Category Archives: Ho Chi Min City

4 Days 3 Nights Ho Chi Min and Mui Ne – Day 4 (July 2013)

Day 4 – Ho Chi Min to Singapore

The day for our flight back to Singapore for our very short trip had arrived. We had a very good night sleep on our very comfy bed and woke up refreshed. We bought some pastries during our shopping the previous day so we need not head to the restaurant for breakfast. We already had had buffet breakfasts in Mui Ne the previous two days, so we had something light this time. Coffee we made on our own was good too.

After our light breakfast, we approached concierge to request for information on shopping near Novotel Saigon Hotel as we didn’t wish to go too far because we had to check out and head to the airport later. We were given some recommendations on three fashion shops nearby. As it was still early and those shops were not opened yet, we decided to explore the Tan Dinh Market nearby.

City View from Novotel Saigon Hotel
City View from Novotel Saigon Hotel

We turned left and walked on crossing some traffic junctions. It was before 9 am and it was rush hour in the morning. Traffic on the roads was heavy and some motorbikes even rode up the pavements where we walked so it was quite chaotic, not to mention very noisy.

Eventually, we reached Tan Dinh Market. Due to the heavy traffic, we took quite a while before we managed to get across the road to the market. One reason we wished to visit Tan Dinh Market was to compare this market with Ben Thanh Market that we visited previously. Another reason was my wife was helping our girls to look for stuffs they might need.

Tan Dinh Market from across the road
Tan Dinh Market from across the road


Near Tan Dinh Market
Near Tan Dinh Market
Busy road across Tan Dinh Market
Busy road across Tan Dinh Market
Crossing to Tan Dinh Market
Crossing to Tan Dinh Market

The market was busy so early in the morning. The lanes were very narrow and hard to navigate. After spending some time exploring Tan Dinh Market and having bought some stuffs for our girls, we left the market.

Outside Tan Dinh Market
Outside Tan Dinh Market
Narrow lanes in Tan Dinh Market
Narrow lanes in Tan Dinh Market
Inside Tan Dinh Market
Inside Tan Dinh Market
Stalls inside Tan Dinh Market
Stalls inside Tan Dinh Market

We walked back towards Novotel Saigon Hotel. The traffic was still heavy, chaotic and noisy. The famous Pink Cathedral along the way was interesting. After taking a few pictures, we moved on.




Busy road near Tan Dinh Market
Busy road near Tan Dinh Market
Chaotic and noisy traffic near Tan Dinh Market
Chaotic and noisy traffic near Tan Dinh Market
Walking to Pink Cathedral
Walking to Pink Cathedral


Pink Cathedral
Pink Cathedral
Pink Cathedral
Pink Cathedral
Pink Cathedral
Pink Cathedral

We walked past Le Van Tam Park in the busy part of this district so at least there was some greenery other than the chaotic concrete buildings with unsightly electric cables hanging overhead this part of town. This park seemed to be quiet during this time. It might be busier earlier in the morning or later in the evening.

Busy and noisy traffic to Novotel Saigon Hotel
Busy and noisy traffic to Novotel Saigon Hotel
Busy road on the way back to Novotel Hotel
Busy road on the way back to Novotel Hotel
Le Van Tam Park
Le Van Tam Park
Peaceful and quiet Le Van Tam Park
Peaceful and quiet Le Van Tam Park
Quiet Le Van Tam Park
Quiet Le Van Tam Park
Outside Le Van Tam Park
Outside Le Van Tam Park

Near to Novotel Saigon Hotel, we located the three fashion shops so we spent quite some time there shopping for clothes. Having made our purchases, we continued our way to return to the hotel.

Busy traffic during the day
Busy traffic during the day
Busy traffic during the day back to Novotel Hotel
Busy traffic during the day back to Novotel Hotel

We went into our favourite bakery, the Tous Ies Jours. We liked the bread and pastries here. So we bought a box of bread to bring home and then returned to Novotel Saigon Hotel just around the corner.

Tous Ies Jours Bakery
Tous Ies Jours Bakery
Junction at Novotel Saigon Hotel
Junction at Novotel Saigon Hotel
Novotel Saigon Hotel
Novotel Saigon Hotel

We returned to our room, repacked with our shopping done this morning and then showered to get ready for lunch. We went back to the Square Restaurant for lunch. Since we liked the local dishes here, we had local food for lunch. The food was again very tasty and good.



After lunch, we went back to our room, brushed up and packed our bags and then went to the lobby to check out. Having paid our bills, we went to concierge to request for a Mai Linh taxi to the airport. Within minutes, a taxi pulled up and we boarded and were on our way to the airport.

