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  1. #1
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    South and Central Vietnam.

    I started off my trip by flying into Thailand and picking up a girl I have known for a very long time,two days in Pattaya and then off to the airport for an Air Asia flight to Ho Chi Minh City. First time for me and her in Vietnam,I had done a lot of reading about travelling around Vietnam before hand,read some horror stories but as it happens everything went fine.

    We landed about 9.30 am and I was surprised by how quiet Ho Chi Minh airport was,anyway speed thru the immigration as I already had my visa,Thais do not need one so no problem with my friend getting thru either. Just outside the immigration there are a few money exchange booths, pays to check them all as they have different rates. The rates were not as good as in the banks but that is to be expected at airports I have found.

    I just changed 100 which gave me over 3 million Viet Dong,I was now a millionaire, a first for me. Walk outside and it is absolutely steaming,hotter than Thailand. I have read about the best taxis to catch and headed thru the usual guys offering a ride to the taxi rank. Went straight for a Mai Linh Taxi which are white and green and also just green,these are all over Vietnam and I used them a fair bit,they were mostly very good and honest apart from a few.

    The company has a man at the airport who came over wrote down the taxi number and destination and off we went to our hotel. Cost of taxi into the District 1 which is the tourist area was 135,000 dong plus 10,000 dong airport toll,so 145,000 which works out at about 5.00 and took about 20-30 minutes,the traffic was pretty light so could cost more if stuck in rush hour.













    Arrived at the hotel at about 10.30am and they would not let us check in as we were too early,so dropped our bags there and went for a stroll around.Pretty close to the hotel was a nice park so went and sat there for a bit and had a few groups of students come up and talk to us,they were interested in what we thought of Vietnam and where we were from,they were all very nice and polite and spoke a bit of English.



    Had to say no to a few vendors and shoe polishers but no problem with them. Headed back to the hotel after about an hour and they let us check in.
    Last edited by Primo; 03-07-2013 at 07:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    Vietnam's a nice tourist destination, nicely done.

  3. #3
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    like the photo of the temple
    friendly students too !

  4. #4
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    So we get checked in,they take our passports and keep them until we leave,all the hotels did this apart from one which only took my passport. This is so they can show the local police who is staying I believe,I had no problem with it but I saw other travellers later on who would not hand over their passport and the hotel just took a copy.

    The hotel was the Dai Nam,79 Tran Hung Dao, District 1 - Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City. It was a nice hotel and a 5 minute walk from De Tham/Them street which is tourist central.The rooms were about 23 a night thru Agoda

    Dai Nam Hotel Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam - Best discount hotel rates

    There is a disco next door and I did hear before I went that it was very loud and you needed to get a room high up to avoid the noise but the two days we were there the hotel was very quiet and we heard nothing.Very nice room, good wifi,nice staff here and the breakfast was buffet with choice of western and Vietnamese. Only problem we had there was the checking in thing.

    So quick shower and out the door and straight into Saigon traffic.



    It took a while to get used to crossing the road but after an hour or two we were experts. General rule,move slow and keep eye contact with on coming vehicles,they were pretty good and no one ever hit us.We had a little map that the hotel gave us which was helpful and made our way over to De Tham street to find the Sinhtourist (formerly Sinhcafe) office to book a day trip to Cu Chi tunnels. Found it easy and booked up for the day after at a cost for a half day trip of about 6.00 each,then went to eat at one of the cafes next door to it which caught my eye because it had a sign outside that beer was 10,000 dong a bottle which is about 30p.

    https://www.thesinhtourist.vn/Default.aspx I cannot recommend these enough,they did great tours all over Vietnam and the prices were fantastic.They also do buses between the cities and again good prices. We used them a lot.

    Nice food which was about 1.30 a dish



    and my cheap beer.



    So finished eating and headed up to the Reunification Palace which you can walk to from De Tham and it would take you about 20-30 minutes but it was very hot with the sun beating down so opted for an aircon taxi. I will add that there are some dodgy taxis in Saigon(that's what the locals still call it) but if you use Mailinh or Vinasun you should be fine.

