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  1. #1
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    New Year in Saigon

    The Dragon Lady and I are going to be in Saigon for 4 nights from New Years Eve. We are wondering if anyone has any knowledge as to the type of festivities, if any, that occur in the city at this time.

    We are staying 2 nights at the Rex and another 2 at the Pullman so we are centrally located.

    Any advice?
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  2. #2
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    If you go for Tet, Vietnamese New Year, on 19 February, as I recall lots of little dudes shoot RPG's at the US Embassy. Quite colorful.....

  3. #3
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    Is that an annual occurrence Davis? Here's me thinking it was a one of.

    As we will be there for western New Year who would we have to apply to to get the RPG show brought forward?

  4. #4
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^See Ho Chi Minh, Jr. Tell him I sent you. Enjoy!

  5. #5
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    ^ Will do. Hopefully I will get some nice piccies.

  6. #6
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    Hi Crocman, I was there for 2 weeks (Christmas to New Year) in 2005. During New Year's eve, I think there were some festivities in the Park before the Independence Palace (or Reunification Palace). It was the seat of gov't of the old South Vietnamese republic. Then when Saigon fell (or when Vietnam was unified - it depends on how you look at it), the North ppl turned it into a museum. My mom and I didn't go to the city center during NY eve, but we heard some firecrackers from my aunt's house, where we stayed.

    My mom (who's Viet) said that Jan. 1 is not really a big deal for them, since their "real" NY celebration is during the lunar new year or Tet. They celebrate more during Tet - lots of food, family visits, etc. However due to Western influences, they now also somehow celebrate the Jan. 1 NY (that was in 2005, when the celebration was just so-so).

    Is it your first time in Saigon? If yes, then the Palace and the War Remnants Museum are interesting places to visit, if you like history (or the North version of it). The Cu Chi tunnels was also a cool place to visit. For shopping, there are many malls, but if your wife wants the local flavor, then go to Ben Thanh market.

    I visited my aunt in Saigon again this year. It was an interesting visit since it was a few days before the 40th anniversary of the Reunification, so there were lots of banners and propaganda. Along the road going to the Palace, there were papier-mache tanks and whatnot to celebrate the North's victory.

    IIRC there's a Starbucks at Rex Hotel and nearby is a McD. I remember that they weren't there 10 years ago.

    Sorry for the ramble. I did a pic thread and it's unfinished since I got busy. If you want, check it out.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    Can't help you on places to go sorry but it's a brilliant place to be for Xmas New Year .

    I was there a few years ago for Xmas, the place was decorated up like Santa's cavern. The vibe on the street was awesome, great weather and chock full of beautiful lookin women.

    Oh shit yes, you're going to have a great time mate, just walk around the city centre, it's pumping that time of year.

    Enjoy.

    Top spot now Vietnam.
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  8. #8
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    Following this thread, her indoors is getting a bit Toey for a holiday, I can't get the time of like I used to with the new job n all ,she wants to do a road trip to ko Chang at xmas, can do that in a big day depart Vientiane at sparrows fart,(done it before) I'm trying to talk her into a Vietnam or Cambodia trip. fuck the driving, flying would be safer, even with Lao airlines

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    ^

    It's going to be fookin Chocas Lao.

    Every Coont this side of the black stump will be there at Xmas with prices well Jacked up.

    Enjoy.

  10. #10
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    ^ I agree with Terry. During the Christmas holidays, it's very festive and with lots of decor. I remember after Christmas mass at the Cathedral (which is also at the city center), mom & I went to the Park. There were lots of families taking photos with "Noel" (they call Santa Claus "Noel" there) - don't know if it's because of "Emmanuel" or the French "Joyeux Noel" - probably the French. There were also kiddies singing/ performing on a make-shift stage. Lots of local color and happiness all around. I think there was an advert for a NY's eve party at Rex Hotel, so if you'll stay there, it'll be a blast. Enjoy.

    Btw, I got separate warnings from a Viet friend and a cousin - beware of pickpockets or snatchers. With the rise of tourism, petty theft also increased.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    Hi Crocman, I was there for 2 weeks (Christmas to New Year) in 2005. During New Year's eve, I think there were some festivities in the Park before the Independence Palace (or Reunification Palace). It was the seat of gov't of the old South Vietnamese republic. Then when Saigon fell (or when Vietnam was unified - it depends on how you look at it), the North ppl turned it into a museum. My mom and I didn't go to the city center during NY eve, but we heard some firecrackers from my aunt's house, where we stayed.