In about 30 minutes, we arrived at the airport. We approached Jetstar counter to process check in and collect our boarding passes. After that we cleared immigration and entered the secured area of the departure hall. As we were still early, we did some window shopping in the airport until it was time for us to board our flight to Singapore.

Shops inside departure hall
Shops inside departure hall
More shops inside departure hall
More shops inside departure hall
Branded shop inside departure hall
Branded shop inside departure hall
More shops inside departure hall
More shops inside departure hall
Shops inside airport departure hall
Shops inside airport departure hall

Eventually, the plane from Singapore arrived. Having cleared the plane for boarding, we were invited to board our flight home. There wasn’t any delay and we had a smooth and safe flight back to Changi Airport. We had a quick dinner after clearing immigration before heading home. After getting a cab, we were homeward bound.

This short trip was satisfying. We were happy to have a chance to visit Mui Ne, and we especially enjoyed the great time we had on the red sand dune. Ho Chi Min City was just a stopover where it was a place for some shopping. Although Mui Ne is only about five hours bus journey away, we probably will not return any time soon.


There are many other places to explore in Vietnam. We had been to Nha Trang, Dalat and the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Min City. Perhaps it is time we return to Ho Chi Min City in the near future to head out to other nearby destinations. Making our way to Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Min City might be a good idea. Until Jetstar launches another too good to miss airfare promotion, we will await another adventure to other destination via Ho Chi Min City.


4 Days 3 Nights Ho Chi Min and Mui Ne – Day 3 (July 2013)

Day 3 – Mui Ne to Ho Chi Min

We woke up very early this morning because we had to catch the morning bus to Ho Chi Min City. When we opened the door to the balcony, we saw some guests were already swimming in the swimming pool. Mui Ne being located on the east coast received light early thus was bright very early in the morning.

Chairs in the balcony
Chairs in the balcony
Connected balconies for all room units
Connected balconies for all room units
Swimming pool from the balcony early morning
Swimming pool from the balcony early morning


Guests already swimming early morning
Guests already swimming early morning

Without wasting time, we went to the restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant was pleasant as we took our seats and went to collect our fruit juice and food. The buffet breakfast spread was good even though the spread wasn’t huge. The pastries were surprisingly good. Coffee was served which we enjoyed very much as well.

Nice and pleasant resort restaurant
Nice and pleasant resort restaurant
Main buffet food station
Main buffet food station
Bread and pastries corner
Bread and pastries corner
Fruits and juice station
Fruits and juice station

The breakfast was really good under such ambience in a colonial style resort. It was still early so it was a little cooling and with birds chirping happily among the trees around the swimming pool, it was a great morning indeed. It set a happy mood to begin a wonderful day for us.




With breakfast over, we returned to our room to refresh ourselves. After packing our bags, we went to the lobby to process our check out. It was proficiently handled. Front desk staff was very helpful to call the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company on our behalf to confirm our bus pick up time and location. We were supposed to wait for our bus at 8.15 am along the main road outside Amaryllis Resort. She also called a taxi to send us to the pick up point along the main road which cost only 11,000 VND.

Main entrance of Amaryllis Resort
Main entrance of Amaryllis Resort

The pick point was actually outside the restaurant where a few cars were parked there. The road was very quiet with few vehicles passing from time to time. Finally, an orange bus approached and stopped. An assistance came down the stairs when the door opened and beckoned us to board the bus and so up we went and were on our way to Ho Chi Min City.

Restaurant along main road for bus pick up to Ho Chi Min City
Restaurant along main road for bus pick up to Ho Chi Min City

The bus went through Phan Thiet City and continued down south. Passing through rural area and after about two hours, we stopped at a rest area. All the passengers alighted to visit the toilet and had a meal at the restaurant. The facility at this rest stop was quite good and the compound of this rest stop very big. A few Phuong Trang buses stopped here and the restaurant was doing roaring business.

Phuong Trang Bus Rest Area
Phuong Trang Bus Rest Area
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Bus at rest stop
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Bus at rest stop
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Buses
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Buses
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Buses parked for short break
Bright Orange Phuong Trang Buses parked for short break

From the back of the restaurant near the toilet, we could see the farms and a muddy river near this place. Outside on the main road which was quite quiet with occasional passing vehicles seemed to be out in the middle of no where. Next to the rest stop were some stalls selling fruits and other provisions.