    The Reunification Palace was the office and home of the President of South Vietnam before the war ended,it has been left virtually untouched since then so it is like walking into a timewarp,well worth a visit,entrance fee is 100,000 Dong,about 3.00.



    So we had a wander around,many rooms to see and a few war time tanks,helicopter and aircraft in the grounds,it was pretty busy with other tourists but had a good time and found some shade in the grounds to get out of the sun for a bit.



    Old Huey helicopter as used by the American and South Vietnamese military during the war.



    NVA tank,like the one that crashed thru the gates of the palace at the end of the war.



    American jet fighter although could be a South Vietnamese one.

    So left the palace and decided to walk back to the hotel. Stopped in some cafe at the back of the market and got robbed for two cokes at 30,000 dong each,never went back there but some places do have two menus which I later found out because the girl I was with was mistaken for Vietnamese all the time and in one such place in Nha Trang they gave her the Vietnamese menu and then tried to switch it when they found out she was not one, I took both the Viet one and English one and the English one was about 30% more money,not a lot you can do about that but did not eat there anyway.

    We had a quiet night as had to be up early in the morning for the Cu Chi tunnels trip and were tired from travelling and the sun.


    to be continued
    Last edited by Primo; 03-07-2013 at 07:35 AM.

  5. #5
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    Nice report.

    Thank You.

    Looking forward to the rest.

  6. #6
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    Thanks. Looked a bit different in 1968.......

  7. #7
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    Cheers Primo.
    Vietnams a great spot imho, been there a few times now, last trip drove from Vientiane to nha trang and back , wont be doing that again anytime soon as way to much traffic on the roads now, done a similar trip to hoi an about 5 years ago, Ho chi minh looks alright and wouldnt mind a visit there but , thinking of a quick trip to Hanoi in August or september , Looking forward to more of your thread

  8. #8
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    Nice thread, thanks.

    Been to Saigon and Vung Tau on business a few times but never had enough time to do some sightseeing.

    I really like Saigon, got a much more pleasant feel to it than Bangkok, with wide, open boulevards and side walks. Good and inexpensive food and drinks and some eye candy, too (mostly Russian).

  9. #9
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    So up early and down for breakfast,nice breakfast in the hotel and we are the only foreigners there as far as I can see,I go for something western while the girl I am with eats just about everything Vietnamese. All sorted and off to the Sinhtourist office to get the bus to the Cu Chi tunnels.

    We all pile on the coach which leaves about 8.30am and it is a bit of a drive to the actual location,maybe 1.5 hours but some of that is used up actually getting out of Saigon in the rush hour.

    The tour guide was from the area and had left Vietnam at the end of the war but then came back when it started to open up in the 1990's. He gave a good talk on the way there about what happened in the war,very interesting. We get there and it is already baking hot.

    What they have done here is lay out on top of the ground what was underground back in the war,so it is easy to access for the tourist.We had to pay to get in on top of the tour fee,it was about 90,000 dong as I remember,just under 3.00,well worth it.



    This place is where they show you a short film (propaganda) from the 1960's about the VietCong.



    One of the tunnel entrances and some tourist example of how to get in,very tight.




    VietCong at work making good use of the bombs the Americans dropped plus some traps that were set underground to maim unsuspecting American soldiers.The VietCong used to take unexploded American bombs and recycle them,they were the pc green crowd of the day.

    Rice paper making.



    Inside the tunnels,this is the girl I took. It was tight,dark and very hot down there even though the tunnels have been enlarged for western tourists,they were half the height back in the war.



    They also have a firing range on the site where you can blast away with M-16's. M-40 machine gun and AK-47's, I had a pop on an AK which was about 12 for 10 shots.



    I actually hit the target a few times,first time shooting for me so not too bad. So all together a nice half day trip.

    https://www.thesinhtourist.vn/tour/s...nnels-half-day

    We got back into Saigon about 1.30pm.
    Last edited by Primo; 03-07-2013 at 04:41 PM.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    Ive done 3 trips to Vietnam and have covered most of the country.

