Saturday, June 23, 2018

Day 1 in Saigon ~ City Tour

After a tiring Seoul Trip, we figured our next out of country escapade should be somewhere less stressful and a bit laid-back...

Vietnam was an easy choice since my husband and I have always wanted to see Vietnam.  It was a toss though between Saigon and Hanoa, but believing the country's capital would be a better introduction to Vietnam's culture and people ~ we eventually decided on Saigon.


We flew from Manila to Saigon via Philippine Airlines.  We left Manila at around 7am and arrived in Saigon 830am local time (Travel time is 2 1/2 hours, but Manila is 1 hour ahead of Saigon).

We exchanged $100 at a forex counter, we found right outside immigration.  

TIP: The rate at the airport was quite reasonable  (and in fact almost  the same as the exchange rates at forex establishments in District 1, however we find withdrawing money via ATM the easiest ~ costed only VND 22,000 for a VND2,000,000 withdrawal).

We pre-booked local SIM cards and transfer to Hotel Majestic via Klook.  If you haven't tried out using Klook yet, I highly recommend it. Klook is an efficient attractions/tours booking site and you get to earn rewards from bookings and referrals which gives you savings on future travels.

Click here for Klook booking discount for first time users: Klook Discount Code.

It took as about an hour to clear immigration, get VND, pick up our local SIMS and find our transfers. 

We reached Hotel Majestic at 10am and was allowed to check in at 11am.  While waiting we wandered around the hotel's vicinity ~ we found lots of souvenir shops, coffee shops, restaurants and forex establishments (We like our hotel's location ~ check here for the link of a separate review I did on Hotel Majestic Saigon).


With plenty of time left, entered one of the many restaurants hops away from our hotel ~ Pho24

Pho24 sells traditional Vietnamese soup "Pho".  

We ordered beef pho and side dishes ~ fried and fresh spring rolls (can't decide which one to order, so we got one of each).  Our meal with drinks was about VND225,000 (roughly PHP500+).

Sauces if you can't decide if you want your pho "hot" or "really hot"!


We returned to the Hotel Majestic after our early lunch to rest and freshen a bit, before our scheduled afternoon Saigon City Tour with Saigon Hotpot

Saigon Hotpot is a non-profit organization, offering FREE guided tours of Saigon.  If your are interested in locally guided experience of Saigon ~ check them via their website: Saigon Hotpot.

Our tour ambassador (TA), Ms. Thuong arrived promptly  at the hotel lobby, where we requested to be picked-up for our afternoon walking tour of Saigon.  

Our first stop was the grand Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Notre Dame is one the Catholic's main stronghold in a mostly Buddhist country. Unfortunately the Cathedral was closed for renovation when we visited, so we were not able to get in. 

Central Post Office

The Central Post Office of French design and architecture was designed by Marie-Alfred Foulhoux (not Gustave Eiffel as your might see or read from many online articles) was built in the late 1800.   It is important to note, that this is a working post office.  One can actually send postcards to any part of the globe from here.  I see tourists buying some and sending it friends back home.

Independence Palace (a.k.a. Reunification Palace)

The Independence Palace is the seat of power in Saigon before the Communist take over in 1975.   They say that the first Communist tank that arrived in Saigon crashed through the palace gates. 

The palace interiors carries Chinese influence ~ from the colors to the design which mostly submits to Feng Shui fundamentals.

War Remnant Museum

This museum documents the brutal effects of war.   
Most of the exhibits and pictures here are quite appalling and my heart goes to the helpless children and civilian casualties of the war.

Vietnam lost 3M of its citizens from the war (among them 2M are civilians); 2M people were injured and 300,000 were missing in action.

The tour left us tired and hungry, so we took a cab to our next stop ~ The Saigon Skydeck. We got our Skydeck (with Heineken) entrance ticket from Klook.


Our TA offered us a taste of "Banh Mi" Vietnamese Sandwich and brought us to a local food court just across the Skydeck.

Huge Bahn Mi paired with strawberry shake :P


Our last stop was just across the street the "Saigon Skydeck". 

 We got combo tickets which included a side trip to the World of Heineken.  
It was a relaxing way to cap our Day 1 in Saigon ~ cold beer on hand with the best view of the city!

Although Heineken is not a Vietnamese beer (which actually originated from the Netherlands), the brand has been dominating the Vietnamese market.

My husband trying his hands on beer crafting :P

There are also interactive games to try...
This one reads "NO TO DRINKING AND DRIVING"!  

Yes you guessed right, this driver crashed his drive...

In the company of our sweet TA :P

The package includes take home Heineken beers with personalized message.  
Mine reads "Pretty in SGN" (I know right?)


  1. My husband has been to Saigon but the only picture that I saw was the church. hehehe! So thanks for the tour. I will take note the free guided tour if ever we have a chance to go there.

    1. I hope you get to visit Vietnam also. Highly recommended. We are planning to go back, but maybe in Hanoi next time.

  2. I find this every helpful and interesting. My husband got the chance to travel to Vietnam, I think it was in Hanoi though. He plans to go back for a vacation and bring me and our children. Thank you for this, we'll surely can use the infos above.

    1. Happy to be of help. Would want to go back too, but planning Hanoi next time.

  3. I've always wanted to visit Vietnam but hubby says there's not much place to take the kids, to. I was thinking more of an educational tour, like yours, but I guess only my two older kids would appreciate it. Maybe when the little one has matured a little bit more.

  4. Vietnam plays such a huge role in world history. I bet it really is an interesting place to visit. Hope I get to visit too someday.


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