Friday 27 March 2015

Ho Chi Minh Day 1: Silverland Central Hotel & Ben Thanh Market

Believe it or not but it's our first overseas trip just the three of us: mum, sister and I. Previously, we had always travelled with my dad or brother or hubby in tow. As usual, I had to bring one kid along; and as usual, I chose Baby Boy because his ticket was cheaper and my girl needed to go to school.

A group selfie before boarding

As it was quite last minute (sort of), we decided to fly by Jetstar because they had a promotion on flights; it cost us approximately $180 per adult for return tickets, inclusive of seat selection and 20kg check-in baggage (infants are a flat fee of $100).

Baby Boy slept for most of the flight and we arrived safely at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, International Terminal two hours later as scheduled. Ho Chi Minh City, also known by the locals as Saigon, is 1 hour behind Singapore.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport

We cleared customs quite quickly as we didn't need to fill up a immigration card on arrival. After we got our luggage, we proceeded to the nearest Mobifone store to buy our 3G card. It cost us roughly S$16 for one week (just internet, no calls). It was a worthwhile investment as one card could be tethered to the rest and all three of us could have access to the internet.

Sister paying for our card at Mobifone

We then joined the public cab queue, which thankfully only consisted of us, and boarded a Vinasun Taxi to our hotel. I was told that Vinasun is the only trustworthy company in Ho Chi Minh City so we ensured that we travelled with this cab company for the whole duration of our trip.

We arrived at Silverland Central Hotel & Spa after approximately 20 minutes. I chose this hotel mainly because of its close proximity to Ben Thanh Market and its good reviews.

Silverland Central Hotel & Spa
(Address: 14-16 Le Lai Street & 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

We were told to wait in the restaurant while they processed our check-in documents. We were famished so we ordered a bowl of pho and some spring rolls.

Mum eating our first bowl of pho (beef noodles) and many more to come! =)
Seafood spring roll

After a satisfying meal, we headed to our room, i.e. the Junior Suite Triple. Silverland Central Hotel was one of the few hotels that had rooms that could accommodate three people. It cost us approximately S$144 per room per night.

The Junior Suite Triple room with a double bed and a single bed (no need to add additional beds)
Table for our belongings
Left: Side vanity table
Right: Think we used this more than anything in our room as we needed to boil all water used for drinking and making formula. We even boiled some suspicious mineral water just in case. We'll never take our drinking tap water for granted again.
Spacious bathroom with a large bathtub

Even though the water jets did not work (sadly), the bathtub was still great for hot baths and bathing the baby.

Once we were sufficiently rested, we headed out to explore the neighbourhood.

Walking along a very busy street with a nice view of the Saigon Skydeck, the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City

I was told by friends that Ho Chi Minh City would be extremely noisy but I actually didn't find the noise all that bad. We approached a road crossing and remembered what our friends had told us about crossing roads in Saigon: don't look, just cross. And so we did.

Our hotel is literally just a road-crossing away from Ben Thanh Market

I'm glad that I was with my mum and sis so I didn't feel too scared. The motorcyclists and cars avoided us just like people told us they would.

We arrived at Ben Thanh Market, also known as Saigon Market, which was one of the largest retail centres in Ho Chi Minh City.

Entrance of Ben Thanh Market
Rows and rows of shops!

There are shops that don't put price tags on so be prepared to bargain your heart out and then there are those that put price tags so that it is a fixed price. I personally preferred the latter as I'm not very good at bargaining, although we did manage to buy some stuff from the bargaining-type shops.

Just remember to drink loads of water and bring a fan because it can get really hot and stuffy in there! Poor Baby Boy was so sleepy but he couldn't sleep because it was so hot! I had to fan him vigorously before he finally fell asleep and even then, he was whining in his sleep. Poor guy =(

Finally, we got too tired and decided to head to the famous Nha Hang Ngon for dinner. All cab drivers should know this place so it should not be difficult to find. Vinasun taxis go religiously by the meter so the fare is really cheap (we have ever paid $0.70 for a short journey; way cheaper than in Singapore).

Nha Hang Ngon
(Address: 160 Pasteur, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam)
Nice oriental interior decorations

This restaurant is so famous that the place is huge and every table is filled! Crazy!

Even though the sister was here once before, she decided to seek the inputs of the friendly waiter who recommended a few of their popular dishes.

Crunchy seafood salad
Delicious pho
(Must have at every meal in my opinion)

The waiters taught us how to make the spring rolls and I must say, for a person who hates cooking, I'm really good at it! *laughs*

Ingredients for the spring rolls
Spring roll that I made myself! Yum =)

The key to making a good spring roll is to add enough water so that the rice paper is not too hard and to pluck off the stems from the vegetables so that it is more tender. The sister joked that I must have been a Vietnamese in my past life *laughs*

With the sister and Baby Boy after our meal; we were so full!

Apologies for the low resolution of the photos! I didn't want to lug my big Olympus OMD to Ho Chi Minh City when I already have so many things to carry and I'm not sure how safe it was (friends advised me to bring as few valuables as possible). I do miss my beloved camera though! The Olympus Tough and Samsung Note 3 just doesn't cut it at all. Oh well.

Anyway, we returned to the hotel room where Baby Boy vomitted because he still wasn't feeling too well (poor boy got a bad sore throat and runny nose before the trip). He refused to eat anything except his milk so I had little choice but to give him more formula. To make things worse, the sister also caught his bug so she wasn't feeling too well as well. Sigh =(

Hopefully things will be better tomorrow..

Continue to >> Ho Chi Minh City Day 2: Mekong River Tour


Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
as well as other travel itineraries!

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