(This month, our Southeast Asian class tries the Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand Cross Border Travel. We will start with Ho Chi Minh City. This article is the first out-of-four articles to be published on the said cross border trip. )
We landed in Ho Chi Minh airport around 2AM. We are 8 in the group, Professor Talampas, Chaela, Tin, Misha, Joy, Utami, Sher and Nathan. Since most of us have busy (career,academic,love,family) lives in Manila and this cross border field trip is a bit long, we decided to stay in Ho Chi Minh for only 16 hours (although we realised later that we should have stayed longer!).
We have set our itinerary plan way back home and here are the five activities you can do:
1.) Roam the Streets
We used Uber in all of the places that we went. Traffic in Vietnam is light. Most people use motorcycle. In fact, there is a motorcycle choice when booking an Uber. (We would definitely try uberbike next time!)
We were very lucky that we have chanced to pass some of its landmark while roaming the streets by uber such as the Independence Palace, Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, War Remnants Museum, and the Bitexco Financial Tower (Highest Building in the city)
Ho Chi Minh is a clean and developing city. Most of its sidewalks do not have much clutter, locals do not wear dust masks and can do breathing exercise in the parks. There are also a lot of building constructions in the city. We would definitely come back few years from now to check a changed Ho Chi Minh.
2.) Check-in a Hotel
We were amazed that we booked a comfortable hotel with good breakfast for only 16USD. Too bad we would only rest in the hotel for 8 hours. We would definitely comeback and enjoy more staycations in Vietnam especially that price is very affordable. If you are a usual backpacker, try staying comfortably in hotels in Ho Chi Minh next time.
3.) Visit a school
Since this is an academic field trip, we are required to visit some schools in Ho Chi Minh. We are grateful that Prof. Talampas has a lot of university contacts in Southeast Asia. We visited the Ho Chi Minh University of Culture after breakfast. We exchanged ideas with the students. We introduced our own cultures and beautiful countries thru powerpoint presentations. The Vietnam students are so well prepared and hospitable. (If I will be a professor in the future, I will also let my students have a field trip with exchanges to different schools.)
4.) Go on Souvenir Shopping
Filipinos love shopping. We exchanged our thousands of Philippine pesos to millions of Vietnam Dongs. There are a lot of unique and beautiful items that you can buy in Ho Chi Minh!
5.) Eat Out!
We did not have much time to try the restaurants and many Vietnamese foods. After breakfast in our hotel, shopping, and visit to the Ho Chi Minh University of Culture, we just grabbed lunch to an Italian Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh. We would definitely try more of its food like this Jolibee (a famous Filipino fast food chain). We would love to taste how different Vietnam Jolibee to a Filipino Jolibee!
After lunch, our uber picked us up to our Bus going to Phnom Penh. Bye Ho Chi Minh!
Additional Helpful Information:
1.) For the hotel: http://dragonpalacehotelsaigon.com/homeintro.php
2.) For the school: http://hcmuc.edu.vn