Muddy river behind rest stop
Muddy river behind rest stop
Muddy river and farm behind rest stop
Muddy river and farm behind rest stop
Farm behind rest stop
Farm behind rest stop
Roadside stall selling fruits next to rest area
Roadside stall selling fruits next to rest area
Roadside stall next to rest area
Roadside stall next to rest area

Like other passengers, we also went into the restaurant and ordered something to eat. A man was barbecuing some meat outside the restaurant. The restaurant was clean and quite presentable and a little windy out here as well.

Pleasant and comfortable restaurant
Pleasant and comfortable restaurant
Barbecue outside restaurant
Barbecue outside restaurant
Meat barbecue outside restaurant
Meat barbecue outside restaurant

We continued our journey down south after this short break. It was about the same rural scene but by noon, we were nearing some industrial zone and traffic became heavier. As we went along into the outskirts of Ho Chi Min City, traffic was getting more congested. So we moved along slowly and finally arrived at the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company near to 2 pm.

Junction of De Tham Street with main road
Junction of De Tham Street with main road

Everyone alighted and we got our bags and went over to Sinh Tourist to collect some tour information. Next, we hailed a Mai Linh taxi and we made our way to Novotel Saigon Hotel. In under 15 minutes, we arrived at the hotel.

Phuong Trang Bus Office
Phuong Trang Bus Office
Sinh Tourist Office
Sinh Tourist Office

We were warmly welcomed into the hotel. This was a new hotel opened not long ago. Check in was efficient and trouble free. Within five minutes, we collected our card keys and we went up to our room. We were given a non-smoking room and the room was very new and clean.

View from entrance of deluxe room
View from entrance of deluxe room
Long passage from entrance
Long passage from entrance

The room had been renovated to typical Novotel standard. However, this was the first time we had a room from Novotel where our bed was facing the windows while the TV was on the wall on the right of the king bed. This made watching TV awkward and uncomfortable. Anyway, we still liked our room.

Nice, clean and comfortable king bed
Nice, clean and comfortable king bed


King bed and frosted glass partition to bathrrom
King bed and frosted glass partition to bathrrom

Bathroom was very nice and clean. Full toiletries were provided and shower stall had frosted glass partitions to provide privacy. Coffee making facility was provided in the room together with two bottles of mineral water. Wifi was fine and TV programs were sufficient with international channels.

Coffee making facility and minibar
Coffee making facility and minibar
Shower stall in bathroom
Shower stall in bathroom
City view from room windows
City view from room windows

After checking our room and with no issues raised, we left the hotel to explore Ho Chi Min City. We turned right and went in the direction of the city centre. We soon reached Diamond Plaza. We went in for a quick survey and didn’t buy anything. We spent quite a lot of time here during our last visit where we watched a movie that happened to be a Hong Kong movie starred by Andy Lau while we rested our tired legs and enjoyed the air-conditioning. Surprisingly, the movie was in Cantonese too with only a few patrons in the cinema.

We then left Diamond Plaza and continued down the road and entered Vincom Centre Shopping Mall. We surveyed a few restaurants for lunch and finally settled down at NYDC Café. We ordered western meals of fish and chips and hot dogs and English tea as well. Our food came and we enjoyed our first western meal in South Vietnam. It was already after 3 pm when we had our lunch and it was a great meal in a nice air-conditioned environment.

Nice and cool cafe in Vincom Centre
Nice and cool cafe in Vincom Centre
Japanese restaurant in Vincom Centre
Japanese restaurant in Vincom Centre
Delicious hot dog meal
Delicious hot dog meal
Great western lunch at NYDC Cafe
Great western lunch at NYDC Cafe

We continued our window shopping in Vincom Centre for a while and then left to head over to Saigon Square. Opera House was along the way as we explored the city centre. Soon we arrived at Saigon Square and we began another round of shopping, actually more window shopping than actual shopping. We didn’t find anything we liked so we left and made our way back to Novotel Saigon Hotel slowly.

Opera House In Ho Chi Min City
Opera House In Ho Chi Min City

We had been to Ho Chi Min City a few times and had bought what we needed during those times so there was nothing much that we needed to buy this time. We even skipped the popular Ben Thanh Market this evening. Anyway, it was drizzling so our shopping trip was cut short.



It was already dark around 7.30 pm when we reached Novotel Saigon Hotel and we returned to our room to shower and rested a while. Our room was so nice and comfortable and it was great to be back in a nice hotel.

Soon we left our room again and went to the restaurant for dinner. The ambience of the restaurant in Novotel Saigon Hotel was very nice. Since we had western meal for lunch, we ordered local dishes for dinner. Our food arrived and we tucked in and enjoyed our dinner. It was delicious.

