After the tour in Mekong River we all hurriedly went to downtown HCMC. On our list were Saigon Square and Ben Thanh Market but of course there’s a lot of distractions along the way.
We all went to Saigon Square first. Just like Divisoria, stalls are back to back. It’s a bit squeezy. We’re looking for a money changer, we’re told that there’s one here. We found one but they do not accept Thailand Baht (THB) to Vietnamese Dong (VND). Jha and Silken run out of VNDs. We were advised to go to the bank instead. So we all left Saigon Square and headed to the closest bank. But not all banks accepts other currency in exchange to VND. Most of them only accepts USD to VND. There’s only one bank who do that, VP Bank if I remember it right.
In the middle of the road. Jha and Silken bid us goodbye. There’s a slight crying moment here since we don’t know the next time we’ll see them. They have an early flight back to BKK. Us is almost midnight to PHL via Cebu Pacific Air.
They rode a motorcycle back to the hotel. They paid 2 USD. Pwede.
After they left we went to Ben Thanh Market to shop and buy pasalubong.
Ben Thanh Market is a large marketplace in the downtown area of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in District 1. The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and one of symbols of Ho Chi Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, áo dài, and souvenirs, as well as local cuisine.
You can really buy cheap finds if you know how to haggle. Rained poured while we’re inside Ben Thanh Market. We lost each other and was divided into groups. Signal was hard here so we’re not able to receive each others text messages. I bought some shirts, local delicacies and The North Face bag. After rain subsided, still drizzling though, we decided to walk back to the hotel to have some mini “city tour”. We’re not able to do the real city tour due to lack of time.
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica: Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception
Central Post Office:
Haggard look from the rain and walking. This side of Post Office is where you can buy souvenir items.
Walking through the city:
Hard Rock Cafe is just beside the IC Asiana Saigon
Finally we’re back at the hotel. We badly needs a shower. We’re the first to arrived from Ben Thanh. We decided to “re-pack”. We have new things to add on our luggage. I end up using the TNF bag I bought in Ben Thanh. After we took a bath they have arrived. They were able to find the store where they sell discounted TNF jackets and caps and other brands like Columbia and Kipling for caps, wallets and bags. Me, Rj, Earl and Grace, decided to return to Ben Thanh Market to buy those jackets and other items as well.
Ben Thanh Market at night:
TNF and Columbia Jackets
Ben Thanh is busy even at night. A lot of tourists and backpackers, most of them Caucasians. What’s good in night market? Cheap prices! Especially if you buy in bulk. And it’s safe to walk around. But beware of taxi drivers who charged more than what you should pay for. Defective meters and all that, we had our own share of bad experience with their taxi drivers. The only taxi everyone trust and recommend here is Vinasun taxi. After Ben Thanh we dropped by at Trung Nguyen Coffee to buy their G7 Coffee (Ca Phe Hoa Tan). Bought their Hazelnut, Iris Spring and Mocha which is my favorite. Then back to the hotel, checked out and went to the airport.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport
We had dinner at the airport before boarding. Me and Tey had instant noodle soup with sausage for 5USD and croissant with chicken and mayonoise sauce for 6USD. That’s 230,000 in VND. Not so good food to end our day in Vietnam. It was my first time to travel with a large group and I’m so looking forward to traveling with this group again real soon. 🙂