    Ive just bought 20 nights accommodation in Hanoi for $380 on Special.

    I'm just going to base myself there and cruise around the joint eating Pho and drinking they're cheap beer.

    Most probably head up there in October sometime.

    Good fun innit.
    Stroller is a Yerman faggot.

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    What a brilliant thread this is, i have worked with many who served in Vietnam during the war both Aussies and Americans and have always been interested in that era.
    You wouldn't get me down one of those tunnels at Cu Chi because of 2 reasons.
    1. My beer belly, and 2. Claustrophobia and you and your girlfriend have balls for going down there, great stuff.

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    So we had two days in Ho Chi Minh City,it was extremely hot and good fun with the day trip to the tunnels as well. I had already booked a bus to Nha Trang with Sinhtourist which was pretty cheap but it was a 12 hour trip. The thing with Vietnam is that it lacks infrastructure,the roads were pretty bad everywhere and only two lanes. They really need to improve that and to ditch the visa if they want to get a good tourist trade.They should hand out a 30 day visa at the airport like they do in Thailand I believe.

    Up early and on the bus and off to Nha Trang which is a beach resort. I had read that the beach was dirty and not that good but that was incorrect,they had people keeping it clean all day long,lovely beach.

    The drive up.




    The Vietnamese love the horn on the their cars and trucks,they are always on it warning other road users that they are there. I have never been to a country where they use it so much but could be a good idea as sometimes the traffic all over the place with no rules of the road as far as I can see but saying that they seem to be better drivers than the Thais.

    At last we get to Nha Trang,what a relief,it was dark and we went off to find our hotel which proved a bit difficult as the numbering on the street was all over the place,anyway found it and checked in.The hotel was the Phu Quy,54 Hung Vuong Street, City Center / Nguyen Thien Thuat, Nha Trang, and was only 11 a night for a big room with a caged balcony with views of the backs of houses/shops but it was fine. It was 5 minutes from the beach and the girl on reception was a star and spoke good English. We were only going to stay in Nha Trang for a few days but it ended up to be 5 because I came down sick for about 2 of those.

    Phu Quy Hotel Nha Trang Nha Trang Vietnam - Best discount hotel rates



    After I had recovered we wandered along the beach which was empty apart from some mad people from the west,lots of Russians frying themselves in the sun,the locals were dressed head to foot showing no skin really. The Vietnamese cover up in the day if it is sunny and they come out about 5pm when the sun goes down and swim,it was packed down there at that time.Nice beach,great views and you can do some water sports if you want to but they were a bit overpriced I thought.

    The first two streets by the beach are not cheap for anything so make your way out from there and the prices drop accordingly. So we headed out from the tourist area to find a place to eat and came across this place which does not open until 4pm,ate here a few times,very nice authentic Vietnamese food.


    20,000 dong each and 5000 dong for ice tea,very nice.Nice couple runs this place as well. Meal came in at 50,000 dong with drinks,that is under 2.00. Bargain.
    Last edited by Primo; 03-07-2013 at 07:19 PM.

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    ^

    Next time you go take the Train. Cheap, Safe and relaxing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
    ^

    Next time you go take the Train. Cheap, Safe and relaxing.
    We took the train back down from Hue,it was ok but took 24 hrs but we had a sleeper.

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    I like to travel slow so its short trips between cities for me. Great way to meet people, sit back enjoy a few beers, food and views.

    Don't do buses if I can help it. Work around them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
    I like to travel slow so its short trips between cities for me. Great way to meet people, sit back enjoy a few beers, food and views.

    Don't do buses if I can help it. Work around them.
    You can travel slow on the buses because they are slow. They were ok,just long trips between the cities that we decided to go to.

  17. #17
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    Up in the morning and down by the beach for breakfast,its a beautiful day again.



    Not too sure what these ladies were up to,like sales reps I think for some place on the beach.Looked very nice though.

