The third country and will be the last stop of my Indochina adventure – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. You can also read my trip report for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
If you are in Phnom Penh, you can either go up to Siem Reap for temple run or head to Saigon for some shopping – bags, shoes, clothes. Both are accessible by bus.
One way ticket to Saigon from Phnom Penh is ranging from 10-18USD depending on the quality of your seat. Since travel time is around 6-7hrs, better to choose one with great comfort – Mekong Express, Giant Ibis are some of the bus companies operating in Phnom Penh with good bus facilities and reviews.
Once the border is reach, everyone should get off the bus and proceed to the immigration booth for Cambodia Exit stamp. Hop on the bus again for a short ride to Vietnam Immigration and Customs Building, this time, you need to take all your belongings with you for security check. For Philippines passport holder, we not required visa for entering Vietnam if we stay less than 21 days (showing tickets for exiting within 21 days). In case, stay more than 21 days, you should apply for a visa.
We arrived in HCM around lunch time. I booked our hotel thru Agoda.com, got a deal of Php600.00 per night for a twin room including breakfast. But depending on your preference, there are other more cheaper hostels that only cost around Php200 per night in a dorm type room.
Where to go and what to see in HCM
With the help of google maps, you can easily walk around downtown HCM and see some of their famous landmarks.
HCM City Hall
City hall is along Dong Khoi Street with lively stretch of shops and bars. Not too far from the city hall, you can walk to Notre Dame Cathedral
Beside the church is another French colonial architecture – Central Post Office
Another must see in Saigon is the War Remnants Museum. It houses a vast collection of Vietnam War artifacts such as photographs, guns, bullets and even military tank, fighter jets and see all the atrocities that happened throughout the Vietnam war.
Entrance fee is only 15000dong or Php 30.00.
Cao Dai Temple
Cao Dai Temple or the Holy See, is the center of Caodaoism – an indigenous Vietnamese religion with mixture of Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity. Visitors are allowed to witness how Caodaiist do their worship.
This is a unique experience us because this religion is quite different from the usual religion in South East Asia. And honestly, this is the first time we’ve heard this religious group.
Choir member singing their worship songs.
Before heading to Cu Chi tunnel, grab your lunch in a local restaurant.
I think the most visited site when you come to Ho Chi Minh is the Cu chi Tunnel. It is a complex tunnel connecting Ho Chi Minh and Cu Chi district. These tunnels were used during the Vietnam War as as hiding spot during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.
You will be guided around the Cu Chi tunnel grounds where your guide will discuss the history of the place. You can try to fit in some tunnels, explore the network underground.
Tunnel is tight, sometimes feels suffocating, and maybe not advisable for those claustrophobic person.
There are also several display figures of what was life in Cu Chi Tunnel during the war.