Nice ambience in the restaurant
Nice ambience in the restaurant
Tasty local dish for dinner
Tasty local dish for dinner

We were so full after dinner so we decided to leave the hotel and went to look at some shops across the road. It was already after 9 pm so we could only take a quick look just before the shops closed.

Novotel Saigon Hotel across the road
Novotel Saigon Hotel across the road

After this we went back across the road to Novotel Saigon Hotel and explored the facilities and lounge. This hotel was rather new and it was very pleasant. The decorations were also modern and up to date. Staff were friendly and helpful.

Beautiful and eye soothing lobby area
Beautiful and eye soothing lobby area


Nice lobby area with good sofa set
Nice lobby area with good sofa set
Business Centre with free computer for guests
Business Centre with free computer for guests
Modern and cool lounge
Modern and cool lounge

Finally we returned to our room and enjoyed the comfort and quietness of this new hotel room. Watching TV and catching up with children back home using the free and excellent wifi kept us busy through the night.

This trip to Ho Chi Min which included a two nights stay in Mui Ne was fun even though the journey back and forth took considerable amount of time. Travelling cost was however insignificant given the distance between Ho Chi Min and Mui Ne. It was a good trip and we were glad to be back in Ho Chi Min City. Our flight the next day was late afternoon so we still had some time to explore the city and do some final shopping before our departure.

So with tiredness setting in after a long day, we tuned ourselves to sleep mode and expected more good time the next day. This was a great day indeed. Now was time for a good night rest.


Continue to Day 4

4 Days 3 Nights Ho Chi Min and Mui Ne (July 2013)

When Jetstar launched another promotional airfares to the region in December 2012, we immediately booked a trip to Ho Chi Min City for July 2013 for only $78 per person for a pair of return tickets. We only had time to get away for three nights this time. Since we had been to Ho Chi Min City a few times and had visited some places near this city, we decided to spend two nights in Mui Ne this time round.

However, travelling to Mui Ne was a little tricky. Private transfer cost from the airport to Mui Ne would be US$110 one way. Considering our return air tickets for both of us was only S$156, this transfer cost would not be justifiable. Travelling time would be between 4 and 6 hours depending on traffic conditions. We didn’t see the point of forking out hundred over dollars just to get to Mui Ne slightly earlier that same day.

Our next option would be either taking the train to Phan Thiet follow by a taxi ride to Mui Ne or by public bus direct to Mui Ne. But because our arrival to Ho Chi Min would be 2.55 pm, the train schedule would not be suitable.

So for public bus, we could either take a bus from Sinh Tourist or Phuong Trang. We had taken buses with Sinh Tourist to Nha Trang and Dalat before but this time we preferred to try out the service of Phuong Trang bus which had good reviews.

The only trouble was booking bus tickets from this company wasn’t so easy as their website was in Vietnamese and they would only take phone calls or walk in to book bus tickets. As such, we contacted a friend working in Ho Chi Min to help us reserve bus tickets from Ho Chi Min City to Mui Ne as well as return bus tickets to Ho Chi Min two days later. Cost for bus tickets was around US$5 per person per way, significantly lower than private transfer to Mui Ne.


For hotels, we booked Pandanus Resort and Spa for the first night in Mui Ne followed by Amaryllis Resort for the second night. We also booked Novotel Hotel for the final night in Ho Chi Min City. The hotel costs were around US$75, US$67 and US$64 respectively.

Our flight schedules were follows:

Singapore to Ho Chi Min City 1.45 pm to 2.55 pm

Ho Chi Min City to Singapore 3.35 pm to 6.30 pm.

Our itinerary would be as follows:

Day 1

Fly into Ho Chi Min City.
Take a taxi to backpackers’ area at De Tham Street to collect bus tickets from the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company.
Take 5 pm bus to Mui Ne.
Hope to arrive Mui Ne by 10 pm.
Check into Pandanus Resort and Spa.

Day 2

Enjoy the facilities of Pandanus Resort and Spa.
Visit the red sand dune outside the resort.
Enjoy lunch at the resort.
Take a bus to Phuong Trang Bus Company in the middle of Mui Ne to confirm return bus ticket to Ho Chi Min City.
Explore and shop at this tourist location.
Take a taxi to Amaryllis Resort.
Enjoy the facilities of this resort.

Day 3

After breakfast, wait for bus outside main road of Amaryllis Resort.
Take bus to Ho Chi Min City.
Arrive office of bus company at backpackers’ area in De Tham Street.
Take a taxi to Novotel Hotel to check in.
Explore the city and do some shopping.
Enjoy the hotel facilities.

