Vietnam, Our Final Stop!

Our last stop on Asia adventure was in Vietnam. Make sure to check out our other stops on this trip which included Singapore, Cambodia day 1, Cambodia day 2, and the amazing Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center.

We spent 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. We actually ended up liking Vietnam the best out of the three countries we visited. We arrived early on our first day to maximize our time in the city. We were a little nervous about taking the taxi to the hotel, as one of the books I read had warned about shady drivers who would threaten tourists and demand more money. Luckily though we had no problems on our whole trip.

Our hotel was a cute, little and crammed in between restaurants and stores, as everything there seemed to be. We chose it because our cousins had stayed there on a previous trip and recommended it. It was cheap, by our American standards, at about $35/night. It was perfect, right next to the Market, and so central we could walk to everything we wanted to see in the city from there.


The first thing we did was set out to explore the city. We walked past the Palace, the Post Office, and we saw the Notre Dame which is a church that looks like the Notre Dame in Paris. A lot of stuff was closed still for their New Year celebrations. Apparently people take up to a week or more off for New Year’s (wouldn’t that be nice!). There were decorations on every street. It was quite pretty.

We found this nice outdoor BBQ place for lunch. It was one where every table had a grill and you cooked your own food to your liking. It was pretty good and our whole meal which included an appetizer, two meals, and two beers was $17! You can’t beat that!


I read lots of reviews on things to see and do before our trip and one of the top things on every list I found was the water puppet show. I had no idea what it meant by water puppets. The description and reviews didn’t explain the show. We found out it’s exactly as it sounds, it’s a puppet show but instead of the puppeteers directing the puppets from above by strings. The puppets are actually on a stage of water and they control them from below the water. The entire show was in Vietnamese and there were no subtitles but it was great and we really enjoyed it.


After we found the location of the water puppet show, we still had an hour to look around. We stumbled upon a park that was having a New Year’s festival. It was only $1 to get in and we figured it was worth it. It was a family festival and they had lots of rides and games for the kids, there was art work, lots of bonsai trees for sale, food and entertainment. There were tons of art carved out of trees and fruit. We had a blast exploring the festival.


After the show we walked back over to the financial district of the city with the intentions of getting something to eat for dinner and going to the sky deck. We never made it to the sky deck that night, because we came across the main New Year’s celebration on the main street. It was full of art, flowers and tons of lights. People were everywhere and the even called it Time’s Square. We probably spent about 2 hours just wandering around and taking it all in. By the time we made it to the Sky Deck it was already closed for the night.
On Day 2 we spent the entire day on a tour of the Mekong Delta, the main river through Vietnam. Our tour picked us up at about 7:45 am and we got back to our hotel around 7 pm. We started the day with an hour and half ride to the port where we loaded our boat.
Our tour guide was great and kept us entertained all day. The day was full of adventure and new experiences. We toured the “floating market” which we were told is usually packed with boats selling goods. We didn’t get the full experience since everyone was off for the New Year there was only about 10% of the boats that normally would be on the water. The next few stops included a house where they raise bees to make honey tea, face cream and soaps, a factory were they were making popped rice (it’s just like popcorn, but with rice) and coconut candy. The candies were so good and we actually brought home about 6 bags of them in a variety of flavors.
We ate lunch at a cute little restaurant along the river where they served rattlesnake and snake wine. Have you heard of snake wine? No? Neither had we before this trip. There’s actually a few “flavors” of interesting wine they make in Vietnam. What they do is start with rice wine or grain alcohol and then submerge whole snakes, venomous snakes,  into the huge vat. The then bury the wine and let it steep for many months. Other varieties of the wine were banana and bird. Our guide gave the group the opportunity to try the snake wine during our lunch. Only one guy in our group took him up on the offer.
We ended up having elephant ear fish. When it arrived it was the entire fish propped up on our plate. While that makes for an experience I just don’t like my food still looking like the entire animal on my plate. The most daring we got was trying the banana wine. I figured that was a safe bet. It wasn’t horrible but I won’t be missing it anytime soon.
After getting back to the city and our hotel we ate dinner and then went for coffee at the roof top bar at the Rex Hotel. This is an old historical building right in the middle of the city off of the Main Street where all the festivities of the previous night had taken place. The view from the roof is beautiful. After our coffee we went back to the hotel to sleep, we had another really early day the next morning.
Our last day in Vietnam actually happened to be our 2nd wedding anniversary! I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate two fabulous years then on an adventure half way around the world! On this day we were We were headed out to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels and it was another early morning start. We were picked up at 7:30 am.
The tunnels were dug during the Vietnam war and helped the Viet Cong win the war. They lived in these tunnels and it’s just so amazing seeing them and imagining people living down there. The tour was very interesting and included an American tank that had been destroyed by a bomb and a firing range where we got to shoot an AK-47. You get to go in the tunnels towards the end of the tour. They are small and stuffy, but not to worry there’s an exit about every 30 feet. They have been widened for tourist, but they’re still very small. We only went till the first exit and came back above ground.
Once we made it back to our hotel from the tunnels. We set off on our our last two planned adventures. We were finally going to make it to the Sky Deck and the Ben Thanh Market. The Sky Deck is a viewing deck on the 49th floor of one of the sky scrapers in the financial district. The view from being up that high was pretty amazing.
The Ben Thanh Market was pretty much what we expected. It was a huge building full of booths of locals selling different goods. There were people selling a little of everything and you could haggle the price down and get stuff pretty cheap. We got a really pretty 4 panel wood painting of a Vietnamese scene for over our bed in our room for $15 usd. They also had a section that had food booths. One of the online guides of Ho Chi Minh recommended a specific booth at the market. We made sure to find it and try a bahn mi and it was so delicious.
As our final farewell to the city on our way back to our hotel we came across a Lion Dance. I actually all this time thought everyone was saying “line dance” and that it would be a group of people dancing. Now I know they were saying “Lion Dance” and it was a pair of dancers under one large costume of a lion. Makes much more sense now. It was amazing and we must have stood in the street watching this go on for about an hour, it was the best way to end our time in Vietnam.

We will definitely be back though, someday!!

bake bread (1)

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