    I went and booked a tour with a place that was not sinhtourist,big mistake. I wanted to go out on a motorbike and tour around the countryside,they wanted 1.8 million dong for two people if you rode behind them and 1.5 million if you rode yourself,it looked like a good tour but decided to ask them if we could go in a car instead. So got charged 1.5 million for a supposed tour of the countryside which is about 50 ish.



    So we turn up the following morning and wait for the car,not too long and we are off. First stop just the other side of the city was an outcrop of rocks and some building in the Chinese style,not even sure what it was,so the guide hops out and gets us two tickets which cost 40,000 dong each..so about 1.30 and we are in.



    There were some Vietnamese film makers here working on a documentary,seems there was some fossil in the the side of the rock,I could not make out what it actually was.It was super hot and there was no shade here but nice views of the bay. So back up the steps and back in the car then we are whisked off to a Champa temple.

    The Champa were the people who were here before the Viets turned up and they were Hindus heavily influenced by India.







    View from the temple


    Nice temple,had to be up a load of steps though.Lots of tourists here and some locals.They had some traditional weaving going on as well.At this point the sound went on my smart phone video but the weavers were talking to the girl I was with because they thought she was Vietnamese..obviously she did not understand them,hence the laughing.


    We moved on from this to a tour of local workshops. One was two women weaving carpets,they were very nice and commenting on how my friend looks just like a Vietnamese.Nice ladies and very friendly.



    We then head off to some guy and his wife who had their own kiln and were making pots that are used in cooking,you put coals in them I believe. The guide tried to pay the guy some money for our visit but the owner was having none of it.

    We were then driven out into the countryside maybe 5 minutes from the city and stopped to look at the fields and were told what was being grown there, a lot actually,rice,watermelon etc.

    The we went for something to eat down by the river but we had already eaten so opted for a drink instead.Nice place full of locals and cheap.Good views here of the river.





    They had a wooden bridge here and a guy sat in a booth taking tolls for motorbikes to whizz across. The bridge gets washed out in the wet season and has to be rebuilt when it is dry.

    Then it is off to a Buddhist temple and up some more steps,I wished these people would build things at ground level,its just too damn hot to climb up but we did.Nice views up here.

  18. #18
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    Nice one Primo , green in the bin

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    View from the Buddhist temple and another Buddha which funnily enough had Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai writing carved into it.





    We then sped off to a Catholic church which we could not get into but it looked nice from outside. Plenty of Cathoilcs in Vietnam,saw churches everywhere also plenty of Muslims there which was news to me,homegrown ones not from the middle east and that was the end of the tour.

    I was expecting more for my money actually and felt disappointed,I thought we were going off into the countryside being as it was called the countryside tour but we never..you live and learn..just one of those tourist things that you get caught on once in a while.So if in Nha Trang avoid that trip,go book with sinhtourist as they do better trips for little money.

    The day after we caught the night sleeper bus to Hoi An,if you are 6ft 4 like I am then it was a bit of a squeeze,I did not sleep anyway but it was not that bad a journey and the time went quick even though it was 11 hours.



    We arrived in Hoi An at about 6.30am and it was very hot even then. Get the bags and get hassled by a few motorbike taxis that want 100,000 dong for two bikes to the hotel,I now thought I was an expert in the price of transport in Vietnam and told them it was too expensive even though it was about 3.00. Flagged down a Mailinh taxi and got to the hotel for 1.00,it was not that far away as it happens.

    This was my favourite hotel that we stayed at in Vietnam, it is called the Sunshine Hotel,02 Phan Dinh Phung Street, Hoi An City Center, Hoi An. I love this place and recommend it to anyone. First off they let us check in at 6.30am with no extra charge,then they gave us the best room in the place on the top floor with a huge balcony overlooking Hoi An and the mountains.

    http://www.agoda.co.uk/asia/vietnam/...%2fbXG4w%3d%3d

    It was 20.00 a night and well worth it,it was clean,the room was huge,the bathroom/shower was great and it had a seperate toilet as well.It also had a 32inch lcd TV/fridge/safe/tea making..it was the bollocks. The hotel has a nice pool and it has a shuttle service into town which runs a few times a day and comes back to the hotel as well,it also has free bike rental,the beach is about a 15 minute ride up the road and the town is about 10-15 minutes as well. The staff were all very helpful.

