus was stopping. I hurriedly checked. Relief washed over me when I saw them checking the tires. God is so good indeed.
When I went back, I continued to blog. We have 2 more stops until we arrived at the border crossing.
Crossing The Border to Vietnam
There were horror stories about border crossings on the net so I have always feared this part. Lucky for us, everything went smoothly. When the bus left at Phnom Penh, our passports were collected. Upon arrival on the crossing, we were asked to get off the bus. Someone noted our number then we were asked to get on again. The bus then move to another stop. This time we were told to bring all our stuffs. We followed the bus staff into a building and lined up. While waiting, we had a another chance to talk with our fellow passengers.
The passports that were collected was submitted to the officer. We didn’t actually do anything. Our passport was stamped, our names were called then it was given back to us. It was very straight forward. We went back to the bus after and loaded our big bags to the bus trunk.
Hello Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
We arrived in HCMC around 4:30 PM so we mostly spent our 3rd day on the bus. Unlike Cambodia, we didn’t have any pick-up but our host says his place is walkable from D1 bus station. Since it was raining, we were almost tempted to ride the taxi but after a while the rain stopped. We left the bus station with no idea where to go. We were just holding on to the piece of address from AirBNB.
After crossing the road, I observed the people and settled to ask the teenager that was waiting for the rain to completely stop. Thankfully, she knew “Bui Vien” street.
With her directions, we were able to reached the street. Our next task was to find the house. We felt it was easy since we were already on the street but when we reached 204, 205 was nowhere. It was then that I noticed a taxi driver calling on to me. I hesitated at first but went anyway. He looked at the paper and pointed to the way we were from.
We proceeded to the direction pointed but 2 or more houses have past, we were still lost. Feeling defeated, I slumped my shoulder and saw the taxi driver again. He pointed to a corner. It was then that I understood. I signed a thank you and went ahead to the corner. God, it was indeed our place. I silently screamed a thank you to God. Just wow! He never fails to amazed me every time. Much gratitude to the taxi driver too who helped us without us asking. Angels are real. 🙂
Cu Chi Tunnel Tour
After settling down, we planned our to do. I didn’t really OC-ed the itinerary of Saigon since on our plan, we were supposed to arrive at 2PM then leave at 12PM the next day. The schedule I found on the net was just 8 AM and 12 PM back to Phnom Penh. There was really not much to do but a city tour. But as you might have read, Mr. Dara, our tuktuk in Phnom Penh brought us to a different bus company. We learned that there’s a 4 PM bus to Phnom Penh and booked it. Now we have extra hours in Saigon.
After we settled, we decided to stroll and find a place to eat. On the way, VietWay tour on Cu Chi caught my eye. The husband was furious on my sudden change of heart. Half day tour of Cu Chi leaves at 8 AM and returns to the city at 2:30 PM. He was worried that we might miss the bus and he was looking forward to a non-hectic 4th day. I reluctantly agreed but in the end, he gave in. We booked the tour for 10 USD. Glad we did. Cu Chi was not what we expect but we met new friends on our tour group. We were 15 on the van.
We were seated with Antonio, an Italian. On our back were married Indonesian couple, Pitria and Puthing, then Arnel from Canada. We ended our tour exchanging instagrams with Antonio, Pitria and Puthing. The rest of the group were 4 guys from England, a couple from Germany and a Portuguese, an Australian and 1 other guy.
The husband felt Cu Chi was so-so but it was good enough for me even if I panicked and only scaled 20 meter of the tunnel. Closed spaces is so not for me. The tunnel was really small and hot. Inside, all I wanted was to get out and panicked when I realized it’s hard to go back due to the cramped space. Good thing I found the exit. I went out without 2nd thoughts while the husband went back to scale the next 20. He was having fun and yet he find it so-so. The husband can be a little hard to please sometimes.
A Night in Saigon
After booking the tour, our plans changed. Since city tour is no longer our itinerary on the 4th day, I wanted to at least visit and take a picture at night. Armed with his offline google maps, we walked from “Bui Vien” to Ben Than Market. We saw Cosmos Cafe along the way and decided to dine there. We tried an Ostrich meal. We ordered a lot and was quite amazed that we finished everything. It was my first time to taste club soda with apricot too.
After dinner, we resumed our trek and ended at the city hall. Took some pics at the park opposite it which was quite crowded even for a Tuesday. Along the way, we saw lots of Vietnamese ladies and noted most are pleasing with their white complexion and chinky eyes. The husband even joked that if I die early, he might transfer to Vietnam and find a new wife. Gosh! The husband has improved everyday. Couldn’t be more prouder. Haha!
