It has come to an end, the conclusion to my first Vietnam trip. An exhaustive, crazy and stressful trip all rolled into one. At the end of the day it was a fulfilling trip that will stick in my memory bank and for the right reasons.
Vietnam, at least the Southern part was interesting to say the least. The hustle and bustle, the chaos, the shoving, the pushing and then try crossing a bloody road. Good luck with that. When I speak of such scenes naturally I’m referring to Ho Chi Minh City.
Did I enjoy Vietnam? Yes of course. I always make the most out of my adventures. Perhaps not my favorite travel destination, however it is still a destination I’m glad I visited and there is still so much more of this great country I want to see in time.
Let’s get into the highlights of day 13-14. The conclusion of Ho chi Minh City.
The Conclusion: The last look at Ho Chi Minh City.
Bitexco Financial Building
As soon as you get off the express elevator to the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Building, you are struck with the mesmerising view of Ho Chi Minh City, as far as the eye can see. I was fortunate enough to go on a clear day, without a cloud in sight as I circled the 49h floor on several occasions, getting a 360 view of an amazing city full of life, colour and chaos.
The city may have a bit of work to do, but it’s on the rise and rapidly. For the cost of about $12AUD, you can see the work in progress from above. A must see.
View from the Bitexco Financial Building
Bitexco Financial Building
Highlights of day 13-14
Last day means getting is as much as possible and to get in any attraction that I have not seen in Ho Chi Minh City.
Pearl Plaza in the Binh Thanh District is great to spend a couple of hours away from the heat. Not the largest centre in the city but it’s pretty and boutique. Plenty of great shopping with brand outlet shops, a supermarket, amazing food court and cinemas. Luxury apartments are situated above the centre.
Pearl Plaza in the distance
The next locations I speak are all within an ear shot of each other and is great way to spend a day out in the city.
The best shopping mall in Saigon. The centre is full of fabulous retail brand stores, café’s and a top-class cinema. Amazing in its interior design, with a fantastic modern touch, The Saigon Centre is a must see whether you are in the mood for a bit of retail therapy or not.
The Saigon Centre food court is the best I have ever seen. In fact, you probably couldn’t call it a food court, it’s a level full of top class restaurants that has cuisines form all over the world, Japan, Korean, America, you name it. Get there and dine in style, but be prepared to pay a little more for your food than usual.
Inside the amazing Saigon Centre.
The Opera House is another French pioneered building, which like other buildings in Saigon is simply beautiful. Built in 1897, at a similar time to the Cathedral and the old Post office. The opera house is certainly worth your time if passing by the area. Especially if you are into lovely architectured buildings.
Saigon Opera House
Nguyen Hue Walking street
Named after an emperor of the late 1700’s, The Nguyen Hue walking street is epic in its colour and design, and a great way to walk in freedom away from the nearby traffic. Unfortunately for me most of the strip was closed due to preparations for the Tet New Year. That was only bad luck for me, but put it on your list if in Ho Chi Minh City.
Nguyen Hue Street
Ben Thanh Street Food Market
Time to doge bikes and other commuters again. The street markets which is close by to the Bitexco Financial Building, is stacked with food stalls, fresh produce and seafood. It is a crazy atmosphere but worth your time to see the locals at work. It’s great if you want a feed at a ridiculously low price.
Already for the Tet new year.
That’s a wrap the conclusion to my Vietnam Diaries. It was a unique trip but one I am glad I did to witness a different city and different cultures. It is why I live for travelling.
For a detailed reaction on I what my feelings were towards the country can be read in the I didn’t fall in love with you Vietnam, but I like you a lot.
A return to Ho Chi Minh City after a few beautiful days in cooler Dalat. The excitement well and truly kicked off again, with tunnels, rooftop bars and a little bit relaxation the priority. It’s Vietnam Diaries days 10-12 as the trip is slowly starting to wind down.
Ho Chi Minh City at its very best.
Cu chi tunnel
A tour group to the Cu-chi Tunnels and another brief education into the fascinating history lesson of Vietnam and how they battled and survived in the war. If you are ever in Ho Chi Minh City, do yourself a favor book a spot on the tour bus and head to Cu-Chi Tunnels. While the time at the tunnels is short, you will leave with a lasting memory.
Through the tunnels we go at Cu Chi tunnels.
The Viet Cong were smart and very strategic in war, to learn about their underground system was astounding. Three levels of tunnels that ran for hundreds of kilometres with three different levels, the lowest level being a good 8-10 metres deep below the surface.
It gets quite cluster phobic in the dark tunnels.
A hard slog through the tunnels.
The Vietnamese set some gruesome traps too, set up to capture and kill enemy soldiers. While clever little traps, it was hard to ponder at those traps with imaging the terrible pain it would have caused the young soldiers. But that was cruel fate of any war.
The traps of Vietnam War.
Highlights of days 10 -12
I am Vietnam hotel and Rooftop Bar
Sad to say this was my first time visiting a Rooftop bar in Vietnam and I had been missing out in a big way. Gorgeous night time views of Ho Chi Minh City with the city looking spectacular under lights. The occasion was even better with a cocktail in hand as you enjoy the great views and romantic setting with the love of your life.
A rooftop bar are a smash in Vietnam.
New Airbnb apartment
A return to Ho Chi Minh City and our 3rd Apartment for the trip. For the second time, we used airbnb and it was the best of the lot. An apartment with spacious rooms, large beds, small kitchen, good shower, daily housekeeping and a free laundry service. No complaints all round, as this time we were in the lively Binh Thanh District.