    My mom (who's Viet) said that Jan. 1 is not really a big deal for them, since their "real" NY celebration is during the lunar new year or Tet. They celebrate more during Tet - lots of food, family visits, etc. However due to Western influences, they now also somehow celebrate the Jan. 1 NY (that was in 2005, when the celebration was just so-so).

    Is it your first time in Saigon? If yes, then the Palace and the War Remnants Museum are interesting places to visit, if you like history (or the North version of it). The Cu Chi tunnels was also a cool place to visit. For shopping, there are many malls, but if your wife wants the local flavor, then go to Ben Thanh market.

    I visited my aunt in Saigon again this year. It was an interesting visit since it was a few days before the 40th anniversary of the Reunification, so there were lots of banners and propaganda. Along the road going to the Palace, there were papier-mache tanks and whatnot to celebrate the North's victory.

    IIRC there's a Starbucks at Rex Hotel and nearby is a McD. I remember that they weren't there 10 years ago.

    Sorry for the ramble. I did a pic thread and it's unfinished since I got busy. If you want, check it out.
    Thanks Katie, we are looking forward to visiting Saigon as it is our first time. I understand that Tet is the Main Event in Vietnam but with growing tourism more Asian cities are celebrating Western New Year as well.

    The Dragon Lady is looking forward to getting out amongst the malls and markets. She loves the Malls in Manila, how does Saigon compare.

    As you have suggested, I have already booked a trip to visit the Cu chi Tunnels. I am looking forward to visiting some places straight out of modern history.

    By the way, loved your Boracay thread. We were there earlier this year and seeing your report just made us miss the place even more. I will check out your Vietnam thread next.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
    Can't help you on places to go sorry but it's a brilliant place to be for Xmas New Year .

    I was there a few years ago for Xmas, the place was decorated up like Santa's cavern. The vibe on the street was awesome, great weather and chock full of beautiful lookin women.

    Oh shit yes, you're going to have a great time mate, just walk around the city centre, it's pumping that time of year.

    Enjoy.

    Top spot now Vietnam.
    We love getting out amongst it Terry. We will probably go for a wander and find somewhere with some good music and atmosphere.

    We will be in Da Nang, or just outside there, for Xmas and the kids will be home in Oz. Good deal eh?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    ^ I agree with Terry. During the Christmas holidays, it's very festive and with lots of decor. I remember after Christmas mass at the Cathedral (which is also at the city center), mom & I went to the Park. There were lots of families taking photos with "Noel" (they call Santa Claus "Noel" there) - don't know if it's because of "Emmanuel" or the French "Joyeux Noel" - probably the French. There were also kiddies singing/ performing on a make-shift stage. Lots of local color and happiness all around. I think there was an advert for a NY's eve party at Rex Hotel, so if you'll stay there, it'll be a blast. Enjoy.

    Btw, I got separate warnings from a Viet friend and a cousin - beware of pickpockets or snatchers. With the rise of tourism, petty theft also increased.
    Thanks for the heads up about the party at the Rex. We are staying there for a couple of nights so this might be the go. Any excuse for the Dragon Lady to get a new party dress. Might have a new suit or two myself.

    Cheers Katie.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by beerlaodrinker View Post
    Following this thread, her indoors is getting a bit Toey for a holiday, I can't get the time of like I used to with the new job n all ,she wants to do a road trip to ko Chang at xmas, can do that in a big day depart Vientiane at sparrows fart,(done it before) I'm trying to talk her into a Vietnam or Cambodia trip. fuck the driving, flying would be safer, even with Lao airlines
    See you in Saigon for New Years BLD. I got some bloody good rates for that time of year.

    We are doing 8 nights at Hoi an/Da Nang and then 4 nights in Saigon.

  15. #15
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    Haven't managed to talk "my" dragon lady into it yet. Wouldn't mind a trip to hoi an to. Driven there from Vientiane a couple of times , wouldn't do it again, the roads still pretty fucked

  16. #16
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    @crocman - I don't know if you'll need a suit for a NY party in Saigon. Maybe a dress for the Dragon Lady, but re: men, from what I saw, the Viets don't often wear suits, just long-sleeved shirts (button-down ones). The NY party/parties would prolly be smart casual and not black tie, even if they were in the 5-star hotels. The times that I saw Viets in suits, it was Tet and the suits were the Embassy ppl. When we were kids, we used to go to the Viet embassy in Manila and celebrate Tet there. There would be a short speech by the ambassador, then sometimes speeches by other people, then eating time! Lots of Viet food, yum!

