We made our trip to Ho Chi Minh City by catching an early flight. Our destination is an hour behind Singapore’s time so that means we “saved” an hour in our stay at Ho Chi Minh City.
We were excited for this trip as we were looking forward to hunt down new places and discover a new culture that we did not experience before. The flight was short and it just took 1hr 45min. We arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (IATA: SGN, ICAO: VVTS) which is the largest airport in Vietnam. It is located about 6 km north of the center (District 1) of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Having heard of many horrid stories of being scammed by taxi drivers in Vietnam, we went online to book an airport transfer to our hotel. Although it meant needing to pay more, the comfort part was starting our trip on a positive note 🙂
Some interesting finds that greeted us upon stepping foot into this country was the number of motorcycles on the roads which is an astounding 4 million! The streets were chaotic but this is their way of life.
Selling dogs on the streets.
So much is heard about the famous Ben Thanh Market that we eventually decided to stay near this tourist attraction. Avanti Hote is a 3 star hotel which is newly opened this year.
A newly opened hotel equates cleaniness.
BEN THANH MARKET IN THE DAY
This is our Day 1 which we actually covered far too many places so we had to split the blog posts.
Bến Thành Market is a large marketplace in central Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam in District 1. So much has been said about this market that every tourist would make it a checklist for them to explore when visiting HCMC. Well, that was the reason why we chose to stay near to Ben Thanh Market as we wanted to explore this place.
Ben Thanh Market was pretty much lively in the morning with the locals coming to buy groceries, seafood and fresh produce from the market.
Walk deeper into the market you will find indoor food court where you can get to try local dishes.
The stall owners are not shy. In fact, they practice touting over here. There are plenty of choices to choose from. If you have no intention of patronizing, just put on a smile and continue to walk ahead!
Since our hungry pangs are here, we decided to try out some Vietnamese dishes.
This will give you an idea what to order.
If you do not recognize Vietnamese words, remember to ask the stall owner whether VND $30,000 is the price of 1 or 4 Pork on Chacoat. We thought paying VND $30,000 for 4 sticks was a good deal until we were told it cost VND $120,000 😦
Thit Nuong (Grilled Meat) for VND $15,000 X 4 = $60,000.
It would be a shame to visit Vietnam without trying Pho at least once. Phở or pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken. You will get to see more later in our blog posts.
Banh Xeo (Pancakes) for VND $50,000.
I hopped over to a dessert store to try out their local “Chendol”.
Tastes quite nice I must say. It cost VND $15,000 (SGD $1).
We continued to explore some food stalls and came across this selling huge grilled prawns. Tempted by the color and size, we decided to try out although we were quite full.
A closer look. See how big they are…
One wondered if the glass has “magnifying effect”. After picking out the 2 prawns, they seemed to shrank and didn’t taste fresh! We left the food section with an overall rating of 2/5. We discovered later that for such prices, you can actually get cleaner, better and more tasty treats in HCMC.
In all fairness, Ben Thanh Market is really huge. It has literally everything you want to find as a tourist. Collectibles, cheap apparels, souvenirs, dry food products, Vietnamese coffee and many more.
Let’s take a mini-tour around Ben Thanh Market.
Dry products and coffee powder.
Caps for kids.
T-Shirts at VND $50,000 each.
From our hotel room, we could view Ben Thanh Market.
In a few hours time, the street below is going to transform into a night market…
BEN THANH MARKET IN THE NIGHT
When evening comes, cars parked at the sides of this street beside Ben Thanh Market start to vacate to make way for the street vendors to set up the night market.
We were able to have close-up view of street vendors appearing with their motorbikes and pulling their carts.
Some carts are heavy that they need to use their motorbikes to push them along.
Time is money. In a short span of time, the street vendors need to set up their stalls for the night market. As you can see, they have to sweat and toil to earn their keeps.
The street is beginning to transform into a night market.
Vibrant night market at Ben Thanh.
The street is filled with tourists. Street vendors will flash their goods for you to buy. Do bargain 50% to 70% and may you get the best prices.
Adjacent to Ben Thanh Market is the Muslim street.
Glutinous rice seller.
Our hotel located in front of night market.