Day 4

Explore markets and shops near Novotel Hotel in the morning.
Have lunch at the hotel before check out.
Take a taxi to the airport.
Take flight back to Singapore.

So with all the hotel reservations settled and bus tickets to Mui Ne and back to Ho Chi Min City reserved, we simply waited for the day to come for our short trip to South Vietnam. Not much packing was required for this short getaway and we were pleased with our planned itinerary and help from our friend in Vietnam to reserve bus tickets for us.

Day 1 – Singapore to Ho Chi Min onward to Mui Ne

Seven months since our flights booking, our departure date came so quickly. We left home mid morning and had lunch at the Changi Airport before our flight. As usual we cleared immigration, roamed about the airport for a while before boarding our flight to Ho Chi Min City.

Due to heavy ground traffic at the airport, took off time was delayed for about 15 minutes. We were a little anxious as our friend in Vietnam had requested one of his friends to meet us at the bus company to help collect our bus tickets and we didn’t wish to be late. Anyway, our flight was smooth and we touched down slightly after 3 pm.




It was the same immigration process having to queue for our turns to get through and we finally made it through and walked briskly out of the airport. Since we travelled light, we didn’t have to wait for our check in luggage at the belt area and we were soon out of the airport.

We waited for a Mai Linh taxi and were soon ushered into one and were on our way to De Tham Street in the city at the backpackers’ area. It was raining lightly as we travelled to town. In under 45 minutes, we arrived at the bus company.

So we started waiting as our contact texted us she would be late because she was held up in a meeting at her office. She eventually showed up at the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company before 5 pm.


We went up to the counter and she helped us speak with the staff in Vietnamese to get our bus tickets. Initially, when we approached the staff earlier before she arrived, we were told that there was no reservation made for us. So we were glad our friend’s friend helped us secure our bus tickets to Mui Ne otherwise we would be stranded with our hotels already booked for Mui Ne for that night.

After this, we thanked our friend and she went back to office while we waited for the bus to Mui Ne. Buses were coming and going to different destinations. It seemed our bus was arriving late. Eventually, our bus arrived and those of us heading to Mui Ne boarded the bus. The bus left closer to 5.40 pm.

It was very congested during peak hours in Ho Chi Min City. It took quite a long while before we reached the outskirts of the city. The bus stopped by a rest area with a restaurant for a break around 10 pm. Most passengers alighted to have a meal as there was nothing to do waiting in the bus. We needed to go for a toilet inspection anyway so might as well stretch our legs and eat something.

We then moved on again slowly towards the north. We tried to catch some sleep during the boring ride. Sometimes with incessant use of the horn on the road, it was hard to sleep.

It was already after 11 pm when we arrived at the city of Phan Thiet where we had to stop at the office of the bus company. Some of the passengers alighted to carry on with their journey to their intended destination.

About ten minutes later, we continued our journey to Mui Ne. We were travelling on roads that were not very well lit. However, there wasn’t much traffic this time of the night. The bus finally reached the office of the bus company in the middle of Mui Ne. We all had to alight and then wait for a smaller bus to bring us to our different hotels.

With all the arrangements finalized, a number of us boarded a smaller bus and were on our way again. The bus stopped at different hotels along the way and passengers got off the bus. Finally, we made it to Pandanus Resort and Spa at the end of Mui Ne Beach.

We walked into the hotel which was a little dark at this time after midnight. A security guard went to find a staff to assist with our check in process. We had emailed the resort to inform them of our late arrival but didn’t expect it to be so late. Check in was simple and he gave us the key to our room and showed us there.



So eventually we managed to get into our hotel room to rest for the night. Since we would arrive late at the resort, we booked a twin bed standard room, the cheapest room in the resort. We had requested before our arrival for the twin beds to be joined into one bed and they did a good job.

Twin beds joint into a single big bed
Twin beds joint into a single big bed

The room was a typical hotel room at a seaside resort. The room wasn’t luxurious. All the basic facilities were in the room. The room was however, clean and the bed comfortable.

TV and front table in standard room
TV and front table in standard room
Seats and coffee table at corner of the room
Seats and coffee table at corner of the room


Clean and comfortable bed
Clean and comfortable bed

After a quick shower, we were glad to head to bed for a good night sleep after the long and tiring bus journey. The first day was spent practically traveling all the way from Singapore to Mui Ne via Ho Chi Min City. In no time, we were fast asleep expecting to enjoy ourselves thoroughly the next day.


Continue to Day 2