    Re: malls in Vietnam, during the last 2 visits (last year & this year), I didn't go to malls - just went to Ben Thanh market. Diamond Dept. Store (near the Cathedral & Palace) was a good one, or at least it was good in 2005. I think there's a new big mall (Saigon Centre or Saigon Plaza?) - my taxi passed by it during this year's trip but I wasn't able to explore due to lack of time.

    If your wife likes handicrafts or lacquer paintings, she can buy them at Ben Thanh market or at the handicrafts shop near the Cu Chi tunnels. Last year, we took a half-day tour and on the way to Cu Chi, we stopped by a handicrafts shop. The items there are made by handicapped people, so if you buy from their shop, you'll be helping the handicapped. We took a half-day tour and got back to the city center around 2 pm. Then we did more shopping in Ben Thanh and just chilled later. If your time is limited, a half-day tour is enough. In the whole day tour, I think they explore the nearby pagoda and surrounds.

    From Saigon, you can also take a Mekong Delta tour. There are lots of tour agencies at Pham Ngu Lao street; just walk along that street and ask. Or you could book through your hotel, but that's usually pricier as they get a cut.

    Cheers Crocman and enjoy your vacay!

  17. #17
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    Not sure about new year, but I have been there during tet (2010 or 2011) and the street in front of the Rex was where a lot of the celebrations took place. Last time I was there was about a year ago, and the same area was all blocked off for a subway project....

    There is a big mall opposite the opera house (walking distance from the Rex), never been there but been walking by many times. I second Katie's recommendation for the Ben Thanh market for local flavor. Also second the recommendation for the Mekong Delta tour - did that a few years ago and it was great. Another one that I like is going to the Saigon river and taking a boat up and down...there are a couple of places along the River - walk to the river from the Rex and turn left...you can make arrangements at the booths there.

    Have fun!

  18. #18
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    ^+^^

    Thanks Katie and Danno for your advice re the Mekong tour. We have booked a Delta tour through Viator using a company called Rives tours. Read some reviews and they seem to check out alright.

    Keeping the Dragon Lady out of the Markets is going to be extremely hard. I think our baggage limit may take a hiding.

  19. #19
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    If you choose Saigon for enjoying at New Year eve. Heading to the Count Down party at the last day of December. Much more spectacular !

  20. #20
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    danang

    Quote Originally Posted by crocman; .

    [/QUOTE

    .

    We will be in Da Nang, or just outside there, for Xmas and the kids will be home in Oz. Good deal eh?
    Just booked a flight Lao to ho chi minh on xmas eve, the plan is to go straight to danang on vietjet and have 4 nights, just a short trip to indulge her indoors seafood fetish, havent booked any digs yet, still looking at that, be good to catch up for a beer crocman

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by beerlaodrinker View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by crocman; .

    [/QUOTE

    .

    We will be in Da Nang, or just outside there, for Xmas and the kids will be home in Oz. Good deal eh?
    Just booked a flight Lao to ho chi minh on xmas eve, the plan is to go straight to danang on vietjet and have 4 nights, just a short trip to indulge her indoors seafood fetish, havent booked any digs yet, still looking at that, be good to catch up for a beer crocman
    That sounds like a plan BLD. Will see you there!

    PM sent.

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    Pm received, will send a courier pigeon to the brewery to warn them to add an extra shift of workers to cope with the additional sales

  23. #23
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    Re: Katie23 "I remember after Christmas mass at the Cathedral (which is also at the city center), mom & I went to the Park."

    Was it difficult getting a seat in Notre Dame Cathedral? I will spend 2 weeks over Christmas holidays in HCM City with my Vietnamese fiancée and her 10-year old daughter. We'll all fly in to SE Asia in early December.

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    Occidental Tourist: Normally people sit on the ground around the Notre Dame Cathedral area, enjoy street cuisines and chat with friends. Lots of fun !
    But I think it will hard for you to get a seat in Notre Dam Cathedral as time X mas nearby. Huge wave of people will surge there at xmas night

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    Plane leaves in 4 hours.

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