We walked the length of the park and ended at the riverside. There were a lot of Pokemon trainers. The husband was quite busy connecting to a free wifi just so he could play. After a while, we saw a spot by Hotel Rennaisance. The husband was quite happy having caught a total of 16 magikarps. I was having fun too watching him play and get excited plus the crowd was crazy always running around the harbor chasing for rare pokemons. Haha! We stayed until an hour then went back to the city hall. Then decided to walk some more to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace. Both the cathedral and the palace were not lighted so we just settled watching it from afar. It was already 11 PM by then and most cafes were closing. We feared that there might be some rule on late night stroll in Saigon so we took the cab back to Bui Vien.
Our place was at the end of Bui Vien but the cab drop us at the other end. We were quite amazed at how the street has turned into a party place. It was like Sinulog. People are drinking and eating on the side walk, loud music and lots and lots of party animals. Just wow! The taxi must have thought we’d be joining the ruckus. Haha! But not that night. 😀
The husband was quite ecstatic that night and craved some coffee. Unfortunately, the non-alcoholic cafes were close so we decided to call it a night.
A Day in Saigon
Despite sleeping late the night before, we woke up early and checked out at 7 AM. We went into the first restaurant that caught our eye. It was right across our corner. They only had noodles. We didn’t even know what kind of noodles was that but they come with a lot of spices. The husband was quite feisty and added chili paste on his noodle while I on the other hand, added spices. I didn’t know they were all very hot. The noodles was very yummy but I was fuming before I could finish everything. I felt my lips thickened, my ears felt hot as well as my face. The husband was very concern. We had to order milk to pacify. Hahaha! I met my match in Saigon indeed. I have always pride myself of being brave but this time Saigon proved me wrong. The spicy noodle almost made me cry while Cu Chi tunnel had me on a panic attack. Lol
Ready for #CuChiTunnel tour! Had a natural red lips from the super spicy noodle breakfast. Huhu! The chill reddened my ears and face. Had to order milk to pacify. Waaaaa! Day 4/12! #GastronomicAdventure #HoChiMin #Vietnam #OOTD #MigoMigaTravelUpdate #Adventure #Asia #AsiaTravel #Backpacking #Cambodia #CamVieLaoTha #ChooseAsia #Indochina #Laos #SEASampler #SoutheastAsiaSampler #Thailand #VangVieng #Vietnam #TheWanderfullLifePH #MigoMigaTrekTravelPlay #MigoMigaGoesInternational #Cebu #Philippines
So how is Saigon for me?
She kicked my ass. Hahaha! But what I love most about our little time in Saigon is the people we’ve known. After the tour, we had our late lunch in Subway. While waiting for our order, the husband remembered a familiar face. I wasted no time and talked to him. 🙂 The husband did too. Just awesome.
That’s it for Day 3 and 4. Day 5 and 6 will be lumped together too since day 5 will be an all-day travel. We leave Phnom Penh on dawn of day 5 and arrive in Vientiane, Laos in the morning of day 6. Wish us luck on our first full day and night of travel bound to Laos.
Pics to be updated soon since we have no time to transfer from our cam to the phone yet. Unfortunately, we thought gopro might not be good to use at night and at Cu Chi, it was lowbat. Haha!
Here’s our spending and itinerary in Vietnam
2 Million Dong
(money withdrawn from our BPI savings account)
Note: Saigon has a lot of ATMs everywhere so if you are having a hard time on currency, just call your bank before you travel and notify them that you will be using your ATM outside the country. Withdrawal charge is just 30K.
Itinerary Expense (in VND):
Cu Chi Tour 220K
Souvenir Magnets 150K
Ice Cream 45K
Cu Chi Entrance 220K
in PHP: 4, 715.47 (the actual amount deducted from our BPI ATM)
BPI International Withdrawal:
August 23: 1 VND = 0.0020783740 PHP (xe.com)
withdrawal = 1,000,000 VND
converted amount = 2,078.37 PHP
actual withdrawn = 2,378.85 PHP
difference = 300.48
August 24: 1 VND = 0.0020856029 PHP (xe.com)
withdrawal = 1,000,000 VND
converted amount = 2,085.60 PHP
actual withdrawn = 2,336.62 PHP
difference = 251.02
8:00 AM Tuktuk Pick-up
8:30 AM ETD bus to Saigon
3:30 PM ETA in Saigon
6:00 PM Night Walking Tour
– Dinner @ Cosmos
– City Hall
– Reunification Palace
– Bui Vien
12:00 AM Lights Off
6:00 AM Wake up
7:00 AM Checkout
8:00 AM At VietWay
8:30 AM Tour departure
3:00 PM Tour arrival in city
– Late lunch
4:00 PM ETD bus to Phnom Penh
Post made while traveling from HCMC to Phnom Penh! 🙂