Our latest Airbnb apartment.
Binh Quoi Tourist village
A short 20-minute walk from our apartment is the tourist village. My kind of place to chill and relax and feel like you are staying in a tropical resort. Lots of palm trees, quiet drinking area overlooking the lake, swimming pool and a care free walk in Paradise. A visit to the Tourist Village is highly recommended, especially if you are after a little relaxation in style.
Tourist village looking good for relaxation.
The Lily Pads of the Tourist Village.
Emperor Jade Pagoda
One of those if you’re in the area, come for a visit. Nice temple (they all are), built by the Chinese community in 1909. It is hidden off the main street as walked past it trying to find and I know I am not the only one. Come for a photo or two if in Mai Thi Luu street of district one and perhaps stop for a prayer for good health.
Emperor jade Pagoda
Read about the Previous diaries by clicking on the link Days 8-9
Exploring around Dalat and seeing as much as possible in my short time in this beautiful town was high on the priority list for the last days. With only four full days in the area seeing everything was always going to be impossible. So come days 8 and 9, it was full throttle as we rushed around to as many locations in and around Dalat as possible.
A word or two on Dalat before I wrap up my diaries in this amazing city. If you are ever in Vietnam, be sure to put Dalat on the list. It’s a great city full of amazing landscapes, water features and buildings. For me four days is certainly not enough but heck I will take it and I am certainly glad I visited.
Now to the highlights of days 8 and 9 of Vietnam Diaries.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Best Bits of the day
Day 8 – Dalat star – A village made of clay, Dalat Star is about 20-minutes from the city centre. To wander through the maze of sculptures and housing is a sight to behold. A good hour is all that you will spend but you will be glad you made the trip through windy roads as it is truly unique design and artwork put into this truly remarkable place will leave a lasting effect.
Day 9 – The crazy house – The architecture around the Crazy House is fascinating. Designed by one lady who took 14-years to design what can only be called a masterpiece and the end result is nothing short of sensational. The initial thought before coming to the crazy house if you haven’t seen any pictures prior is, it’s just a hotel. Upon arriving you realise any such thoughts are plain crazy (pardon the pun). While an hour is all you need and perhaps a coffee in the café, you will be caught stunned at this crazy and quirky hotel.
The Crazy House, Dalat
Climbing up the steps and reaching great heights as you go through skinny obstacles and dodge other tourists. Each structure is different and quite odd. You couldn’t even give a name to any of sculptures that you are starring at, except for the fact that it would be perfect for a Halloween party. I guess that’s why the Crazy House was named the top 3 most unique hotels in the world and here it is in the middle of Vietnam.
Chasing the Waterfalls
Dalat has a lot of waterfalls, I did not have time to visit them all as some are a bit of a drive away. A couple of waterfalls to visit that I didn’t see are the Pongour and Datanla Waterfalls. Let’s discuss the falls I did see.
Elephant Waterfall – Driving through incredible terrain to get to this waterfall, about forty-five-minutes South West of Dalat town centre. The Elephant Waterfall, which got its name from a rock resembling an elephant, will truly amaze you as the fresh water flows freely creating a picturesque view that your camera will appreciate.
Once you enter after you drive through the Nam Ban Village, pay a small fee and from the carpark it is a short hike through slippery terrain (wear good footing). From there you will get all sorts of angles and views of the fall.
Elephant Waterfall is one of the many waterfalls in and around Dalat.
Prenn Waterfall – Unlike the Elephant Water, the attraction here is much more than a waterfall, which is fabulous in itself. While most of the attention will be on the falls and the unbelievable path that will take you directly under the fall as you feel splashes of water rain onto you.
There is plenty of other activities to do at Prenn. Take a brisk walk through some gardens, amusements for the kids and a cable car over the falls. Also available is the unethical elephant and ostrich riding, at an extra cost, but I never choose to participate, it never seems right especially seeing the elephants in chains and all for human pleasure.
Highlights of Days 8 and 9
Linh Phuoc Pagoda – Not too far from the city-centre, too long to walk but a short taxi ride. Linh Phuoc Pagoda is a must visit, especially since it is free of charge. The Pagoda, a Buddhist temple, made from broken glass and smashed up pottery, is brilliantly designed and a treat to gaze upon. Go inside one the man temple halls, have prayer and spend a minute wondering if monks praying are real or not. Or perhaps that is just me.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Weasel Coffee Plantation – The story of the Weasel coffee beans is made is fascinating story. The Weasel eats the coffee bean, it goes through their system undigested, with the acid from the stomach giving it its distinct flavour. So yes, the coffee beans come from the droppings of a weasel.
Weasel Coffee Plantation
It may sound disgusting but for coffee lovers this place is a must visit. You can see the process happening the coffee beans drying out and the weasels having a nap. Of course, there is the taste tasting it cost a small fee and I have got to be honest with you as a mad coffee fan, I loved it.
The coffee beans before the Weasels get to them.
Cricket farm – A bit of honesty here, unless you are visiting this place as part of a tour, which you usually are if visiting the Elephant Waterfall. There is not much to see here unless you love seeing cricket’s bounce around in a dark room or perhaps have a snack on a crispy dried cricket. Otherwise, move right on. There is plenty more to do around Dalat.
That’s a lot of crickets.
At the Crazy House.
Read days 7 diaries in Vietnam right here and see plenty more around Dalat.
Read about Vietnam Diaries days 10 -12 right here.