    Hoi An is a lovely quiet place and my favourite in Vietnam.

    View from the hotel.



    So we get settled in and then head out to the old town down by the waterfront which is magnificent. Hoi An was a trading port and is a world heritage site listed by UNESCO. It was most active from 15th to the 19th century.The building are Chinese in style and well preserved.

    Hoi An waterfront.





    There is a very nice place to eat down here,so walk past all the places with recommend by trip advisor boards outside and head over the bridge,turn left and walk down to the end of the road,just on the bend,the first place in a row of small open air eateries,go there,its great food and its cheap,its run by a nice old lady and old guy,very friendly,great service.



    Anyway we did not eat that day we just had a few drinks and then wandered around the area,there are loads of shops here but they all sell the same tourist stuff but you can get cheap tshirts here and there is a market as well but the houses are the best thing about the place and you could spend a fair bit of time looking around,we did.

    Last edited by Primo; 04-07-2013 at 02:35 AM.

  20. #20
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    This is the Japanese bridge in Hoi An,it probably dates from the early 17th century.



    Hoi An down by the waterfront comes alive at night as well,with street performers as well as the many tourists,it is all lit up as well,looks lovely.







    So we spent a fair bit of time down on the waterfront while in Hoi An,it is one of the main draws here. Next day we head on our free bikes to the beach.



    I was surprised to see these type of boats,we have them where I come from as well but not used that much these days, I guess it is such a good design it has travelled around the world.Anyway we parked up our bikes in the bike park for which they charged 5000 dong which is pennies and they keep and eye on them. Not many people on the beach, a few tourists. The places to eat and drink up here cost more than other places but then you are on the beachfront, a coke was about 1. Spent time haggling with a vendor to get my friend a swimming costume because she forgot to bring hers, did not get one in the end either,due to size problems,she is very small.

    Only spent a little time up here as I am not really into lying on the beach getting roasted by the sun. We took the long way back looking for the other beach but did not find it but it is there we just took the wrong road. We rode up past peoples houses and many called out to us to say hello. I will say that people in Vietnam are generally very friendly. We ended up on the main road and had a slow ride back to the hotel. Then in the pool for a dip later in the evening,she went in her bra and knickers.



    We spent 3 days in Hoi An and it was great,if you are going to Vietnam put it on your list. Avoid the restaurant two up from the hotel,it is overpriced,crap service and run by youngsters who seem clueless.

    I booked a tour to My Son with sinhtourist,cheap and well worth a visit. Very good tour,there was a bus ride to My Son and a boat ride back plus a meal in a nice restaurant in Hoi An,drinks not included. Funny that, it happened on a few trips,we would get food provided but anything to drink you paid for yourself but the trips were so cheap it did not bother me.

    My Son.

    To be continued
    Last edited by Primo; 04-07-2013 at 04:18 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Primo
    I was surprised to see these type of boats,
    more than one made the trip to OZ during the refugee exodus / war days .

  22. #22
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    Excellent stuff primo, Did you take the cable car over to Vinpearl island ? A bit Touristy but good if youve a couple of kids in tow as i had. Hoi an is a lovely place and has definately been "Discovered now " by the mainstream Tourists

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    Quote Originally Posted by beerlaodrinker View Post
    Excellent stuff primo, Did you take the cable car over to Vinpearl island ? A bit Touristy but good if youve a couple of kids in tow as i had. Hoi an is a lovely place and has definately been "Discovered now " by the mainstream Tourists
    Did not bother,I had a look what was on the island on the net and it was a theme park,not my scene really. Hoi An is great,I love it.

    I would just like to thank everyone for all the reps and the nice comments on the thread

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    Well put together thread mate,

    Cheers

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    Great thread good photos would like to go there next time we are in asia

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